Where the domestication of the dog took place remains debated, with the most plausible proposals spanning Western Europe,[9][28] Central Asia[28][29] and East Asia.[28][30] This has been made more complicated by the recent proposal that an initial wolf population split into East and West Eurasian groups. These two groups, before going extinct, were domesticated independently into two distinct dog populations between 14,000 and 6,400 years ago. The Western Eurasian dog population was gradually and partially replaced by East Asian dogs introduced by humans at least 6,400 years ago.[28][2] This proposal is also debated.[2]

This article was co-authored by Pippa Elliott, MRCVS. Dr. Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS is a veterinarian with over 30 years of experience in veterinary surgery and companion animal practice. She graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1987 with a degree in veterinary medicine and surgery. She has worked at the same animal clinic in her hometown for over 20 years.


Cultural depictions of dogs in art extend back thousands of years to when dogs were portrayed on the walls of caves. Representations of dogs became more elaborate as individual breeds evolved and the relationships between human and canine developed. Hunting scenes were popular in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Dogs were depicted to symbolize guidance, protection, loyalty, fidelity, faithfulness, watchfulness, and love.[219]

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Domestic dogs inherited complex behaviors, such as bite inhibition, from their wolf ancestors, which would have been pack hunters with complex body language. These sophisticated forms of social cognition and communication may account for their trainability, playfulness, and ability to fit into human households and social situations, and these attributes have given dogs a relationship with humans that has enabled them to become one of the most successful species on the planet today.[132]:pages95-136
Long fur on the paws acts as a trap for grass seeds, grit, or even ice, so regular trimming is advisable. Use a pair of curved scissors with rounded tips. Work on one toe at a time and twirl the fur growing between two toes between your finger and thumb, and then snip the hair off at the base. Be careful never to pull on the fur, which elevates the skin and makes cutting it more likely. If you cannot see where the skin ends and the fur starts, then slide a comb through the fur at skin level, and using the scissors cut on the safe side of the comb. Repeat for each toe on each paw.
Dog behavior is the internally coordinated responses (actions or inactions) of the domestic dog (individuals or groups) to internal and/or external stimuli.[94] As the oldest domesticated species, with estimates ranging from 9,000–30,000 years BCE, the minds of dogs inevitably have been shaped by millennia of contact with humans. As a result of this physical and social evolution, dogs, more than any other species, have acquired the ability to understand and communicate with humans, and they are uniquely attuned to human behaviors.[18] Behavioral scientists have uncovered a surprising set of social-cognitive abilities in the domestic dog. These abilities are not possessed by the dog's closest canine relatives nor by other highly intelligent mammals such as great apes but rather parallel some of the social-cognitive skills of human children.[95]
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Dogs have been described as carnivores[117][118] or omnivores.[17][119][120][121] Compared to wolves, dogs have genes involved in starch digestion that contribute to an increased ability to thrive on a starch-rich diet.[19] Based on metabolism and nutrition, many consider the dog to be an omnivore. However, the dog is not simply an omnivore. More like the cat and less like other omnivores, the dog can only produce bile acid with taurine, and it cannot produce vitamin D, which it obtains from animal flesh. Also more like the cat, the dog requires arginine to maintain its nitrogen balance. These nutritional requirements place the dog part-way between carnivores and omnivores.[122]
Dogs are highly variable in height and weight. The smallest known adult dog was a Yorkshire Terrier, that stood only 6.3 cm (2.5 in) at the shoulder, 9.5 cm (3.7 in) in length along the head-and-body, and weighed only 113 grams (4.0 oz). The largest known dog was an English Mastiff which weighed 155.6 kg (343 lb) and was 250 cm (98 in) from the snout to the tail.[31] The tallest dog is a Great Dane that stands 106.7 cm (42.0 in) at the shoulder.[32]

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The most popular Korean dog dish is gaejang-guk (also called bosintang), a spicy stew meant to balance the body's heat during the summer months. Followers of the custom claim this is done to ensure good health by balancing one's gi, or vital energy of the body. A 19th century version of gaejang-guk explains that the dish is prepared by boiling dog meat with scallions and chili powder. Variations of the dish contain chicken and bamboo shoots. While the dishes are still popular in Korea with a segment of the population, dog is not as widely consumed as beef, chicken, and pork.[174]

A Colorado study found bites in children were less severe than bites in adults.[179] The incidence of dog bites in the US is 12.9 per 10,000 inhabitants, but for boys aged 5 to 9, the incidence rate is 60.7 per 10,000. Moreover, children have a much higher chance to be bitten in the face or neck.[180] Sharp claws with powerful muscles behind them can lacerate flesh in a scratch that can lead to serious infections.[181]
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