According to the Humane Society of the United States, 3–4 million dogs and cats are euthanized each year in the United States and many more are confined to cages in shelters because there are many more animals than there are homes. Spaying or castrating dogs helps keep overpopulation down.[75] Local humane societies, SPCAs, and other animal protection organizations urge people to neuter their pets and to adopt animals from shelters instead of purchasing them.
In 2013, an estimate of the global dog population was 987 million.[104] Although it is said that the "dog is man's best friend",[105] this refers largely to the ~20% of dogs that live in developed countries. In the developing world, dogs are more commonly feral or communally owned, with pet dogs uncommon.[50] Most of these dogs live their lives as scavengers and have never been owned by humans, with one study showing their most common response when approached by strangers is to run away (52%) or respond aggressively (11%).[106] Little is known about these dogs, or the dogs in developed countries that are feral, stray or are in shelters, because the great majority of modern research on dog cognition has focused on pet dogs living in human homes.[107]
The role of the dog in Chinese mythology includes a position as one of the twelve animals which cyclically represent years (the zodiacal dog). Three of the 88 constellations in western astronomy also represent dogs: Canis Major (the Great Dog, whose brightest star, Sirius, is also called the Dog Star), Canis Minor (the Little Dog), and Canes Venatici (the Hunting Dogs).
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There are many different shapes for dog tails: straight, straight up, sickle, curled, or cork-screw. As with many canids, one of the primary functions of a dog's tail is to communicate their emotional state, which can be important in getting along with others. In some hunting dogs, however, the tail is traditionally docked to avoid injuries.[38] In some breeds, such as the Braque du Bourbonnais, puppies can be born with a short tail or no tail at all.[39]

Neutering refers to the sterilization of animals, usually by removal of the male's testicles or the female's ovaries and uterus, in order to eliminate the ability to procreate and reduce sex drive. Because of the overpopulation of dogs in some countries, many animal control agencies, such as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), advise that dogs not intended for further breeding should be neutered, so that they do not have undesired puppies that may later be euthanized.[74]
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

Don't overdo bathing. Once every 6 to 8 weeks is typically enough. Professional grooming services are recommended once every 4 to 6 weeks for long haired breeds. Bathing too often can dry out the skin by removing the natural oils. Waterless shampoo can be used between baths to clean feet and other areas. Spot spray directly and sponge off with a damp sponge. Use a hypoallergenic or mild oatmeal shampoo designed for dogs for general bathing. If your pet has a particular skin condition, try hypoallergenic scent free shampoo before the vet. If the condition persists, a medicated shampoo from your veterinarian may be in order. Consult your veterinarian if there are concerns about your pet’s skin.
According to statistics published by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association in the National Pet Owner Survey in 2009–2010, it is estimated there are 77.5 million people with pet dogs in the United States.[152] The same survey shows nearly 40% of American households own at least one dog, of which 67% own just one dog, 25% two dogs and nearly 9% more than two dogs. There does not seem to be any gender preference among dogs as pets, as the statistical data reveal an equal number of female and male dog pets. Yet, although several programs are ongoing to promote pet adoption, less than a fifth of the owned dogs come from a shelter.
The dogs' value to early human hunter-gatherers led to them quickly becoming ubiquitous across world cultures. Dogs perform many roles for people, such as hunting, herding, pulling loads, protection, assisting police and military, companionship, and, more recently, aiding handicapped individuals. This influence on human society has given them the nickname "man's best friend" in the Western world. In some cultures, however, dogs are also a source of meat.[133][134]

In a study of seven breeds of dogs (Bernese mountain dog, basset hound, Cairn terrier, Epagneul Breton, German Shepherd dog, Leonberger, and West Highland white terrier) it was found that inbreeding decreases litter size and survival.[84] Another analysis of data on 42,855 dachshund litters found that as the inbreeding coefficient increased, litter size decreased and the percentage of stillborn puppies increased, thus indicating inbreeding depression.[85] In a study of boxer litters, 22% of puppies died before reaching 7 weeks of age.[86] Stillbirth was the most frequent cause of death, followed by infection. Mortality due to infection increased significantly with increases in inbreeding.[86]
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.
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.
Please note that regardless of pet type, we always put safety first. Sometimes pets can stress in new situations. If we feel your pet is too stressed or showing any potential health concern, we may opt to conclude the grooming appointment in order to do what's best for them. Your stylist can help recommend a grooming service for a smooth introduction, such as a Mini Make-Rover. For any potential health concern your stylist will refer you to your veterinarian.
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