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).
Some breeds of dogs are prone to certain genetic ailments such as elbow and hip dysplasia, blindness, deafness, pulmonic stenosis, cleft palate, and trick knees. Two serious medical conditions particularly affecting dogs are pyometra, affecting unspayed females of all types and ages, and gastric dilatation volvulus (bloat), which affects the larger breeds or deep-chested dogs. Both of these are acute conditions, and can kill rapidly. Dogs are also susceptible to parasites such as fleas, ticks, mites, hookworms, tapeworms, roundworms, and heartworms (roundworm species that lives in the heart of dogs).
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]

Dogs bear their litters roughly 58 to 68 days after fertilization,[17][71] with an average of 63 days, although the length of gestation can vary. An average litter consists of about six puppies,[72] though this number may vary widely based on the breed of dog. In general, toy dogs produce from one to four puppies in each litter, while much larger breeds may average as many as twelve.
In mythology, dogs often serve as pets or as watchdogs.[208] Stories of dogs guarding the gates of the underworld recur throughout Indo-European mythologies[210][211] and may originate from Proto-Indo-European religion.[210][211] In Greek mythology, Cerberus is a three-headed watchdog who guards the gates of Hades.[208] In Norse mythology, a bloody, four-eyed dog called Garmr guards Helheim.[208] In Persian mythology, two four-eyed dogs guard the Chinvat Bridge.[208] In Welsh mythology, Annwn is guarded by Cŵn Annwn.[208] In Hindu mythology, Yama, the god of death, owns two watch dogs who have four eyes. They are said to watch over the gates of Naraka.[212]
In conformation shows, also referred to as breed shows, a judge familiar with the specific dog breed evaluates individual purebred dogs for conformity with their established breed type as described in the breed standard. As the breed standard only deals with the externally observable qualities of the dog (such as appearance, movement, and temperament), separately tested qualities (such as ability or health) are not part of the judging in conformation shows.
Every year, between 6 and 8 million dogs and cats enter US animal shelters.[204] The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) estimates that approximately 3 to 4 million of those dogs and cats are euthanized yearly in the United States.[205] However, the percentage of dogs in US animal shelters that are eventually adopted and removed from the shelters by their new legal owners has increased since the mid-1990s from around 25% to a 2012 average of 40% among reporting shelters[206] (with many shelters reporting 60–75%).[207]

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.


The genetic divergence between dogs and wolves occurred between 40,000–20,000 years ago, just before or during the Last Glacial Maximum.[27][2] This timespan represents the upper time-limit for the commencement of domestication because it is the time of divergence and not the time of domestication, which occurred later.[27][28] The domestication of animals commenced over 15,000 years ago, beginning with the grey wolf (Canis lupus) by nomadic hunter-gatherers.[27] The archaeological record and genetic analysis show the remains of the Bonn–Oberkassel dog buried beside humans 14,200 years ago to be the first undisputed dog, with disputed remains occurring 36,000 years ago.[2] It was not until 11,000 years ago that people living in the Near East entered into relationships with wild populations of aurochs, boar, sheep, and goats.[27]
A 2005 paper states "recent research has failed to support earlier findings that pet ownership is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, a reduced use of general practitioner services, or any psychological or physical benefits on health for community dwelling older people. Research has, however, pointed to significantly less absenteeism from school through sickness among children who live with pets."[191] In one study, new guardians reported a highly significant reduction in minor health problems during the first month following pet acquisition, and this effect was sustained in those with dogs through to the end of the study.[195]

Dog grooming prices for nail trims can vary based on the the size and temperament of your dog, where the nail trimming takes place, and whether you bundle the trim with other grooming services. The average cost to get your dog’s nails trimmed usually ranges from approximately $10 to $25. Nationally, the average for dog grooming prices is $60-$80, which usually encompasses not only nail trimming but also bathing, haircuts and other services.
The breed with the shortest lifespan (among breeds for which there is a questionnaire survey with a reasonable sample size) is the Dogue de Bordeaux, with a median longevity of about 5.2 years, but several breeds, including miniature bull terriers, bloodhounds, and Irish wolfhounds are nearly as short-lived, with median longevities of 6 to 7 years.[64]
We continually review and update our pet grooming policies, procedures and standards, under the supervision of our Director of Veterinary Medicine, with counsel from a number of independent experts in animal care, behavior and ethics. We continue to train our teams on and reinforce the critical importance of following those policies at all times. Since 2015, we've worked together with the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) and the Professional Pet Groomers & Stylists Alliance (PPGSA) to encourage and support national health and safety standards for the grooming industry. We believe these standards are critical to the wellbeing of pets everywhere, and we continue to work with other pet industry leaders to encourage industry-wide adoption and adherence to them.
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