Domestic Dog (S/F) / (S/F-T/G) / (S/F-S)

A dog and its owner (portrayed by Michael Lanteri) in San José, Costa Rica. The dog appears to be a spaniel breed.

The domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris, considered by some scientists as the species Canis familiaris), or simply the dog, is a domesticated canine. It is sometimes considered a unique species, but has also been considered a subspecies of wolf. It is the world’s most abundant terrestrial carnivorous mammal, due almost entirely to its ancient partnership with the human species. The dog is one of the most common domestic animals and has been bred into a wide variety of forms, each one depending on what tasks its human caretakers intended for its lineage to carry out.

The first dogs were probably domesticated in Eurasia sometime between 40,000 and 20,000 years ago by bands of nomadic hunter-gatherers. They are believed to be the first animals which humans domesticated.


There are hundreds of breeds of dog, each with a particular appearance based on its genetic heritage, but some features are universal. The dog is a quadrupedal mammal similar in anatomy to the wolf, which it shares a common ancestor with. In most breeds, there is a pronounced snout called a muzzle with a large nose, and the jaws are typically strong with sharp canine teeth. The tongue is pink, typically long and strong, rounded in shape. Domestic dogs have upturned tails, which are unique among canines and can be used to immediately distinguish the domestic dog from wild dog species. However, some have very short tails, and the shape may be straight, vertical, sickle-shaped, or curled.

Dogs are covered in coats of hair; breeds suited to colder climates possess a double-layer of coarse guard hair and softer down hair, while other breeds have only the down hair. Coloration is often piebald, though entirely brown, black, gray, white, and blond dogs are common. Many have a white stripe or spot on the chest, called a blaze or star. Most breeds are powerfully muscled with fused wrists, evolutionary adaptations that suit their predatory lifestyle. The dog walks on four of its toes; the fifth toe is a dewclaw. Some dogs are double dewclawed. On the underside of the foot is a patch of tough skin called a footpad.

Size and shape are immensely variable because of the many types and breeds of dog that exist. The smallest known dog was a Yorkshire terrier which grew to 2.5 inches (6.3 centimeters) tall at the shoulder and weighing four ounces (113 grams), while the largest was an English mastiff weighing 343 pounds (155.6 kilograms) and the tallest was a Great Dane measuring 42 inches (106.7 centimeters) tall at the shoulder.

The dog’s senses are highly tuned, with its ability to hear and smell far exceeding that of the human. Its ears are particularly sensitive to high-pitched sounds, though floppy-eared domestic breeds have less sensitive hearing than pointy-eared breeds. In some dog breeds, the sense of smell can be up to forty times as sensitive as a human’s. Its nose is wet, which is used to determine temperature as the liquid evaporates off the nose. The nostrils are mobile, allowing the dog to more accurately determine where a smell is coming from. On the sides of the snout are whiskers which are used for tactile sensing. The dog has a less powerful sense of sight; humans can see more colors than dogs. The dog is primarily capable of seeing yellow, blue, and gray, with other colors being harder to distinguish. However, the dog is adept at seeing in low-light conditions, since its ancestors were crepuscular predators. Its pupils are round and quite large, and in many dogs the sclerae are only visible when it rotates its eyes.


The baby dog is called a pup or puppy. During this stage, its fur is generally softer and its head is proportionally large, while its legs are proportionally shorter. Similarly to the human baby, the puppy’s eyes and ears are large for its head size. These features give the puppy a vulnerable appearance which encourages adults to care for them.

Most dogs become physically mature over the course of 16 to 18 months, though their behavior may remain puppylike for a few years. Maturation varies based on breed.

As the dog grows older, its fur may begin to gray and colors fade. Dog lifespans vary based on breed, with the shortest-lived breeds reaching only five to six years while the longest-lived breeds may live to be fifteen years old.

Sexual Dimorphism

The high degree of variability in the dog’s physiology mostly precludes the existence of prominent secondary sexual characteristics. As a result, there is little real sexual dimorphism in the dog.

Preferred Habitat

Most of the world’s dogs are domesticated, living in or around human homes for all of their lives. Their ancestral home was in Eurasia, where their wolf-like ancestors were well adapted to temperate and cold conditions. Modern dogs with two-layer coats can survive and thrive in fairly cold environments, but most breeds are highly adaptable; they can acclimate to a wide variety of environment types.

Natural range

Dogs naturally coexist alongside humans, and probably originated in Eurasia more than twenty thousand years before the present day. It is hard to say what their “natural” range is, just like it is hard to pin down humans’ natural range. This is because there is no single cut-off point for when humans and their domestic animals transitioned from being hunter-gatherer creatures into civilized beings: it is a continuum of evolution. It can be said that humans and dogs alike have naturally moved to virtually every corner of the world, but at the same time, the use of technology more complex than that available to other animals was and continues to be an integral part of this process.


Dogs are domesticated around the world, living in and around human homes in virtually every country. They spread around the world as humans migrated across continents in prehistory. Due to unplanned breeding, escapes, and intentional releases, there are also feral dogs living in many countries. Depending on their breed, dogs may be adapted to various climates, but most can adjust to multiple types of environment. Smaller dogs are better suited to life in urban areas where there are fewer predators and more humans to provide them with food, while larger dogs may be able to survive in the wild. However, even larger feral dogs will venture into cities to obtain food, as this is easier than hunting it down.

The only regions of the world where there are no dogs are isolated islands and the continent of Antarctica. Some insular areas were cut off before dogs were introduced, while others were settled by such small human populations that there simply were no dogs in the community. Dogs were at one point introduced to Antarctica to pull sleds, but were outlawed in April 1994 due to concerns that they could introduce foreign diseases to the seals living on the southern continent’s shores.

Behavior and Ecology
Activity Patterns

In the wild, the dog is a crepuscular hunter, active mainly at dawn and dusk when its low-light vision is of best use to it. They are equally capable during the day and night, though they may choose to sleep during the middle of the day or night.

In domestic life, dogs are typically diurnal because their owners are. The domestic dog in a home will often sleep when its owner sleeps, though the dog’s sleep schedule may differ slightly from its owner. In these cases, the owner will typically have to adapt to the dog’s sleep schedule rather than the other way around, because the dog will require assistance getting outside to defecate and urinate and then getting back in the home afterward. The dog may also request exercise or play during a time at which its owner would otherwise sleep, and the dog and human must find ways to resolve these disagreements.

Diet and Feeding Behavior

Voracious omnivores, dogs will eat virtually anything they perceive as food; in the wild, adult dogs will teach their offspring what foods are safe and which are not, but when dogs are raised by humans, it is the responsibility of the human to stop the dog from eating dangerous substances. Many substances found around human homes, including onions and garlic, chocolate, aloe and other domestic plants, grapes, xylitol, and cigarettes are harmful to the dog if consumed. The dog’s natural diet should include protein-based foods; it will happily eat most meats, but commercial dog foods are typically provided in the form of kibble.

In the wild, the dog preys on herbivorous mammals such as deer, and also scavenges carcasses. It hunts in packs, coordinating to bring down prey. The dog tracks food sources using its incredible sense of smell. It can excavate food using its claws, or tear it up using its powerful jaws and teeth. However, most feral dogs live in or near cities and will scavenge garbage or obtain food from humans. Some feral dogs will act similarly to domestic dogs and beg humans for handouts, but others take a more aggressive approach or try to steal food. The dog is a strategic hunter and scavenger, quickly learning what approaches work best and which do not.

Dogs are ancestrally carnivorous, but can also consume some fruits and vegetables. They have a preference for fruits that contain furaneol, such as tomatoes. On the other hand, they cannot abide bitter or spicy flavors. They have taste buds that respond to water, a feature that is found in many mammals but not humans; after eating sugary or salty foods, these water-sensing taste buds become more active and give the dog great pleasure when drinking water.

Social Behavior

Like all canines, dogs are social animals and benefit from the presence of other dogs. Groups of dogs are called packs. They should be socialized when in the puppy stage to ensure that they are comfortable interacting with members of their own kind. Even adult dogs will happily engage in play behavior with one another, jumping on or racing one another, and can easily identify familiar dogs through scent. The nose and anus are the primary regions that dogs will scent one another. If interactions become too energetic or otherwise stressful, the dog will bite to announce that it is uncomfortable or upset.

Because its sense of smell is so powerful, dogs will use scent to interact as well. A dog will urinate on a particular object to announce its presence; its unique scent can be recognized by other dogs, and even those who have never met it before can discern details about its identity. Dogs will often urinate on communal objects, using these as a form of communication in the same way that humans utilize public bulletin boards.

Dog packs often have a form of hierarchy in place with parental figures leading their offspring and other younger dogs. The parents, sometimes called “alpha” dogs, are responsible for teaching and protecting the others. In domesticity, humans will assume the role of the parental alpha figure, which necessitates maintaining a sense of authority the dog will respect. Dogs rarely respond well to aggressive authority figures, instead respecting those with good parental traits. Sometimes, a dog that is used to being the center of attention can become jealous of newcomers. Jess Harding‘s dog Patchie became jealous of a new puppy her family adopted in the early 1990s.


Both male and female dogs are sexually mature at around six months to a year in most breeds, though in some it can be delayed to two years. The female experiences semiannual estrous cycles, meaning she can breed twice a year. She may mate with more than one male, bearing puppies from different fathers in the same litter. The male will court the female by sniffing her reproductive organs, at which point the female will either accept or reject him. The mating process itself takes five to twenty minutes, during which the dogs will be anatomically unable to separate. After fertilization, the gestation period lasts fifty-eight to sixty-eight days, after which the female will give birth to a litter of puppies. There are usually five or six in a litter, but this can vary with breed and age. Mated dogs will sometimes remain a pair, developing emotional bonds with one another.

Parent dogs are often highly protective of their offspring and will nurse them until they are capable of feeding themselves. Once they are weaned, it is still common for the mother (and father, if he is present) to provide food for them as they are not yet skilled at hunting or foraging. In natural conditions, the parents will teach their offspring how to obtain food and survive in the world; humans will often assist with this, or take over the process entirely, in domestic situations.

The dog is considered an adult by the time it reaches one or two years old, though the maturation rate varies by breed.


The best-known communication used by the dog is its bark, a loud call which it uses to get the attention of its fellows. Dogs use this sound to communicate to humans, typically to express a desire for the human to amend a troubling situation (though the human and dog may disagree over the definition of “troubling”). Depending on the size of the dog, the bark may sound like a high-pitched “yip” or a low, booming “woof.” Dogs will also make other sounds, such as a whining noise to express distress or growling to express anger.

When happy, the dog will communicate mostly through body language. A wagging tail is a sure sign that a dog is excited and energetic; this can indicate either happiness or stress, and should be considered along with other signals to determine the dog’s mood. Panting is often considered a sign of excitement or happiness, though this is actually how the dog regulates its temperature as it cannot sweat. Still, an elevated temperature may indicate the dog is in an excited state. Other signs of joy in the dog include jumping or tapping the feet, licking a friendly human or other animal, or physically touching a friendly companion. To suggest play or other cooperative behavior, a dog may crouch down with its head near its paws and its tail in the air in preparation for a lunge forward. Submissive behavior is shown by lowering the whole body, while sadness or fear is indicated by tucking the tail between the legs. The dog’s eyes and face are expressive, which can be used to indicate its mood as well; for example, if the dog rolls its eyes so that the white sclerae show, this may mean that it is excited, afraid, or otherwise emotionally stimulated.

Dogs also communicate to one another using scent. The dog’s sense of smell is highly acute, and its brain’s olfactory cortex is extremely large. It can remember a multitude of different scents, which it uses to recognize fellow dogs, human companions, and other animals. Dogs can quickly recognize the smell of another dog’s urine, using this to discern information about that dog’s age, sex, health, and status. Taste can be used in a similar way to learn about other animals.

The long history of dogs and humans as companions means that dogs can also recognize and respond to specific human commands. Some dogs are capable of recognizing up to a thousand different words, phrases, and visual communications. Unlike many animals, the dog is capable of not only recognizing and responding to these commands but actually understanding the meaning.

Ecological Interactions

In its ancestral state, the dog is a hunter and forager, coordinating with intelligent pack behavior to bring down prey in its environment. It is capable of out-maneuvering other predators with its speed, endurance, and strategy. Because it is intelligent, the dog is also a curious animal and may attempt to interact with other species in play. This is more common in domesticity, where the dog has less need to hunt and is therefore more likely to be friendly. If socialized properly, dogs can be taught to get along with other species of domestic animals. For example, Claire Dearing was able to socialize an adult dog she adopted in high school to be friendly with her pet skink, which she had owned since the age of eight.

However, even domestic dogs can have an impact on their environment if their human caretakers permit it. Dogs are naturally predator animals, and if permitted to do so, they may chase after and harass wild animals as a form of play. This can disturb some species, such as shorebirds that nest on beaches where humans permit their dogs to run free. Some vulnerable animals can become endangered or potentially even extinct due to uncontrolled domestic dogs. Feral dogs are also threatening to vulnerable species, since they never have humans keeping their behavior in check.

While about twenty percent of dogs live in developed countries, the remaining eighty percent live as feral of communally-owned animals in developing countries. Dogs that live some or all of their lives in nature often compete with or are preyed upon other carnivorous animals, such as hyenas, tigers, and pumas. Even their relatives the wolves will sometimes kill and eat them.

Dogs are also affected by numerous parasites. Some are internal, such as hookworms and the rabies virus, while others are external, such as ticks. These parasites can bring diseases; some, such as rabies, are fatal. In the wild, dogs have little to protect them from disease other than their own immune systems, so dogs that live in domestic homes are often better protected; their human companions can remove ectoparasites and provide them with medicine to prevent or cure disease caused by endoparasites.

Cultural Significance

As one of the oldest domesticated species, dogs are often seen as eternal partners of the human species, and in English-speaking cultures are referred to using to sobriquet “man’s best friend.” There are many breeds of dogs, and each one is ascribed different stereotypical personality traits (though in reality, the dog’s behavior is far more dependent on its upbringing than its heritage). All larger dogs and even some smaller dogs are seen as symbols of masculinity. Dogs symbolize loyalty, extroversion, strength, and devotion, which are all positive masculine traits. The dog can also symbolize either intelligence or endearing foolishness, depending on the dog; it is fairly uncommon for dogs to be used to symbolize stereotypical feminine traits, which many cultures usually reserve for the cat. The dog is highly revered in many societies, and artwork of the dog can be found dating back many thousands of years.

Depending on the breed of dog, different stereotypes and symbolic meanings may apply. These are often linked to the functions these dogs serve in society. For example, the dalmatian is often associated with firefighters and thus with acts of heroism, since it was used as a firefighters’ dog for many years in the past. Hunting dogs such as bloodhounds are used to symbolize traits such as vigilance and steadfastness, while dogs used in police work such as the doberman are associated with authority. While nearly all dog breeds symbolize loyalty, those most frequently used this way are probably the retrievers, with the golden retriever linked most strongly to faithfulness in Western cultures. The smallest dog breeds, which are sometimes used as fashion statements by wealthier women in Western cultures, are often linked to egotism and impulsivity.

Some dog breeds are unfortunately and wrongfully associated with aggression due to their use for security work, or illegal dogfighting. The breeds stereotyped as dangerous change over time as the popularity of those breeds for security functions waxes and wanes. Other negative traits are sometimes culturally associated with certain dogs, frequently traits that are also seen as undesirable in men. These change over time along with culture. The dog features in many turns of phrase, not all of them favorable; in many cultures referring to someone a “dog” is a grave and dehumanizing insult.

In Captivity

The dog was among the first animals to be domesticated by humans. It is believed that wolf-like canines began living near human settlements in Eurasia, taking scraps of food that were left over from the humans’ hunts. For thousands of years, this relationship developed; dogs learned how to communicate with humans more than any other animal, and humans brought dogs into their homes and bred them for specific traits. Modern dogs show the clear signs of this relationship; they are capable of understanding human communication and body language to a degree not seen in other species, even those that are more intelligent than the dog. For example, if a human points to an object, a dog can learn to look in the direction the human is pointing; other intelligent animals such as chimpanzees and dolphins will instead look at the human’s finger.

As of 2018, about nine hundred million dogs lived in homes around the world. This is an almost two hundred percent increase from the 2012 dog population. Of these, roughly ninety million live in the United States, where they are one of the most popular pets. Dogs have been bred for many purposes including physical work, competitive sports, personal protection, hunting, emergency rescue, companionship, and dog shows focused on beauty or talent. In the modern day, the dog’s intelligence and ability to read body language have made it an ideal service animal, providing assistance to disabled people in a wide variety of ways.

Not all human uses of dogs are positive; some have turned the physical strength of certain dogs to train them to fight or attack. Dogs have also been used as food, though this is taboo in many countries and is generally declining around the world. The use of dogs as military animals is also controversial, and has partially inspired projects such as I.B.R.I.S. and military bioengineering. Animal rights activists have worked together to advocate and provide for the welfare of dogs and other animals around the world, greatly improving their well-being.

The dog’s popularity is directly linked to its ability to understand human body language and vocal commands, though these require a degree of training. However, the dog seems innately predisposed to human companionship, with even feral dogs being capable of learning how to live alongside humans. This is because of the dog’s ancient partnership with the human species. Today, dogs of countless breeds can be adopted in most countries around the world, and entire industries exist based around providing the supplies necessary to keep dogs healthy and entertained. Each variety of dog has particular needs, and personality will further compound this, but there are some standards that are common to all dogs. Due to their intelligence and social nature, all dogs require attention and stimulation, needs which are usually satisfied through play. The human and dog can bond during mutual play which also allows the human to train the dog to respond to commands, learning tricks and chores. This is beneficial to both, since the dog can aid the human in daily activities and the human provides the dog with exercise and keeps its mind active.

It is recommended to neuter any dogs that are not intended for breeding. There is sadly an overabundance of puppies as well as adult dogs, resulting in overpopulation as there are not enough homes for them all. This leads to populations of feral dogs developing, many of which must be captured and euthanized. Ensuring that domestic dogs are neutered can help ensure that breeding is kept in check, which over time will allow for every dog to have a home.


The trainable nature of the dog has lent its services to science throughout history. Psychology, for example, has made use of the dog quite famously in experiments such as Ivan Pavlov’s classical conditioning research. Dogs in these experiments demonstrated the ability to associate an event with a stimulus, such as anticipating food when hearing the sound of a metronome. Since dogs and humans use similar regions of the brain for similar purposes, understanding how dogs learn can also help uncover new information about human psychology as well. The dog was also among the first animals to ride on a spacecraft outside of Earth’s atmosphere; a Russian street dog named Laika entered Earth’s orbit on Sputnik 2 in November 1957, though sadly she died of overheating during the mission. The death of Laika, which had always been accepted by the Soviet scientists as an inevitability as the capsule could not be recovered, was a major component in the animal rights movement. In the later half of the twentieth century and moving into the modern day, the use of dogs in science has been put under greater scrutiny to ensure the humane treatment of the animals.

Medicine has also greatly benefited from the dog’s help, since dogs are not only common domestic animals in many parts of the world but are susceptible to many of the same ailments as humans. Their pathology and response to medication is also quite similar. If a disease affecting the dog can be cured, it is likely that the same disease can be treated in humans, so much research has gone into treatment for dog diseases. These include cancers, diabetes, various neurological disorders, and cardiovascular diseases. Dogs are also useful in their own right for encouraging health and wellness in nearby humans (both physical and psychological): they are able to provide a form of social reassurance, facilitate friendly interactions between people, and ensure that their human owners must regularly exercise.

Even the field of robotics benefits from the dog. Biomimicry and bionics, areas of study where roboticists take inspiration from nature to inform technological design, have resulted in robotic dogs for various purposes. The simplest of these are advanced toys for entertainment, but robotic dogs have been produced for military use as well; the first of these was the Boston Dynamics BigDog in 2005. It turned out to be too loud for combat, but has since been succeeded by a wide range of improved models. One of the most advanced of these is the Mantah Corporation Bio-Robotic Assistance Droid, which was in use privately by 2016. Today, robotic dogs are used by the military in several countries, and in some such as the United States they are even being implemented as enforcers in police organizations.

Some geneticists, such as Henry Wu, consider the selective breeding of domestic dogs from wolves to be a precursor to the modern process of genetic engineering. In the game Jurassic World: Evolution 2, the specific genes that make dogs so well-suited for living alongside humans can be isolated and used in genetic engineering. This is called the Positive Temperament modification, and it makes animals less fussy and more accommodating, enabling them to thrive in living conditions that wild animals would not tolerate.


Laws regarding dog ownership differ from one municipality to another, but most developed countries have legislation to regulate who can own a dog and how those dogs ought to be treated. Beginning in the mid-twentieth century, the animal rights movement has sought to better the living conditions of dogs on an international scale by outlawing practices that bring avoidable harm to these animals. Regulations have been put in place in many countries to prevent abuse, neglect, and other forms of cruelty to dogs and other creatures.

Of course, the law is not perfect. Animal welfare organizations may be legally unable to help a dog in a given situation if the laws are not specific enough, or if animal rights regulations are lax. The Pyrenees mix Roo, for example, was kept in a neglectful situation by an owner who met the bare minimum requirements to avoid Animal Control becoming involved; through the diligence of a young Claire Dearing local authorities were eventually able to intervene when the owner’s neglect reached the legal definitions of animal cruelty. On the other hand, the law can be overzealous. Some communities and even states and provinces will outlaw breeds of dog that they deem inherently dangerous; the feared breed changes periodically depending on cultural practices, but dogs such as dobermans, rottweilers, and pit bulls are frequently targets of such laws. Although animal rights activists are quick to point out that aggression is learned and not an inherent trait of any dog breed, the law is often written by people without so much expertise who can choose to ignore the advice of those who know better.


Dogs have historically been used for companionship, and today about twenty percent of all dogs live as pets in developed countries. The remaining eighty percent are less well understood, but many are communally owned by villages and towns or otherwise live in association with human communities. When the dog is kept as a pet, it typically provides its owners with a form of service; this can be as simple as companionship and psychological support, but sometimes involves performing much more complex tasks. Dogs can be trained, for example, to provide essential help to disabled humans and greatly improve their quality of life. Highly trained dogs are sometimes employed by firefighters, search-and-rescue teams, and other emergency services to protect lives; in the home, dogs can be taught to recognize a medical emergency and provide assistance or even alert other humans.

In the past, and in some parts of the world still, the dog is used for its meat and is allowed to be killed for food. This practice was common in East Asia and Mesoamerica for some time, but has been at least partially outlawed in some developed countries. Most cultures that allow the consumption of dog meat do so as the meat is believed to provide health benefits, but there is a lack of scientific evidence for this, as fairly little research has gone into it. Although developed countries increasingly ascribe to the Western view of dogs as companion animals only, the use of dogs in the police and military is still commonplace. Animal rights activists frequently disagree with this practice, since dogs used in combat or policing can be put in danger or learn aggressive behaviors. The use of the dog for military and paramilitary purposes is largely due to the dog’s heightened senses of smell and hearing, coupled with its trainable intelligence.

Although the world has changed enormously since the human and the dog first met, many aspects of their relationship have remained the same. It is believed that the first domestic dogs were hunting companions, having learned to eat the scraps left behind when humans killed game; the dog’s own hunting ability came to benefit the humans as well, and these two species of intelligent social omnivores became partners. Hunting dogs are still quite common now. The evidence certainly suggests that throughout history, humans have become emotionally attached to their dogs, even before the intelligence of non-human animals was scientifically understood. Perhaps the greatest resource the dog provides is a reminder that, though the world continues to change, humanity retains a close kinship to other living things and is not so separate from the rest of nature.


Much as people can be unpredictable, so can dogs, and dogs you are unfamiliar with should be given respectful space unless their owners confirm that the dog is safe. When interacting with a dog you do not know well, watch its body language for any signs of discomfort, agitation, or fear. This is especially important with feral dogs; while most street dogs will flee if approached, some may behave aggressively, particularly if they have been threatened by humans before. It is best to let such traumatized dogs be handled by animal experts who can soothe and rehabilitate them.

While dog attacks are usually defensive in nature and can be avoided by giving the dog enough space to escape, it is still best to know how to defend yourself. An attacking dog will most likely leap and bite, since its teeth are its main defensive and offensive weapons. Defend your neck and face, blocking the bite with your arm if possible or otherwise pushing the dog away. Avoid being knocked down however you can. Wearing thicker clothing will help protect you from the teeth and claws, preventing lacerations that can become infected. If your hand or arm is bitten by a dog and it will not let go, you may be able to surprise it into releasing you by shoving your arm further into its mouth. It will probably not be expecting this, since a typical prey item or enemy will try to struggle and escape. Try not to show fear or act submissively, instead asserting dominance over the dog. If it senses that you are confident and capable of defending yourself, it may back down. Do not run away, but instead back away slowly while keeping it in your line of sight.

About 4,500,000 people in the United States are bitten by dogs every year, and on average 31 of these are fatal. Dog attacks can also transmit diseases such as rabies. Around 77% of dog attacks in the United States occur from dogs belonging to the victim’s family or friends, and half of attacks take place on the dog’s owner’s property. Most dog attacks in these types of situations are the result of improper training or poor socialization, which fall squarely on the shoulders of the owner. Thus, the easiest way to prevent dog attacks is to ensure that your own dog is well-trained and understands how to behave around people. If your dog cannot be trained and made safe, for example if it was previously abused or is a former feral dog, it is best to give it a secure home where it cannot wander around and potentially harm anyone. It is of particular note that your dog should not be let off leash except for in designated areas. Ultimately, every domestic dog is its owner’s responsibility. By understanding your own dog’s particular needs and training it to the best of your ability, you can make human-dog relationships safer overall.

Notable Individuals

Patchie – male, owned by Jess Harding before 1993

Jess’s Second Dog – puppy adopted by the Harding family before 1993

Rex – owned by Benjamin and his family until 1997, possible boxer mix

Roo – male Pyrenees mix rehabilitated by Claire Dearing and adopted in approximately 1997

Earhart – female lab-rottweiler mix, former feral dog adopted by the Dearing family around 1999

Gray – owned by Paul Kirby, had reached an advanced age by 2001

Daisy – female Shih Tzu mix, lived in Calgary as of 2022