Pets: Dog | History, Domestication, Physical Traits& Breeds 


Dog, (Canis lupus familiaris), domestic mammal of the family Canidae (order Carnivora).

The dog is a domesticated descendant of the wolf. Also called the domestic dog, it is derived from extinct Pleistocene wolves, and the modern wolf is the dog’s nearest living relative. The dog was the first species to be domesticated by humans.

Lifespan: 10 – 13 years

Domain: Eukaryota

Family: Canidae

Kingdom: Animalia

Order: Carnivora

Phylum: Chordata

Dogs have been loyal companions to men for millenniums. Thanks to their extraordinary capabilities, dogs are highly appreciated and tremendously popular as helpers and as buddies. Hardly any other domestic animal or pet lives and works so closely together with human beings. Nevertheless, it is in particular because of the special character of dogs that some people abuse them for their own interests.

Dogs are lifesavers – they watch and protect us and our property and they serve as faithful companions. On the other side it is our responsibility to take care of them. In many places, dogs are given much tender loving care; they are sometimes treated as if they were humans; they are held for reasons of prestige and are often misunderstood.

It is humans who primarily influence how a dog develops, but in order to understand dogs, we need to study their biology and behavior.

Animal protection issues

  • Acquiring a dog without having considered the changes to your everyday life often leads to the holder being overtaxed and the dog being underchallenged.
  • Breeding abuse can translate into a dog suffering physical and mental pain.
  • Overfeeding and a lack of exercise as well as being mentally underchallenged lead to health difficulties and behavioral disturbances.
  • Insufficient social contact with other dogs and human beings makes dogs uncertain and weak in will as well as being potentially dangerous.
  • Dogs must be allowed social contact with people and with other dogs. Moreover, dogs must be able to move freely outdoors.
  • Despite progress made, there is still need for action. It should not be allowed to tie dogs to a running chain (minimum radius of movement for the dog is 20 m²).
  • On national level there is a Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

What you need to know before you acquire a dog

  • Household members need to agree.
  • The landlord needs to permit dogs in his or her building.
  • Sufficient space must be available in the house or apartment.
  • Sufficient time must be made for walks.
  • Care for the dog needs to be ensured during workday absences.
  • The holder needs to be able to afford a dog and know which costs to expect (veterinary, taxes, etc.)
  • Rules need to be put in place and adhered to.
  • The owner needs to be willing to attend courses for dogs.
  • Care must be ensured for the dog when its owner is away on vacation as well as in emergency situations.
  • The owner needs to be knowledgeable about dog races and know which dog best fits his or her lifestyle.


In order for a puppy to grow to become a pleasant, safe and sociable dog, „good upbringing“ is of utmost importance. Owners must endeavor to bring up puppies as best possible and ensure that

  • the puppies be able to socialize with other dogs (communication between dogs);
  • and other animals (cats, guinea pigs, horses, etc.);
  • as well as people (hikers, joggers, children, disabled persons, etc.).
  • Dogs are accustomed to non-social external stimuli such as car traffic, airplanes, loud noises, etc.

It is important that puppies not be separated from their mother or siblings before they are twelve weeks old, because this form of species-specific training is very important for them; whereas their owners bear the responsibility of training them how to react to other external stimuli.

The breeds

There are approximately 400 separate breeds of purebred dogs worldwide. A purebred dog is considered to be one whose genealogy is traceable for three generations within the same breed. National registries, such as the American Kennel Club (AKC) in the United States, the Canadian Kennel Club, the Kennel Club of England, and the Australian National Kennel Council, maintain pedigrees,  The groups recognized by the AKC are identified below and in the Table.

Dog breeds and their places of origin
North AmericaCanadaLabrador retriever, Eskimo dog, Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever, Newfoundland
MexicoChihuahua, Mexican hairless
United StatesAlaskan Malamute, American foxhound, American Staffordshire terrier, American water spaniel, Australian shepherd, Boston terrier, Chesapeake Bay retriever, coonhound
South AmericaPeruInca hairless dog, Peruvian Inca orchid
EuropeBelgiumBelgian Malinois, Belgian sheepdog, Belgian Tervuren, bouvier de Flandres, Brussels griffon, schipperke
EnglandAiredale terrier, beagle, Bedlington terrier, bull terrier, bulldog (English), bullmastiff, Cavalier King Charles spaniel, cocker spaniel, curly-coated retriever, English foxhound, English setter, English springer spaniel, English toy spaniel, field spaniel, flat-coated retriever, fox terrier, harrier, Jack Russell terrier, Lakeland terrier, Manchester terrier, mastiff, Norfolk terrier, Norwich terrier, Old English sheepdog, otterhound, pointer, springer spaniel, Staffordshire bull terrier, Sussex spaniel, whippet, Yorkshire terrier
Great Britaincollie, bearded collie, border collie, border terrier, Dandie Dinmont terrier
FinlandFinnish spitz, Karelian bear dog
Francebasset hound, briard, Britanny, Clumber spaniel, French bulldog, Great Pyrenees, Löwchen
Germanyaffenpinscher, boxer, dachshund, Doberman pinscher, German shepherd dog, German shorthaired pointer, German wirehaired pointer, Great Dane, miniature pinscher, poodle, Rottweiler, schnauzer, Weimaraner
IcelandIceland dog
IrelandIrish setter, Irish red and white setter, Irish water spaniel, Irish wolfhound, Irish terrier, Kerry blue terrier, soft-coated wheaten terrier
Italybloodhound, Italian greyhound, Maremma sheepdog, Neapolitan mastiff
Hungarykomondor, kuvasz, puli, vizsla
The NetherlandsKeeshond, wirehaired pointing griffon
NorwayNorwegian elkhound, Lundehund (Norwegian puffin dog), Norwegian buhund
PortugalPortuguese water dog
Scotlandcairn terrier, golden retriever, Gordon setter, Scottish deerhound, Scottish terrier, Scottish wolfhound, Shetland sheepdog, Skye terrier, West Highland white terrier
Spainbichon frise, Ibizan hound, papillon, presa Canario
SwitzerlandBernese mountain dog, St. Bernard
WalesCardigan Welsh corgi, Pembroke Welsh corgi, Sealyham terrier, Welsh springer spaniel, Welsh terrier
AfricaEgyptbasenji, greyhound, pharaoh hound, saluki
South AfricaRhodesian ridgeback
AustraliaAustralian terrier, Australian cattle dog, silky terrier
Asia and the Middle EastAfghanistanAfghan hound
ChinaChinese crested, Chinese shar-pei, chow chow, Pekingese, pug
JapanAkita, Japanese spaniel, Japanese spitz, shiba inu
SiberiaSamoyed, Siberian husky
TibetLhasa apso, shih tzu, Tibetan terrier, Tibetan spaniel, Tibetan mastiff
TurkeyAnatolian shepherd dog (Kangal dog)

Health Issues

Preventing is preferable to curing!

Various vaccinations provide good health protection for dogs. Dogs should be vaccinated against

In addition to this,

preventing tick bites is also important, because ticks transmit diseases.

When to vaccinate?

Dog vaccinations are a very complex topic. Depending on a dog’s state of health, a veterinary will adapt corresponding vaccination plans.

Parvovirosis, distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis & kennel cough

Today, well-tolerated combination vaccinations are available to treat these five diseases, so that only one sole injection is necessary. Classically, you vaccinate puppies when they are 8 weeks old. When they are 12 weeks old, the vaccination needs to be repeated in order to ensure good basic immunization. Because protection against parvovirosis and distemper does not always prove to be sufficient with these vaccinations and protection provided by breast milk (antibodies) is of varying duration, it is recommended that parvovirosis and distemper vaccinations be repeated when animals at risk reach 16 weeks of age. All these vaccinations should be repeated at regular intervals, i.e. leptospirosis and kennel cough vaccinations annually; parvovirosis, distemper, and hepatitis vaccinations every 2 to 3 years.


Rabies is a deadly disease that can be transferred to humans. Right now, rabies is more widespread in Kenya than it has ever been. The country bears the burden of up to 2,000 human rabies deaths every year. Most of these victims are children. Inhumanely culling dogs has been proven time and time again to have little effect on rabies. The only proven solution is to consistently vaccinate 70% of dogs against the disease. Therefore your dog must be vaccinated against rabies. If a dog is vaccinated after its 16th week of life, then a one-time vaccination is sufficient. Otherwise, the dog will have to be vaccinated twice.

Borreliosis, Babesiosis, Piroplasmosis:

Vaccinations against these diseases are also available. Because ticks transmit these three diseases, primarily, it is important to protect dogs against them with collars or spot-on solutions. Your dog’s veterinary can inform you about local threats and whether a vaccination is necessary or not.

What can I check and treat myself?

With some practice, the owner can carry out certain care measures him- or herself:

  • Checking the dog’s weight on a regular basis will help to prevent overweight in due time.
  • It is often necessary to clean the dog’s ears regularly (do not use cotton bud sticks!).
  • It is a must to worm your pet with tablets on a regular basis. Just like a prophylactic treatment against fleas and ticks (collars and spot-on), worming can easily be carried out at home.
  • Smaller wounds can be treated with antiseptic solution (e.g. Betadine).
  • Pet owners can also apply and remove bandages themselves (possibly, in agreement with the veterinary).
  • A dog’s temperature can be measured rectally (please apply Vaseline prior to measuring the animal’s temperature). Normal temperature range: 37,5 to 39,0°C.


When to go to the veterinary?

Primarily, to have vaccinations carried out on a regular basis (re. information provided above).

You should take your dog to the veterinary immediately, if it suffers a car or another accident, breaks bones or was bitten by another animal.

You should also take your dog to the veterinary as quickly as possible, if it is apathetic, refuses food or demonstrates symptoms of an organic disease. The quicker a diagnosis can be made and treatment initiated, the faster your pet will be able to recover.

Most frequent diseases

We have listed only the most important of the many diseases dogs can suffer from in the following:

  • Distemper: Contagious viral disease expressed by fever, vomiting, diarrhea, eye infections, cold; sometimes even a nerve distemper with cramping. Take your dog to the veterinary at all costs.
  • Contagious hepatitis: Contagious viral disease expressed by fever, pharyngeal inflammation, stomach pains, diarrhea, changes to the eyes, disorders of the central nerve system. Take your dog to the veterinary at all costs.
  • Stuttgart Dog Disease (Leptospirosis): Contagious bacterial infection, expressed by fever, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, changes to the eyes, possibly also liver or kidney failure. Take your dog to the veterinary at all costs.
  • Kennel Cough (Canines Parainfluenza Virus): Contagious viral disease, expressed by nasal excretion, pronounced coughing, possibly also fever and general disorders all the way to lung diseases. Take your dog to the veterinary at all costs.
  • Parvovirosis: Contagious viral infection, expressed by fever or undertemparture (icy paws), exhaustion, vomiting and primarily diarrhea (watery to bloody). Take your dog to the veterinary at all costs.
  • Rabies: Virus, primarily transmitted by wild animals, expressed in a change of nature, excessive salvia, aggressiveness, biting. If you suspect that a rabid animal bit your pet, take it to the veterinary immediately.
  • Diarrhea: Various different symptoms, e.g. infections, intestine parasites, liver and kidney diseases. In the case of acute diarrhea, do not feed your pet for 24 hours but ensure sufficient water intake. Feed it at most half of the quantity of food it usually receives in several small portions. If no improvement comes about within one to two days time, take your dog to the veterinary. Boiled rice and chicken are usually well tolerated.
  • Worm infestation (primarily roundworms and tapeworms): Expressed in loss of weight, diarrhea, bloated stomach and dull fur. Regular worming is important.
  • Ticks: Ticks can transmit diseases, e.g. Borreliosis. Ticks filled with blood are swollen, brownish-white and pea-sized. Remove them immediately with special tweezers and disinfect.
  • Fleas: Expressed by irritations such as itching, inflammations, infections, possibly also flea allergies. Fleas transmit tapeworms. Collars, powder, tablets, and spot-on solutions are prophylactic means. In the case of a massive attack, cleanse and disinfect the pet’s bedding and the surrounding area.
  • Mites: There are different mite species, e.g. scabies or ear mites, that can lead to irritations and itching, inflammations and infections. The pet may begin to tilt its head. Consult a veterinary.
  • Injuries: Playing and fighting injuries, car accidents. Bleeding and encrusted wounds, broken bones, internal injuries. Depending on the severity of the injury (pet’s general condition), consult a veterinary.
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