basenji dog

Basenji – One of the oldest known dog breeds

Canines have been an important part of human society for centuries, acting as family pets, working animals, and key assets for survival.  Find out more facts about these creatures we have grown to adore and rely upon them throughout history.

Humans have been keeping dogs as companions and pets for an estimated 12,000 years;  the oldest dog fossils found date back to around 10,000 BC.

The first identifiable purebred dogs are believed to be the Saluki (from Yemen) and the Pharaoh Hound. Many of the other oldest dog breeds originated in and around Egypt.

The first canine encyclopedia was written in 1685 by Christian Franz Paullini in Nuremburg, Germany.

Tragically, in 1796 there was decreed a law that taxed dog owners for both their indoor and outdoor pets. (England instigated fee charge of 5 shillings for an outdoor dog, and 3 shillings for an indoor dog.) This unfortunately caused many pet owners to kill their own dogs for fear that they could not afford them.

Though cats were more widely regarded as deities than dogs were, canines were still revered and worshiped by the followers of Mithras, a faith-group which lasted several centuries during the Roman Empire.

One French monarch (King Henry III, 1551-1589) was so obsessed with dogs, that he ended up housing over 2,000 dogs during his life, many of whom were miniature or toy breeds.  According to the Guinness Book of Pet Records, King Henry III had a reputation for paying someone to steal a dog he liked if it was not for sale.

One kind of dog that was common among herders and farmers in the 18th and 19th centuries was the “cur” who was a mix of a sheepdog and a powerful mastiff breed.  These dogs would help guide livestock to market, and were highly valued by the farmers. Nevertheless, the term “cur” had a negative connotation if someone was called one.

Before humans ever went to space, a dog named Laika was the first living creature to exit Earth, which she did in the year 1957.

Loving dogs sometimes feels like fundamental part of being American, and this is actually passed down from our very first president. George Washington owned 36 foxhound dogs in his lifetime. Showing a similar kind of devotion, Franklin Delano Roosevelt once paid $15,000 to have his pet dog retrieved from the Aleutian Islands.

Teddy Roosevelt’s dog ripped the pants off the French Ambassador on his visit to the White House.

Beloved child actress Shirley Temple once said she and one other film star became the two most endearing national symbols of hope to people during the Great Depression.  The other actor was Rin Tin Tin, the first canine Hollywood star.

Caring for dogs is a well-respected trait in child character development. Both Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts have historically been able to win merit awards and badges for diligently looking after a pet.

There are believed to be around 5 million canines born in the United States every year.

Dogs have been used over the years as more than just the hunters and companions they were once domesticated to be. Now dogs can be:

  • Lap dogs
  • Comfort/companions for the infirm
  • Therapy dogs
  • Guide dogs
  • Working dogs
  • Herding dogs
  • Aid dogs for the medically or physically impaired
  • Scent or sight assistant dogs for the blind
  • Medical detection dogs
  • Law enforcement dogs
  • Military aid dogs
  • Narcotics/bomb detection dogs
  • Search and rescue tracking dogs
  • Racing dogs
  • Guard dogs
  • Hunting/retriever dogs, etc.