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Portal:Dogs

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Two Australian Shepherds
The domestic dog is a mammal in the canine family of the Order Carnivora. Based on genetic evidence, dogs began from a single domestication of a now-extinct wolf-like canid in Western Europe 27 to 40 thousand years ago. Since this time, the dog has developed into hundreds of breeds with a great degree of variation in height and weight, coat color and texture, anatomical details and behavior. Dogs fill a variety of roles in human society and are often trained as working dogs. For dogs that do not have traditional jobs, a wide range of dog sports provide the opportunity to exhibit their natural skills. In many countries the most common, and perhaps most important, role of dogs is as companions. Dogs have lived with and worked with humans in so many roles that their loyalty has earned them the sobriquet "man's best friend."
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This Chihuahua mix and Great Dane show the wide range of dog breed sizes.
A dog breed is a group of dogs that have very similar or nearly identical characteristics of appearance or behavior or, usually, both, primarily because they come from a select set of ancestors who had the same characteristics. Dogs have been selectively bred for specific characteristics for thousands of years. Initially the selections would have centered on domestication and useful behavior such as hunting ability. Later, dogs were also selected for attractive and distinctive forms, resulting in a vast variety of types.

Many traditional dog breeds recognized by the main breed registries are said to be "purebred". Only individuals whose parentage consists only of other purebred examples of the breed are regarded as part of that breed. This concept has caused controversy both because of the difficulty of regulation and because of the possible genetic consequences of a limited population (inbreeding). Recent work has been done to genetically classify the various breeds, with some surprising results regarding the estimated age and interrelations of the breeds.

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A yellow Labrador Retriever fetching a stick from a beach.
Credit: redjar

Retrievers, such as this Labrador Retriever, are a type of gun dog bred to retrieve downed birds from water or land. Although spaniels and some pointing breeds routinely retrieve game, retrievers are skilled in finding game, and are distinguished in that non-slip retrieval is their primary function. As a result, retriever breeds are bred for "soft" mouths and a great willingness to please, learn, and obey. A soft mouth refers to the willingness of the dog to carry game without damaging it. Retrievers are often selected as family pets, and many suburban dogs end up retrieving newspapers and sticks like this dog.

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Types of Dogs

Working dogs
Working dogs are those who perform jobs for people, as distinguished from companion dogs. Working dogs are of many types.
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Hunting dogs
Any dog or breed who assists humans in hunting. There are several categories of hunting dogs.
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Pastoral dogs
Any dog or breed who assists humans with livestock.
Guard dogs
Dogs used to protect people or property.
Sled dogs
Dogs whose job is primarily pulling sleds.
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Companion dogs 
Dogs whose primary function is as a companion and friend. Many toy breeds.
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Dog breeds also can be grouped into similar types such as molossers, spitz types, pit bulls, or lurchers.

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Afghan Hound
The Afghan Hound is a very old sighthound dog breed. Distinguished by its thick, fine, silky coat and its tail with a ring curl at the end, the breed acquired its unique features in the cold mountains of Afghanistan, where it was originally used to hunt wolves, foxes, and gazelles. The typical Afghan Hound can be aloof and dignified, but happy and clownish when playing.

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