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Collage of Nine Dogs.jpg

The domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris when considered a subspecies of the wolf or Canis familiaris when considered a distinct species) is a member of the genus Canis (canines), which forms part of the wolf-like canids, and is the most widely abundant terrestrial carnivore. The dog and the extant gray wolf are sister taxa as modern wolves are not closely related to the wolves that were first domesticated, which implies that the direct ancestor of the dog is extinct. The dog was the first species to be domesticated and has been selectively bred over millennia for various behaviors, sensory capabilities, and physical attributes.

Their long association with humans has led dogs to be uniquely attuned to human behavior and they are able to thrive on a starch-rich diet that would be inadequate for other canid species. Dogs vary widely in shape, size and colors. Dogs perform many roles for people, such as hunting, herding, pulling loads, protection, assisting police and military, companionship and, more recently, aiding handicapped individuals and therapeutic roles. This influence on human society has given them the sobriquet "man's best friend".

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This Entlebucher Sennenhund is of typical Molosser build.
Molossers are a type of typically large, solidly-built dogs comprising several breeds, probably all descended from the same root stock. The name derives from Molossia, a country once located in Western Greece.

Molossers typically have heavy bones, pendant ears, a relatively short and well-muscled neck, and a short muzzle. Although some Molossers are used for search and rescue, such as the Saint Bernard and the Newfoundland, most are used as guard dogs, due to their deep voices and natural guarding instincts, or herding dogs, not for actual herding but for protection against large predators as well as poachers. Some breeds like the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog have also been used as cart dogs.

The origin of Molossers is disputed, but Assyrian bas-relief carvings found in Nineveh date back as far as approximately 640 BC. Many believe that the Tibetan Mastiff is the ancestor of modern Molossers, although there is little evidence to support this theory. It is a fact, though, that large watchdogs have existed in Asia and the Middle East for several thousand years.

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Border Collie
Credit: Paul Englefield

A Border Collie correctly maneouvring through weave poles in dog agility. Border Collies are an extremely intelligent breed with an instinctive desire to work. They are also extremely energetic and require a lot of attention, but are very responsive to training. They are better off in a household that can provide them with plenty of exercise and a job to do.


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.
More groups

Dog breeds also can be grouped into similar types such as molossers, spitz types, pit bulls, or lurchers.

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The Beagle is a medium-sized member of the scenthound group, similar in appearance to a Foxhound but smaller with shorter legs, and with longer, softer ears. Beagles were used primarily for tracking deer, bear, and other game, but are now mostly used as companions. They are a loyal breed and most often very well tempered. Beagles love exercise and being around people. The most famous Beagle is perhaps Snoopy from the comic strip Peanuts. Other famous Beagles include Porthos from Star Trek: Enterprise, Brian from Family Guy and Brain from Inspector Gadget.

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