The love and interdependence between humans and dogs have endured for thousands of years. Evidence suggests that dogs and humans started relying on each other thousands of years ago.
Today, dogs are our coworkers and companions. They assist search-and-rescue teams, law enforcement officers, hunters, farmers, and people with disabilities. They also play with us and keep us company.
Dog Care Requirements Merit Badge
- Do the following:
- Briefly discuss the historical origin and domestication of the dog.
- Describe some common characteristics of the dogs that make up each of the seven major dog groups.
- Tell some specific characteristics of seven breeds of dogs (one from each major group), OR give a short history of one breed.
- Point out on a dog or a sketch at least 10 body parts. Give the correct name of each one.
- Do the following:
- Explain the importance of house-training, obedience training, and socialization training for your dog.
- Explain what “responsible pet ownership” means.
- Explain what issues (including temperament) must be considered when deciding on what breed of dog to get as a family pet.
- For two months, keep and care for your dog.* Maintain a log of your activities during this period that includes these items: feeding schedule, types of food used, amount fed, exercise periods, training schedule, a weekly body weight record, grooming and bathing schedules, veterinary care, if necessary, and costs. Also, include a brief description of the type of housing/shelter arrangements you have for your dog.
- Explain the correct way to obedience train a dog and what equipment you would need. Show with your dog any three of these commands: “come”, “sit”, “down”, “heel”, “stay”, “fetch” or “get it”, and “drop it”.
- Do the following:
- Discuss the proper vaccination schedule for a dog in your area from puppyhood through adulthood.
- Discuss the control methods for preventing fleas, ticks, heartworms, and intestinal parasites (worms) for a dog in your area from puppyhood through adulthood.
- Explain the importance of dental care and tooth brushing to your pet’s health.
- Discuss the benefits of grooming your dog’s coat and nails on a regular basis.
- Discuss with your counselor any seasonal conditions (like hot summers, cold winters, or extreme humidity) where you live that need to be considered for your dog.
- Discuss with your counselor the considerations and advantages of spaying or neutering your dog.
- Do the following:
- Explain the precautions to take in handling a hurt dog.
- Show how to put on an emergency muzzle.
- Explain how to treat wounds. Explain first aid for a dog bite.
- Show how to put on a simple dressing and bandage the foot, body, or head of your dog.
- Explain what to do if a dog is hit by a car.
- List the things needed in every dog owner’s first-aid kit.
- Tell the dangers of home treatment of a serious ailment.
- Briefly discuss the cause and method of spread, the signs and symptoms, and the methods of prevention of rabies, parvovirus, distemper, and heartworms in dogs.
- Visit a veterinary hospital or an animal shelter and give a report about your visit to your counselor.
- Know the laws and ordinances involving dogs that are in force in your community.
- Learn about three career opportunities for working with dogs. Pick one and find out about the education, training, and experience required for this career, and discuss this with your counselor. Tell to your counselor why this profession interests you.
Evolution of the Dog
Although there are hundreds of breeds that look very different from each other, all dogs are members of the same species, Canis familiaris.
Scientists believe that today’s dogs owe their existence to wolves tamed long ago. The wolf is the ancestor of the modern domestic dog; in fact, they are almost genetically identical. Wolves can breed with dogs and produce normal pups.
The origin of dogs can be traced to an animal called Miacis, which looked more like a weasel than a dog. This small, flesh-eating creature had short legs, a long tail, five toes, and teeth like those of today’s carnivores.
The next important ancestor, called Cynodictis, was the first to have doglike characteristics, such as a shortened fifth toe, 42 teeth, and longer legs for running.
Then came a descendent of Cynodictis, called Tomarctus, which resembled today’s dogs even more.
This animal had short, erect ears, long legs and tail, and a dewclaw that had developed from the shortened fifth toe. Also, Tomarctus probably behaved much like today’s dogs do.
All breeds of dogs and wolves evolved from Tomarctus. Scientists group them in a family called Canidae. Today, some scientists believe dogs may have evolved from the fox-like Leptocyon.
The earliest dogs probably resembled the present-day dingo, the wild dog of Australia.
Domestication of the Dog
Dogs probably were the first animals to be domesticated. Evidence left in the camps and burial mounds of early humans show that people kept dogs as hunters, trackers, and watchdogs.
Later, as humans began to raise sheep, cattle, and other livestock, their dogs learned to herd the flocks and watch over them.
In temples and tombs of ancient civilizations, drawings and inscriptions show that the ancient Egyptians kept short-legged house dogs and tall spotted dogs that looked like Greyhounds.
The Saluki also was kept; it is the oldest recognized breed. The Assyrians used a powerful Mastiff type of dog for hunting
Many toy breeds originated in China. Asians brought them to Europe in the fourth century, which resulted in today’s curly coated European breeds.
When the first European explorers arrived in the Americas, they discovered that American Indians had domesticated dogs to serve as watchdogs, pets, and beasts of burden.
By the 1700s, breeds in Europe were being refined for hunting, retrieving, and companionship.
The first dog show, held in England in 1859, proved that people had started to appreciate different breeds of dogs for their unique characteristics. Today, only an expert could recognize all the breeds of dogs.
We know humans have long respected the strength and power of dogs because they often appear as gods or mythological creatures in early art.
For example, the Egyptian god of death had the head of a dog. In Greek mythology, a ferocious three-headed dog named Cerberus guarded the entrance to the underworld.
Dog Breeds and Characteristics
The wide range of shape, size, color, and personality of purebred dogs is the result of controlled breeding and selection. Some dogs were bred to hunt, some to serve as guard or sled dogs, and some to be herders. Others were kept as pets, companions, and guides.
In the late 1800s, at the same time that dog shows were gaining popularity, a system was developed for classifying breeds according to how they are used. In the United States, the American Kennel Club has maintained a registry of breeds since 1884.
Recognized groups are sporting dogs, hounds, working dogs, terriers, toys, non-sporting dogs, and herding dogs. Within these seven groups, the AKC recognizes 174 breeds. There are 61 more purebred breeds not yet eligible for AKC registration.
To create breeds, dog owners intentionally mate purebred dogs and certify and register the pups.
A purebred dog has a “traceable” family line. Its father (sire) and mother (dam) are of the same breed and are registered. A purebred dog can trace its ancestry back to the time its breed was established.
Mixed-breed dogs are not eligible for registry. Nevertheless, for many owners, a mixed-breed dog makes a wonderful pet.
In the United States, the number of dogs-purebred and mixed breed-is estimated at 36 million. The groups recognized by the AKC are as follows.
1. Sporting Dogs
These are dogs that “scent” and either track, point, or flush (reveal a bird’s location and cause it to fly), and retrieve game birds on land or in water.
Sporting dogs and their country of origin include:
- American Water Spaniel (United States)
- Boykin Spaniel (United States)
- Chesapeake Bay Retriever (United States)
- Brittany (France)
- Clumber Spaniel (France)
- Cocker Spaniel (England)
- Curly-Coated Retriever (England)
- English Cocker Spaniel (England)
- English Setter (England)
- English Springer Spaniel (England)
- Field Spaniel (England)
- Flat-Coated Retriever (England)
- Pointer (England)
- Sussex Spaniel (England)
- German Shorthaired Pointer (Germany)
- German Wirehaired Pointer (Germany)
- Golden Retriever (Scotland)
- Gordon Setter (Scotland)
- Irish Red and White Setter (Ireland)
- Irish Setter (Ireland)
- Irish Water Spaniel (Ireland)
- Labrador Retriever (Canada)
- Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever (Canada)
- Spinone Italiano (Italy)
- Vizsla (Hungary)
- Weimaraner (Germany)
- Welsh Springer Spaniel (Wales)
- Wirehaired Pointing Griffon (Netherlands)
2. Hound Dogs
Hounds hunt all game except birds. Hounds were bred not just to find or flush out game for human hunters to shoot, but to track their prey by scent or sight and to catch it.
Some hounds, such as Bloodhounds, track by scent. Other hounds, such as the Afghan and Whippet, track by sight.
Hounds and their country of origin include:
- Afghan Hound (Afghanistan)
- American English Coonhound (United States)
- American Foxhound (United States)
- Basenji (Egypt)
- Basset Hound (France)
- Beagle (England)
- Black and Tan Coonhound (United States)
- Bloodhound (Italy)
- Blue tick Coonhound (United States)
- Borzoi (Russia)
- Dachshund (Germany)
- English Foxhound (England)
- Greyhound (Egypt)
- Harrier (England)
- Ibizan Hound (Egypt)
- Irish Wolfhound (Ireland)
- Norwegian Elkhound (Norway)
- Otterhound (England)
- Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen (France)
- Pharaoh Hound (Egypt)
- Plott Hound (United States)
- Redbone Coonhound (United States)
- Rhodesian Ridgeback (South Africa)
- Saluki (Egypt)
- Scottish Deerhound (Scotland)
- Treeing Walker Coonhound (United States)
- Whippet (England)
3. Working Dogs
Working dogs were bred to do specific jobs. These breeds guard livestock, serve as watchdogs, pull carts, tug sleds, perform mountain and water rescues, and serve as watchdogs. Some of them also serve in the military.
Working dogs and their country of origin include:
- Akita (Japan)
- Alaskan Malamute (United States)
- Anatolian Shepherd Dog (Turkey)
- Bernese Mountain Dog (Switzerland)
- Black Russian Terrier (Russia)
- Boxer (Germany)
- Bullmastiff (England)
- Cane Corso (Italy)
- Doberman Pinscher (Germany)
- Dogue de Bordeaux (France)
- German Pinscher (Germany)
- Giant Schnauzer (Germany)
- Great Pyrenees (France)
- Greater Swiss Mountain Dog (Switzerland)
- Kuvasz (Tibet)
- Komondor (Hungary)
- Leonberger (Germany)
- Mastiff (England)
- Neapolitan Mastiff (Italy)
- Newfoundland (Canada)
- Portuguese Water Dog (Portugal)
- Rottweiler (Germany)
- St. Bernard (Switzerland)
- Samoyed (Siberia)
- Siberian Husky (Northeastern Asia)
- Standard Schnauzer (Germany)
- Tibetan Mastiff (Tibet)
4. Terrier Dogs
Terriers originally were bred to kill rats and to force foxes and otters out of their dens. The name “terrier comes from the Latin terra firma, meaning earth.
Terriers and their country of origin include:
- Airedale Terrier (England)
- American Staffordshire Terrier (England)
- Australian Terrier (Australia)
- Bedlington Terrier (England)
- Border Terrier (England)
- Bull Terrier (England)
- Cairn Terrier (Scotland)
- Cesky Terrier (Czech Republic)
- Dandie Dinmont Terrier (England)
- Glen of Imaal Terrier (Ireland)
- Irish Terrier (Ireland)
- Lakeland Terrier (England)
- Manchester Terrier (England)
- Kerry Blue Terrier (Ireland)
- Miniature Bull Terrier (England)
- Miniature Schnauzer (Germany)
- Parson Russell Terrier (England)
- Norfolk Terrier (England)
- Scottish Terrier (Scotland)
- Sealyham Terrier (Wales)
- Skye Terrier (Scotland)
- Smooth Fox Terrier (British Isles)
- Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier (Ireland)
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier (England)
- Welsh Terrier (Wales)
- West Highland White Terrier (Scotland)
- Wire Fox Terrier (British Isles)
5. Non-Sporting Dogs
This category is for those breeds that do not fit in other AKC categories.
Non Sporting dogs and their country of origin include:
- American Eskimo Dog (United States)
- Bichon Frise (Spain)
- Bulldog (England)
- Chinese Shar-Pei (China)
- Chow Chow (China)
- Dalmatian (Croatia)
- Finnish Spitz (Finland)
- French Bulldog (France)
- Keeshond (the Netherlands)
- Lhasa Apso (Tibet)
- Löwchen (Germany)
- Norwegian Lundehund (Norway)
- Poodle (France)
- Schipperke (Belgium)
- Shiba Inu (Japan)
- Tibetan Spaniel (Tibet)
- Tibetan Terrier (Tibet)
- Xoloitzcuintli (Mexico)
6. Toys Dogs
Toy dogs were bred to be tiny companions. Toys and their country of origin include:
- Affenpinscher (Germany)
- Brussels Griffon (Belgium)
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (England)
- Chihuahua (Mexico)
- Chinese Crested (China)
- English Toy Spaniel (England)
- Havanese (Cuba)
- Italian Greyhound (Greece or Turkey)
- Japanese Chin (Japan)
- Maltese (Malta)
- Manchester Terrier (England)
- Miniature Pinscher (Germany)
- Papillon (Spain)
- Pekingese (China)
- Pomeranian (Germany/Poland)
- Poodle (France)
- Pug (China)
- Silky Terrier (Australia)
- Toy Fox Terrier (United States)
- Yorkshire Terrier (England)
7. Herding Dogs
Herding dogs were bred to herd sheep or cattle. You can especially see them in action in Australia, Scotland, England, and Wales.
Herding dogs and their country of origin include:
- Australian Cattle Dog (Australia)
- Australian Shepherd (United States)
- Bearded Collie (Scotland)
- Beauceron (France)
- Belgian Malinois (Belgium)
- Belgian Sheepdog (Belgium)
- Border Collie (England/Scotland)
- Belgian Tervuren (Belgium)
- Bouvier des Flandres (Belgium)
- Briard (France)
- Canaan Dog (Israel)
- Cardigan Welsh Corgi (Wales)
- Collie (England/Scotland)
- Entlebucher Mountain Dog (Switzerland)
- Finnish Lapphund (Finland)
- German Shepherd (Germany)
- Icelandic Sheepdog (Iceland)
- Norwegian Sheepdog (Norway)
- Old English Sheepdog (England)
- Pembroke Welsh Corgi (Wales)
- Polish Lowland Sheepdog (Poland)
- Puli (Hungary)
- Pyrenean Shepherd (France)
- Shetland Sheepdog (Scotland)
- Swedish Vallhund (Sweden)
Caring for Your Dog
Your dog needs what you need: food, shelter, love, and companionship. It relies on you, so treat your dog with care and respect.
Dogs have their origins in the wild canines of prehistoric times. These social pack animals were carnivores (meat-eaters) and ate what they could hunt and kill or scavenge. They wasted nothing.
The carnivores ate the muscles, bones, and organs as well as the stomach and intestinal contents of their prey. The parts supplied protein, carbohydrates, fat, minerals, vitamins, and fiber-just what the canines needed to live.
Today, wolves, foxes, coyotes, and jackals hunt for food, but they can’t always find a balanced meal. Our pet dogs have an advantage over their relatives in the wild. They only have to hunt for their feeding bowls to find a healthy serving of commercially manufactured dog food check on this link.
1. Feeding Your Dog
Just as infants, toddlers, children, and adults require different amounts of liquids and food during their lifetime, so do dogs. There are different diets for different stages of your pet’s life.
A newborn puppy up to the age of three or four weeks depends wholly on its mother’s milk. When it is weaned, you should introduce your dog to a “puppy” diet, which usually contains higher levels of protein and carbohydrates than the mother’s milk as well as balanced mineral content.
A general rule of thumb is to feed a puppy on the basis of one cup (8 ounces) of dry food per 20 pounds of body weight, three times a day. For example, feed a 5-pound puppy only one-quarter cup of dry food three times daily; feed a 10-pound puppy one-half cup three times a day.
When your dog reaches bone growth maturity (which varies with each breed), it’s time to switch to an “adult dog” diet. Adjust the amount of food you give him based on his weight and breed. Reduce the number of meals from three times a day to two times.
If you continue to feed your pet three meals a day-or keep the dog food bowl filled during the day-your dog may become obese.
Don’t feed a dog pork bones, chicken bones, chop bones, T-bones, or other bones that can splinter. They can cause serious injury. You may give your dog a knucklebone, which does not splinter, or a dog toy that is solid enough that your pet can’t chew it up and swallow it.
As dog’s age, their diet requirements will vary according to their existing health problems and levels of activity. If your older dog is healthy, feed your pet a “senior” or “lite” diet once or twice a day.
However, if your dog has certain medical problems (such as kidney disease, arthritis or joint issues, or heart problems), ask your veterinarian to recommend a diet specifically modified for your pet’s condition.
That diet will not only help to manage your dog’s medical problems but also may improve the quality and help lengthen your pet’s life.
2. Housing Your Dog
Though many dogs live indoors with their owners, others spend most of their lives outside. Dogs that live outdoors need shelter. How you house your dog depends on the climate, the type of dog you have, and where you live.
All dogs are not necessarily outdoor dogs. A Great Dane, for example, is a big dog but has a short coat and could freeze outside in winter temperatures.
Pug-nosed small breeds, like English Bulldogs, do very poorly outdoors in hot climates where they have a hard time panting to keep their bodies cool. Most small and short-haired dogs are best kept inside when it gets cold.
Like wolves, dogs develop a winter coat. However, they won’t properly develop that coat if kept indoors during the winter.
For that reason, don’t keep a dog indoors during the day in winter and then send it out into the cold at night. Dogs do get frostbite and can freeze to death in very cold climates. An outside dog should be outside all the time except when temperatures fall below zero.
3. Exercising Your Dog
Dogs don’t like being cooped up inside or out. Even if you have a large yard for your dog, that does not mean he is getting enough exercise. A dog in need of exercise is both bored and unruly.
Exercise provides both physical and mental stimulation. Exercise gives a dog an outlet for energy and builds strong bodies and good muscle tone.
How do you decide how much exercise your dog needs? It depends on the age, weight, health, and breed of the dog.
Ask yourself these questions before you start exercising your dog: Is your dog eating all the time? Is your dog bored? Is your dog a hunter or working dog that likes to run?
A Great Dane might need a long hike each day to stay in shape. Do you have a small breed that stations itself on the couch? A walk around the block might be enough to keep a toy dog fit.
Pay attention to your dog’s health as you begin an exercise program.
- Bring water if you plan to be out for a long time; give your dog only small portions of water before and immediately after exercise.
- Exercise during the cooler parts of the day to keep your dog from overheating.
- Give your dog time to digest food before exercising.
- Avoid extreme heat or cold, because frozen or hot surfaces can hurt your dog’s paws.
- Avoid surfaces covered with chemicals such as oil, antifreeze, and the chemical deicers used in winter; these can burn the pads on the bottom of the paws, or might make him sick if he licks off these chemicals.
- After an exercise in the summer, check your dog all over for ticks and burrs.
The Most Popular Breeds of Dogs
Here are some of the most popular breeds of dogs along with some of their characteristics.
1. American Cocker Spaniel
Height: 14/2 to 15/2 inches, females an inch shorter; weight: 24 to 28 pounds; coat: silky; color: solid buff, black, parti-color (a predominant color with patches of one or more other colors), tricolor, and others; ears hang down.
This cheerful and gentle sporting dog is playful and does well in confined spaces if given plenty of exercises.
2. Irish Setter
Height: 26 to 28 inches, females two inches shorter; weight: 60 to 70 pounds: coat: silky with longer chest hair; color: mahogany or rich chestnut brown; ears hang down. This popular and regal sporting dog ranges in personality from clownish to reserved.
3. Labrador Retriever
Height: 21/2 to 241/2 inches; weight: 55 to 75 pounds; coat: straight and dense; color: golden to black; ears hang down. One of the finest family dogs in the world, this good-natured, adaptable sporting dog does fine in the city and country provided he gets plenty of exercise. Labs are strong swimmers.
4. Afghan Hound
Height: 26 to 28 inches; weight: 50 to 60 pounds; coat: long, straight, thick, and silky hair, fine in texture, with short hair on the face; color: black, cream silver, brindle (brownish with black stripes and flecks); ears hang down.
This dog ranges in personality from nervous to clownish to dignified. Requires extra grooming.
Height: 10 to 13 inches (13- inch), 13 to 15 inches (15 inch); weight: 18 to 20 pounds (13-inch), 20 to 30 pounds (15-inch); coat: hard; color: combination of black, white, and tan; ears hang down. This good-natured and cheerful dog is very adaptable.
6. Dachshund (Standard Smooth)
Height: 9 inches; weight: 10 to 20 pounds; coat: hard; color: black-and-tan or a solid, reddish-brown; ears hang down. This very curious hound loves companionship but avoids long walks. A good indoor pet.
7. Alaskan Malamute
Height: 23 to 25 inches; weight: 75 to 110 pounds; coat: coarse; color: black or shades of gray with a lighter face and underbody: ears prick up. This working dog can range from playful to quietly dignified.
If left isolated, the dog can become aggressive. Often used to pull sleds in northern climates. May require extra grooming.
Height: 21 to 25 inches; weight: 60 to 75 pounds; coat: hard; color: light tan, reddish-brown, often with 8 white markings on the face, neck, and feet; ears are sometimes cropped for the show, or are left hanging; tail docked. This working dog is often good-natured with an expressive face.
9. Golden Retriever
Height: 21/2 to 24 inches; weight: 55 to 75 pounds, coat, thick, repels water, can be wavy or straight, with feathers on the neck, underbody, and back of the forelegs, color.
Golden tan in a variety of shades, from light to dark, ears are short and fall close to the cheek; its thick tail curves slightly upward. This friendly, active dog makes an ideal family pet.
10. Airedale Terrier.
Height: 22 to 23 inches; weight: 45 to 60 pounds; coat: hard and wiry; color: tan head, legs, and chest with blackish back and sides; ears fold forward. This dog is very playful as a puppy and matures into a very dignified adult.
11. Fox Terrier (Smooth and Wire)
Height: 14/2 to 15/2 inches; weight: 15 to 19 pounds; coat: short and wiry; color: mostly white with black and tan or tan patches; ears fold forward. This dog is one of the boldest and wildly energetic breeds. You can have a lot of fun playing fetch with this dog.
12. Irish Terrier
Height: 18 inches; weight: 25 to 27 pounds; coat: short and wiry; color: reddish or golden red, sometimes lighter; ears fold forward. This terrier has a lot of spirits. He is fearless and full of spunk.
13. Chihuahua (Smooth and Longhaired)
Height: 5 inches: weight: 2 to 6 pounds: coat: soft; color: white, blonde, tan, black and tan, patched, and other variations; ears prick up. This toy dog is made for indoors. While some are bold, others are timid and nervous.
Height: 8 to 9 inches, weight: 14 pounds, coat: coarse with a thick ruff, color: red, tan, black, white, black-and-tan, patched, brownish, or brindle; ears hang down. This toy dog seems big for his britches but is a favorite indoor dog. Requires extra grooming.
15. Yorkshire Terrier
Height: 7 to 9 inches; weight: 3 to 7 pounds; coat: straight and silky with long hair hanging down from his ears and muzzle; color: dark gray with rich tan markings; ears prick up. Some people like to pamper this toy dog. Others see the dog as a ball of energy. Requires extra grooming.
Height: 14 to 15 inches; weight: 40 to 55 pounds; coat: glossy, color, brindle, white, reddish, tan, or patched; the distinctive protruding lower jaw. This non-sporting dog, once a fierce fighter, can be very sweet and lovable. A mature bulldog is dignified and doesn’t like to walk much.
Height: 19 to 24 inches; weight: 46 to 65 pounds; coat: hard; color: white with black or brown spots; ears hang down. This non sporting dog is the famous fire dog. He is playful and needs plenty of exercise.
18. Poodle (Miniature)
Height: 10 to 15 inches; weight: 14 to 17 pounds; coat: curly and dense; color: black, white, gray, blue, silver, cream, reddish, dark, or pale brown; ears hang down. This dog is one of the most famous show dogs. Originated in France, the Miniature Poodle can be bouncy and lively, but also nervous and excitable. Requires extra grooming.
19. Collle (Rough)
Height: 24 to 26 inches, females 2 inches shorter; weight: 50 to 75 pounds; coat: matted and thick with longer hair underneath; color: gold to brown or black with white markings; ears three-quarters prick with the top quarter tipping forward. Lassie, the proud and gentle television star, was a Collie. This herding dog requires extra grooming.
20. German Shepherd
Height: 24 to 26 inches, females 2 inches shorter; weight: 65 to 100 pounds; coat: thick, hard, and straight with a dense undercoat; color: black and tan, black with tan points, golden tan, steel or silver-gray, and black; ears prick up. Recognized as a police dog, this herding dog is very responsive to firm obedience training.
21. Shetland Sheepdog
Height: 13 to 16 inches; weight: 20 to 30 pounds; coat: outer coat long, straight, harsh hair, with short, furry, and dense undercoat; color: black, bluish, or golden.
Marked with varying amounts of white or tan; ears small and three-quarters erect, tips breaking forward. This is a gentle and sensitive dog and very trainable. Requires extra grooming.