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They say that dogs are a man’s best friend - from their unconditional love and loyalty to improving our mental health and giving the best cuddles, it’s easy to see why dogs are one of the most popular animals when it comes to deciding which pet would make a great addition to your family. According to the PDSA PAW Report, the UK is all about puppy love, with 26% of adults owning a pet dog - that’s approximately 9.9 million in the UK alone!

Whether you already have a canine friend, are looking to get one, or simply want to brush up on your doggy knowledge, we’ve compiled a list of our top interesting facts about dogs…

Dogs and humans go way back

According to research, the first domesticated dogs came about 33,000 years ago, migrating to Europe from south east Asia. A DNA study found that dogs actually became self-domesticated, evolving from wolves who had scavenged alongside humans for generations, into the loyal companion that we know and love today. No wonder they are coined a “man’s best friend”.

Dog curled up

They curl up in a ball when they sleep - for a reason!

Have you ever looked at your pooch curled up in front of the fireplace, in awe of their cuteness? While dogs love to cosy, with some even loving a good cuddle with their human, there is actually a reason why they curl up when they sleep. Deriving from their wolf-heritage, this position is all about survival, not comfort! Dogs curl up to keep themselves warm and protect vital organs.

Dogs can understand us

The average dog is thought to be as smart as the average 2-year-old, understanding roughly the same amount of words and gestures. According to findings from a psychologist and leading canine researcher, dogs can; understand more than 150 words, they can count and they are smart enough to intentionally deceive other dogs and people in order to get treats.

Dogs can sniff-out diseases

The bond between humans and dogs is such that as well as providing loyal companionship, having somewhat of a sixth sense for when their human is emotional, happy or angry, and the ability to aid with accessibility assistance - some dogs even lend their talents to police or medical work!

The saying “the nose of a bloodhound” is around for good reason. Dogs have a heightened perception of smell so much that they can help with medical diagnoses. Dogs can be trained to sniff out a variety of diseases including several types of cancer, malaria and Parkinson’s disease.

They have a unique “fingerprint”

Although we’re used to seeing adorable images of animal paw prints, it turns out that a dog’s equivalent to a human fingerprint is actually located in their nose! Just as no two fingerprints are the same, no two dog noses are the same. A dog’s nose pad is so detailed that it includes ridges which make up a unique pattern that is different for every dog and which allows them to be identified.

Dogs show affection...

Dogs are social creatures and thanks to generations of being by their humans' sides, have picked up similar gestures and interactions to display how they are feeling. Dogs have a number of ways that they like to show affection - from licking to jumping up when they are excited to see you to rolling over for a good old tummy rub! One of our favourites is the classic sigh.

If your dog stretches out next to you and lets out a long sigh, they are happy! Soft vocalisations like sighs and low groans are signs of contentment in dogs. So if your dog snuggles up and sighs, they aren’t bored, it actually means that they feel safe and comfortable by your side.

Close up of dog's nose

But they also get jealous

Although animals do not experience jealousy in the same way that we humans do, they may act in a way which suggests they are jealous by exhibiting assertive, pushy, or rude behaviour.

Seeking our attention, pawing at their human until they are being petted or cuddled, jumping up when socialising with other people and animals, barking and growling, can all be seen as jealous-like behaviours.

A recent study found that dogs exhibited significantly more jealous behaviours (such as snapping, pushing or getting between their owner and an object) when their owners displayed affectionate behaviours towards what appeared to be another animal or human.

Fast, fun facts about dogs

    • Lassie was the first animal inducted into the Animal Hall of Fame back in 1969!
    • Dogs and humans release the same “love hormone,” called oxytocin - which may explain the bond between the two.
    • Laika the dog was the first animal to orbit the Earth back in 1957! She was a stray dog from the streets of Moscow who was assigned to be part of the Sputnik 2 spacecraft launch.
    • Forget their sense of smell - a dog is able to locate the source of a sound in 6/100th of a second!
    • When a dog does their business, they align themselves with the Earth’s magnetic field - their sense for the magnetic field also explains why they are great at finding their way around.
    • Despite popular belief, dogs can see in colour! While we all know that dogs can see black and white, they can also see in blue, green, yellow and grey too.
    • Approximately 21% of all dogs snore in their sleep.

So there you have it, these are just some of our favourite facts about dogs! How many did you know already? If you want to find out more about dogs - from how they experience jealousy to how fast they age, check out our guides section!

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