This site uses cookies to analyze traffic and for ad measurement purposes. Learn more
Your Subtitle text
History of Dogs
Dog History Facts


Usually when someone looks for information regarding the history of dogs, they only see some words referring to how the dog we know of today originated from wolves. However, here you will be able to read about the true history of dogs...interesting and surprising dog history facts that we give you details about.


Dogs, wolves, foxes and jackals all belong to the family: Canidae.  There are 7 carnivore families and this is one of them.

The evolution of Dogs (Canis familiaris), wolves, foxes and jackals can all actually be traced back to 50 million years ago. The animal that eventually evolved and then branched off to the animals that we know today was a small, tree-climbing carnivore that looked similar to a weasel and lived in deep forests.  It was called a Tomarctus.

One million years ago, the Tomarctus died off and became extinct.  However, by that time wolves and jackals had evolved.

Most scientists agree that the grey wolf is the ancestor of the canine, however this has never been 100% proven and therefore it is a dog history fact that there is also a chance that the jackal is the dog's ancestor.

There are valid reasons why most agree that it was indeed the wolf...Dogs and wolves can mate and breed litters successfully (although some breedings between jackals and dogs are successful). Also, when a dog escapes into the wild, he will eventually revert back to wolf-life behavior.

Both of these animals have a lot in common. Both are meat eaters. Both have 42 adult teeth.  They have 4 or 5 toes on their forefeet and 4 on the hindfeet.  Both run on their toes and claws.  Females of both species have a 63 day gestation period.  In regard to behavior, both understand and respect a pack leader.  With domestic dogs, our pets see us as their leader.

dog history factsThe 1st Purebred
The earliest identifiable remains of a purebred dog are those of a Saluki. This is a breed which took its name from the town of Saluk in Yemen.  Recent excavations of the Sumerian civilization in Mesopotamia, dated to 7000 BC revealed rock carvings of dogs bearing a strong resemblance to the Saluki, the original ancestor of which is thought to have been a small-skulled desert wolf.

The earliest domesticated dog in recorded history is the Pharaoh Hound; 2 hounds hunting gazelle are depicted on a circular disk dating back to 4000 BC.  The elegant and graceful Pharaoh Hound is known to have played a very important role in the lives of the kings of ancient Egypt.  It is a dog history fact that the Saluki and the Pharaoh are the oldest purebred dogs in the world.

How the Dog was Domesticated
Dog history facts show that it is prehistoric man, realizing that they had nothing to fear from dogs that crept toward their cave or fire to stay warm or seek some food, threw them scraps of meat now and then.  In doing this, the dogs would then realize that humans were not dangerous to them.  This led them to feel safe and secure to move even closer to those humans for even more warmth and food...And that is how a bond of companionship and affection developed.

As time went on, people wold have recognized the value of having a dog:  They could help guard, work, pull sleds and aid in hunting.  At some point, these early humans would have made attempts at selective breeding (purposely pairing together 2 chosen dogs in an effort to produce healthy, strong puppies with desirable traits).

history of dog factsWritten History of the Dog

In the very early days of domestication, and despite the friendship that had developed between humans and dogs, little or no effort was made to produce anything other than useful breeds (those who could be of aid to people).  The written history of domesticated dogs starts with Xenophon (c.430-350BC), regarding hunting dogs.  This was the only significant publication regarding dogs for over a 1000 years.

In 1560 a Cambridge scholar named John Caius wrote a letter in which he outlined the breeds of dog that existed in England at that time.  A quote from this letter goes as follows: "And we also have a small race of dogs that are specially bred to be the playthings of rich and noble ladies.  The smaller they are, the more perfectly suited to their purpose, which is to be carried at the breast, in the bedchamber or in the lap, when their mistresses sally forth".  So, while hunting and watchdogs still predominated, the lap dog had begun to make its mark.

It was not until 1685, in Nuremberg, that the first canine encyclopedia was published.  It was called the Cynographia Curiosa oder Hundebeschreibung and was written by Christian Franz Paullini.

Terrible Times in the History of Dogs

Dogs were not always consistently popular and well-liked as pets. There are times in our history when there was great division between dog lovers and haters...and at some points in our past, dogs suffered greatly.

In 1796 there was a motion to introduce the first taxes on dogs in England: 5 shillings on outdoor dogs and 3 on indoor dogs.  A man named George T. Clark is the one who is credited with having this idea. This led to a huge massacre of dogs by their owners, many who put the bodies of the slain dogs on Mr. Clark's doorstep.

true facts about dogsIn ancient Egypt, this type of thing never happened, dogs were revered. One of the most well known of the dog history facts is that they had faithful dogs buried alongside owners, a practice also followed in ancient American by the Toltec people and later by the Aztec, whose dogs were sacrificed at funerals in the belief that they would guide their masters to a better world.

Holy Dogs

The history of dogs allows us to know that this animal has played a large part in Eastern religions and that although it is considered by Muslims to be an outcast of Allah and unclean, for some the fleet-footed Saluki is used for hunting gazelle and is well liked as purebred Arab horses.  Hindus believe that a person who does is cruel to a canine will be punished by returning to Earth in canine form.  It is often the fear of the unknown that has made humans behave unreasonably toward animals.  Here lies the source of totemism - the identification of themselves by human families with an animal family - and of metempsychosis- the belief in the transmigration of human souls and their return in an animal's body.

The importance of Shepherd dogs and guard dogs was stressed in the teachings of the Persian prophet, Zoroaster approximately about 3000 years ago.  Zoroaster's doctrine, which spread widely to the East, bore many references to dogs and their importance.  He decreed: "If these two dogs of mine the Shepherd dog and the guard dog pass the house of any of my faithful people, let them never be kept away from it, for no house could exist, but for these two dogs of mine".

Dogs were worshiped by the followers of Mithras, who was aided and accompanied by his dog, and whose cult flourished for almost 5 centuries in Roman time...they spread from India to Spain and from Egypt to the south of Scotland.

Real, Royalty Dog Lover

It is recorded by the famous diarist, Samuel Pepys, that King Charles II spent more time playing with his dogs in the Council Chamber than he did on affairs of the state.  However, credited as the most fanatical dog lover of all time was Henry III of France (1551-1589).  Indeed, according to the Guinness Book of Pet Records, he collected dogs as people collect stamps.  When he saw one that took his fancy and it was not for sale, he would think  nothing of arrange of someone to steal it for him. 

Seemingly he had at least 2000 dogs spread around his palaces and when he was in residence, there were never less than 100 dogs...mostly toy breeds,   Then there is Edward VII's faithful Fox Terrier named Caesar, who followed his late master's funeral procession and Slipper, a Cairn Terrier given by Edward VIII to the then Mrs. Wallis Simpson, featured largely in their much publicized courtship correspondence.  The present Queen, Elizabeth II , is rarely photographed in home surrounding without a few Corgi dogs beside her.

Disappearing Breeds

dog historyMany breeds have disappeared, some became extinct and some were sacrificed in the development of another, changed variety.

The Turnspit is, in the words of canine historian, Carson Ritchie, "the best known representative of those worker dogs which had once provided power for various purposes, such as raising water from a well by working a treadmill".  Prior to the introduction of the 'turn spit" dog , meat in 18th century England was turned on a spit by a human, usually a young boy, protected from the fierce heat by a round, woven straw shield, soaked in water.  However, special treadmills where built near the fires of large kitchens in great houses and dogs were then trained to keep them turning.

It would take at least 3 hours for a large side of beef to roast properly.  The dog had to turn the wheel hundreds of times and was subject to beatings from the cook if he or she paused in its task.  So exhausting was the work that sometimes two dogs were kept, so that one might work on the others day off. What did the turnspit dog look like?  They have been described as extremely bandy legged, so as to appear almost incapable of running, with long bodies and rather large heads.   They were very strong in the jaws and were what is called hard bitten.  It is a peculiarity in those dogs that they generally had the iris of one eye black and the other white.  Their color varied, but he most common was a blue/grey with black spots.  The tail was curled on the back.  Sadly, that breed of dog only survived until around 1870, by which time it had become very rare.

There were also, up until the 19th century, dogs such as the Cur...It was a cross between a Sheepdog and a Mastiff, the task of which was to guide a farmer's sheep to market.  The Cur was a watchdog and did not have a good social's name has not become a derogatory term.



Facts by Breed:
Akita Facts  |  Alaskan Malamute FactsAustralian Shepherd FactsBasset Hound Facts  |  Beagle  Facts | Bloodhound Facts  |  Boston Terrier Facts  |  Boxer Facts  |  Bull Dog Facts  |  Chihuahua Facts  |  Chow Chow Facts  |  Cocker Spaniel Facts  |  Collie Facts  |  Corgi Facts  |  Dachshund Facts  |  Dalmatian Facts  |  Doberman Pinscher Facts  |  French Bull Dog Facts  |  German Shepherd Facts  |  Golden Retriever Facts  |  Great Dane Facts  |  Greyhound Facts  |  Havanese Facts   |  Labrador Retriever Facts  |  Maltese Facts  |  Mastiffs Facts  |  Miniature Schnauzer Facts  |  Pitbull Facts  |  Pomeranian Facts  |  Poodle Facts  |  Pug Facts  |  Rottweiler Facts  |  Shetland Sheepdog Facts  |  Shih Tzu Facts  |  Siberian Husky Facts  |  St. Bernard Facts Yorkshire Terrier Facts  |

Web Hosting Companies