Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Dog, the book name for any species or individual of the family Canidae, constituting the Carnivorous division Cynoidea (q.v.). The term is also used for any variety or individual of Canis familiaris, the Common or Domestic Dog, the principal breeds of which are described in separate articles. The division Cynoidea partakes of the characteristics of the other two [Aeluroidea, Arctoidea], and the three (Cats, Dogs, and Bears) make up the family Carnivora. In the Cynoidea there are five digits on each of the fore, and four on each of the hind limbs, except in the Cape Hunting Dog; and these animals walk on the tips of their toes like the cats, not on the sole of the foot, as do the bears. A rudimentary hallux or "dew-claw" is often present in the domestic dog. The claws are not retractile, though the ligaments which draw them back in the cats are present. Owing to this the mode of attack in the two groups (Dogs and Cats) is essentially different. The cats strike down their prey, the dogs seize it with their teeth. The distinction will be clear to anyone who has seen a domestic cat and a terrier tackle a rat, and the action of the smaller forms is identical with that of the larger ones. The dental formula is usually the same as that of the bears, and some of the molar teeth are adapted for grinding. The diet is for the most part carnivorous, but many of the smaller forms eat carrion, insects, fish, crustaceans, and vegetable substances. They are very widely distributed, being absent only from Madagascar, the Antilles, Austro-Malaya, New Zealand, and the Islands of the Pacific. Their senses are well developed, that of smell in an extraordinary degree. Many of the wild forms in various parts of the world hunt in packs, and show great pertinacity in running down their prey. The period of gestation is nine weeks; the young, usually from four to eight in number, are born blind, and continue in that state for nearly a fortnight. The mother is an affectionate parent, but the sire is entirely neglectful of his offspring. Following Professor Huxley, the family may be divided into two groups, with two aberrant members - (1) The Thooid or Lupine section, containing the Wolves, Jackals, and the Dogs proper, so-called wild, and domesticated [Dingo, Dhole, Jackal, Wolf]; and (2) The Alopecoid or Vulpine section, containing the Foxes and fox-like forms. [Fennec, Fox.]

The Dog (Canis familiaris) has been known from a very remote period. Its remains are found in the Kitchen-middens of the Neolithic period; and on Egyptian monuments "from the fourth to the twelfth dynasties (i.e. from about 3400-2101 B.C.) several varieties of the dog are represented." But the origin of the race is lost in obscurity, though Darwin's opinion that "the breeds of the domestic dog throughout the world are descended from several wild species" is generally accepted as well as his conclusion, of which there is practical proof, that some are due to selection on the part of the breeder. [Breed.] The probability of his theory is shown by the fact that savages so far apart as the Eskimo and the Australian have reduced wild dogs to domestication, and the former have trained them as draught animals. In wild dogs the ears are erect and pointed and the tail is straight; in the domestic dog the former generally droop, and the latter is curling. The only constant difference, however, is the habit of barking, which is only acquired after long association with man. The domestication of the dog is of vast importance to man, for it has given him not only a faithful servant but an attached companion and a devoted friend; and long training and intercourse with man has so developed the intellect of this animal that some of the stories told of its feats would not be credited did they not rest on the best authority. On the continent of Europe the dog is used in many places for draught, but this is illegal in the United Kingdom. In China its flesh is eaten and is said to be well flavoured, and in Manchuria dog-farms exist where these animal are bred for the sake of their skins, which are used as robes.

The Cape Hunting Dog (Lycaon pictus) from South and East Africa is about the size of a mastiff, with large erect ears and drooping tail. In its markings it bears some resemblance to the Spotted Hyaena (Hyaena crocuta), whence it is sometimes called the Hyena-Dog. It hunts in packs, but not infrequently feeds on carrion.

The Long-eared Fox (Otocyon or Megalotis lalandii), from South Africa, is scarcely as large as a fox, with greyish-yellow fur on the upper surface and white beneath. It has six molars more than any other member of the group, two above and one below on each side.

The Racoon Dog (Canis or Nyctereutes procyonides), from North-Eastern Asia and Japan, has the body covered with long brown fur, the back arched, short slender legs, and short bushy tail. It differs from the true dogs in external appearance only.

Pariah Dogs are feral dogs, met with in troops in most of the towns of the East, where they act as scavengers, and it is probably to animals of this class that the Biblical allusions to dogs refer.