You may have a dog for a pet at your house. Maybe you have some friends who have dogs.
No one knows how many millions of people in the world have dogs for pets. More than 1 million new purebred dogs get registered (signed up) with the American Kennel Club (AKC) each year. The AKC is the main organization for purebred dogs in the United States. A purebred is a dog whose parents and ancestors all came from the same breed of dog. A dog of mixed breeds is sometimes called a mongrel or a mutt.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN KINDS OF DOGS?
Beginning hundreds of years ago, breeders mated male and female dogs that had certain qualities, or traits. They wanted the puppies to have the same traits as the parents. Dogs that developed these traits were called breeds.
The AKC recognizes about 150 breeds. It puts these breeds into seven groups called terrier, working, sporting, hound, herding, toy, and nonsporting dogs.
Terriers have stiff, wiry coats. Terriers were bred to hunt and catch foxes, badgers, and rabbits.
Working dogs are obedient and strong. The Alaskan Malamute is a working dog bred to pull sleds over ice and snow.
Sporting dogs, such as pointers and golden retrievers, were bred to bring back ducks and other wild birds that hunters shoot. Beagles and other hounds have a great sense of smell to help hunters track down rabbits and other small animals.
Collies, Welsh corgis, and other herding dogs were bred to keep farm animals from straying. Some toy dogs, such as Chihuahuas, were bred to be small companions for people. Nonsporting dogs are all the other breeds, from spotted dalmatians to curly-haired poodles.
WHAT DOGS MAKE THE BEST PETS?
There is no one dog that is a good pet for all people. People like dogs for different reasons. People who live in an apartment or small house often want small dogs. Before choosing a breed, find out how much care and training it requires. Some breeds require daily brushing. Some breeds are very energetic and need a lot of exercise. Some breeds are easier to train than others. Think about how much time you and your family want to spend taking care of the dog.
WHERE CAN YOU GET A PUPPY?
Maybe you want a purebred puppy because you can tell how the dog will look and act when it grows up. Ask a veterinarian or kennel club for the name of a good dog breeder. Do not be surprised if the breeder asks you a lot of questions. Good breeders want to be sure that their puppies go to good homes.
Or maybe you want a mixed-breed dog. You can find mixed-breed puppies at animal shelters and by looking at newspaper ads. Look for a clean, happy, outgoing puppy. Any puppy should be at least eight weeks old before you take it away from its mother.
HOW DO YOU CARE FOR A PUPPY?
Take your new puppy to a veterinarian for a physical examination, and have it checked for roundworms. Puppies also need vaccinations to protect them against several diseases, including rabies.
All puppies and dogs need three things every day: plenty of fresh drinking water, nutritious food, and exercise.
If your dog has short hair you should brush it once or twice a week. If your dog has long hair, you might need to brush it every day. You need to give your dog a bath only when it is dirty.
HOW DO YOU TRAIN A PUPPY?
You should housebreak your puppy and train it to walk on a leash. You can housebreak a puppy by first training it to “go” on newspapers. You can also housebreak a puppy by putting it in a crate or cage for short times. A dog will not soil in the place where it lives. Whether you use newspapers or a cage, be sure to take the puppy outdoors often.
Most puppies are ready to begin obedience school when they are six to eight months old. They will learn basic commands, such as sit, stay, heel, come, and down.
WHERE DID DOGS COME FROM?
Dogs are relatives of wolves that once roamed all over Europe, Asia, and North America. No one knows when or how people began to live with dogs. They were living with dogs at least 10,000 years also. The ancient Egyptians knew how to breed dogs.
Over thousands of years, dogs became helpers and pets. The dogs helped shepherds to herd sheep. Dogs helped people hunt for food. They helped guard homes and farms.
Today, dogs do all kinds of work. Guide dogs lead people who are blind. Trained dogs alert deaf people to common household sounds, such as the telephone or doorbell ringing. Other dogs are trained to pick up objects for handicapped people. One of the best roles that dogs still play is that of loyal friend and pal.
Source: Microsoft ® Encarta