They are part of the family and a companion for life but just how well do we really know our pet dogs? Check out these amazing canine facts and gain a renewed respect for Fido.
On the trail
Ever wondered how your pooch always manages to sniff out a tiny discarded morsel of food, or perhaps something far less savoury? It's down to his incredible nose. A human nose contains, on average, around 5 million scent receptors, the diminutive Dachshund uses some 125 million to get a whiff, and the German Shepherd a staggering 225 million. That's precisely the reason we use man's best friend to sniff out everything from drugs and explosives to health problems, so don't blame your little hound the next time he gets a scent.
On the subject of noses
Each dog's nose bears a unique set of lines, creases and patterns, making it the canine equivalent of a fingerprint.
How smart is your dog?
It may seem as though your faithful friend's day-to-day revolves around food and walkies, but there's far more going on in that furry head than you might realise. Canine research Stanley Coren claims the average pooch is as clever as a two-year-old child, with the ability to learn to count and understand more than 150 words. Of course, not all dogs are equal when it comes to brains, but if you've got a Border Collie, it's likely you are already well aware that there's plenty going on up top.
Your dog no doubt wags his tail when he's happy, but it's not always a sign of joy. Research has revealed that the direction, height and speed of the wag gives others a clear signal as to what's coming. A wag to the right means happiness, to the left, fear. And if it's a fast but tense wagging, beware... it could be a sign of aggression.
Paws for thought
While you're out enjoying the summer sun, spare a thought for your pooch. Dogs can only sweat through their paws, and their only other means of keeping cool is panting.
Dog breath really is bad
With their often unpleasant eating habits, you might think it's little wonder that a dog's breath is on the ripe side. But the truth is, it could be a sign of dental problems. Best to get his or her teeth checked by a vet every year.
If you've ever watched in horror as your hound wolfed down something normally consigned to the poo bag or the muck heap, do not despair. Eating faeces is not an abnormal doggy behaviour. Though more common in pups, some continue to enjoy this unsavoury habit into adulthood.
The meet and greet
Going nose to tail wouldn't be our preferred method of greeting, but for dogs it's essential. Every dog's scent glands are located in its rear end, and it's the best way for your pooch to identify others, not just at the time of meeting, but also for future reference, since they deposit the very same scent when marking their territory.
The mating game
An unspayed female dog will commonly come 'into season' twice a year, and this is the only time she will be able to conceive so breeders must time their litters carefully. And if you want to avoid any unplanned litters, walking a bitch on heat must be done with great care. An entire male dog will pick up her scent from some distance, and go to great pains to show her just how much he cares. Lead walks or areas that are not heavily populated by other dog walkers might be the best and least stressful solution.
The sixth sense
Many dog owners believe their pooch has a 'sixth sense', and there may well be some truth to it. Dogs have been known to warn epileptics of an oncoming fit, while others can tell a type 1 diabetes sufferer that their blood sugar levels are dangerously low. And according to a 2010 poll, 67 per cent of dog owners reported their beloved pet acting oddly before a storm, while 43 per cent seemed to predict something bad happening.
What's the most amazing thing about your dog? Leave your comments below