Dogs: they’ve long held the reputation as man’s best friend. Maybe it’s because they’re capable of recognizing up to 250 words and physical gestures, including facial cues, which give them an intelligence equal to that of a two-year-old human. Or, it could be because people and dogs go through the same sleep cycles at night, like slow-wave sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) stages where canines can experience vivid and memorable dreams. More than likely, it’s for these reasons and more that humans and dogs connect on emotional levels, leading to more than 60 percent of U.S. homes as familial shelters to over 75 million dogs.
For centuries, domesticated canines, which share 99.8 percent of DNA with wild wolves (that 0.02 percent is the physical exterior) have served in world wars, assisted individuals with disabilities, played nanny and comforted us in times of need. But keep in mind a dog would rather get a scratch under the chin than hug, as pooches interpret draping a limb on another animal as a sign of dominance. Whether you’re considering taking in a dog or already have one waiting at home, there seems to be a breed for everyone. More than 150 breeds are spread across 8 classes. The Basenji is barkless, the Goldendoodle was originally designed to be hypo-allergenic and any dog can be specially-trained to assist owners with special needs. Check out this playlist to learn more about the fascinating science behind man’s best friend.