Domestic Dog

Canis familiaris

Summary 3

The domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris) is a subspecies of the gray wolf (Canis lupus), a member of the Canidae family of the mammalian order Carnivora. The term "domestic dog" is generally used for both domesticated and feral varieties. The dog was the first domesticated animal and has been the most widely kept working, hunting, and pet animal in human history. The word "dog" can also refer to the male of a canine species, as opposed...

Communication and perception 4

Rank is communicated among wolves by body language and facial expressions, such as crouching, chin touching, and rolling over to show their stomach.

Vocalizations, such as howling allows pack members to communicate with each other about where they are, when they should assemble for group hunts, and to communicate with other packs about where the boundaries of their territories are. Scent marking is ordinarily only done by the alpha male, and is used for communication with other packs.

Functional adaptation 5

Senses detect epileptic seizures: dog

Dogs can determine when their owners are about to have an epileptic seizure by sensing subtle cues. 

  "The British Epilepsy Association believes that epilepsy-prescient dogs such as these are sensing two very subtle clues to impending epilepsy attacks. One is a high-pitched sound emitted by epileptics up to half an hour before an attack takes place, which is thought to be linked to the abnormal electrical impulses in the brain that occur prior to a seizure. The other is an exceedingly faint odor emitted by epileptics at about the same time as the sound, whose origin is as yet unexplained. Both clues cannot be detected by humans, but can be discerned by the dogs' more acute senses of hearing and smell." (Shuker 2001:226)
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Functional adaptation 6

Nose sniffs out cancer: dog

The noses of some domestic dogs can detect some forms of cancer in humans via an acute sense of smell. 

  "In the course of some bibliographical research during the early 1990s, Dr. Armand Cognetta, a dermatologist based in Florida, was surprised to discover in the medical literature a number of confirmed cases in which patients had been found to possess hitherto-unsuspected skin cancers that were detected after their pet dogs (usually for several months before the diagnosis) had been compulsively sniffing the area of skin containing the malignancy. Indeed, in each case it had been the behavior of the dog that had finally prompted the owner to seek medical advice in order to find out why their pet was acting so strangely." (Shuker 2001:227)
  Learn more about this functional adaptation.

Sources and Credits

  1. (c) Kim A. Cabrera, all rights reserved, uploaded by Kim Cabrera,
  2. (c) smerikal, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA),
  3. Adapted by Kim Cabrera from a work by (c) Wikipedia, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA),
  4. (c) The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA),
  5. (c) The Biomimicry Institute, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC),
  6. (c) The Biomimicry Institute, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC),

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