By Jessica Born / August 24, 2018

The science of dogs: It’s more than puppy love

Are you a dog person? Or are you a cat person? If you’re all about the wagging tail, wet nose, slobbers, paw prints, and excited barks, this is your post.

Forty-eight percent of all US households have a dog (APPA). Dogs are often referred to as man’s best friend. But what makes them so lovable? As always, we’re digging into the science behind this subject as well as some interesting facts and stats about these fur balls.

Why We Love Dogs

We’ve been loving dogs for about 10,000 years now. That might sound like an exaggeration, but it’s not. Domestication of wolves began anywhere from 13,000 to 30,000 years ago primarily because of a partnership with humans for hunting; however, history shows a shift about 10,000 years ago. Dogs claimed a place of honor in society, and, at the very least, their spot as man’s companion. Egyptians buried their deceased pups in elaborate tombs and “dogs started showing up in our artwork and burial grounds. [In 2016], scientists discovered an ancient cemetery near Siberia’s Lake Baikal where 5,000- to 8,000-year-old dogs were buried right alongside their humans” (Washington Post). Dogs continued to prove their utility and further evolved in tameness and looks (including cuddliness) over time – the more mild, cooperative, and adorable they were, the more they were invited to be part of human life. 

Another research effort in 2017 worked to uncover a reason for that bond and revealed the love between human and dog is mutual. When humans and dogs look into each other’s eyes, both get a boost of the feel-good hormone oxytocin, which is the same hormone behind the special bond between new parents and their babies” (Huffington Post). And other research postures that we have developed an empathy to dogs based their animated facial expressions when they’re in the presence of humans and that we attribute this likeness to what we might do or see in a child (Nature.com and Daily Mail). 

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Furry Facts: Things You Might Not Know About Dogs

  1. Owning a dog (or any pet) can be good for your health. From lowering blood pressure and cholesterol to boosting your self-confidence or bringing your family closer, the love of a pup carries benefits. Learn more about the benefits on Healthline

  2. There are more than 150 dog breeds, divided into eight classes: sporting, hound, working, terrier, toy, non-sporting, herding, and miscellaneous. Labrador retrievers (sporting), German shepherds (herding), golden retrievers (sporting), and French bulldogs (non-sporting) nab the top spots in popularity in the US. Check to see where your dog’s breed ranks on the full list from the AKC.

  3. Chances are great that you know a pooch with the name Max, Bella, Charlie, or Lucy. They were the top dog names in 2017 for male and female dogs respectively. Get all top 100 names on RoverDog-Day-Park-1366-0818

  4. There are approximately 1,200 dog parks in operation in the US (at a minimum) currently. The first known public dog park, Ohlone Dog Park, opened in 1979 in Berkeley, CA (NPRA).

  5. A dogs noseprint is unique to him or her just like no two humans fingerprints are the same. Its been stated that the Canadian Kennel Club has been using dog noseprints as a form of identity since 1938 (SitStayGo).

  6. Americans spend an average of $139.80 per month on their dogs (Opp Loans). Talk about some serious bones!

  7. Social media has gone to the dogs. Users post about their dogs six times per week at least (BarkBox). And some of Instagrams power users and social influencers are actually accounts for dogs. Want to see the accounts that are top dog? Check out Mashables list.

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I know in my family, our dood and mutt, Garth the Goldendoodle and Shaggy Dog, are treated just like family. Theyve got more snacks and toys than most children probably do. They even have their own Instagram account and hashtag (yep, I’m that person! 😉). But, from these statistics, I know Im not alone. 

I think its safe say the connection between dogs and humans is definitely more than a case of puppy love.

Resources:
Pet Statistics
Dear Science: Why do we love our pets?
Why People Love Their Dogs So Much, According to Science
Why you really can tell what your dog's thinking
Dogs have pet facial expressions to use on humans, study finds
12 Ways Pets Improve Your Health
The Truth About Dogs and Parks
How Your Dogs Remarkable Nose Is Like a Fingerprint
The best dog accounts on Instagram to get your fluff fix

TOPICS: BEYOND THE CLASSROOM, IDEAS & INSPIRATION, Culture, Science, Trends

Jessica Born

Written by Jessica Born

Well, hey there! I’m the digital marketing manager for Pitsco Education. Marketing and special events have been my jam for about the last decade. I’m an alumna of Kansas State University and the University of Arkansas. I fill my Pitsco days with social media management and supporting video and web projects. My weekends are for time in the kitchen, real estate and home projects, and adventuring with my husband and two pups. The best part of my role here is getting to bring creativity and organization to our efforts to connect with YOU!