National Dog Day is Sunday, August 26, 2018. Dogs are the most popular pets in America; Nearly half of US families own at least one. And researchers have found that dogs became man’s best friend thousands of years earlier when scientists originally thought.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. No insult to cats, but dogs are far more than pets in the United States
About 60 percent of Americans own a pet. These include dogs, cats, fish, horses, etc. According to a Gallup study, 44 percent of people in the US have a dog, while 29 percent have a cat.
The survey also found that 73 percent of these people have a dog when they only analyze pet owners. 49 percent of all pet owners have a cat. (Remember that many respondents might own both a dog and a cat).
Millions of dogs and cats are rescued from shelters every year. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates that about 3.3 million dogs invade emergency shelters each year. Of these, about 1.6 million are adopted.
A survey from 2015 showed that 32 percent of Americans believe that animals should be placed under the same protection as humans. That’s an increase of 25 percent in 2008. Only 3 percent of respondents said that animals do not need to be protected from harm because “they are just animals.”
2. Labrador Retrievers are the most popular breed of dog among the Americans
Getty Reggie, a Labrador Retriever, is pictured during March 21, 2017, New York American Kennel Club (AKC) press conference to announce America’s Top Ten Most Popular Race.
The American Kennel Club keeps track of which particular dog breeds families take home each year. The organization’s most popular dog breeds list of 2017 found that Labrador Retrievers were once again the favorite among US families.
Labradors have been at the top of the list for more than 20 years. Labradors are known to be intelligent dogs and are considered pets for families with children. Kennel Club President Gina DiNardo said in a statement in 2016, “The Lab is such a versatile dog that it’s no wonder it’s a great companion to a variety of lifestyles.”
Another idea why Labradors are so popular is that more Americans have room for larger animals. According to an article in Schiefer Perhaps it is related to the fact that American houses are much larger than before. Since the early 1970s, US houses have 55 percent more square feet and fewer children today. The magazine noted that in front of the Labrador Retriever Cocker Spaniels and Poodles dominated the list of the most popular breeds. The poodle was ranked # 1 for 25 years.
Here is the Top 10 American Kennel Club List for 2017:
3. A majority of Americans believe that owning a dog improves their chances of life
The Gallup survey mentioned above also found that 60 percent of Americans believe that owning a pet can improve a person’s attitude towards life. 6 out of 10 say that pet owners lead more satisfying lives than people who do not have pets. One-third of respondents believe that it does not matter if a person owns a pet or not.
Another interesting treat: many more Americans tell more about dogs than cats. 70 percent of respondents said they were “dog owners”. Only 20 percent described themselves as “cat people”. These numbers are consistent even among non-pet owners. 68 percent of non-pet owners say they prefer dogs over cats.
Researchers have also found that owning a dog can potentially improve both physical and mental health. Dogs can help relieve stress, lower blood pressure and increase serotonin levels. And everyone with a dog has probably noticed that these animals are very well attuned to people’s emotions.
The director of the Research Center for Human-Animal Interactions at the University of Missouri, Rebecca A. Johnson, told NBC News that people have a natural yearning for connection. Dogs can provide that. “We live in a high-tech, low-touch world and people have a longing for connection with nature … When we see, touch, hear or talk to our companion animals, soothing neurohormones are released and that leads to benevolence, Joy, care, and happiness. ”
4. Money-wise, dogs are actually pretty low-maintenance compared to other types of pets
According to a recent poll by OppLoans, Americans spend more on small mammals such as gerbils and guinea pigs than cats and dogs. These little creatures need about $ 250 a month. Dog owners spend about $ 139 a month on their furry friends. Cats, however, are much less expensive because their owners spend about $ 92 a month.
Not surprisingly, horses are the most expensive pets in the United States. Entering a horse usually costs about $ 500 a month, but can be as expensive as $ 1,500 a month. In addition, the American Association of Equine Practitioners estimates that horse owners spend around $ 2,500 a year to keep a horse healthy.
Back to the dogs – Americans have a tradition of making sure that the dog is included on Christmas morning. For decades, it has been customary to give the dog a holiday present. 68 percent of Americans usually buy gifts for their pets at Christmas. In 1990, the percentage was similar: 65 percent.
5. People domesticated dogs thousands of years earlier than scientists originally thought
The common conclusion among scientists was that dogs were domesticated about 15,000 years ago. It was assumed that the people who lived in East Asia began to keep dogs as pets around the same time they started farming.
But new evidence suggests that dogs kept human society so far back in the ice age in Europe, 19,000 to 32,000 years ago! Researchers in Finland came to this conclusion after comparing old fossils of dog-like animals with the DNA of modern dog, wolf and coyote breeds. The idea is that dogs could have been attracted to hunters and their additional meat plates. The dogs could then be used for hunting and protection.
The archaeologist and geneticist Greger Larson also suggests a theory that dogs may have been domesticated twice. After comparing DNA and ancient fossils and studying animal bones buried in Ireland, Larson theorized that domestication went independently in both Western Eurasia and the Far East. His theory is that dogs (and their humans) wandered westwards, the dogs mated with and essentially replaced the native western dogs. (You can read more about Larson’s studies here).