Three dogs survived the sinking of the Royal Mail Ship Titanic: A Newfoundland, a Pomeranian, and a Pekingese – Mostly true. Lady, a Pomeranian, was taken aboard Lifeboat 7 with Margaret Bechstein Hays. Sun Yat Sen, the Pekingese, belonging to Myra and Henry S. Harper (a publishing magnate), survived by boarding Lifeboat 3. Another Pomeranian was smuggled onto Lifeboat 6 by Elizabeth Jane Rothschild (the crew initially refused to take the dog).
What about that Newfoundland? An apocryphal story describes a Newfoundland named Rigel that belonged to First Officer William Murdoch. Rigel withstood the freezing North Atlantic waters and barked to get the attention of the Carpathia’s crew, which helped the rescuers locate the lifeboats. However, there is no record of Rigel, even in survivors’ accounts.
Greyhounds are the fastest dogs on earth, with speeds of up to 45 miles per hour – True, but did you know the world record is held by a Whippet named Reas? In fact, when you search for the “top 10 fastest dog breeds,” there is significant variation amongst the results.
After Greyhounds and Whippets, the fastest dog breeds listed most often included Saluki, Vizslas, Afghan Hounds, Ibizan Hounds, Jack Russell Terriers, Dalmatians, Doberman Pinschers, Weimaraners, Pharoah Hounds, and Border Collies.
The US has the highest dog population in the world. France has the 2nd highest dog population – Statistics, grrrrr. The US has about 90 million dogs, and that equates to 274 dogs per 1,000 people (so if you know 4 people, one of them has a dog, if they don’t, you are the dog).
The US does have the highest population DENSITY with respect to dogs, but China has more dogs (100 million). Brazil has the 2nd highest population density of dogs: 261 pups per 1000 peeps, which amounts to 55 million dogs.
France ranks in the Top 5 of most dog-friendly countries, but is nowhere near 2nd with regard to any measure of dog population. Romania, Poland, Hungary, Australia, Portugal, and Canada are also top dog (population-density) countries.
Every dog on earth likely descended from a species known as the Tomarctus, a creature that roamed the earth over 15 million years ago – The Tomarctus is on the list of 6 (mostly extinct) canids that make up the family tree of the dogs we know and love today:
Miacis – This five-clawed weasel lived on the North American and Eurasian continents 50 million years ago. It is a common ancestor of dogs and bears.
Cynodictis – Grandfather of the dog family, and inhabited Eurasia 37—28 million years ago. They resembled a weasel-fox mix.
Daphoenus – “Bear dogs” inhabited North America 37—16 million years ago.
Tomarctus – Immediate ancestor of the dog family that inhabited most of North America 23—16 million years ago, and resembled a foxy hyena.
Borophagus – Hyena-like canids endemic to North America 12 million years ago.
Canis lupus or gray wolf – Native to Eurasia and North America, the wolf is the largest extant member of the family Canidae.
If never spayed or neutered, a female dog, her mate, and their puppies could produce over 66,000 dogs in 6 years – I did NOT believe this, and I especially didn’t like the lack of assumptions and conditions. After doing the math myself, I arrived at a different (and outrageous) total assuming that:
-A mom dog (a dam) can have 1 litter of 6 puppies each generation
-Half of each litter will be male, and half will be female
-Every female descendent is able to have 1 litter of 6 puppies per generation
Therefore, the 8th generation total for this family is 32,768, and the 9th generation of this family will be 131,072 (time elapsed: 5 years and 10 months).
The greatest single effect on the sex breakdown of litters is the age of the dam (as the mom ages, more males are born per litter). I did not account for this, and it’s one of the reasons my calculated value was so high. The other reason is that dogs can (should) only have 4 litters in their lifetime, so 66,000 in 6 years is probably a good estimate.
Other litter facts: The gestation period of a dog is 60 days. Pomeranians, Japanese Chin, and Toy Poodles have the smallest average litter size (2 pups). Breeds like the Labrador Retriever or the German Longhaired Pointer have an average litter size of 8.
Number of Breeds
There are 703 breeds of purebred dogs – The American Kennel Club recognizes about 200 breeds. The International Canine Federation (Fédération cynologique internationale or FCI) recognizes 360 dog breeds, and this total includes the AKC’s 200.
The largest unofficial register I could find provides there are about 564 dog breeds. It includes over 100 mixed-breed dogs, and 54 extinct breeds.
An American Animal Hospital Association poll found that 33% of dog owners admit to leaving answering machine messages for their dogs, and 70% of people sign their pet’s name on holiday cards, and 58% of people put pets in family portraits – The only amazing thing about these numbers is that they are not all 100 percent!
A dog’s mouth exerts 150-200 pounds of pressure per square inch (psi). Some dog breeds (mastiffs) can exert up to 500 psi – True, and in case you were wondering, a human bite is about 160 psi. Hungry hippos bite down with 1,800 psi, American alligators masticate with 2,125 psi, and Nile crocodiles claim critters with a cantankerous, albeit commendable, 5,000 pounds per square inch.
An estimated 1,000,000 dogs in the US have been named as the primary beneficiaries in their owner’s will – This clumsily worded factoid probably means that 1 million dogs have been provided for with an Estate Trust. I was unable to confirm the number, but I did learn that only 40% of Americans (132 million people) have made a will. Statistically speaking, about 36 million of those people are dog owners. So, if 2.7% of those owners have set up an Estate Trust for their pet, that would be about 1 million dogs. It could be true.
Featured photo – Rosie was one of Nitro’s best friends for a long time.