• Question: What makes a dog so loyal to humans?

    Asked by chickenese to Austin, Kirsty, Nicola, Nike on 20 Jun 2012.
    • Photo: Kirsty Ross

      Kirsty Ross answered on 20 Jun 2012:

      I have always thought that a dog’s behaviour is all down to the humans that own it! We have lived with dogs for millennia and we have carefully bred them for certain personality traits. In this way we have domesticated them and made them reliant on us as part of their pack. Loyalty from your dog would have been one of the very first traits those early humans selected for. Otherwise your dog would just run off! By treating dogs well, feeding and walking them, you build a bond that increases your dog’s loyalty to you. A dog that was mistreated or badly trained might not be so loyal.

      English pointers for example flush game birds from gorse by bouncing, and when a bird is brought down they will stand and point with their entire bodies. Sheepdogs were also bred for the ability to help farmers round up sheep. Terriers were bred to be small so that they could disappear down rabbit holes to retrieve rabbits. Most dogs were ‘working’ dogs, bred for particular purposes. Nowadays we have many breeds that were bred for a certain look (ie pugs, Chihuahua). Sometimes this has a negative impact on the dog, as inbreeding can become a problem. All 10,000 pugs in the UK were originally bred from just 50 animals. By concentrating on the appearance of a breed, sometimes the health impacts are ignored. Pugs have trouble breathing due to their short muzzles, they easily overheat and sometimes their eyes can actually slip out of the sockets if they get overexcited!

    • Photo: Nike Dattani

      Nike Dattani answered on 20 Jun 2012:

      Have you noticed that babies are so innocent and lovable, and adults are so nasty and mean ?
      Imagine if babies stayed the way they were for their entire lives ? Then they’d never become nasty and mean !

      Well dogs are actually wolves that did not grow up. Humans liked these wolves that did not grow up, and decided to bread them lots and lots, and that’s why we have so many dogs that are so loveable and adorable !

    • Photo: Austin Elliott

      Austin Elliott answered on 21 Jun 2012:

      Another characteristic that has been selected for in dogs over the years they’ve been living with humans is intelligence – and in a dog that lives with humans, intelligence includes showing the human the characteristics that will get a dog well fed and well looked after. Intelligent pet animals. like dogs, are thus very sensitive to their human companion’s mood and behaviour – and the better they know you, the more that becomes true.