Dogs are the most popular pets in the UK with almost a quarter of households owning at least one. There are estimated to be 8.5 million dogs in the UK (Pet Food Manufacturers Association 2015). All domestic dogs are descended from wolves and were domesticated over 15,000 years ago. They evolved alongside us into a species quite distinct from their wolfish ancestors.
Dogs are known as man’s best friend and throughout our joint history they have been considered co-workers, helping humans with many different tasks, from hunting to herding, from guarding to simple companionship. The many different breeds that we know today have been selectively bred for different tasks, and in more recent years, for their particular appearance.
Nowadays, as many of the tasks breeds were designed for are no longer needed, most dogs are kept as companions. Other dogs are being bred for new, specialised tasks. As well as guide dogs for blind people there are hearing dogs, epilepsy-alert dogs, dogs working for the police and security services to find drugs and weapons, search and rescue dogs, dogs detecting cancer and many more.
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