Dogs: History, evolution and behavior of our best friends

A shaggy black dog lying in the grass with its tongue out and one ear perked up.
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It hardly seems like a dainty teacup poodle and a wrinkly Neapolitan mastiff could belong to the same species, much less the same subspecies. But both are Canis lupus familiaris, the beloved domestic dog.

A member of the family Canidae — along with wolves, foxes, coyotes and jackals — dogs have been human companions for at least 14,000 years (and possibly much longer than that). Much about how dogs and humans became inseparable remains a mystery, but research finds that the bond is very real. As many pet owners may already attest, there is evidence that dogs understand human distress and want to help their owners when they’re sad.

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