The Domestic Dog
The Gray Fox
Meet Jake, the mascot for the exhibition, DOGS: Wolf, Myth, Hero & Friend.
The earliest dog-like animals appear in the fossil record about 40 million years ago, during the Eocene Epoch of the Cenozoic Era. Today, there are 35 living species of wild and domestic dogs. This group includes wolves, the coyote, foxes, and jackals, as well as the domestic dog.
The dog family is called Canidae. Members of the dog family are canids. All canids are carnivores and well-adapted for hunting.
Canids share most of these characteristics:
- Teeth used for killing prey, chewing meat, and gnawing bones
- Highly developed senses of sight, sound and smell
- Long legs for running down prey
- Five claws on the front foot and four on the back (Some domestic dogs have a fifth claw, the dewclaw, on the hind foot.)
Feral canids mate once a year, whereas domestic dogs, mate twice a year. A litter of pups is born after two months. Like most mammals, the mothers suckle their young and care for them for several months.