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Domesticated mammal (Canis lupus familiaris), of the family Canidae (order Carnivora). Domestic dogs seem to have descended from the wolf or a wolflike ancestor. Dogs were among the first animals to be domesticated, and domestication seems to have begun in various parts of the world at roughly the same time. Selective breeding by humans has resulted in myriad domestic breeds that vary widely in size (from the tiny Chihuahua to the huge mastiff), physical form (e.g., the short-legged dachshund and the flat-faced bulldog), coat texture and length (e.g., the sleek Doberman pinscher and the long-haired Afghan hound), and behavioral patterns (e.g., sporting dogs, toy dogs, and working dogs). Most kennel clubs recognize only a portion of the approximately 400 breeds of dog.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on dog, visit Britannica.com.