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25379.  Fri Sep 30, 2005 5:42 am Reply with quote

Nice big subject to open the batting for Series 'D".

Your canine factoids, anecdotes, questions welcomed...

25380.  Fri Sep 30, 2005 5:49 am Reply with quote

We've discussed elsewhere (post 5383) their unique propensity for breeding into different types - eg a yorkie is the same species as a Newfoundland as a greyhound. No other species seems to have this characteristic of tending strongly towards phylogenetically bizarre outcomes. It used to be hypothesized that this was because the modern dog is an admixture of wolf, fox, jackal, etc - but modern techniques have apparently established that this is not the case; they're wolf through and through.

25382.  Fri Sep 30, 2005 5:53 am Reply with quote

According to Richard Dawkins in The Ancestor's Tale, some Russian scientist (I can go and look up the details when I get home if you're interested) decided to perform some selective breeding experiments on foxes.

Basically he took a bunch of foxes and only bred from those with the best temperament for living with humans (i.e. friendly, loyal, not prone to biting you at random intervals). Basically he was artificially selecting for the behavioural characteristics of a border collie.

After a few generations, something odd happened. Not only did the foxes start to behave like border collies, but they started to look like them too. They actually developed black and white colouring liek collie dogs, although their physical features still looked recognisably like a fox.

Basically they looked like a fox in disguise :)

A "stealth fox", maybe?

25383.  Fri Sep 30, 2005 5:55 am Reply with quote

Yep, details of that would be excellent.

25418.  Fri Sep 30, 2005 8:14 am Reply with quote

I have the august tome right beside me. If I may...

His name is Dmitry Belyaev, and he used Russian Silver foxes. Not only did their appearance change, but their reproductive behaviour changed too, allowing them to breed all year round. They also enjoy much higher levels of serotonin ; this has been attributed to the changing levels of thyroid hormones.

More info and pictures here:

25425.  Fri Sep 30, 2005 8:58 am Reply with quote

See, if I become old and rich that is precisely the sort of thing I'd do! Breed the world's fattest pidgeons or something.

25454.  Fri Sep 30, 2005 10:56 am Reply with quote

Gray wrote:
I have the august tome right beside me. If I may...

Hurrah! You saved me having to remember to look it up when I get home.

Thank you :)

25460.  Fri Sep 30, 2005 11:07 am Reply with quote

A selection of interesting dog facts, courtesy of Christchurch City Council for some bizarre reason:

* Dogs (and wolves and foxes) are descended from a small, weasel-like mammal called Miacis which was a tree-dwelling creature and existed about 40 million years ago. Dogs, as we know them today, first appeared in Eurasia about 13,000 years ago, and were probably a direct descendant of a small, grey wolf (not from the type of jackal or jackal/wolf as previously thought). The dingo is not native to Australia but was introduced thousands of years ago by the first immigrants. Dogs were first domesticated by cavemen in the Palaeolithic age and gradually developed (or were bred) into the breeds known today.

* The tallest dogs are the Great Dane and the Irish Wolfhound. The largest Great Dane stood at 103cm and an Irish Wolfhound 100cm.

* The worlds heaviest as well as longest dog ever recorded is believed to be an Old English Mastiff named Zorba. In 1989, Zorba weighed 343 lbs and was 8 feet 3 inches long from nose to tail!

* The smallest dogs are the Chihuahua, the Yorkshire Terrier and the Toy Poodle. A Yorkie once weighed in at only 283.5g.

* Dogs have been used as guards, hunters, draught animals, eyes for the blind, drug and explosive detectors, rodent controllers- and even weapons! In Roman times and the Middle Ages, mastiffs wearing light armour, carrying spikes and pots of flaming sulphur and resin ran into battle against mounted knights. In World War II the Russians trained dogs to run suicide missions between the tracks of German tanks with mines strapped on their backs.

* Dogs" hearing is very acute. They can register sounds of 35,000 vibrations a second (compared to our 20,000 and a cat's 25,000).

* Dogs naturally have a wonderful sense of smell. They have many more sensory 'smelling" cells than a man's 5,000,000. A Dachshund has 125,000,000, a Fox Terrier 147,000,000 and a German Shepherd (often used as a 'sniffer" dog) has 220,000,000. Truffle hounds can find the fungus delicacy even when it's a foot underground.

* The oldest reliable age recorded for a dog is 29 years, 5 months for a Queensland "heeler" called Bluey in Victoria, Australia. The average dog lives to around 15 years of age.

I think there might be some mileage in the 'suicide dogs' one, and also in the smelling cells one. I also rather like the extremes of weight and size recorded here - I'd never work out that something that weighed 343 pounds could possibly be a dog.

25464.  Fri Sep 30, 2005 11:14 am Reply with quote

Suicide dogs have already been on the show complete with photos

25465.  Fri Sep 30, 2005 11:15 am Reply with quote

Bollocks - that's what comes of never actually seeing the thing!

25473.  Fri Sep 30, 2005 11:30 am Reply with quote

I did see something that could be of use for you in this respect Jenny, Apparantly Auntie is testing a new system that allows the user to download a programme from the internet allowing you watch the show for a week then automatically deleting it after a week

25481.  Fri Sep 30, 2005 11:46 am Reply with quote

Ooooh - that sounds interesting. Any idea where I can find out about this, lblm?

25483.  Fri Sep 30, 2005 11:52 am Reply with quote

laidbacklazyman wrote:
I did see something that could be of use for you in this respect Jenny, Apparantly Auntie is testing a new system that allows the user to download a programme from the internet allowing you watch the show for a week then automatically deleting it after a week

They experimented with the Celtic league rugby last week, they are also live broadcasting tonights powergen cup game, however I think this may be UK only tryu here 1900 BST:

25488.  Fri Sep 30, 2005 12:23 pm Reply with quote

Fear of dogs is called Cynaphobia. I hope that's right, I have it.

25568.  Sat Oct 01, 2005 9:02 am Reply with quote

Friends of mine used to breed Siamese cats and miniature Yorkies. The dams would feed all puppies and kittens who turned up at the bar, irrespective of actual kinship, and even kidnepped them from each other. There was one problem with the Yorkies; some of them were so small and light that if you took them out for a walk on a lead you had to watch them very carefully or you'd find them swinging on the end of the lead like little pendulums, because you hadn't noticed the tiny weight.


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