A dog is a man's best friend? Well, if the animal's popularity is anything to go by, perhaps that's true; according to the American Kennel Club, there are more pet dogs in the USA than there are people in Britain. However, the affection for dogs felt by many these days is a fairly recent development. How we used to think about dogs can be judged by looking at how they have been portrayed in language over the centuries.
The first linguistic oddity to do with dogs concerns the origin of the word 'dog'. The name was preceded by the perfectly good Anglo-Saxon word 'hound', which was also used in other European languages. 'Dog', in common with several other animal names ending in 'g', like frog, hog, pig and stag, seems to have been coined around the 13th century for reasons about which no one is at all sure.
The Border Collie dog breed was developed to gather and control sheep in the hilly border country between Scotland and England. He is known for his intense stare, or “eye,” with which he controls his flock. He’s a dog with unlimited energy, stamina, and working drive, all of which make him a premier herding dog; he’s still used today to herd sheep on farms and ranches around the world. The highly trainable and intelligent Border Collie also excels in various canine sports, including obedience, flyball, agility, tracking, and flying disc competitions.
Elegant. Proud. Clever. Poodles are impressive dogs, as the many best-in-show winners from this dog breed can attest. Behind the blue ribbons, impressive hairdos, and regal attitude, you’ll find an affectionate family dog with an ancient history and many talents.
The German Shepherd Dog is one of America’s most popular dog breeds — for good reason. He’s an intelligent and capable working dog. His devotion and courage are unmatched. And he’s amazingly versatile, excelling at most anything he’s trained to do: guide and assistance work for the handicapped, police and military service, herding, search and rescue, drug detection, competitive obedience and, last but not least, faithful companion.
The Golden Retriever is one of the most popular dog breeds in the U.S. The breed’s friendly, tolerant attitude makes him a fabulous family pet, and his intelligence makes him a highly capable working dog. Golden Retrievers excel at retrieving game for hunters, tracking, sniffing out drugs, and as therapy and assistance dogs. They’re also natural athletes, and do well in dog sports such as agility and competitive obedience.
Canines of the Shetland Sheepdog dog breed stood guard for farmers in the Shetland Islands off the coast of Scotland, keeping hungry birds and sheep out of the farmer’s garden, and they served as herding dogs as well. Today they’re excellent family companions and superstars in dog sports.