The bond between dogs and their owners the world over works well, as it has been this way for centuries. In a documentary shot in New Zealand, a man uses his dogs’ abilities to drive rogue bulls from the forest and drives them safely to a corral. The man describes how the dogs work as hard as he does all day everyday for the rest of their lives. As such, they become part of his family, and even more than that, his colleagues; he can’t do the job without them. He says if someone was to harm any of his dogs, even with a simple kick, he would definitely overreact.

Most of us feel this way about our dogs, a deep connection and a feeling that they actually ‘get’ us.

Initially, humans kept dogs for their usefulness, whereby dogs would guide humans to prey. Humans couldn’t see as well or run as fast as dogs could, and dogs on the other hand lacked the unique hunting skills and tools of the humans. The humans would do the killing and the dogs would get a share of the meat, making the relationship mutually beneficial.

Dogs are territorial in nature, just like humans. They instinctively guard their territories and this has over the years made them useful to us. To our ancestors, they would sniff prey and warn the owners of imminent danger. Today, this territory-guarding trait is useful to us in that dogs warn us of approaching intruders with their barking.

In the wild, the park has an alpha male and only he and a female can procreate even though the other members of the park are mature enough to do have puppies. There is also a social order among dogs-there is a leader who leads and decides the course of action for the pack. The other members have to know their place in the hierarchy to maintain order at all times.

This social structure is also present among human families, and dogs instinctively take their rightful position depending on how you train them. If you let your pet shove you out of your bed, that is exactly what he will be doing every night and you, the lesser pack member, will have to look for alternative sleeping quarters. If he asserts his dominance by jumping all over you and you let him, he gets the message that he is the boss of you and he is in charge.

Researchers have recently revealed that the intense gaze that a dog gives you is not or naught. Staring into a dog’s eyes releases the same response from us as when we look at infants. The hormone responsible is oxitocin, also dubbed the hug chemical, and you immediately fall in love. I guess that’s where the phrase ‘puppy eyes’ came from. Even the toughest among us can’t resist a cute stare from a puppy, and if you are not careful you might find yourself getting lenient on discipline.

In summary, the bond works because humans and dogs have a similar social order, and they are both territorial. In addition, our ancestors needed the dogs as much as the dogs needed them to survive, so the bond worked well because they added value to each other’s lives. The magical doggie gaze is also responsible in part for making dogs irresistible to humans.

A boss is someone you get to do a lot of things for, and not one who does things for you. A person who does things for you is your servant or employee. In the workplace the person is mostly a person below you in rank.

Looking at the relationship between us and our pet dogs, we can correctly conclude that the lucky furry babies are our bosses, based on the conclusion above. Think about it. We make sure they are well fed and we serve their food, something we probably wouldn’t do even for our spouses on a daily basis especially in this day of gender equality. For your dog though, you serve him every single time. When he is done eating, you also scoop his poop to keep your surroundings clean. You also clean him every once in a while. So who’s boss?

It seems we are not the first among humans to place our dogs on pedestals. In ancient civilizations where the religions had multiple gods, the dogs had a respectable place as gods.

Among the Sumerians, Bau the goddess of fertility and healing was a dog. This god was also the guardian of the ancient city of Lagash in ancient Babylon.

Among the Greek, the god Kerberos served the role of guarding just like the modern dog does. The only difference is that while the modern dog guards from human intruders, this three-headed hound god guarded the entrance to hades and made sure ghosts did not escape and come back to the land of the living.

The Aztec worshipped a god who had the body of a man and the head of a raggedy-eared dog. This god’s name was xolotl and he was the god of fire and lightning and was also Lord of the West. He was in charge of overseeing the sun on its transit through the underworld.

Today, dogs are still worshipped in religions such as Hinduism. In Hinduism the dog is worshipped in November for about five days in the Tihar festival. The god Shiva is depicted sitting on a dog, and the dog is also honored in this religion because the followers believe Yudhishthira approached heaven with his dog. This belief makes them take good care of dogs in the hopes the animals can help pave way to heaven.

Science has already proved that gazing into the eyes of a dog releases oxytocin hormone that is similar to the one released when we gaze into the eyes of newborn babies. Well, it seems the Zoroastrianism had discovered a long time ago that gazing into a dog’s eyes has a calming effect. They believed gazing into a dog’s eyes drives off demons and has a purifying effect. If that is not a divine characteristic, I don’t know what is.

Man’s best friend comes in different shapes, sizes, and colors. You want a large dog with a beautiful coat; you can have that in a golden retriever. What about a dog who has a fierce bark to ward of intruders? A German Shepherd does the trick. Do you want a dog that can survive in the coldest climate and still function normally? A Siberian husky will do.

All this variety comes not necessarily due to natural selection- man has a hand in it through a process called selective breeding. The process has the advantage of creating dogs that look exactly as the breeders intend, but come with a variety of inherited disorders as listed below.

The flattened face of a pug or causes breathing problems because they have a shorter nasal cavity than their ancestors. The scientific name for this disorder is brachycephalic airway obstruction syndrome. The nasal cavity of these dogs is intentionally shortened to match the breed standard.

Some dogs have difficulties giving birth because the breed standard dictates they should have a large head, broad shoulders, and a narrow pelvis. These characteristics mean the puppies have a large head, but the mother has a narrow pelvis so she is not able to give birth normally. The bulldog is one breed that has this problem, and almost always has to be assisted in giving birth via a caesarian section. The females also have to be artificially inseminated because their backs can’t hold the weight of a male.

Small dogs such as Chihuahuas and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are bred to look cuddly and doll-like. As breeders strive to make these breeds more doll-like, they create a disorder known as Chiari Malformation. This disorder causes certain parts of the brain to push through the base of the skull when certain skull bones fuse too soon. The effects are painful headaches due to too much pressure on the brain. They also have difficulty walking and can get paralyzed.

Large dogs such as Labradors, Great Danes and Rottweilers are heavy, causing a lot of pressure on their bones. This leads to higher incidence of bone cancer among these dogs. Hip dysplasia, the abnormal formation of the hip joint is also common among large breeds such as German Shepherds.

These are just some of the problems caused by selective breeding in dogs. Personally I like the physical traits and temperaments of my purebred dogs, and I wouldn’t trade these for anything. The predictability of purebred dogs makes it easy to choose a dog that fits into your home, but the problems caused by selective breeding are a pain. In my opinion, the best way forward is not to do away with the dogs, but to encourage responsible breeding that eliminates the problems. Breeders should put the health of the dogs first before the looks.

The sporting group is made up of pointers, setters, retrievers, and spaniels. These dogs are simply a ball of energy to have around. They take to swimming like fish, and are at their best running wild in the outdoors. They require intensive exercise for optimum health and, just like dogs in the working group, are intelligent. They are easy to train and make for great companions on hikes and nature walks.

The hound group is made up of a wide variety of members who don’t share much in terms of appearance. What they do have in common is their natural instinct to hunt. Some track prey by scent, while some in this group use their impressive stamina to run after prey until the prey runs out of strength, after which the dogs holds the prey down for the master to hunt. Examples include the Norwegian Elkhounds, Afghans, Beagles, Basenji Basset Hound, Black and Tan Coonhound, and the Bloodhound.

Because hounds were bred to help their owners in hunting, they were also selectively bred for their ability to alert their owners when they had captured a target. Like stated in this article on Daily Dog Discoveries, baying is the sound exclusively emitted by hounds. Beagles bay when they catch the scent of a quarry, whereas Coonhounds bay when they have cornered (treed) a quarry. This sound can be disturbing to new owners especially if hunting is the last thing on your list of normal activities. You therefore need to decide if you are comfortable living with a hound, baying and all.

The last category is known as the non-sporting group. Unlike the other groups, dogs in this group have nothing in common. Some people say it’s a group assigned to dogs that could not fit into any of the other six categories. The group has members who vary greatly in size, behavior and appearance. Some members in this group are common names such as Poodles, Dalmatians and French Bulldogs. Others are the Tibetan Spaniel, Bichon Frise and Chow Chow breeds.