San Diego Natural History Museum--Your Nature Connection

DOGS: Wolf, Myth, Hero & Friend

"The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue."  Anonymous

This exhibition closed September 2, 2003

Exhibition Overview

TerrierSloppy, wet kisses. Life-saving search and rescues. Assistance for people with disabilities. Today, dogs enhance the lives of millions in countless ways, and they are also some of our oldest friends. Ancient clues from cave paintings and burial sites reveal that dogs and people have lived together for thousands of years. Why have we formed such close relationships with dogs, and not cows or chickens?

DOGS: Wolf, Myth, Hero & Friend sniffs out the facts on dogs and explores what makes our relationship so unique. Created by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, DOGS is the largest and most comprehensive traveling exhibition ever created to explore the history, biology, and evolution of dogs and the role of dogs in human societies.

Cutaway image of dog and skeleton

The exhibit uses the familiarity and love of these four-legged friends to explore science and biological concepts. DOGS has four themed sections including multi-media displays, artifacts, photo murals, and dioramas of taxidermied wild canines and sculpted modern dog breeds. Additionally, interactive, hands-on components demonstrate key exhibit concepts. For example, visitors can enter a "howling area" and guess what dogs are saying, test their nose against a dog's great sense of smell, and climb into an avalanche scene to see what it's like to be saved by a search-and-rescue dog. Visitors will learn:

    Wolf to dog display
  • How dogs evolved from wolves
  • Who dogs' wild relatives are
  • Why dogs come in so many shapes and sizes
  • How dogs communicate and interact with people
  • What physical traits of dogs make them useful to us
  • How dogs have been a big part of human history and cultures
  • What people can do to make the lives of dogs, wild and domestic, a bit better

No other single species in the animal kingdom has the incredible diversity of shapes and sizes that can be seen in dogs. The diversity of dogs and their abilities as hunters, herders, guards, and companions have made them man's "best friends" for thousands of years--longer than any other domestic animal.

During the exhibition's run at the museum, numerous special programs are planned to offer visitors more in-depth experiences with canine science. Visitors will also be able to experience the 40-minute long movie Wolves, shown daily in the Charmaine and Maurice Kaplan Theater.

The DOGS exhibition is unique in its commitment from the earliest planning stages to universal access and a fully inclusive design that meets the needs of a diverse visitorship, including those with special needs. Additionally, the exhibit has bilingual capabilities accommodating English- and Spanish-speaking visitors.


"There is no faith which has never yet been broken except that of a truly faithful dog."  Konrad Lorenz

This exhibition and national tour of DOGS: Wolf, Myth Hero & Friend is made possible by PEDIGREE ® Food for Dogs and is supported by a generous grant from the National Science Foundation. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. ESI-0072921. The National Science Foundation is an independent agency of the Federal Government that was established in 1950 by Congress. The agency's mission is to promote the progress of science and engineering. Specific informal science educational programs it funds must provide stimulating environments outside a formal classroom setting, where people of all ages and backgrounds can increase their appreciation and understanding of science.

Dogs | Exhibits