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All domestic dog breeds are members of a single species: Canis familiaris. Canis familiaris means "the familiar wolf" in Latin.

The earliest dogs appear in the fossil record about 40 million years ago, during the Eocene Epoch of the Cenozoic Era. The Cenozoic Era is also known as the Age of Mammals.

Domestic dogs appear about 15,000 years ago, though they may be older. Their presence in human history is well-documented in cave-paintings and human burials.

Different breeds of domestic dogs are the result of artificial selection, or breeding controlled by humans.

The domestic dog's closest kin is the gray wolf (Canis lupus). This relationship was determined through DNA-sequencing studies.

All wild canids have erect ears.

The hyena may look like a dog, but it's more closely related to a cat!

Prairie dogs aren't dogs at all, but highly social rodents.

Photograph: Gray Fox by Alden M. Johnson
© 2001 California Academy of Sciences

Canine Corner | Kids' Habitat

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