The Dog’s Body

Your Complete Guide to Dog Care and Dog Training.

The Dog’s Body and How It Functions

Hair and Skin
The Skeleton
The Muscular System
The Nervous System
The Digestive System
The Urinary System
The Reproductive System

A general knowledge of your dog’s body and how it functions will prove helpful in his daily care. It will also be useful in giving the location of wounds or symptoms to the veterinarian over the telephone.

First, let us consider the nature of the dog. He is a hunter and scavenger. He comes from a long line of carnivorous animals, tracing back more than 40 million years to the Eocene epoch. His earliest ancestor was a civetlike animal named Miacis, a meat eater that lived in the prehistoric forests. The dog is related to the wolf, coyote, fox, jackal, dingo, raccoon, dhole and fennec. All of these, including the domestic dog, are geared for the hunt. They are all predators and scavengers and all show the same wolf- or dog-like appearance.

Nature has endowed the dog with a body to help him perform his role of a hunter. His nervous and muscular systems are designed to make him tops in his trade of hunter. He has adequate nervous energy, speed and muscular control —all vital assets to the hunting animal.

In developing the dog, Nature practiced “natural” selection, producing an animal that is adaptable to a variety of climates and conditions. Among all the animals, the dog is the most cosmopolitan in this respect. There is hardly an area on earth that does not have some member of the dog family.

Man, however, has taken a hand in the development of the dog. He has practiced what is known as “selective breeding.” For centuries, men have developed dogs for specialized purposes, for hunting, herding livestock, police work and as draft animals. But so far, nobody has been able to radically change the basic nature of the dog or his body. The dog is still a dog. And despite all the fancy coiffures—the custom-made sweaters and blankets—the dog remains a hunter and scavenger.

Even though the dog is a specialized animal, there is not a wide variation between his body and that of other mammals. Or man, for that matter. Your dog has all the vital organs found in other mammals: heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, spleen, stomach, intestines, kidneys, bladder, etc. He does have some variations in the functions of these organs. And he differs somewhat in his skeletal and muscular structure. But, in general, we can make many comparisons between the dog’s body and organs and those of other animals and man.

Your Complete Guide to Dog Care and Dog Training.