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The next time someone poses a puzzling dog question - biggest dog, fastest dog, smartest dog and such - remember to check here. We've tracked down answers to some Frequently Asked Questions about dogs around the world and throughout history. We share the results and offer links to more details. NOTE: Some dog breeds are producing taller and heavier specimens, so answers may change! Enjoy!

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turq-sm.gif (967 bytes) Questions about dog size & speed    [ Top ] 

Q: What is the world’s biggest dog breed?

A: The Irish Wolfhound is considered the world’s tallest breed of dog, based on its official breed standard. A male should be at least 32 to 34 inches tall, the breed standard says, while a female should be at least 30 inches tall.

Click here to see how fast an Irish Wolfhound grows up - from 2 months to 36 months. Note that actual maximum height measurement for Irish Wolfhounds during a 1956-1976 study was 36.8 inches. Or learn more about this large breed at the Irish Wolfhound Club of Canada site or check out the breed's page at  the American Kennel Club site.

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The Great Dane is also a very tall dog. Its breed standard says a male must be at least 30 inches tall, but it is preferred that males be 32 inches tall or more. Females must be at least 28 inches tall. according to the breed standard, which notes a preference for females 30 inches tall or more. For details, please read this Great Dane breed standard or check out the breed's profile at the AKC.

Turning to individual dogs, a Great Dane named Gibson recently held the Guinness world record as the world's tallest dog at 42.2 inches, but in September 2012, a Great Dane named Zeus took the lead in the Guiness records at 44 inches tall.

Q: What if you want the heaviest dog, not the tallest dog?

A: While the Irish Wolfhound and the Great Dane typically are a bit taller, the English Mastiff -- nicknamed the gentle giant -- and the Saint Bernard are generally considered the heaviest breeds.  The Mastiff generally comes in at about 180 pounds for grown dogs, but some experts say that they can be as heavy as 220 pounds. In comparison, Saint Bernard males can be 184 pounds or even more. [Click for growth and weight chart for Saint Bernards.] 

In 1989, the world’s heaviest as well as longest dog recorded was an Old English Mastiff named Zorba, weighing 343 lbs and measuring  8 feet 3 inches long from nose to tail.

The largest Irish Wolfhounds weigh in at about 120 pounds, while the Great Dane male is said by some experts to weigh from 120 to 200 pounds. Mastiff males are about 30 inches in height compared to 32 inches for the Wolfhound.  The Saint Bernard male is expected to be at least 27.5 inches.

Of course, individual dogs will vary, and some breeds continue to get taller and heavier.  Thus this information is the best we can provide at this time. You'll need to decide for yourself which is heaviest.

For more, you can read a helpful FAQ sheet about the Mastiff or see some pictures of a female mastiff at one, two and three years old, or read the Mastiff breed profile from the AKC.  Then you can check out this profile about the Saint Bernard or read its profile at the AKC

Q: What’s the world’s smallest breed?

A: The Chihuahua is considered the smallest breed. They should not weigh more than 6 pounds, and they range from 6 to 9 inches tall. You can learn about the smooth-coated and long-coated varieties in the AKC profile.  Check here if you are told about special "teacup" or tiny toy Chihuahuas.

The individual smallest dog in the Guinness Book of Records in 2004 is a long-haired Chihuahua named Danka.

Q: What dog breed has the biggest ears?

A: In 2004, a Basset hound named Jack, from Fulda, Germany, holds the record for the longest ears, measuring 33.2 cm or just over a remarkable 13 inches.

Q: What’s the world’s fastest dog breed?

A: It is generally agreed that the greyhound is the fastest dog breed, able to reach speeds of 45 miles per hour on a sprint race track. Read a greyhound profile or check out the AKC breed profile.

Q: What’s the world’s slowest dog breed?

A: The chances are slim that anyone has tested the slower breeds to see which takes the most time to cover a set distance. Logic suggests that shorter-legged, heavier dogs would be among the slowest dogs. These might very well include the Basset Hound or Dachshund.

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turq-sm.gif (967 bytes) Questions about dog hair    [ Top ] 

Q: What is the world’s hairiest, shaggiest dog?

A: No one has determined this definitively, but here are some choices to consider. Click for details and sketches of the Bearded Collie, the Komondor, the Old English Sheepdog or the Puli.

Q: What is the world’s least shaggy dog?

A: There are several hairless breeds that compete for this title, such as the Mexican Hairless or Xolo and the American Hairless Terrier.

Q: What breeds are recommended for people allergic to dogs?

Dogs with single-layer coats or hairless breeds are usually recommended. Check this article or read this advice from a person who handled this problem or use this list of dog breeds.

turq-sm.gif (967 bytes) What about intelligence?    [ Top ] 

Q: What dog breeds are most intelligent?

A: This is a controversial question because people have different ideas of what makes a dog intelligent. Is it learning to obey a command quickly? Or is it an independent ability to solve problems? Many argue that these are both types of intelligence, so using just one as the measure of K9 smarts is wrong. Click here for more on this view.

Nonetheless, one man’s opinion lists the top 5 breeds for canine intelligence as the Border Collie, Poodle, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever and Doberman Pinscher. Again, you may not agree. Learn more about this assessment here.

Q: What dog breeds are least intelligent?

A: The same expert says the least intelligent on his list of 79 breeds are Borzoi, Chow Chow, Bulldog, Basenji and Afgan Hound, the Afgan being at the bottom of the list. You may not agree. Learn more here.

turq-sm.gif (967 bytes) What about popularity?    [ Top ] 

Q: What dogs were voted the Top 10 of the 20th century?

A: They are Fala, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Scottish terrier; Togo, musher Leonard Seppala’s Siberian Husky lead dog in the famous Nome Serum Run; cartoon dog Snoopy; Rin Tin Tin; Lassie; cartoon dog Scooby Doo; Balto, another Siberian Husky lead dog in the Serum Run; Eddie on Frasier TV show; Old Yeller; and Gidget, the Chihuahua of Taco Bell fame.

The results were based on 7,500+ votes cast.

Q: What breeds are most popular lately?

A: That varies country by country of course. In the most recent count of American Kennel Club dog registrations for the full year 2002, the top 5 most popular are the Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, German Shepherd, Beagle and Dachshund. That's the same as two years earlier except the Beagle and Dachshund changed places.  The breeds rounding out the top 10 in 2002 are the Yorkshire Terrier, Boxer, Poodle, Chihuahua and the Shih Tzu. 

For full details, check out the Registration Statistics page of the American Kennel Club site with the most recent AKC registration data for individual breeds.  Here is the AKC news release [PDF format] with the 2002 figures and the news release with the 2004 figures.

Now see how AKC breed popularity changed in 2012 with the Beagle moving up to 3rd and the Rottweiler moved into the Top 10.

In the United Kingdom in 2002, the 10 most popular breeds according to data from The Kennel Club were Labrador Retriever, German Shepherd, Cocker Spaniel, English Springer Spaniel, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Golden Retriever, West Highland White Terrier, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Boxer and Rottweiler.  Here's their Top 20.

In Canada in 2002, the 10 most popular breeds  -- based on numbers of dogs registered with the Canadian Kennel Club -- were the Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, German Shepherd Dog, Poodle and the Shetland Sheepdog, the same as in 1999.  Rounding out the top 10 were the Yorkshire Terrier, Miniature Schnauzer, Shih Tzu, Bichon Frise and Boxer.

Note that the Labrador Retriever is No. 1 in the USA, Canada and UK.

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Q: What breeds are least popular?

The 10 breeds with the fewest individual registrations with the AKC in 2002 were, counting down, German Pinscher, Plott, American Foxhound, Komondorok, Skye Terrier, Finnish Spitz, Ibizan Hound, English Foxhound, Harrier, and the Otterhound in the last spot, with just 17 dogs registered.

For full details, check out the Registration Statistics with the latest   AKC registration data for individual breeds.

The CKC does not have a full listing of breeds and registration numbers on its website.

turq-sm.gif (967 bytes) Questions on dog history    [ Top ] 

Q: What living species of the canid or dog family has the oldest archaeological evidence proving its antiquity?

A: In Olduvai Gorge in eastern Africa, skeletal remains of silverbacked jackals dating back 1.7 million years gives us the earliest fossil record for a species of Canis still alive today. In fact, silverbacked jackals are found today in the brush woodland in the region near the gorge. 

The jackal species include the black-backed jackal which is the same as the silverbacked jackal, the golden jackal, the side-striped jackal and the Ethiopian or Simien wolf or jackal.

Follow these links for pictures of:
Golden jackal
Black-backed jackal
Side-striped jackal
Simien wolf

Follow this link for pictures of wild members of the dog family and follow this link for details on all members of the Canidae or dog family.

Q: What is the oldest breed of dog?

A: This is a complicated question, but there are helpful clues.  It appears that two semi-domestic dogs -- the Dingo of Australia and the New Guinea Singing Dog -- are considered the last existing representatives of early dogs developed in southern Asia. These dogs are thought to have traveled with their human companions all the way to Australia and New Guinea.

Another candidate is the Basenji, whose ancestor is also thought to have developed in southern Asia; it then moved with people into Africa, starting in Egypt. [See below for new confirmation from the latest dog genetic research].   The Canaan Dog of Israel traces to ancient pariah dog stock of the Middle East.

One influential new theory is that dogs were first domesticated in East Asia, possibly China, and the first peoples to enter North America took dogs with them from Asia.  Now, new genetic research published in May 2004 has identified 14 ancient dog breeds, with the oldest being the Chow Chow, Shar Pei, Akita, Shiba Inu and Basenji.  Because many of the 14 breeds are associated with China and Japan, the theory that the dog originated in Asia seems to be likely.

Enjoy  this Guide to Ancient Breeds and learn about all 14.

Q: What author is considered to be the first to write about dogs?

The Greek author Homer is considered to one of the first to write about dogs. Canines are mentioned frquently in his classic epic, the "Odyssey," written in the 9th century B.C.

Interestingly, the ancient Greeks believed that the gates to Hades or the underworld were guarded by Cerberus, a savage three-headed dog. The widespread practice in Greece of using watchdogs may have been the source of this belief. Or possibly it was influenced by the Egyptians whose dog-headed god Anubis was connected with judgment after death. To learn more, check here.

turq-sm.gif (967 bytes) More sources of dog facts    [ Top ] 

Here are some questions plus links to answers:

What are the most popular names for dogs these days?

Max is No. 1 for males on some charts for both Australia and the United States, with Jessie, Maggie and Molly for females.  Click to search for the Top 20 list for dog names for puppies. See a 2012 list of popular dog nams.

A list of the Top 100 dog names for 2013 shows Max and Bella on the top, followed by Buddy, Rocky, Bailey and Jake for male dogs and Molly, Lucy, Maggie and Daisy for female dogs. Is your dog's name listed?

Names from nature are also popular, such as Bear and Daisy. See this list of top dog names.

For those looking for unique names, consider this list of the top 10 dog names -- but translated into Hawaiian. Enjoy!

Are dogs really color-blind? 

Click here.  Or here.

Are the tallest dogs such as Zeus or other ultra dogs -- heaviest or tallest or smallest -- being bred responsibly?

See one opinion here.

How many dogs served in the Vietnam War?

Try this page.

How many people are bitten by dogs in the U.S. in a year?

Check here for statistics.

What countries have the most pet dogs per family?

Find an answer here.

How many people in the U.S. seek medical treatment as a result of dog bites each year?

Try this article.

Where is the American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog?

Find out here and enjoy this visitor fact sheet.


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