In Praise of Pooches (Fun Dog Trivia)

An English writer named Ben Schott published a few books full of interesting and odd trivia about fifteen years ago. They were successful, and inspired Spott’s Canine Miscellany, a fun book about dog trivia. Some excerpts below. Add what you like.

  1. Young French women made brightly coloured dolls out of yarn called rintintin which consisted of male and female halves. The male half was given as a good luck charm to men going off to fight in WW1. US soldiers received similar attention from French desmoiselles later and the name inspired movies from 1922 and television until 1959.

  2. It is estimated about one million dogs in the US are the primary beneficiaries of their owner’s will.

  3. A dog’s yawn is a symbol of contentment, not boredom.

  4. “Anyone who doesn’t know what soap tastes like never washed a dog.” - Franklin P. Jones

  5. Dogs have a mirror like coating on the back of their retinae called tapetum which gives dogs better low-light vision than humans and may show up as red or yellow eye shine in photos taken using flash photography.

  6. The most popular dog breeds in the US (2007): lab, Yorkshire terrier, German shepherd, golden retriever, beagle, boxer, dachshund, poodle, shih tzu, bulldog

  7. One third of US dog owners admit to talking to their dog on the phone or leaving answering machine messages.

  8. Dog ears have at least 18 muscles that turn or adjust their ears and can pinpoint sound at about four times the distance people can. Absolute silence may make dogs nervous.

  9. Dogs have the largest variation in size of any land animal. Fish have more, I guess.

  10. “Dog: a kind of additional or subsidiary deity designed to catch the overflow and surplus of the workd’s Worship” - Ambrose Bierce

  11. Dogs are commonly named for brands, celebrities, sports stars, fictional heroes, alcoholic drinks, food and candy.

  12. The 27% of Canadian households with dogs is less than the 38% of Australian or 48% of US households. But 60% of dog owning households have more than one (vs. 43% in Oz or 21% in the US). Overall, the US has 20% more cat owning households.

  13. During the first century BC, wild dogs overran volcanic islands near Morocco. Pliny called them the Canary Islands, or “place of dogs”.

  14. The brightest star in the night sky, Sirius, is the Dog Star. But the dog was first jackal headed Anubis to the Egyptians, assisting Osiris in the underworld. After the Greeks conquered, it became known as the scorching dog seirios kuon, and was said to be helping Orion hunt the Great Bear.

  15. Dogs have 200-300 diseases in common with humans, including hypertension and cancer. These are the only two animals whose males have a sizeable prostate gland. This can cause dysuria in older male dogs.

  16. Comedian Brian Regan jokes about the word woof, a noise dogs make, and bow wow, which he feels they do not. Woof is transcribed as woef (Afrikaans and Dutch), wuff (German), voff (Iceland and Norway), vov (Sweden), woof (English and Hindi). Bau bau (Bulgarian and Italian), bup bup (Catalan), vau vau (Croatian and Hungarian), vuh vuh (Finnish), Bho bho (Hindi), ouah ouah (French) and wau wau (Vietnamese); but haw haw (Arabic), ghav ghav (Russian) and guau guau (Spanish) or ghaue ghaue (Bengali).

  17. The hot dog was first immortalized in print in the 1895 issue of the Yale Record, a campus comic newspaper.

  18. There are at least 61 named cross breeds between a poodle and another breed of dog. Poodles are the most popular breed in France followed by: lab, Yorkshire terrier, King Charles spaniel, German shepherd, sheepdogs and various toy dogs.

  19. About 70% of dog owners signing greeting cards add their dog’s name.

  20. There are 18 named “colourations” of greyhounds.

  21. Recipe for homemade dog biscuits: 3.5 cups stock, 1 pkg yeast, 3.5 cups white flour, 1.75 cups wheat flour, 1 cup cornmeal, 2/3 cup skim milk powder, egg wash, salt. Bake at 300F for 45 minutes. Let harden in oven overnight. Not tried it.

  22. The chow and Shar Pei May have black tongues.

  23. Sheepdog Commands: away, come by, stand, get back, in, lie down, walk on.

  24. Six US communities have been called Dogtown.

  25. Most popular breeds in Italu: border collie, Rottweiler, boxer, Great Dane, mastiff, terriers (American Staffirdshire or Jack Russell), dachshund.

  26. The average dog costs its owners US $13,500 during its 11 year life. (2007 US)

  27. “My husband and I longed for the putter-patter of little feet. So we bought a dog. It’s cheaper. And you get more feet.” - Rita Rudner

  28. Most male dogs are left-pawed and use it on preference to initiate movement or activity.

  29. A dog’s nose print is as unique as a finger print and can accurately identify dogs.

  30. Most popular US dog names, 2006:

  • Max, Jake, Buddy, Bailey, Sam, Rocky, Buster, Casey, Cody, Duke
  • Maggie, Molly, Lady, Sadie, Lucy, Daisy, Gi get, Abby, Sasha, Sandy
  1. Dave Martin’s Dog was run over. Thinking of a permanent replacement, the screenwriter incorporated the robotic K-9 into the long running series Dr. Who in 1977.

  2. Dogs seem to be aware that bones do not decay like meat and co rain nutrients worth storing. So they bury bones, which their 28 teeth can easily chew.

  3. Most popular dog names in:
    France: Adele, Alette, Angeline, Barn, Beau, Bebe, Bisou, Catan, Celine, Colette, Drogo, Etoile, Gaspard, Ignace, Lisette, Loulou, Malo, Merlot, Milou, Mustache, Neige, Toutou.

  4. “If you pick a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the difference between dogs and men.” - Mark Twain

  5. Popular Dog Names in England:
    Basil, Beefy, Bullet, Deefer, Duke, Gromit, Jasper, Jet, Kim, Mojo, Monty, Pilot, Princess, Rocket, Wembley, Windsor, Winston.

Deefer is as in “D for” dog.

  1. Dog show judges look for a) angulation, b) gait and c) physical and mental soundness.

  2. Around 21% of dogs and 7% of cats snore.

  3. Medieval Europeans thought putting a hair (from the dog that bit you) in a wound helped it heal. If you believe it, this “hair of the dog” also became applied to hangover cures. No reason at all to be skeptical.

  4. Dogs can dream and display the same brain frequency and REM changes.

  5. Goofy is meant to be a bloodhound, not that I could tell. He first appeared in Mickey’s Revue in 1932 when called Dippy Dawg. A dawg can wear clothes, I guess.

  6. “Dogs feel very strongly they should always go with you in the car in case the need should arise for them to bark violently right in your ear.” - Dave Barry.

  7. The painter Titian was well known for including dogs that suggested comment on the humans portrayed

  8. The Basset cannot swim with its heavy bones and stumpy legs. The Newfoundland has webbed feet and a water-resistant coat perhaps resembling American swimmer Michael Phelps.

  9. The Basque spirit of darkness - a large wolfhound called Gaueko. Eats whole flicks of sheep. So stay inside till the sun rises.

  10. The circling movement 2-3 times before lying down might flatten foliage to make it more comfortable and allow quicker escape. Most dog beds are round shaped too.

  11. Argos recognized Odysseus when he arrived home in Ithaca after 20 years of Trojan War fighting, then died content, so sayeth Homer.

  12. Lyndon Johnson had two beagles named Him and Her.

Nice list, but I do take issue with this one. Dog yawns can also be a sign of stress.

I’m sure more than one item on the list is probably dubious or incomplete. Do dogs really inherit so much? My dog yawns after eating steak but not before thunder storms. But many signals are ambiguous and need to be read as clusters.

  1. One of the oldest parts of London, “The City” is also called Houndsditch. It was an early dumping ground for household waste.

A Dog is an animal who always wants to be on the other side of a closed door.

-Unknown, but I say it a lot.

My Girls tend to do this right in my face. Their breath is like Un-cut Open Ass.

My Dachshund commands: Rabbit!, Mouse!, Jeep! and Right Now!

I’m always impressed when they kill a Jeep.

It would be cool to be a lawyer specializing in doggie wills.

I’ve quoted maybe ten percent of the book. Worth reading if you like that sort of thing. Lots of the items are difficult to transcribe, and both Schott’s and Spott’s Miscellanies are inexpensive on used book websites.

The word “dog” is of unknown etymology. “Dogca” just suddenly appears in Old English vocabulary about 1000 years ago. Prior to that, dogs were referred to by variants of the Germanic “hund”.

My personal theory is that “dogca” is an Old English swear word, associated with tripping over critters that do not move when they are comfortably sleeping.

Come on Canadians, step up and do your part. You’re dragging down the average.


Never had a male dog, wonder if this is true.

Worth every penny in my opinion.

No idea. They go on to say a small minority of female dogs are right pawed. Perhaps that helps them dance? At the doggie park I frequent, It is not uncommon for two playful dogs to form what I call “the coat of arms”, where they are both semi-standing on back paws and leaning on each other with outstretched front paws. It is hilarious.

When dogs are play wrestling, they will sometimes sneeze to let the other pup know they are not seriously fighting.

Anyone else familiar with “reverse sneezing” (not making this up)? One of our dogs suffers from this on occasion, it really sounds like a kerchoo with the tape played backwards.

Dogs are about the only species other than humans who fully understand the pointing gesture. Even other primates have a hard time understanding pointing. Dogs are so good at it that they even get very subtle pointing gestures like a head nod toward something.

Our golden retriever is able to understand a LOT of words, and will go into another room to fetch a specific object if we ask her to. She points a lot with her nose and ears, and will roll her eyes toward something of interest to her if we look her in the face. As in: It’s dinner time and she wants mommy to give her some food. While sitting at the table, I look down at her and she’s rolling her eyes toward mama. “Daddy, tell mommy I’m hungry!”

Saw this funny story on the internet (paraphrased):
A guy (presumably North American) was starting to date this nice European girl and was about to go on a business trip. He asked her if she could drop by his place when he was out, and walk his dog daily. When he returned, his dog was incredibly clean and fluffy, because she had misunderstood him as saying “wash my dog.”

I would guesstimate my dogs vocabulary at fifty words. I am not generous in assuming he understands a word - he needs to go well out of his way to demonstrate it on many, many occasions.

My dog is very expressive and it is always very clear just what it is he wants. He does not always get it, of course.

My dog understands head nods and follows what I am looking at. Pointing at something does not usually work and I am unclear what he understands in this regard.

You didn’t think that was going to stand, did you?

Hadn’t thought about it that much. Perhaps they meant using the butterfly?

Not all dogs have red or yellow lasers, some are blue/green. I have one red laser dog and two blue/green ones and the late Widget was also a redeye–it seems to correspond at least a bit to the actual eye color of the dog. People tend to think Bear is blind because of how odd his blue/green retinas look but in spite of being 13 he sees just fine. It’s his hearing that’s dodgy. Or he might just be ignoring me because he can sure hear a peanut butter pretzel being dropped two rooms away. :wink:

Those two didn’t even break a sweat. Wish I could swim that well.

It really only qualifies as swimming if they can do the backstroke, otherwise it’s just dog paddlin’.

Wait! Your dogs have laser beam eyes? Original equipment or aftermarket? Must be expensive either way.

Haha, lasers is just what we call their eyes when they’re all reflective in the light. And, fortunately, they’re standard equipment!