It’s International Dog Day today – a chance to celebrate our cute, cuddly, devoted and dribbly four-legged friends.
From loyal Labradoodles and plucky Pointers to cheeky Chihuahuas and dinky Dachshunds, the UK has a long and proud history as a nation of dog lovers.
There are 13 million pooches in the UK, up from 7.6 million in 2010, thanks to a massive rise in dog ownership during the pandemic*.
And famous canine admirers include Henry VIII (who favoured Spaniels, Beagles and Greyhounds) and Winston Churchill, who was a Poodle man. And then there’s Queen Elizabeth II and her beloved Corgis.
So why do dogs hold such a special place in the nation’s hearts? In the lead-up to International Dog Day on 26 August let’s look at why we love to love dogs.
- Happiness – Studies show that dogs reduce loneliness, depression and anxiety.
- Health – Walking a dog every day is a great way to keep active and enjoy a dose of fresh air. It’s no coincidence that dog owners tend to have lower blood pressure than the rest of society**.
- Super sniffers – Dogs have a brilliant sense of smell. For example, a Beagle’s nose has 220 million scent receptors (we humans have about five or six million receptors). For this reason, some breeds work as medical detection dogs (MDDs) for people with Type 1 diabetes, severe allergies and epilepsy. MDDs pick up on minor odour changes emitted by a person before a medical incident – and raise the alarm. This gives the person time to seek help or move to a safe environment.
- Intelligence – There’s no doubt that many dogs are brainy (one Border Collie was trained to understand 1,000 different words). There are also examples of assistance dogs who can use cash machines and unload washing machines and clothes dryers.
- Empathetic – Dogs are social animals who can read body language and sense when a person is anxious or upset. Many charities pair (well-trained) dogs with children and adults with autism because of their ability to build emotional connections.
If you’d like to do something special on International Dog Day, why not donate to a charity that supports assistance dogs? Visit Canine Partners to read about the amazing work being carried out by loyal canines across the UK.
** Harvard Health