Domestic Dog

Canis lupus familiaris

Order: Carnivora


Husbandry Information

Housing Requirements

Diet Requirements

Veterinary Concerns

Notes on Enrichment & Training


Colony or Breeding Management

Notes species is housed or managed socially or for breeding purposes.

Individual Identification

Dimorphism or practiced ways to individually mark species (such as those in colonies, like giant millipedes).

Programmatic Information


Temperature Guidelines



Tips on Presentation

Touching Techniques

Tips on Handling


Potential Messaging

  • In general, animals seen at the zoo do not make good pets. Most have specialized dietary, veterinary, housing, and social needs that are difficult or impossible for even dedicated pet owners to meet. Always ensure that your future pet has not been taken from the wild. Capture of wild animals for the pet trade has significantly damaged the survival prospects of species such as sloths, tamanduas, and many parrots. Captured animals are typically mistreated by profit-motivated traffickers and dealers, resulting in many animal deaths; well-meaning animal lovers may feel like they are rescuing animals by purchasing them but are really perpetuating the cruelty. In addition, many exotic pets are released by their owners when they become too dangerous or demanding, often with devastating effects on local ecosystems. Animals that should never be kept as pets include all bats, primates, and exotic carnivores. Birds, fish, and reptiles have specialized needs, are frequently wild-caught, and damage the local environment if released; guests should be advised to educate themselves and proceed with caution. Domestic dogs and cats are almost always the best option! Many deserving animals are available for adoption at animal shelters.

Acquisition Information


Comments from the Rating System

  • Children’s Zoo at Celebration Square: We rescued a female black lab mix (when found, she was approximately 1 yr) who was abandoned in our parking lot and never claimed. She was relatively easy to care for except that she was prone to UTIs due to being extremely well house-broken and long overnight periods alone (because we only run one shift of husbandry staff). The only reason I selected “handlers must be experienced” is that she would take off after any type of wildlife or other zoo animal if she could since she was a hunting dog breed. We could never rein in this behavior but she trained very well for other behaviors. I found that for shows visitors would think she is boring (since they think of her as a pet), but she was very popular going on walks around the zoo since she was excellent with children. We liked to talk about the connection with wolves, why we train for certain behaviors, and in general about captive animals since we are in the inner city and there is a lot of fear of dogs and breed restrictions due to dog fighting. The idea was fine, but people generally would lose interest in her shows.
  • Living Desert: We use New Guinea singing dogs, Canus lupus hallstromi.
  • Natural Science Center of Greensboro: Messaging is hard for this one. I used to work with an Anatolian, and I talked about Cheetah conservation. I have also talked about how dogs are used as ambassadors for raising other species.

Natural History Information

Range and Habitat


Physical Description


Life Cycle




Threats and Conservation Status


Did you know…




Any Documents to attach, species spotlights, etc.

Contributors and Citations

Top Photo Maureen O’Keefe



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