Fascinating Facts About Dogs and Cats Through the Years

hound dog in a field

Discover 10 fun facts about dogs and cats throughout history!

  • 1

    DNA evidence suggests dogs were domesticated between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago. And there’s evidence of dogs being buried with owners at least 15,000 years ago.

  • 2

    It’s thought that cats domesticated themselves around 10,000 years ago. As agricultural communities started to form, cats were naturally drawn to the mice who infested the grain stores. As time went on, cats adopted the docile behaviors that humans favored.

  • 3

    The earliest known depiction of domesticated dogs in art dates back 8,000 years — a rock carving features a hunter with bow and arrow alongside dogs with leashes.

  • 4

    Cats were revered in Ancient Egypt. When a beloved cat died, Egyptians shaved their eyebrows in mourning and mummified their feline.

  • 5

    Ancient Greeks and Romans kept dogs for a variety of reasons and were selective about which breeds were used for which purpose, much as we do today. Mastiffs were often used in armies and as guard dogs. A giant dog called the Molossus was used to guard homes, as well as herd and guard livestock. Hounds were popular for hunting, while lap dogs were used for companionship and to keep their owners warm.

  • 6

    Cats were not particularly popular during ancient Greek and Roman times, but birds were. They were usually kept by upper-class women and housed in decorative cages.

  • 7

    Dogs are the most popular pet among U.S presidents — 30 out of 45 presidents have had dogs while in office. Many owned multiple dogs during their presidency (Calvin Coolidge had 12!), for a total of more than 115 dogs in the White House throughout the years.

  • 8

    A handful of cats have lived in the White House, including Tabby and Dixie (Abraham Lincoln), Slippers and Tom Quartz (Theodore Roosevelt), Puffins (Woodrow Wilson), and Shan (Gerald Ford).

  • 9

    Cracker Jacks were first introduced in 1896, but it wasn’t until around 1916 that they got their famous mascots — a sailor boy named Jack and his dog, Bingo. The dog was modeled after a pooch named Russell, adopted as a stray. The pup belonged to Henry Eckstein, who developed the wax-sealed packaging for Cracker Jacks.

  • 10

    Rin Tin Tin may be well known as a doggie movie star of the 1920s, but he started his life in a bombed-out kennel in France. Soldier Lee Duncan saved the German shepherd puppy during World War I and trained him upon returning home to California. The beloved dog went on to star in over 20 Hollywood films, and his descendant kept the family acting career alive by starring in the popular 1950s TV show The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin.