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Today on Scatterbrained, we learn about dogs! First, there are some interesting dog breed name origins. Then, we focus on bloodhounds and why they're so good at tracking criminals. We answer the question of how to get a breed in the American Kennel Club so they can compete in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. We take you through the history and behind-the-scenes stories of the Puppy Bowl. And we talk about how dogs can smell fear.

Subscribe for new episodes of Scatterbrained every other Wednesday!

Follow our hosts on Twitter:
John Green: @johngreen
Amanda Suk: @sukiestyles
Becca Scott: @thebeccascott
Elliott Morgan: @elliottcmorgan
Dani Fernandez: @msdanifernandez
Mike Rugnetta: @mikerugnetta

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John: Hello and welcome to Mental Floss video. Today we're gonna be talking about dogs. Oh no, I hope I don't cry. I always cry when it comes to dog stuff. Like every movie that starts out with a dog, ends without a dog but we're gonna do this video differently. It's gonna be dogs, dogs, dogs, dogs all the way down. Lets get started. 



 9 Dog Name Origins (0:26)




Amanda: We get dog breed names from all over. Literally, a lot of them are named after places. Others are named after people or words. Let's begin the episode with a few interesting dog breed name origions. 

The word Collie has been around since at least the 1650's. Sources aren't totally sure where it came from but one of the prevailing theories is that the breed was named after a color, Coal Black. Dandy Dinmont was a farmer character in the 1850 novel Guy Mannering by Sir Walter Scott, and that sets the Dandy Dinmont Terrior apart because no other dog breed around today is named for a fictional character. 

The Lhasa Apso breed is named after Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. There's less certainty about the Apso part. It might have come from a Tibetan word that means 'goat like' or 'bearded' which is probably a reference to their hair. Apsolutly.

Bulldogs came from the British Isles around the 15th century they were one breed of dog used for bull baiting, an appalling activity that involved a dog pulling on the nose of a bull until the dog won or the bull killed it. Thankfully it was outlawed in 1835. But that was how the bull dog got it's name.  

Schnauzer derives from a German word meaning 'growler'. That German word is related to our word snout. 

Poodle also comes from a German word meaning splash. It's related to our word puddle. In Germany, a poodle was known as a 'Poodlehund' which was basically like calling it a water dog. 

Shih Tzu basically means 'lion dog'. We get the name from a Chinese term. 

Cairn Terriers got their name from Cairns which are stacked up piles of rocks. Often they're man-made landmarks but they can happen naturally as well. Rodents love to climb in them and Cairn Terriers were trained to go in and hunt those small animals. Just like this probably. And finally, pugs were named after their animal kingdom twin, marmosets. The monkeys used to be pets known as "pugs" in the 18th century. People saw a similarity in appearance between the two, and the dogs got that name as well. 



 Bloodhounds at work (2:25)




John: Now that you know a little more about all kinds of dog breeds, we're gonna focus on one. The bloodhound. These dogs are well known for their ability to track scents. In fact, since around the end of the 1800s, a bloodhound's trail could be used as evidence in court. Which is still true to this day. One bloodhound helped catch 600 suspects in his lifetime, which is pretty impressive. And there are a few reasons why bloodhounds are so good at detective work.

So olfactory receptors are cells in noses, and other parts of the body, but that's a discussion for another time. They allow us to notice odor molecules. People have them. So do dogs. We have about 5 million receptors in our olfactory membrane. Bloodhounds have 300 million. Another large dog might have 225 million, so basically, bloodhounds have the most, which make them the best.

And in addition to what's going on in their noses, bloodhounds have other useful facial features that help them with their jobs. Like, their droopy ears. Not only are they long, but they actually sit lower on their heads compared to other dog breeds, so they reach lower. I know what you're wondering. Can they smell with their ears? No. But I have spent the last 6 months trying to convince my 4-year-old daughter that I can smell with my ears. So far, I've been unsuccessful, but I'm not giving up.

The way that bloodhound ears benefit their smelling is because their ears drag along the ground, which kicks up dust towards the nose. And then that dust contains odor molecules that can conveniently sit in bloodhound wrinkles. 

Bloodhounds are trained to smell something like the clothing of a suspect or a missing person, and then track that scent, thanks to all the lovely things that we humans leave behind, like breath, and sweat. There're also about 30,000 dead skin cells that fall off an average person every hour, so  that's what bloodhounds are smelling. And they can be really well trained. There're also about 30,000 dead skin cells that fall off an average person every hour, so that's what bloodhounds are smelling.

And they can be really well trained. Like, they don't leave their trail.

Sometimes the trail reaches over 130 miles long. In 2001, the FBI and the Southern California Bloodhound Handlers Coalition did research to determine exactly how accurate a bloodhound's sense of smell can be. They had participants touch pipe bombs and other devices before they were set off, and after two weeks had passed, 20 dog teams went to various test stations to track the responsible person.

None of the dogs had a false positive identification, and there was a 78.3% combined score for positive matches. Which means that bloodhounds are far more reliable than eyewitnesses. But in an American court of law, you need to be able to prove your bloodhounds are legit.

This type of evidence was important in the 2014 Louisiana Supreme Court decision State vs Oliphant. The defendant was convicted for a robbery, and tracking dogs had been used to identify his scent at the scene of the crime. He appealed, and the Supreme Court's decision included details about those dogs.

Like the fact that the Court wasn't provided with information about their parentage, and the dogs weren't certified, and there wasn't any data about their training or success rates, besides their dog handler testifying that, quote, "They are very good in my book." So the Court's decision stated, "Given the complete lack of verifiable information relating the dogs' training, experience, or abilities, the court erred by admitting the evidence." So if you're going to track people with bloodhounds, make sure you know, that you have a well-trained bloodhound. Just like anything else. 

 How do you join the AKC? (5:37)


Elliott: Bloodhounds are one of the 192 officially recognized dog breeds with the American Kennel Club. That means they can compete in the Westminster Kennel Club dog show. But, not every dog is so lucky. So, here's a big question.

How does a dog breed become an officially recognized AKC breed?  The basic answer is that they have to have a pretty committed group of supporters, also known as "fanciers." in this intricate world of dog clubs. The fanciers form a national breed club, which must have over 100 members.

They need at least 300-400 dogs of the breed in the US, which must include a pedigree of 3 generations all within that breed. And they're required to be represented in 20 or more states.

Of course, the club has to submit all of this in writing to the AKC, and that needs to be okay-ed by the AKC board. Even then, the dog breed only becomes part of the "Miscellaneous" class. So at that point, dogs are allowed to compete in some AKC events.

After one year, the national breed club has to provide the AKC with more facts, like how many dogs have competed in such events, as well as information about shows, and seminars, and judges' workshops. Usually, after about one to three years, they become an official AKC breed, but it really depends. Like the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was in the miscellaneous class for about 30 years.

Their fanciers didn't want the dog to become too popular in fear that it would corrupt the breeding process, so they kept progress slow. And the Hungarian Pumi didn't make it onto the official list until 2016, even though they've been bred for about 200 years. There are some other strange cases that come out of this system.

Like, the Jack Russell Terrier club didn't want their dog in the AKC. Alongside different breed clubs, and some differences in body shape, this meant that there are now Jack Russell Terriers not in the AKC, and Russell Terriers and Parson Russell Terriers as two separate AKC breeds. Um, Alex, what do you think of that?

So the AKC is a club of clubs, as they call it. Member clubs represent breeds, and they get to vote on AKC decisions. They elect a board that takes on a lot of the management and policy responsibilities.

As for why they want to go through all that effort, the American Kennel Club is just kinda the place to be for dog fanciers. It's been around since 1884. Along with their affiliated clubs, they help hold over 22,000 events annually.

But they do have their critics. Some say there are plenty of mixed breed dogs that need to be adopted, so why focus on inbreeding dogs for appearance-centric reasons? And to that, I say, have you seen corgis, because they are adorable. 


 The Puppy Bowl (7:56)



Becca: If you love dogs, you may have heard of something called the Puppy Bowl. And if you haven't heard of it, I'm about to change your life. Wow, that's a lot of pressure. Every year, on Super Bowl Sunday, the Animal Planet Channel airs footage of puppies in a mini football arena with a referee, and a bunch of toys.

Now there are two teams, and whenever a puppy brings a toy across the goal line, that counts for points. But let's be honest, no one's watching the puppy bowl to see who wins. So for a little background, Superbowl counter-programming has been around since the 1990s.

For example, in 1992, Fox produced a live halftime show alternative, featuring the In Living Color cast that got 22 million viewers. And Animal Planet just wanted to get in on that counter-programming action in 2005. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Puppy Bowl executive producer Margo Kent explained how it all began.

She said, "It was always a joke: How do you counter the super bowl? Let's just put a box of puppies up there and call it a day. It's not worth trying to go against the Super Bowl." And so that's what they did.

And it turned out to be a pretty successful idea. Puppy Bowl I got around 5 million viewers. Not bad.

Now it's been going on for over a decade, and Puppy Bowl production is a well-oiled machine. The show itself is filmed about three months before the air date. They spend two days filming for 10 hours, and then all that footage needs to be edited down to a two-hour-long show.

According to long-time Puppy Bowl referee Dan Schachner, "There are 17 cameras shooting the action on the field at the same time. You can imagine, 2 days of shooting, 17 cameras, that is hundreds if not thousands of hours of footage that needs to be watched, logged, and edited." In addition to the camera operators, there are a lot of people who help make that Puppy Bowl happen. There's a veterinarian on set, in addition to representatives from the shelter the puppies are from.

There's an office full of writers that assist Dan with all his dog puns, and of course, mini PAs and volunteers at the ready with paper towels for all the inevitable accidents. The camera operators need to be ready to clean too. In a 2015 interview, Cory Popp, who'd worked on the show for three years at that point, described one job complication.

"I learned to always have a chamois in your pocket so you can wipe off your lens because a lot of dogs will come up and start licking the lens. Some guys will take the Go Pros in the waterproof cases and they'll smear peanut butter on the front of one and stick it in there so a bunch of dogs are licking on it, and you'll see those shots in the show." 

In addition to the usual game play and dog close-ups, sometimes the writers will try to reference what's going on in the real Super Bowl that particular year. Like in 2014, the Super Bowl was held at New Jersey, and there was a lot of talk about how cold it might be. So the Puppy Bowl brought in cheer-leading penguins from the Columbus Zoo as reference to the temperatures. Wow that's adorable.

The Puppy Bowl is a big time event. In 2012, the arena was named the Geico Puppy Bowl Stadium. Just one of their many sponsors. And in 2014, Michelle Obama held a training camp for the puppies at the White House. First Dogs Sunny and Bo attended too, of course. And the 14th Puppy Bowl in 2018 got an average of 3 million viewers on Super Bowl Sunday. No bad. 


 Can Dogs Smell Feelings? (11:04)


Dani: We're going to finish up with a scientific study, published in Animal Cognition in 2017. The authors wanted to know whether pet dogs could discern the odors emitted by humans. Specifically, ones happening during happy and scary conditions. So the first thing they needed to do was collect sweat from people experiencing those emotions.

Men watched a scary video, then their armpit sweat was collected in compresses. And in another session, the same thing happened but with a video intended to make them happy. And there were strict rules. Starting two days before each session, they couldn't drink alcohol, smoke, excessively exercise, or eat pungent foods. The sweat compresses were then sent to the lab, and that's where the dogs came in.

There was a room with a person, their pet dog, and one stranger-- a researcher. There were 40 total dog participants, and they were all either Labrador retrievers or golden retrievers. And in the room, there was an apparatus releasing the odor of the collected sweat. Either happy smell, fearful smell, or empty smell.

The dogs wore heart rate monitors, and their behavior was monitored. As you may have already predicted, human chemo signals did affect how the dogs reacted in the room. When they were smelling the fear samples, the dogs had higher heart rates. They also interacted with their owner more, and for longer durations while being exposed to the fear chemo signals. In the happy smell rooms, they spent more directing behavior at the stranger.

The authors acknowledged that you could get different results if you replicated the study with different dog breeds. This was the only study like this at the time, so it's definitely something that could use more research. But in the meantime, try to smell happy around your dog. 



 Outro (12:40)




John: Thanks for watching Mental Floss video, which is made with the help of all of these nice people. And congratulations to me on not crying. Please subscribe to our channel if you'd like to see more Scatterbrained videos, and as they say in my hometown, Don't Forget To Be Awesome. 

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