By Linda Cole
Over the years, selective breeding has given cat and dog breeds a variety of sizes, shapes and abilities. You can’t help but wonder if a Chihuahua really does think he’s as big as a Great Dane. Cats and dogs have found their way into our hearts, though, and I wanted to share some fun trivia about the smallest, tallest, fastest and oldest of our four legged friends.
Smallest dog and cat breeds
Chihuahua – He may be the smallest dog breed in the world, but his ancestors were thought of in a big way. The Aztecs believed this little dog had mystical powers and could see the future, heal the sick and guide souls through the underworld. That might explain the Chihuahua’s stubborn streak. Despite his diminutive size, the tenacious breed is on a list of the top ten watchdogs recommended by security experts. The Chihuahua is no more than 5 inches at the shoulder and weighs 6 pounds or less. Average lifespan is 12 to 20 years.
Singapura – One of the sixteen natural cat breeds, this intelligent kitty is athletic, muscular, playful and curious. Native to the island of Singapore where she lived as a feral cat on the streets, her early existence is a mystery. The breed developed naturally, without human intervention. It wasn’t until the 1970s when the Singapura was developed as a breed. The cat weighs 4 to 8 pounds and has an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years. You can learn more about the Singapura in this article from the CANIDAE RPO archives. The cat breed with the shortest legs is the Munchkin, with an average lifespan of 13 to 15 years.
Tallest dog breed
Irish Wolfhound – His name indicates a dog with a fierce demeanor, but this sighthound is a gentle soul despite his enormous size, and gets along well with everyone, including kids and other dogs. However, his fierceness as a hunter of large game is legendary. Native to Ireland, and old Irish proverb aptly described the breed as “Gentle when stroked, fierce when provoked.” Standing 30 to 35 inches at the shoulder and weighing 105 to 180 pounds, their average lifespan is 6 to 8 years. The Mastiff is the heaviest dog breed, weighing 120 to 230 pounds, with a lifespan of 8 to 10 years.
Largest cat breed
Ragdoll – Developed in America in the early 1960s, the Ragdoll is a good natured, laid back kitty that loves to be with her people. She enjoys being held and has a tendency to go limp when she’s picked up. Some males weigh up to 35 pounds, but the average size is around 20 pounds. A Ragdoll can be three times larger than other breeds. This “dog-like” feline gets along well with the entire family. Average lifespan is 12 to 15 years.
Fastest dog and cat breed
Greyhound – One of the oldest dog breeds, the Greyhound originated in the Middle East and North Africa regions. Other sighthounds like the Whippet, Saluki and Afghan Hound aren’t that far behind, but at around 45 mph this speedy breed tops all dog breeds. The Greyhound is number 7 on the fastest land animal list, with the Cheetah holding the top spot. But when it comes to stamina, the Greyhound is far superior to the Cheetah who fizzles out after a short burst of speed. A Greyhound’s average lifespan is 10 to 13 years.
Egyptian Mau – This super intelligent kitty is the only domesticated cat with a spotted coat that occurs naturally. Originating in Egypt, the Mau was given high status and worshiped like a god. In Ancient Egypt, the word Mau means cat. The Cat Fanciers’ Association describes the breed as “something a little exotic, a little jungle, a little breathtaking and a little primitive.” This little beauty’s hind legs are longer than her front legs, and along with her spotted coat, she looks Cheetah-like. Not as fast as the Cheetah or Greyhound, the Mau has a top speed of 30 mph. Average lifespan is 12 to 15 years.
Oldest dog and cat breed
Saluki – Originating in the Middle East sometime around 329 BC, the Saluki holds the title as the world’s oldest breed. The Saluki was bred as a medium size sighthound to hunt gazelle and hare in the deserts. Highly prized, the Saluki was given noble treatment over all other dog breeds, sharing their owner’s food and tent. The Saluki may look elegant, but he’s an athletic, quick and unrelenting hunter, with stamina and speed to chase down his prey. Average lifespan is 12 to 14 years.
Egyptian Mau – Not only is the Mau the fastest cat breed, it’s most likely the oldest as well. Depictions of cats resembling the Mau are found on Egyptian hieroglyphics. These cats were so revered by their owners, after death their bodies were mummified and placed in tombs.
Chihuahua photo by Jose Antonio Tovar
Singapura photo by Lil Shepherd
Ragdoll by Steve Jurvetson
Egyptian Mau photo by Nickolas Titkov
Saluki photo by Renee Johnson
Read more articles by Linda Cole