The dog (Canis lupus familiaris) is a domestic subspecies of the wolf, a mammal of the Canidae family of the order Carnivora. The term encompasses both feral and pet varieties and is also sometimes used to describe wild canids of other subspecies or species. The domestic dog has been (and continues to be) one of the most widely-kept working and companion animals in human history, as well as being a food source in some cultures.
The dog has developed into hundreds of varied breeds. Height measured to the withers ranges from a few inches in the Chihuahua to a few feet in the Irish Wolfhound; color varies from white through grays (usually called blue) to black, and browns from light (tan) to dark ("red" or "chocolate") in a wide variation of patterns; and, coats can be very short to several centimeters long, from coarse hair to something akin to wool, straight or curly, or smooth.
The English word dog, in common usage, refers to the domestic pet dog, Canis lupus familiaris. The species was originally classified as Canis familiaris by Linnaeus in 1758. In 1993, dogs were reclassified as a subspecies of the gray wolf, Canis lupus, by the Smithsonian Institution and the American Society of Mammalogists. "Dog" is sometimes used to refer collectively to any mammal belonging to the family Canidae (as in "the dog family"), such as wolves, foxes, and coyotes. Some members of the family have "dog" in their common names, such as the African hunting dog.
The English word dog might derive from the Old English docga, a "powerful breed of canine". French dogue and Spanish dogo, as applied to some dog breeds, is of English origin; neither word is a source for dog. The English word hound is a cognate of German Hund, Dutch hond, common Scandinavian hund, Icelandic hundur which, though referring to a specific breed in English, means "dog" in general in the other Germanic languages. Hound itself derives from the Proto-Indo-European *kwon-, which is the direct root of the Greek κυων (kuōn) and the indirect root of the Latin canis through the variant form *kani-.
In breeding circles, a male canine is referred to as a dog, while a female canine is called a bitch. The father of a litter is called the sire, and the mother of a litter is called the dam. Offspring are generally called pups or puppies until they are about a year old. A group of offspring is a litter. The process of birth is whelping. Many terms are used for dogs that are not purebred.