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Some breeds of dogs are prone to certain genetic ailments such as elbow and hip dysplasia, blindness, deafness, pulmonic stenosis, cleft palate, and trick knees.

Two serious medical conditions particularly affecting dogs are pyometra, affecting unspayed females of all types and ages, and gastric dilatation volvulus (bloat), which affects the larger breeds or deep-chested dogs.

Domesticated dogs are clearly distinguishable from wolves by starch gel electrophoresis of red blood cell acid phosphatase.

For example, height measured to the withers ranges from a 6 inches (150 mm) in the Chihuahua to 3.3 feet (1.0 m) 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; coats can be short or long, coarse-haired to wool-like, straight, curly, or smooth.

Both of these are acute conditions, and can kill rapidly.

Dogs are also susceptible to parasites such as fleas, ticks, and mites, as well as hookworms, tapeworms, roundworms, and heartworms.

Signs can be vomiting of large amounts (e.g., from eating cigar butts) or diarrhea.

Some other signs are abdominal pain, loss of coordination, collapse, or death.

As with many canids, one of the primary functions of a dog's tail is to communicate their emotional state, which can be important in getting along with others.

and under this genus he listed the dog-like carnivores including domestic dogs, wolves, and jackals.

He classified the domestic dog as Canis familiaris and on the next page as a separate species he classified the wolf as Canis lupus.

In some hunting dogs, however, the tail is traditionally docked to avoid injuries.

Despite their close genetic relationship and the ability to inter-breed, there are a number of diagnostic features to distinguish the gray wolves from domestic dogs.

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