6 Dog Breeds With Secret Superpowers

#3. Dalmatians Are Fire Department Mascots for a Reason

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If you've seen a dalmatian, it was almost certainly in one of two settings: a photo or video of one sitting in the cab of a fire truck or the movie 101 Dalmatians. But while it's true that a large part of Western society probably thinks dalmatians were invented by Disney, this old breed comes from today's Croatia and was primarily used to accompany stagecoaches. This is because they get along extremely well with horses.

But the reason dalmatians are commonly known as firefighters' dogs is that, in addition to their good relationship with the horses that used to draw fire carriages, dalmatians aren't freaking afraid of fires.

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"Go get it, boy!"

Back in the days when fires were fought by people in super flammable wooden carriages, someone realized that dalmatians -- a breed so old they are literally painted into Egyptian hieroglyphics -- could be used to run in front of the coach and clear the way. They even comforted the horses that were afraid of the fire (because horses are pussies), and during the action they also guarded the firefighters' belongings (because thieves are huge assholes). The invention of cars changed everything, but dalmatians still accompany fire trucks today.

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Sure, they can't hold a hose or unscrew a fire hydrant, but they do hate the shit out of fire.

One oft-told rumor is that these dogs were used to help firefighters because they had hearing problems, and so the sirens wouldn't disturb them. Chris Benoit, president of the Chicagoland Dalmatian Club, calls bullshit on this, but it is true that this breed has had a long history of deafness, and it's only getting worse because the success of 101 Dalmatians encouraged the dipshit kind of breeders to sell genetically deformed puppies. Thanks, Disney.

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"Cute! Let's mass-produce them!"

#2. Basset Hounds' Huge Ears Are Used to Catch and Trap Scents

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Basset hounds are not exactly known for being canine portrayals of stunning beauty: They have the clumsy, salami-shaped body of a dachshund and the propensity to drool like a St. Bernard. They were bred to track and hunt rabbits, which looks like a rather preposterous premise for a dog with really short, fat legs, given that rabbits are ridiculously fast. Also, male bassets can weigh more than 70 pounds.

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Plus, they aren't exactly aerodynamic.

But the truth is quite the opposite: Bassets are perfectly fit to do their work, which is to scent rabbits rather than maul them mercilessly. For starters, they are dogs, so they have an incredible sense of smell. The long, floppy ears, though they have a tendency to rot (bassets are prone to yeast infections that are not to be taken lightly), can gather the scent of the game and hold it close to the dog's nose.

The saggy skin hanging from his head? Same purpose. Of course, this feature makes the dogs vehemently sniff on everything they can find, and if their super-ears and turbo-noses come upon a scent, they will stubbornly try to track it down.

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"To catch the enemy, I must become the enemy."

Given the circumstances, the short legs suddenly make a whole lot of sense -- the basset's ear gains its superpowers only in contact with the ground. Their incredible stamina, combined with the inability to go too fast, allowed hunters keep up with them, and once a rabbit was found, the dogs were off duty, because hunters tend to have guns handy.

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"And now my goddamned ears are going to stink like rabbit for a week."

#1. Rhodesian Ridgebacks Literally Hunted Lions

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Back when Zimbabwe was called Rhodesia, the European colonists in Africa faced a daunting landscape filled with wondrous and dangerous animals unlike anything they'd seen before. Naturally, they wanted to get right down to the business of hunting those animals and mounting their heads on walls. But the dogs they brought along with them were used to chasing things like foxes and deer, not big game. So they crossed their collection of various pooches with the half-wild Khoikhoi dogs kept by the local Hottentots, and the result was the Rhodesian ridgeback, also known as the African lion hound.

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With a name like that, it's no wonder they strut around like arrogant pricks.

True to their name, these dogs were used to hunt lions. Not by sniffing them out or pointing in their general direction, but by actually chasing down fully grown Mufasas and bringing them to bay while their masters rode in on horseback for the kill.

Walter Weber, via National Geographic
Not so philosophically stoic about the "Circle of Life" when it's your ass on the line.

Described by some as the Navy Seals of dog breeds, ridgebacks are immune to insect bites and are able to keep up with a hunter on horseback for 30 miles. While they're perfectly suited for the harsh terrain of the African plains, they've also shown to be excellent home companions. If they don't get enough exercise, however, they've been known to treat the inside of their owners' homes like actual Navy Seals treat San Diego tourist bars.

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Which is to say, they come to party.

You may be wondering why these dogs are called "ridgebacks." This refers to the odd strip of raised fur that runs down their back, made up of hair that decided to grow in the opposite direction of all the other follicles.

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"Ignore Rex; he's just going through his punk phase."

It's just a mutation, caused by putting so many different kinds of dogs into the genetic bouillabaisse. But what better mutation for a lion-hunting dog than a kickass mohawk? Unless, of course, it were born with one squinty eye and little anchors on its biceps or something.

E. Reid Ross is a columnist at Man Cave Daily, and the proud father of a brand new baby Twitter account that you can coo at here. Dominik is an aspiring writer and musician from Prague, Czech Republic. You can follow him on Facebook while listening to some stuff from his band.

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Related Reading: Dogs have an incredible ability to emit toxic gas that literally knocks people out, they just have to eat gopher poison. At least you know Fido will feel bad for violating the Geneva Convention, because science has shown dogs are capable of empathy. Don't go to easy on Man's Best Friend, though. Dogs are shooting people.

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