Most breeds of dogs are at most a few hundred years old, having been artificially selected for particular morphologies and behaviors by people for specific functional roles. Through this selective breeding, the dog has developed into hundreds of varied breeds, and shows more behavioral and morphological variation than any other land mammal. For example, height measured to the withers ran n also be used to refer to a wider range of related species, such as the members of the genus Canis, or "true dogs", including the wolf, coyote, and jackals, or it can refer to the members of the tribe Canini, which would also include the African wild dog, or it can be used to refer to any member of the family Canidae, which would also include the foxes, bush dog, raccoon dog, and others. Some members of the family have "dog" in their common names, such as the raccoon dog and the African wild dog. A few animals have "dog" in their common names but are not canids, such as the prairie dog.
The English word "dog" comes from Middle English dogge, from Old English docga, a "powerful dog breed". The term may possibly derive from Proto-Germanic *dukkōn, represented in Old English finger-docce ("finger-muscle"). The word also shows the familiar petname diminutive -ga also seen in frogga "frog", picga "pig", stagga "stag", wicga "beetle, worm", among others. Due to the archaic structure of the word, the term dog may