Dog ticks are so named for their primary hosts, which are domestic dogs. Dog ticks are one of the most common ticks in North America. However, dog ticks have been found on other hosts outside of the US.
Ticks are part of the order Acarina. The most common features of a tick include 8 legs and a small, flat body that becomes engorged while feeding on its host. Dog ticks have four feeding stages. In all of these stages, the dog tick will feed on the same host.
Dog ticks are normally found behind a dog's ears or between their toes. When a tick feeds and becomes engorged, it will drop from its host and seek refuge elsewhere. Ticks are incapable of flying or running, so they must crawl slowly to safety after feeding.
Dog ticks are found where dogs live, usually in warm, dry conditions. They can complete their entire life cycle indoors, which is unusual for a tick species. Dog ticks typically travel upwards, and that is when they encounter the host. Dog ticks must wait for a host to come along and brush past them so they can jump on their fur. Some ticks can go without feeding for up to a year and a half.
The two types of dog ticks are the brown dog tick and the American dog tick. Brown dog ticks are one of the most common ticks in the world. They usually are found on dogs in all the feeding stages of their development. Brown dog ticks are found outdoors in the Southern US throughout the year but are only active in the north during the summer months. American dog ticks will feed on other hosts, not just dogs. The American dog tick is the most widely found tick in North America.