Why do dogs risk their lives to save their masters?

Since the distant past to current days writers have written stories about dogs who in the most noble act have saved their masters from death. In the 1950s and 60s television shows like Rin-tin-tin and Lassie would dazzle the audience with these dogs heroic actions. One could see them staying with the victim trying to figure out the way to save their lives even at risking their own. Also, one could see them running for hours looking for someone to go back and help his master or even more amazing yet rescuing their masters who hanging from a cliff, for example, grab their tail and are pulled back up to a safe place. The truth is that there endless amount of real stories that talk about these noble creatures.

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