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Ever look down at your dog and wonder where she came from? We’re not talking about who her parents were, but something deeper than that. While human evolution is a hot topic, what about dog evolution? Did dogs evolve from another animal or were they created by a greater being and placed on Earth to be our best friends? While there is a great deal of conflict on this subject, there are some answers we can give you about dog evolution.
Where Did Dogs Come From?
There’s a lot of controversy about the evolution of dogs. Researchers have agreed on one thing though, that dog ancestors are the ancient wolves. Some scientists believe that a hunter/gatherer raised a wolf puppy to be tamer and continued to raise tamer wolves. However, the leading scientific opinion is that dogs invented themselves because wolves are difficult to tame, even as pups.
How did dogs evolve from wolves exactly? Picture a long time ago wolves scavenging from hunters and getting closer and closer to people and their camps. Gradually, the wolves became tamer and produced offspring which became even more tame. Eventually, the tame wolves evolved into dogs and became man’s best friend.
How Are Wolves Different From Dogs?
Dogs eat in front of humans comfortably while wolves do not. The modern domestic dog has a wider skull and shorter snout than a wolf. Dogs do not live in packs when they live on their own, which is why some scientists believe it is an improper approach to have the human act as a pack leader during training. Wolves are monogamous and wolf fathers help raise the young. Dogs are promiscuous and do not give their offspring much attention.
The Domestication of Dogs and Rabies
There are an estimated 525 million dogs on our planet some of which are pets while others are wild or homeless. According to the CDC, more than 59,000 people per year die from rabies, and a large majority are due to dog bites and most of those are from dogs who are wild or homeless since they aren’t getting their yearly vaccines. This is partly why it’s so important that we spay and neuter our dogs so we get dogs off the streets and into homes where they can be taken to the veterinarian yearly for their vaccinations. The more dog domestication, the fewer deaths we will have due to rabies.
Canis familiaris or canis lupus familiaris, also known as the domesticated dog, has become man’s (and woman’s) best friend. However, the first domesticated dog is a topic scientists cannot agree on. Some believe the first domestic dog was about 15,000 years ago while others believe it is double that at 30,000 years ago.
But where did the first domestic dog originate from? Researchers have studied wolf and dog DNA to help answer this question. Again, researchers are in disagreement with locations mentioned including Africa, East Asia, Europe, Mongolia and Siberia. Why can’t scientists agree on this? Unfortunately, dog DNA is confusing subject matter.
How Has Breeding Changed Dog Appearance and Health?
Breeding has impacted the evolution of dogs in a negative way. Check out this video to see how breeds have changed in just 100 years.
Research Continues to Find Answers
As you can see, scientists cannot agree at this time on dog history but research still continues. In fact, in 2016 researchers from the University of Oxford were negotiating with Chinese researchers to obtain samples from that part of the world to inspect. This is only the beginning of dog evolution research and we look forward to the discoveries ahead.
Where do you think dogs come from?