The Origin of Dog Breeds
For lovers of the different varieties of dogs, it has been fundamental to know the origin of dog breeds. We know they are descended from wolves (Canis lupus), but other questions remain to be answered. For example, when and where were they domesticated? And was there more than one domestication in different parts of the world?
Questions like these have been addressed in the famous research by Ph.D. Heidi G. Parker et al. entitled: Genomic Analyses Reveal the Influence of Geographic Origin, Migration, and Hybridization on Modern Dog Breed Development.
At Fancy Paws, we want to explain this in a simple and friendly way, easy to understand. So, if you want to know the latest origins of dog breeds, read on!
The dog (Canis familiaris) was the first specie domesticated by man and, therefore, the best shaped by him. Over the centuries, dogs were artificially selected through intensive breeding. This has resulted in considerable variability in morphology, behavior, and aptitude.
Thus, in the last 130 years, more than 350 breeds were created in a very rapid and intense process. Which has led to homogenization within species. However, throughout history, many theories have been about the dog’s origin and how it has evolved to become the current animal. Let’s take a look at the history of the dog.
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How Man Meets Dog?
Before reviewing the questions of when and where human hunters domesticated the wolf to become a dog, let’s first talk about how it happened. Of course, science can only speculate about these facts. However, according to the book “Man Meets Dog” by Konrad Lorenz, Austrian zoologist and Nobel Prize in Medicine, we will tell the story.
The start of a lifelong friendship:
The first encounter between groups of hunter-gatherers and herds of wild jackals began when the first humans sheltered from the cold of the night in front of the campfire. They warmed the prey trapped during an exhausting day of hunting. While this was happening, one of the herd members was attentive to the barking heard in the distance, warning if it was a sign of danger.
At one point, the individual could notice how the animals producing these sounds shyly approached the campfire. Perhaps attracted by the smell of food, he had the intuition to share a piece of meat with them for friendship. From this gesture, the jackals began to sleep closer to men. And to support the days of hunting with their speed and tracking sense of smell. As a result, they managed to win their share of the booty and a place in our homes.
The first ancestor: Wolves or Jackals?
As you may have noticed, Konrad Lorenz argued that the first ancestor of dogs was the jackal. He was not the only one. This was an extensive discussion to conclude that the first ancestor of dogs and jackals was the Canis lupus or wolf. Below you will find a timeline to illustrate this idea.
Jackals are the first ancestors
Scientists first believed that the dog descended from the jackal. This hypothesis developed from the studies of Isidore Geoffrey Saint Hilaire. Later, Konrad Lorenz confirmed that man domesticated the jackal during sedentarization. Finally, Atkins and Dillon confirmed his theory by finding the similarity between the cerebellum of the dog and the jackal.
Dog is the result of crossing a wolf and a jackal
Darwin believed that the dog was a descendant of a cross between a wolf and a jackal. For him, the great diversity among dog breeds was because they had several ancestors. This hypothesis was supported in part by Konrad Lorenz. Finally, scientists refuted the theory because these two species avoid each other as much as possible.
No, the dog's head is more wolf-like
Hubert and Keller realize that some anatomical features of the dog's head are closer to the wolf than the jackal.
All types of dogs come from wolves
This theory was developed when we learned that man and wolf have lived in the same habitats for 500,000 years. As a result, the wolf's presence in the Northern Hemisphere at the end of the Paleolithic made the dog.
Geographical Origin of Dogs: Double domestication?
Although the dog has been central to human history, there is no scientific consensus on several details of its origin. First, it is unclear whether they were domesticated once or several times in different parts of the world. It needs to be clarified. The options for these origins are in Europe, Central Asia, or East Asia.
Some claim that dogs first appeared in the Upper Paleolithic about 30,000 years ago. However, the earliest remains that most certainly belong to dogs appeared in Europe about 15,000 years ago and in Far East Asia more than 12,500 years ago. This creates a dilemma for scientists because there is a wide time difference between the two origins.
What do the studies say?
According to the study “Genomic and archaeological evidence suggest a dual origin of domestic dogs” by Laurent Frantz et al. the genes of modern East Asian and East European dogs are very different. The results suggest that dogs may have been independently domesticated in East Asia and Eastern Europe from distinct wolf populations.
One possibility proposed by science is that East Asian dogs were transported to Europe with their masters, where they partially replaced the early European dogs. However, genetic studies point to the dogs having their main source of origin in Asia.
The Origin of Dog Breeds Conclusion
In conclusion, the origin of dog breeds come from a common ancestor: the gray wolf. This occurred at the time when the wolf was domesticated. There still needs to be certain about when and where the domestication occurred. However, everything pointed to Asia more than 10,000 years ago. Whether there was double domestication remains to be confirmed.
If you are interested in knowing more about the different dog breeds, visit our post on the subject: What Are The 10 Groups of Dog Breeds?
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Thanks for reading!
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