The Origin of the Domestic Dog

October 8, 2019
In this very interesting article, learn everything you need to know about the origin of the domestic dog.

Where did dogs come from? This is a question countless people have asked. In previous articles, we’ve explained that they descended from wolves. But how did the domestic dog originate? And why are there so many different dog breeds?

If you’re curious and want to know the answer to these and other questions related to this topic, you definitely have to read this article!

When did the domestic dog originate?

According to archaeological findings, dogs have been cohabiting with human beings for at least 9000 years. However, many experts believe they’ve been around for approximately 14,000 years.

A dog sleeping.

Experts have even found fossils that show that this coexistence began 100,000 years ago. So, as you can see, there are very different answers to this question. But what almost everyone agrees on is the fact that domestic dogs originated in Asia, more specifically in China. After that, they spread worldwide.

However, what’s unknown is whether there was only one domestication process, from which the different breeds stemmed. It’s also believed that this process repeated itself several times in several parts of the world. This eventually led to the diversity of breeds that exist today.

History of domestication

Researchers have already reached a consensus on the origins of dog domestication. It seems that dogs started to get closer and closer to humans. As a result, dogs started adapting to humans in order to be able to live with them.

Why did dogs try so hard to be domesticated? Very simple: a dog that lived among humans could feed itself more easily. In addition, they’d be among a “pack”, led by a leader, and receive the affection that every living being yearns for.

The oldest domestic dog fossil was found in Goyet, Belgium and dates back 31,700 years. Another that dates back 14,000 years was found in Russia in 2008.

Apparently, the first domestication occurred in wolves. It’s likely that humans couldn’t keep them from getting into their villages, and they had cubs there.

Humans soon realized that, with proper training, these animals could become very useful in tasks such as hunting, guarding, or grazing. Gradually, a different breed originated. This new breed had a more peaceful nature and eventually led to what we now know as the domestic dog.

Differences between domestic dogs and wolves

They descended from wolves, domestic dogs’ skulls are 20% smaller and their brains are 10% smaller.

A dog on a walk.

On the other hand, a dog needs far fewer calories to live. Since they lived among humans, big brains and developed jaw muscles were no longer necessary.

Another curious difference is that wolves don’t have sweat glands on their paws, while dogs do.

Domestic dogs’ tails, hair, paws, and other differences make their evolution from wolves clear. Despite their many similarities, there are other differences regarding the tasks they’re able to do.

All humans remember seeing at least one dog during their childhood. Whether we had them as pets, our neighbors had them as pets, or we just saw them on the street, they were always there. And, as we’ve seen in this article, dogs have been around for almost forever. We hope this stays this way!

Main picture source: Garen M.