Where did dogs come from?

17 Feb

Everyone knows that the domestic dog is related to the wolf, right? Well, I’ll get to that one in a moment. 

The Ancestor’s

The oldest known ancestor of the domestic dog was a weasel-sized carnivore, probably a forest dweller with short limbs and a long tail, known as Miacis. Miacis has been found as fossils in deposits of the late Paeleocene Epoch to the late Eocene Epoch in Europe and Asia and so dates back 30-60 million years. 




Back to the wolf:

Dogs have been associated with humans for over ten thousand years, a period longer than any other domesticated animal. The origin of the domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris) came from the domestication of the grey wolf (Canis lupus) and evidence suggests that wolves were domesticated by humans on more than one occasion.










The wolf and dog share an almost identical genetic makeup. The two species share 78 of the same chromosomes (and as such they are able to crossbreed successfully). Their mitochondrial DNA makeup is only different by 0.2 percent or less. This makes it difficult for scientists to differentiate between the two species.


Wolf – dog Hybrid















Physical attributes:

Obviously both the wolf and the dog have four legs and a tail, but they are also similar in other ways. Both the dog and wolf have 42 teeth. Dogs that were bred to be able to cope with the cold, northern exposure (huskies, chows and akitias for example) all have two layers of fur, just as the wolf does. 


Dog or Wolf?
Siberian Husky puppies










The wolf and the dog both have acute senses that are much stronger than our own. Their hearing is much stronger than our own and when living in a human environment, it has been said that a dog is even able to hear the quartz in a digital clock. Everyone knows that a dogs sense of smell is extremely strong. It is largely through smell that they communicate with each other, for example i have heard people refer to a dog sniffing a urine marked area as picking up its “pee mail”. Although their are a number of theories behind why exactly dogs and wolves roll in things that smell, it has been suggested that it may be a way of carrying the smell to inform the pack members of what the dog has found.


To understand your dogs behavior it is often worth taking a look at the wolf pack mentality. Both species live and travel in groups (packs) and depend on a strict hierarchy (there is only one pack leader). The pack leader will guide the pack and maintain order. Note that it isn’t always the biggest member of the pack that becomes pack leader, its all about authority. I have mentioned before how important it is that your pet dog sees you as the pack leader, this is because it should be you that your dog looks to for guidance and not the other way around! The pack leader must assert order and discipline, making sure that everyone knows where they stand and that no problems ensue. 

Image  Image



Dogs communicate in a similar way to wolves, that being said, there are differences. When either a dog or wolf hears a sound, their ears perk up. Body posture is one of the main ways in which they communicate, and the different signals they can send can be very difficult to interpret due to them being so similar.  When submissive, dogs and wolves’ ears will lay low. Also positioning of the tail is a behavior attribute both species share. If the wolf or dog is on guard, the tail will stay up, demonstrating their dominating behavior. If a wolf or dog is scared, their tail will fall between their legs, protecting their genitalia.





Mother dogs and mother wolves will both separate from the pack and make a den when they are ready to have their pups. She will lick them clean and show them how to do basic things. The interaction between the mother and the siblings are vital for the puppies. 



Both wolves and dogs can be very territorial in nature. Whilst in domestic dogs the ferocity in which they will defend their territory can vary, both wolves and dogs are protective and will stand guard. In addition, in wolf packs it is often the alpha female that is the over all dominant character, and in dogs it tends to be females that are slightly more territorial. 



Whilst there are many similarities between the wolf and the dog, through the domestication process, many differences also developed. It is important that people understand that just because a wolf and a dog are very similar, it does not mean that a wolf will make a good pet, or a wolf hybrid for that matter, as their instincts are very different including the instinct to hunt. 



























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