Learning about the
A history of how dogs evolved from wolves
By: Tippy and Turbo
The scientific family that the domestic dog is a part of,
(Canidae family of the order Carnivora), has several other
animals associated with it including wolves, foxes, coyotes,
jackals, dingos and other wild dogs. They all share
characteristics that are similar. The Gray Wolf is
considered to be the ancestor of the domestic dog but the
exact origins of the domestic dog are unknown.
The Miacis, which was a weasel-like animal, is said by
archaeologists and paleontologists to be the ancestor of the
canids and other animals like the civets, raccoons, cats,
hyenas and bears. The specific animal that is said to have
evolved from Miacis and later evolved into the canids is
All canids have some common characteristics such as that
they all have similar dental structure, bear live young, are
able to maintain their body temperature at the same level
and walk on their toes instead of the soles of their feet.
The earliest graphical recording of a dog was found in Iraq
as a cave wall painting and is said to date back to 6500 BC.
There have also been discoveries of canid bones in the
United States of America that have been dated back to 8300
BC, and dog bone finds in the UK and Czechoslovakia that
have been dated to 7500 BC. It is apparent from all of these
findings that the domestic dog spread throughout the world
rapidly and long ago.
The dog is a useful hunting companion and guard so it is
understandable why humans took them on as pets. Because of
the dog's unusually plastic genes they continued to change
even while hunting with humans, becoming more adapted to
their environment. This led ultimately to many different dog
"Gaze Hounds" or "Sight Hounds" were one of the earlier
types of domesticated dogs. Sight Hound breeds have long
legs, keen sight, and deep chest. These dogs were used in
hunting to sight prey in treeless open countryside and then
swiftly and silently chase it down. The
and Afghan hounds are descendants from this type of dog and
are some of the oldest breeds of dogs today.
In Europe the "Scent Hounds" were developed and were
characterized by their exceptional sense of smell. They were
used to track and hunt prey in heavy brush or thick forests,
using scent and working for long periods. They were bred for
scenting ability and stamina rather than speed. This led to
the development of the breeds like Elkhound,
Great Britain developed the hunting dogs that were used to
flush out smaller game like rabbits, foxes, and badgers, and
very importantly, control the vermin population. These dogs
are known as terriers now and the many breeds of terriers
are mostly energetic, fearless, and have feisty
personalities. Most of the terriers are descendants of the
breeds Old English Black and Tan Terrier and the White
English Terrier, which are now extinct.
Because of the plastic genes of the domestic dog you can in
a few generations develop a new breed of dog that will show
the characteristics you want to see in the new breed. So
dogs can still fill a variety of differing roles and help
humans perform tasks that are needed, including hunting,
herding, tracking, racing, service dogs, drug dogs and other
police dogs and simply companionship.
1 Million BC The gray wolf family becomes the
world's largest canine group.
100,000 BC Gray wolves and
subspecies are spread across Asia, the Middle
East, Europe and America. Man begins selecting wolves for puppy characteristics
as camp pets.
20,000 BC Stone Age man breeds dogs for his own purposes.
is a 14,000 year old jaw with teeth of modern dog configuration found
7,000 BC Egyptians develop dogs from their region, Tibet
4500 BC Fossils of the period are of pointer types,
mastiffs, greyhounds, shepherds and the wolf like spitz.
3500 BC Basic dog types reach Europe.
3,000 BC Prototype pointer skeleton found in England
exhibits evidence of greyhound and mastiff characteristics. Modern hunting dogs will evolve from these
prototypes called Canis familiaris intermedius.
2,000 BC As the Neolithic period ends, most basic breeds
23 - 79 AD The Roman Pliny writes about hunters
carrying dogs that stiffen and point their noses at game concealed in undergrowth.
100 - 1500 Though there are few breeds in any one
region, breeds and strains number into the thousands worldwide.
1800 - 1900 Distinctive breed separations and
refinements advance rapidly through kennel clubs and knowledge of scientific animal breeding.
About 400 breeds exist today.
Tippy, editor of Happy & Healthy Pets and The Peppy Pets was born.
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