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Where did our dogs come from?

How did one of the worlds most popular pets become so domesticated to the extent that many dog owners regard their animals as actual members of their own family?

We've delved into the history books, and found a short history on the domestication of the canine.

History
Dogs form part of the Canidae family, a family including wolves, coyotes and foxes, thought to have evolved 60 million years ago.

The Domesticated dog is a direct descendent of the wolf which entered villages in the Northern Hemisphere in search of food about 12,000 years ago. People gradually discovered that the wolves could be tamed (if young) and then used for such purposes as guarding, herding and hunting. Particular characteristics were selected, which has resulted in the huge diversity of breeds today.

Wolf - Origin of the dog

The first records of true domesticated dogs date back to the Egyptians where a breed of dog called the Saluki appears on the ancient tombs of Egypt from around 2100 BC and is thought to be the dog mentioned in the Bible. It is often found mummified along with the Egyptian Pharaohs in Pyramids. The ancient Greeks and Romans developed a number of breeds including the greyhound, mastiff and bloodhound. The Romans made sacrifices to the dog-like god Procyon.

Saluki - Ancient breed

Dalmatians were trained to run along with horse and carriages in the mid 1800s, and became known as carriage dogs. Their job was to guard from other dogs which would chase the carriage and frighten the horses. Fire departments also used dalmatians to guard their carriages and the dalmatian became mascot of the fire service.

Dalmation - Helping the fire service!

Labrador Retrievers originate from Newfoundland where they were trained by Canadian fisherman to dive into the icy waters off Canada to retrieve fishing nets and haul them back to the boat!

Distribution and Habitat in the wild
Canids are widely distributed and occur on all the continents except Antarctica. They occupy a variety of habitats including grassland, temperate forest, rainforest, desert, mountain regions and tundra.

Behaviour in the wild
One remaining wild descendent of the dog are Grey wolves (Canis lupus). They are carnivores and hunt large prey, such as moose, reindeer, elk and bison, using their strong sense of smell. They  hunt in packs of 7-10 wolves. They guard a large territory from other wolves and can travel long distances in their search for food. In a pack, there is an alpha male and female, which are the only members of the pack that breed. The hierarchical system means that the higher members of the pack eat first. Other members of the pack help with weaning and feeding the young.

 

 

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