Evolution of Dogs and Wolves

Do you think Noah had two of every single dog breed on the ark? Or do you believe that dogs evolved from wolves?

wolf town_3

The latest research from PLOS Genetics suggests that today’s dogs and gray wolves share a common ancestor in an extinct wolf lineage that lived thousands of years ago. The researchers found no clear genetic link between the modern dogs and wolves studied, so dogs and wolves likely diverged from the same Stone Age wolves between 11,000 to 16,000 years ago.

We still don’t know how dogs were domesticated. We don’t even know when precisely, but one estimate is between 18,800 to 32,100 years ago. Could someone please write some historical fiction about this? I would love to read a Paleolithic-era novel about a European hunter-gatherer in the Stone Age and the very first pet dog.

To me, dog breeding is strong evidence that evolution happens. I compare a pug to a Great Pyrenees and wonder, How are these even the same species?

I also wonder, What would happen if we stopped breeding dogs?

The dog welfare community seems universally opposed to puppy mills and pet store dogs. These days, the politically correct, animal friendly way to acquire a dog is to rescue one from an animal shelter.

But “dog breeder” is not synonymous with “puppy mill.” Each dog breed was created for a reason, and responsible breeders exist. Isis and Leo both came from breeders committed to preserving the qualities that make German shepherds so loyal, intelligent, hard-working, and really, really, ridiculously good-looking.

Abandoning dog breeding means saying goodbye to the distinctions between Labradors and Belgian Malinois and border collies …

The dogs studied in the aforementioned PLOS Genetics research were basenjis from central Africa and dingos from Australia. These smallish, pointy-eared breeds bear some resemblance to the dogs I’ve seen in the streets of Thailand and India. Most street dogs, I’m fairly certain, are not bred by people.

I wonder, if people stopped breeding dogs to have longer coats, and flatter faces, and floppy ears, would all dogs evolve to look like this one?

E is for Evolution.

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