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Domestic Dog – Canis lupus familiaris. ?!. Relatively wolf like. More like a rodent?. Homeless man with his dog. Paris Hilton. Questions :. 1. WHY are dogs and humans together? 2. WHO is the ancestor of the dog? (Is there more than one?)

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Domestic Dog – Canis lupus familiaris

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Domestic Dog – Canis lupus familiaris


Relatively wolf like

More like a rodent?


Homeless man with his dog

Paris Hilton


1.WHY are dogs and humans together?

2. WHO is the ancestor of the dog? (Is there more than one?)

3. WHEN did dogs and humans start living together?

4. WHERE did it happen first?

5. HOW did it happen? (Led by dogs or people?)

6. How can the breeds look so different and be so genetically similar (they can interbreed)?




Dog origins - Why?

What's in it for people

What's in it for dogs

  • companionship
  • work:
    • herding
    • hunting
    • guarding
  • food?
  • food
  • shelter
  • protection
  • companionship

Dog origins - Who?

Darwin 1859:

"I do not believe...that all our dogs have descended from any one wild species"

Was he right...?

...Not really.

(Remember all those varieties can interbreed)


Chinese wolf

Dog origins – Who, where?

Most recent genetic evidence says...

Probably the East Asian gray wolf(China, Mongolia, Siberia)

(not the North American one, as we used to think)

But several different strains of wolf intermixed at different times.


Dog origins – When and where?

Archeology vs. Genetics

15,000 years ago?

135,000 years ago?!

(probably closer to the former)

10,000 BCE, Israel – Buried with puppy


Dog origins – Where?


Red – current gray wolf distribution

X – origin of dog ancestor (approx.)

So... single origin of dogs; they came with people into the new world


Dog origins – How?

How did dogs and humans come together? - Something in it for both parties...

Theory 1: people caught wolf puppies and raised them among people

Theory 2: dogs approached closer and closer to human settlements (scavenging)

[cf. other domesticated animals]

Raymond Coppinger:

“People are organized into continuous settlements — villages where they remain for a long period of time, whether there were sitting on the edge of a shell fishery or on the edge of a coral reef. When humans live in the same spot for a long period of time, they create waste, including both sewage and, more importantly for the dog, leftovers. There are things people can’t eat, seeds that fall on the ground, things that have gone bad,” Coppinger says, “The garbage, which might be found in dumps, or just scattered near houses, attracts scavengers: cockroaches, pigeons, rats, jackals — and wolves.”


Selective breeding has also led to many diseases:

Shar pei skin infections, bloodhound eye infections

Too big or too small -> structural problems (esp. hips)

Origins of dog diversity

Coppinger – Flight distance - “My argument is that what domesticated — or tame — means is to be able to eat in the presence of human beings. That is the thing that wild wolves can’t do.”

Once we had dogs living with us, we could do...

Selective breeding


Hunting, herding, guarding,

companionship, etc. (“smarter than chimps”)

Breeding ground for bacteria


Dog diversity – by selective breeding

  • labrador - webbed feet; bred to instinctively retrieve
  • terriers - aggressive - attack vermin
  • german shepherd - guard dog / herding / protective
  • golden retriever - carry things in mouth
  • beagles - bred to track rabbits (scent) - run off alone in pursuit
  • dachshund - bred to track badgers
  • boxers - grab onto large game and hold it till hunter arrived
  • poodle - descendant of herding dogs (?)

Dog diversity – dogs registered in AKC (2003) 154 breeds

All dogs are mutts – but now there are rules for “purity”








Pleiotropy: Color patches on coats - wolves never have - cf. russian foxes

Not dogs

Dog “diversity”

All modern dogs are very very close genetically – all can interbreed.

So how do you get so much PHENOTYPIC variation with so little GENOTYPIC variation (Darwin’s problem)?

One major way: changes in timing of development - a general principle in evolution (grow a little slower here, a little faster there)

That way, subtle genetic differences can translate into big morphological differences.

e.g. Neoteny - adults behave / look like puppies