From wolf to dog to man’s best friend, canines have been bred to be our most loyal companions.
Selective breeding of dogs to become man’s best friend was a process that traces back to our hunter-gatherer days. Canines then went on to play a role in human civilization.
At least 10,000 years ago, humans domesticated wild wolves to become pet dogs. Exactly how the interaction first began is hotly debated.
Did wolves encroach into human territory, feasting in neighborhood garbage dumps? Or did humans employ the help of wolves in a mutual hunting relationship?
Dogs were the first animals to be domesticated. Agricultural species, like cows, goats, sheep and pigs, came next. This actually led to the rise of civilization, as cultures started concentrating around farmland. Horses and camels followed close behind, leading to transportation of goods and services between civilizations.
Though the beginning of the man-dog friendship is not an exact science, we do know some things for certain. For starters, humans began to live not just in the same region but in close proximity to tamed wolves. These creatures became used to human contact.
Eventually, humans practiced artificial selection, breedings dogs for behavioral traits on top of physical characteristics. The result was the devoted furry friends we have today.
It is easy to overlook the role of man’s best friend in human evolution. But to think, it all started with the dog.