“If people were as different from one another as dogs are, our height would vary from three feet to 22 feet, and our weight would be over a thousand pounds” (courtesy National Geographic Channel). Due entirely to the actions of humans, the dog has undergone more genetic changes than any other species of animal.
It is common known that the dog (Canis lupus familiaris) was the first animal to be tamed and that it descended from the grey wolf. The origin of the dog is uncertain (Canis lupus). An animal is considered domesticated when it has not only been tamed, but also when its behaviour, appearance, and reproductive habits have been permanently transformed as a result of the influence of man. The survival of the animal that has been tamed is in the hands of man.
According to the findings of many archaeological digs, dogs have been used by humans as both working animals and as hunting and companion animals for over 30,000 years. Despite the fact that archaeology has only provided us with approximations of the times when man and dog first started living together, Genetic study, namely DNA analysis, has uncovered some new information that sheds light on how dogs evolved from wolves.
There is a possibility that the genetic shifts or offshoots happened as far back as 135,000 years ago. Archeological evidence suggests that the dog originated in the far east, while more recent data from DNA research suggests that the dog originated in the middle east rather than the far east. In addition, it is presently believed, on the basis of genetic similarities, that there are four separate branches depending on geography that stem from the common ancestor of all wolves.
It’s possible that early domestic dogs didn’t appear all that different from wolves at first glance. It is possible that the transition from nomadic hunter-gatherer societies to more sedentary agricultural populations around 10,000 to 15,000 years ago may have resulted in a smaller breeding pool, which in turn may have begun the transition of the dog’s appearance from one resembling a wolf into the first dogs.
If the dog was descended from the wolf, then how and why is there such a diverse canine population? The English Mastiff was the biggest breed of dog, coming in at over 340 pounds, while the tea cup Chihuahua was the smallest breed of dog, weighing in at about 8 ounces. Other dog breeds fall somewhere in between. This is so incomprehensible to me that I felt compelled to do some more research.