The bond between man and dog is one of the oldest, long lasting and most rewarding in history. But where did the dog come from? Canis Familiaris is the scientific name for the dog. It is now the consensus through various genetic studies that the first dog was a domesticated wolf. The dog belongs to the same genus as the wolf, Canis Lupus.
About 10,000 to 12,000 years ago, wolves were domesticated by different human tribes around the world. Remains of the dog have been found in pre-Columbian North America, Europe, central & east Asia during the same epoch. Previously it was assumed that the dog was a combination of the wolf and the jackal. However due to recent studies by researcher Herre and his colleagues and based on a large number of samples on the size and structure of skull and brain, numbers of chromosomes and blood factors, the consensus is that all dogs no matter what breed are descendants of the domesticated wolf.
Scientists believe that somewhere in early history, humans domesticated wild wolves to make them useful companions that would help with the hunting, guarding and herding. Ever since that time, selective breeding has produced the many varieties of domestic dogs to the count of over 800 true breeding type dogs in the world. Most of these dog breeds are very un-wolflike in appearance and habits. Because humans had thousands of years to selectively breed mutations that appeared in the dog populations, they have come up with an incredible diversity in the dog species. The only other species on earth with this much diversity is the human species.
The wolf and the dog share 99.8% of their DNA and in actuality, a tiny chihuahua, as with any purebred dog, has innumerable wolf genes since they share a close common ancestry. Wolves and dogs can be interbred whereas a fox and a dog cannot. All this goes to prove that we as humans who love our companion dogs so much, owe the wolf much gratitude and respect. There are many people in the world who do grant the wolf this honor, yet the wolf remains one of the most misunderstood and persecuted animals on this planet. The wolf, the ancestor of our beloved dogs, has more than earned the right to be left alone to live it’s life in peace.