What Does Domestication *Really* Mean To Your Dog?

March 2nd, 2008 by Dan

We have all heard the term “domesticated” linked with our dogs, but have you ever thought about what that really means in terms of your pet? While dogs are the descendants of wolves, they are now distant relatives. The domestication process is believed by some to have begun 100,000 years ago! The behavioral links between wolves and modern dogs have widened as time passed.
Poodle and Huskies
Photo by greensh

The domestic dog has, in general, been bred to be a friendly and submissive companion. (Even the more dominant breeds are submissive when compared to the behavior of a wolf). When selectively breeding early dogs, man chose those who approached and socialized well with other tame animals in the area (livestock), still scavenged for food and would warn against danger if it approached. Dogs were also selected who remained “young” in their behavior. Those who were playful and didn’t challenge for dominance were good choices as companions to man. Much later came breeding for appearance- where the goal was to breed dogs that were pleasing to the eye- those with “happy” faces, floppy ears and “toy” breeds.

So with this early selective breeding, we now have all the dogs that exist today. In each of them you can see a hint of their wolf ancestors- playful and friendly but always alert, proud yet trainable.

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