Debunked! False Dog Facts

Science Has Proven Where and How Dogs Were Domesticated

Chinese Crested Dog

Dogs and humans certainly have a very long history. Dogs became domesticated long ago, probably around the time one clever pooch noticed we humans are pretty good at making warm fires and are willing to bestow treats on friendly four-legged allies. Maybe you've heard this happened at a specific date or during a particular era and in a specific place. The idea of domesticating dogs for companionship and protection ‘caught on' and the practice spread…or perhaps the story is that dogs domesticated us. Either way, it's just not that simple.

Scientists have tried to trace the evolution of our domestic canines, but findings, so far, suggest dogs were probably domesticated in different places, independently, and at different times. There's evidence of domestication beginning in Asia and also in Europe, for example.

Research done by Greger Larson, a University of Oxford geneticist, explored DNA from ancient dog remains. The team's sample came from a dog that lived 4,800 years ago in Ireland! The team was able to do a full genome sequence on the DNA they recovered and this revealed that about 700 of the pups living today are descended from that ancient dog. Further research shows that the ancient dog family tree has separated at least once, with eastern breeds like the Shar-pei on one side and European breeds on the other. Yet fossil evidence shows humans have had dog companions much longer than that. This indicates that dogs were domesticated from wild dog populations in at least two different cases, at different times, and in totally different regions.

All this means that there's no conclusive answer to the exact time or location where humans domesticated dogs. It's such a good fit, that it probably has happened for the ‘first time' many times over history and most of those times, both species liked the relationship enough to keep going, over centuries and millennia of loyal companionship.

The next myth is a big one, but it really doesn't stand up to examination…

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