The History of Dogs

Dog, (Canis lupus familiaris), domestic mammal of the family Canidae (order Carnivora). It is a subspecies of the gray wolf (Canis lupus) and is related to foxes and jackals. The dog is one of the two most ubiquitous and most popular domestic animals in the world (the cat is the other). For more than 12,000 years it has lived with humans as a hunting companion, protector, object of scorn or adoration, and friend.

The dog evolved from the gray wolf into more than 400 distinct breeds. Human beings have played a major role in creating dogs that fulfill distinct societal needs. Through the most rudimentary form of genetic engineering, dogs were bred to accentuate instincts that were evident from their earliest encounters with humans. Although details about the evolution of dogs are uncertain, the first dogs were hunters with keen senses of sight and smell. Humans developed these instincts and created new breeds as need or desire arose.

Dogs are regarded differently in different parts of the world. Characteristics of loyalty, friendship, protectiveness, and affection have earned dogs an important position in Western society, and in the United States and Europe the care and feeding of dogs has become a multibillion-dollar business. Western civilization has given the relationship between human and dog great importance, but, in some of the developing nations and in many areas of Asia, dogs are not held in the same esteem. In some areas of the world, dogs are used as guards or beasts of burden or even for food, whereas in the United States and Europe dogs are protected and admired. In ancient Egypt during the days of the pharaohs, dogs were considered to be sacred.

Dogs have played an important role in the history of human civilization and were among the first domesticated animals. They were important in hunter-gatherer societies as hunting allies and bodyguards against predators. When livestock were domesticated about 7,000 to 9,000 years ago, dogs served as herders and guardians of sheep, goats, and cattle. Although many still serve in these capacities, dogs are increasingly used for social purposes and companionship. Today dogs are employed as guides for the blind and disabled or for police work. Dogs are even used in therapy in nursing homes and hospitals to encourage patients toward recovery. Humans have bred a wide range of different dogs adapted to serve a variety of functions. This has been enhanced by improvements in veterinary care and animal husbandry.

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Origin and history of dogs

Ancestry

Paleontologists and archaeologists have determined that about 60 million years ago a small mammal, rather like a weasel, lived in the environs of what are now parts of Asia. It is called Miacis, the genus that became the ancestor of the animals known today as canids: dogs, jackals, wolves, and foxes. Miacis did not leave direct descendants, but doglike canids evolved from it. By about 30 to 40 million years ago Miacis had evolved into the first true dog—namely, Cynodictis. This was a medium-size animal, longer than it was tall, with a long tail and a fairly brushy coat. Over the millennia Cynodictis gave rise to two branches, one in Africa and the other in Eurasia. The Eurasian branch was called Tomarctus and is the progenitor of wolves, dogs, and foxes.

The timing and location of dog domestication is less clear and has been a matter of significant debate, but there is strong genetic evidence that the first domestication events occurred somewhere in Central Asia before 15,000 years ago. Some genetic studies have suggested that wolves were domesticated 16,300 years ago to serve as livestock in China. Other genetic studies, however, have suggested that dog domestication began as early as 18,800–32,100 years ago in Europe or that early dogs dating from about 12,000 to 14,000 years ago came from a small strain of gray wolf that inhabited what is now India. Thereafter this wolf—known as Canis lupus pallipes—was widely distributed throughout Europe, Asia, and North America. However, one genetic study that compared the DNA of dogs and wolves inhabiting areas thought to have been centres of dog domestication suggests that dogs and modern wolves belong to separate lineages that share a common ancestor. It is also possible that some of the dogs of today descended not from the wolf but rather from the jackal. These dogs, found in Africa, might have given rise to some of the present native African breeds. A genetic study examining the migration of dogs to the Americas revealed evidence that dogs did not accompany the first humans to the New World more than 15,000 years ago; the study suggested that dogs came to the Americas only 10,000 years ago.

No matter what their origins, all canids have certain common characteristics. They are mammals that bear live young. The females have mammary glands, and they suckle their offspring. The early breeds had erect ears and pointed or wedge-shaped muzzles, similar to the northern breeds common today. Most of the carnivores have similar dental structures, which is one way paleontologists have been able to identify them. They develop two sets of teeth, deciduous (“baby”) teeth and permanent teeth.

Canids walk on their toes, in contrast to an animal like the bear, which is flat-footed and walks on its heels. Dogs, like most mammals, have body hair and are homeothermic—that is to say, they have an internal thermostat that permits them to maintain their body temperature at a constant level despite the outside temperature.

Fossil remains suggest that five distinct types of dogs existed by the beginning of the Bronze Age (about 4500 bce). They were the mastiffs, wolf-type dogs, sight hounds (such as the Saluki or greyhound), pointing dogs, and herding dogs.

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How to Keep Your Canine From Causing Chaos

You know how much you love dogs, especially that little one that lives in your home and fills your heart with laughter and joy. But there’s a less pleasant side that comes with that goodness.

Canines cause trouble, pure and simple. This involves anything from spilling food on the floor to tearing up sofa cushions to doing their business on the carpet, any of which could make you tear your hair out as you yell and scream at the little feller in the hopes that they’ll learn a lesson for a change. However, that’s not the worst of it; sometimes, your dog’s naughtiness puts them in danger, like when they devour a bar of chocolate, which can be deadly.

It’s not their fault, though. They don’t have the same self-control as we humans, and they often don’t even know they’re doing something wrong. As their guardian, it’s up to you to keep them safe and secure. Here’s what you need to know.

Banish Poisonous Plants

Autumn crocus, azalea, and daffodil are just a few on the long list of species that could cause grave harm if your pooch were to take a nibble, according to an article in PetMD. The best bet would be to rid your home of all of them — or at least put them out of the reach.

Hide the Cleaning Products

You wouldn’t leave dangerous and potentially deadly chemicals out in the open where a toddler could get at them and take a swig, and the same should go for your furry friend. Behind closed doors that can’t be easily opened is where your bleach, detergents, and fabric softeners belong — unless you buy the non-toxic, pet-friendly versions.

Beware of Certain Foods

There’s a lot more than just chocolate that could give your four-legged friend a sore tummy — or worse. Anything containing caffeine or alcohol is a strict “no,” along with onions, garlic, and chives. Make sure to store these items and others up high or in a pantry to avoid mishaps, and throw out anything moldy, as that can be highly toxic, too.

Pet-Proof Everywhere

Hiding dangerous foods and chemicals from prying paws is just part of it. There are some rooms, particularly ones with lots of cables or cords, that should be off limits. Remember to close doors behind you whenever you enter or exit, or use baby gates to keep them from walking up or down the stairs. And don’t leave dirty laundry lying around on the floor.

Get an Electronic Feeder

A hungry dog is an angry dog that’s likely to take their wrath out on your interior. These devices dispense a small meal at specified hours of the day so you don’t have to think about it. You’ll no longer worry whether you left food in the bowl while you’re at work or out running errands.

Schedule Your Playtime

Dogs have a lot of energy, and they need to get it out or they’ll throw a fit. Lamps get knocked over, vases get shattered — it’s ugly. Tire your dog out with a spirited game of fetch, and build that into your daily routine so you don’t forget to spend quality time together.

Find a Dog Park Nearby

Visit a dog park so your pooch can socialize — with other dogs, that is. It’s more important than you think, says a writer with PetHelpful. Not only does it boost their self-esteem, but it also helps your pooch develop their communication skills, as they interact with members of their own species. Their rougher style of play will also make them calmer at home.

Make Regular Visits to the Vet

Once a year is the general rule of thumb, though that may change based on age and health condition of your dog. Dogs should get a checkup once a month until they’re four months old, while senior woofers need frequent expert checkups as well.

Now your pooch will be safe when you’re not home, and that gives you one less thing to worry about. Having a dog should be about enjoying the good times, not worrying about the bad.

Human Foods That Dogs Can Enjoy

Feeding your dog is a part of your daily routine, and it’s easy to grab a couple of cups of the same dry pet food and pour it into your dog’s bowl. For the most part, your pet’s dry food is a nutritionally balanced meal that is tasty and healthy for them. However, these same flavors and textures can become boring for your dog.

By offering your dog human food once in a while, you will give them the variety they crave. For your dog, this extra-special meal will feel like a reward—aiding with training—and you will feel good about enhancing your pet’s diet. Even so, it’s important that you stick to human food that is safe for dogs.

Here are some human foods that you can safely offer to your dog.


Cooked boneless chicken breast

Chicken is a lean meat that provides dogs with many nutritional benefits, such as added protein. Most dogs enjoy the flavor of chicken, and it can be used to make any dry meal more appealing to your pet. Chicken can be paired with brown rice if your dog is experiencing digestive issues but may still need a nutritious and wholesome meal.

Note: Chicken should be boneless and fully cooked before serving to your dog. Boneless chicken breasts are ideal for dogs because they minimize the risk of inadvertently giving your dog bones that could become a choking hazard.

Raw Carrots

Raw carrots can provide your dog with additional beta carotene as well as vitamin A. Also, raw carrots are low in calories, which makes them an ideal snack between meals for your pet. Not only do carrots offer a boost of essential vitamins and nutrients, they also help to naturally clean and strengthen your dog’s teeth. Consider offering your dog raw baby carrots, as the size is perfect for snacking.

Sliced Apples

Apples are packed with vitamins that are beneficial for your dog. Vitamins A and C are plentiful in apples, making this low-calorie fruit a great snack option for your pooch. It’s OK for your dog to eat the skin of the apple, but you should avoid serving a full apple — for fear your pet might eat the stem and seeds. Note: Seeds can contain trace amounts of cyanide, which would be dangerous. Consider slicing apples and rewarding your dog with this treat for good behavior.

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is likely to be one of your dog’s favorite human foods. This sweet, creamy concoction is a great choice because it is filled with valuable protein as well as powerful vitamins, including vitamins E and B. When you stuff your dog’s favorite chew toy with peanut butter, you’ll provide a healthy reward and a long-lasting treat. Not to mention, you might also enjoy a few extra minutes to yourself while your dog devours the tasty snack (be sure to grab natural peanut butter- most regular peanut butter jars contain artificial sweeteners which can be dangerous to your dog’s health).

Pureed Pumpkin

This fall gourd is often considered to be more of a decoration than a nutritious vegetable, but it’s one of the best human foods you can give your dog. Filled with fiber and vitamin A, pumpkin can help your dog when suffering from gastrointestinal issues. Be sure to serve canned pureed pumpkin, or even homemade pumpkin pie is an acceptable human treat for your pooch.

If you are interested in changing your pet’s diet or mixing in some of these human foods as supplements, be sure to first discuss it with your veterinarian. Your vet may have insight into the best human foods for your dog’s breed, age, or health history. After adding a new food to your dog’s diet, monitor for any signs of digestive distress or allergic reactions. Always contact your pet’s health care provider if you have any questions or concerns.

Author bio: Stephanie N. Blahut is Director of Digital Marketing and Technology for Figo Pet Insurance. Figo is committed to helping pets and their families enjoy their lives together by fusing innovative technology — the first-of-its-kind Figo Pet Cloud — and the industry’s best pet insurance plans.