The History of Dogs
A man's best friend
From earliest times, man has had dogs for a companion. In the beginning, the dog protected it’s master from attacks from wild animals as well as guarding his livestock.
For this the dog got some food and shelter and earned the name of being man’s best friend. Early dogs were evolved from wolves or jackals. Perhaps the domestication of these arose when a wolf or jackal became separated from the pack and was taken on as a pet or for it’s ability to guard the family or livestock. Thus, dogs became part of the family as they continue to be today.
Wild dogs are present in all parts of the world with some exceptions, for example, New Zealand and Madagascar where there is no trace that wild dogs, wolves or foxes are native to these countries. In Eastern countries such as Mongolia, dogs were not domesticated but instead prowled in packs in a wild, savage fashion. Indeed, even to this day, these wolf-like dogs can be found prowling in the streets of Oriental cities and there are no attempts to domesticate these dogs as human companions. However, if the history of Egypt is examined one can find various types of dogs.
The Old and New testaments of the Bible refer to the dog scornfully and contemptuously as unclean so the dog was not held in high regard in Palestine at the time of writing the bible. However, there is one reference to a dog in the bible which is not derogatory and describes the dog as a companion.
There are so many different breeds of dogs that it seems quite impossible to believe that they have any ancestry in common. Dogs differ greatly in so many ways, eg. size, colour, features etc. However, if one thinks about it there is also a great variety in some other species such as cattle and horses. For example, consider the difference in size, color, appearance and shape between a St. Bernard dog and a Pomeranian to get the general idea of the variety of breeds of dogs that there are.
The bone structure of the wolf and the dog is very similar as can be examined from study of their respective skeletons. The spinal column of a dog has seven neck vertebrae, thirteen vertebrae in the back, seven vertebrae in the rear along with three vertebrae in the sacrum. There are between twenty and twenty-two vertebrae in the dog’s tail.
Wolves and dogs both have thirteen pairs of ribs-four false pairs and nine true pairs of ribs. Dogs and wolves both have the same number of teeth (forty-two).
They both have five front and four hind toes.
Wolves howl and dogs bark but wolves have been known to learn to bark after spending time in the company of dogs. Wolf cubs reared by female dogs can learn how to bark while domestic dogs which become wild forget how to do so. The length of gestation in wolves and dogs (sixty-three days in both species) is another similarity. Wolves have between three and nine cubs which are blind for the first twenty-one days of life and are somewhat weaned after two months when they can eat food.
In terms of evolution, there is a resemblance in colour, size and habit between dogs and wolves native a particular region.
Darwin suggests an evolutionary theory that dogs have evolved from different species of wolf, some of which have now become extinct.
In social evolutionary terms, it is true to say that dogs are indeed man’s best friend in terms of being companions along with doing essential work for humans in some cases.