The Interaction of Man and Dog over Time

This report (click here to access the full report) focuses on the relationship between man and dogs and at what point man takes control of the canine species and domesticated them, how they evolved into the different types of dogs that are available today, either through intense breeding programmes or natural evolution, and what dogs are used for in today’s modern society.



  • Domestication
  • Evolution of the Dog
  • Breeding
  • Types of Dog
  • Conclusion


A – Time-line of Interaction between Man and Animals
B – Other uses for dogs



Man soon learned that having identified certain behavioural and physiological characteristics of animals, certain species would be a better candidate for domestication than others, making them a faithful and useful companion when it came to hunting and gathering. (UOR) On the whole, most domesticated animals and in particular dogs show the following traits:-

  • hardy and flexible;
  • easy to feed;
  • able to adjust to new conditions temperature and confinement;
  • show a liking for humans, comforting;
  • easy to breed;
  • social and capable of group interactions;
  • gregarious; and
  • able to maintain a dominance hierarchy, and are thus predisposed to submission. (UOR)

Mankind has been a hunter gatherer for just 0.5% of human history. During the Ice Age, large mammals such as bison had two predators humans and wolves, both using their intelligence and social skills to bring down prey much larger than themselves by hunting and killing in groups (see picture overleaf). (Gascoigne, 2001)

Due to their similarity, it became mutually beneficial for the two teams to join up and share their hunting skills and their kill with each other which is why dogs have been mankind’s most oldest and faithful companions since the Pleistocene era during the last Ice Age. (Gascoigne, 2001)


Evolution of the Dog

DNA tests have proved the today’s dog has evolved from the grey wolf (Canis lupus familiaris). Arhaeological digs have unearthed the bones of domesticated dog dating back to the Pleistocene era and the timeline in the Appendix to this report shows references of where and when bones have been found since this era. (Jensen, 2007)

These various bones show a shortened facial region of the skull, compacted teeth in the jaw bones, a more curved mandible, the eyes become more rounded and forward looking, the frontal sinuses become swollen and the tympanic bullae is reduced in size and flattened (see picture below) together with the slender metapodial and toe bones that distinguish them from those of the wolf. (Jensen, 2007)

The remains suggest that they had originated from the smaller South Asian wolf subspecies rather than the large North American and North Eurasian wolf, excluding the possibility of an African origin. (Jensen, 2007)

Wild animals need a high degree of perception and quick reactions to stressful situations in order to survive, which are quite opposite to the characteristics of docility. As an animal’s stress and fear is reduced, it’s perception of this environment brings about hormonal changes which reduces brain size (see picture below) and general senses – mainly hearing and sight. The domesticated animal will also retain a juvenile attitude well into adulthood. (Serpell, 2002)

The picture below shows that even though a wolf and dog can be of the same weight, the head of the domesticated dog is significantly smaller due to the reduction in brain size.

The only genetic difference between the wolf and all breed of dogs is allelomorphic – the changes in the rates and times at which various development events occur as they all have identical karyotypes, making them interfertile. (Serpell, 2002)

Early Chinese dogs are thought to be directly descended from the small Chinese Wolf, Canis lupus chanco (see picture below). These dogs moved across the Berings Straits into North America with early human immigrants. Later, the dogs of the Inuit and North Americans were interbred with wolves and sometimes even coyotes. At the same time, Africa was cross breeding dogs with the four species of jackal. (Serpell, 2002)

The dingo is the result of cross breeding the domesticated small wolf of India Canis lupus pallipes, and the pariah dogs of South East Asia, however after being taken over to Australia, they soon escaped their domestic lifestyle and became feral again. (Serpell, 2002)

During the domestication process of dog from wolf, the animal would first change its coat colour. A paler coat colour signified a more manageable animal. As the animal’s perception to its environment changes, other morphology and physiological features are ears becoming dropped due to reduced sense of hearing, tails curled due to reduced need to communicate, hair becomes thicker and in some cases flops over the eyes, reducing its speed and impairs its vision. They would also develop an earlier reproductive cycle and have a higher litter number and size was stunted as during early domestication, animals suffered from malnutrition from the time of conception. (Serpell, 2002)


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