Where did dog breeds come from?

The original article can be found here https://thepetclothes.com/blogs/dog-relationship/where-did-dog-breeds-come-from

Have you ever wondered how dogs became dogs? With about 400 breeds worldwide, everyone seems to have a dog that fits their characteristics, as described in our previous article on what your dog’s breed reveals about your personality. Today, we’d like to talk with you on another subject, one with more historical stories, which is the origins of dog breeds.

We always want to present things in the most informative way for you, that’s why we will lead you through a short version of dog history, the beginning of dog breeds, and finally the origin of your favorite type of dog.

Dog history

Do you know that dogs are the first animal to be domesticated in human history? There are some debates on what was the first time dogs’ ancestors officially tamed by ancient humans. Some say the first tamed wolf appeared around 15 000 years ago in the Middle East. However, some archeologist findings suggest that canine history could date back to 40 000 years ago.

Do you know that dogs and gray wolves share a common ancestor? Even though we only know dogs’ ancestor was a prehistoric wolf who lived in Eastern Europe or Asia somewhere between 27 000 to 40 000 years ago, there is some genetic evidence suggest that the direct ancestor of modern dog and gray wolf have split long before the canine domestication.

According to the article “Dogs in the Ancient World”, the first-ever footprint of human walking side by side with a dog was discovered in southern French around 26 000 years ago, and a study shows that dogs were domesticated in Europe between 20 000 to 36 000 years ago. The famous Bonn-Oberkassel dog remainder reported in the suburb of Oberkassel, Germany city around 100 years ago reveals a dog buried with two humans dated back to 14 000 years ago. On the other side of Europe, a late Palaeolithic (about 12 000 years ago) tomb in northern Israel holds a scene of a man buried with his arm resting on his dog’s shoulder.

The original relationship between humans and dogs’ ancestors began when they started to share the same natural habitat in the cold Eurasian region. Scientists believe that the prehistoric wolves were coming to humans’ camp asking for some scraps. The idea of keeping a wolf as a pet didn’t exist at that time, of course, but nomadic humans started to develop a strong bond with their canine companion when they were wandering in nature. When men were going out looking for food, women may have been the first to make these wolves a pet. A mutual benefit was the original reason for dogs’ domestication in which ancient wolves were provided food, and humans used them for guarding and hunting.

Skip until the 18th century, when pet-keeping rose to become more popular among Europeans. But not until the mid 19th century, when the first Kennel Club was established by a group of well-known Victorians. After that, it started to spread out to other countries, and each one has its own Kennel Club to set and maintain the standards.

With all that said, modern dogs have gone through millennia of domestication and they still somehow keep the original DNA from the prehistoric ancestors, but with the human interruption and artificial breeding, we have nowadays a variety of dog breeds that exists nowhere in the wolves. But how can these breeds come down from their ancestors? What kind of human intervention can bring into life new dog breeds? Let’s take a deeper look at the next section.

Dog breeds origin

A definition of the word “breed” coming from Wikipedia

A breed is a specific group of domestic animals having the homogeneous appearance, homogenous behavior, and other characteristics that distinguish it from other organisms of the same species.

At the beginning of its long history to become a member of the family, dogs were only used for some basic roles alongside humans such as hunting or guarding. Over time, with the establishment of the first Kennel Club and the wave of immigration from Europeans, some breeds of dogs started to appear or even widely recognized all over the world.

Nowadays there are more than 400 dog breeds officially recognized around the world. With this variety, it’s hard to keep track of all types of dogs, and that’s when the Kennel Club organizations come into play. The American Kennel Club has a well-established list of almost every acknowledged dog breeds. The role of Kennel clubs is to manage dogs’ registration processes and maintain breed standards.

Our ancestors surely played a critical part in dogs breeding. We sought to selectively reproduce different types of dogs to adapt to their functions. Some specialize in hunting, some are used for guarding or personal protection, and even entertainment purposes. For example, Golden Retrievers and Beagles were developed as hunting hounds, German Shepherds have been of great assistance for farmers in keeping their sheep flock safe, and as for the little Chihuahua, well, they don’t do much, to be honest.

To visualize how two breeds of dogs relate, a group of researchers put together a genomic analysis published on the Cell Reports on a dataset of 1 346 dogs coming from 161 different breeds sampled from North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia.

Here is the cladogram of 161 dog breeds to show the relations among different types of dogs. As you can see, these dog breeds are organized into bigger groups represented by their color. In common words, the gold stars, the black stars, and silver stars tell us how closely related two breeds of dog are, along with their match percentages.

From this cladogram, the researchers classified 161 dog breeds into 23 clades of 2–18 breeds each, with match percentages > 50%. The breeds in the same clade share a lot in common, including physical appearance, behavior, and geographical origin.

(A) Akita/Asian spitz (B) Shih Tzu/Asian toy (C ) Icelandic sheepdog/Nordic spitz

(D) Miniature schnauzer/schnauzer (E) Pomeranian/small spitz (F) Brussels griffon/toy spitz

(G) Puli/Hungarian (H) Standard poodle/poodle (I) Chihuahua/American toy.

(J) Rat terrier/American terrier (K) Miniature pinscher/pinscher (L) Irish terrier/terrier.

(M) German shepherd dog/New World (N) Saluki/Mediterranean (O) Basset hound/scent hound

(P) American cocker spaniel/spaniel (Q) Golden retriever/retriever (R) German shorthaired pointer/pointer setter

(S) Briard/continental herder (T) Shetland sheepdog/UK rural (U) Rottweiler/drover

(V) Saint Bernard/alpine (W) English mastiff/European mastiff

All of the things above might sound too technical, but in real life, this classification could help find a medical treatment based on one breed’s characteristics for example. In the modern world, dog owners care less and less about dog breeds’ original function, but rather how the dog’s appearance reflects its owner’s socioeconomic status. This is why there’s a hype going on about getting purebreds because the rarer a dog breed is, the more one can feel proud of owning it.

So what exactly is a purebred dog? Well, obviously, when he/she has the two parents come from the same breed. For the case of mixed breeds, it can also be simply explained as the reproduction of two different breeds, but things can get complicated as we don’t know how these two breeds related to each other. From a biological point of view, not all mixed breedings can be considered possible, some can result in unstable specimens. If you want us to write a specific article about purebreds and mixed breeds, let us know in the comment.

Now you know the reason behind the variety of dog, and how we determine the relation between two dog breeds, let’s take a world tour to check out what kind of dogs each continent has and where they originally come from.

The illustrations are of Lili Chin at doggiedrawings.etsy.com

Known as one of the primitive habitats of dogs’ ancestors, Asia now is the home of some extraordinary dog breeds which made their way to become popular dogs even in Western countries. We can already name some:

  • Tibetian Mastiff: famously known for being gigantic and highly expensive, this courageous, Tibet-originated dog is the gold standard for guarding dogs in China.
  • Shih Tzu (pronounced /ˈʃiːˌtsuː/ ): one of the most popular dogs in the world in 2018 according to the American Kennel Club, Shih Tzu is a Chinese toy dog which was the favorites among noblemen in China during the Ming Dynasty.
  • Chow Chow: one of the few huntings dogs in our list, Chow Chow has been said to be originated back to the Han Dynasty. Their fluffy appearance helps them make it to the top 100 popular dog breeds in the United States.
  • Pug: a little surprise we have here. Who has ever thought that pug is an Asian dog? Despite having some peculiar physical characteristics such as big round eyes, Pugs were the favorites among Chinese emperors. We love Pugs because of their cuteness, playful attitude, and emotional facial expression.
  • Shiba Inu & Akita Inu: these two can be considered the most famous types of dogs in Japan, or even in the world. While Shiba Inu has a small physical look and originally bred as a hunting dog, Akita is a large breed of dog originating from mountain regions of northern Japan.
  • Jindo: the national breed of Korean, indigenous to the southern island of Korean: Jindo Island, hence the name. Jindos were also reproduced to serve as a hunter, but they changed their way to becoming a companion dog.
  • Phu Quoc Ridgeback: not worldwide famous as others in the list, Phu Quoc Ridgeback still has its pride in the home country Vietnam. It is among one of three ridgeback breeds and it comes from Phu Quoc island, Kien Giang province in southern Vietnam. It is well-known among locals for its intelligence and endurance as a companion.
  • Siberian Husky: it would be a mistake not to mention Siberian Husky among famous Asian breeds. They were initially developed for sledding, but now they present in almost all continents, even in warm regions. They are famous for their wolf-like appearances which make them an iconic breed in Russia.

Saying goodbye to Asian doggies, we come to a land far far away, in Western Europe, the Deutschland. Home to many famous dog breeds like German Shepherd or Poodle, Germany also has several not-so-well-known breeds with their hidden beauties.

  • German Shepherd: we don’t need to say much about its popularity, they are now everywhere in the world. The German Shepherd Dog is a medium to large size working dog breed, developed originally for herding and guarding sheep. Because of their strength and loyalty traits, they are used frequently in military and police force.
  • Dachshund: this short-legged, long-bodied type of dog was bred to become a hunting hound. No matter how unbelievable does that sound, Dachshund is literally translated from German as “badger dog”, so they used to hunt badgers. Today they’re also known as weiner dogs or sausage dogs.
  • Doberman: according to Wikipedia, Doberman (or Doberman Pinscher in the United States and Canada) is a medium large-size domestic dog that was bred for the first time by a German tax collector. This loyal, muscular, and intelligence canine is used widely as a guard dog.
  • Poodle: even many claims this breed comes from France, it is actually originated in Germany. PoodleLoversPost made an amazing article about the history of Poodle here. The true origin of Poodle has not yet been confirmed, but they were bred for many purposes around hunting activities: water retriever, duck-hunting, guide dog, etc.
  • Schnauzer: there are three types of Schnauzer which are Miniature, Standard, and Giant. The Standard Schnauzer was bred to be rat-catchers and guard dogs on farms. The Giant and Miniature are the results of the cross breedings with other types of dogs.
  • Great Dane: this is one of the largest dog breeds in the world, with a world record of the tallest dog ever of 111.8 cm (44 inches) belongs to a Great Dane called Zeus. Great Dane was developed at first as a hunting dog, a boar hunter to be precise, but they became more of a watching and companion dog over time.

Auf Wiedersehen to Germany, we come back to where the first Kennel Club was established: the United Kingdom. Home of Beagle, Bulldog, Yorkshire Terrier, the UK is also famous for keeping a high standard among pet keeping societies.

  • Beagle: with long origination history, as explained by BeaglePro in this article, Beagle nowadays is one of the most well-known dog breeds in the world. This small hound was developed primarily for hunting hare. Besides hunting activities, beagles are popular pets thanks to their size and easy-going temper.
  • English bulldog: needless to say, this medium-sized dog breed will always be on the list of the most popular dogs in the world. The name bulldog gives us a clue about the origin of its use in a barbaric sport named bull-baiting or bull-fighting. Today’s bulldogs are far different from their ancestors, but they still keep the bravery and pride.
  • French bulldog: this is the result of cross-breeding between the English bulldog and local ratters in Paris, France to be a toy-size version bulldog. With its original purpose as nothing else but a companion dog, French bulldogs enter alongside their English counterparts in the list of most popular pets.
  • Yorkshire Terrier: as indicated in its name, this small terrier type was developed during the 19th century in Yorkshire, England. As surprising as it sounds, Yorkshire Terrier was bred in the beginning as a hunting dog for vermins and made their long way to a toy companion dog.
  • English Sheepdog: known for another name as Old English Sheepdog, this fluffy breed emerged from other types of herding dogs. With the nickname Bobtail, its origin dates back to the early nineteenth century in Southwestern Counties of England.
  • Fox Hound: this is a close relative of Beagle and a cousin of American Foxhound. Its history dates back to the 16th century where it was bred to become scent hounds, precisely to trace fox by picking up the scent.

We continue our journey to the other side of the Atlantic ocean, where we will meet some of our beloved American-origin dogs

  • Boston Terrier: ranked 21st as the most popular dog breeds in 2019 by the American Kennel Club, this American Gentlement was the result of a crossing terries and bull-type breeds back in 19th century in England. The first-ever recorded ancestor of all Bostons was told to be sold multiple times before arriving at Boston in 1870.
  • Carolina dogs: known also as the American Dingo, this medium-sized breed lives mostly in the Southeastern United States. According to the American Kennel Club, Carolina dogs’ origin was a primitive form of dog domesticated from Asian wolves migrated with their humans to North America.
  • American Water Spaniel: this spaniel breed was originally developed in the state of Wisconsin during the 19th century. Its ancestors remain unknown, but some similar breeds are considered to be its origin such as the Irish and English Water Spaniel. Nevertheless, it was believed to be bred to retrieve birds on land and water.

Crossing another ocean, this time’s the Pacific, we come to the land of kangaroos and koala bears. Australia is famous for its variety of wild animals, and also domesticated ones. With a huge wave of immigrants back in the 18th century from European countries, they bought along with them their loyal companion, and so many dog breeds started to spread out.

  • Dingo: this might be one of the indigenous dog breeds in Australia whose earliest fossil found in Western Australia dates back to 3500 years ago. Dingo’s ancestors originated from a population of East Asian dogs. People believe that they descend directly from a primitive type of dog, and have been through thousands of years of domestication.
  • Bull Arab: even though they are not recognized by any clubs, Bull Arab is still a common dog breed in Australia, mostly for the name Australian Pig Dog. They were originally bred to hunt pigs, but they also developed skills to become a guard dog. Their direct ancestors could be the English Bull Terrier or German Shorthaired Pointer.
  • Koolie: this medium-sized working dog originated in Australia during the 19th century. Their origins are believed to be British working dogs.

Our global journey has to come to an end, but if you have not found your favorite dog yet, we put here the rest of our unvisited regions. If you want us to write a detailed history of a specific dog breed, let us know in the comment. Until then, stay happy!

Engineer by day, writer by night. Write a draft like no one is watching. Edit the draft as if the whole world is going to read it.