The Origins of the Domesticated Dog

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Animal Medical Centers of Loudoun: Brambleton

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10 Historical Facts About Dogs That You Might Not Know

Dogs have been alive for centuries, with reports suggesting that they date back as far as 19,000 – 32,000 years ago!

Yet these wonderful species have many fascinating historical facts about their heritage, here’s just a few facts you might not have known:

1.They come from wolves

It’s a widely held belief that dogs evolved from wolves to become the first domesticated animal sometime more than 18,000 years ago. They were drawn in from food waste and hunting carcasses acquired by humans. Eventually they became useful for hunting and guarding and as they evolved and became tamer, gradually becoming the pets we know and love today.

2. They are known in Mythology

Greek mythology pays homage to dogs — through the three-headed dog Cerberus, known for guarding the underworld! While in Asian mythology, dogs are the 11th symbol in the cycle of the Zodiac. Those born in a dog year are supposed to possess similar qualities to them; such as boundless energy and fierce loyalty! 1934, 1982, 2006, and 2018 are dog years to name a few.

3. More than 344 breeds

Different sources recognize different breeds. The American Kennel Club recognizes 202 dog breeds, The Kennel Club recognizes 211 dog breeds, and the Fédération Cynologique Internationale recognizes 344 breeds. This organization split dogs into ten different groups:

• Terrier
• Sighthounds
• Sheepdogs and Cattle dogs
• Dachshunds
• Companion and Toy Dogs
• Pointers and Setters
• Retrievers, Flushing, and Water Dogs
• Spitz and Primitive Types
• Scenthounds and Related Breeds
• Pinscher, Schnauzer, Molossoids, Swiss Mountain and Cattledogs

4. Demi-Gods

In ancient China, the Pekingese and Japanese Chin breeds were worshiped in temples. Many of these statues remain today. So, revered they were, they even had personal servants and were offered up to Emperors for protection.

5. Royal blood

In the United Kingdom, the Royal family have a long legacy of dog ownership. Dating back to the 1840s, the royal kennels were built for breeding purposes. Some were diplomatic gifts, but others were kept within the family. Queen Victoria famously adored dogs, and had six Pomeranians at one point. Today, Queen Elizabeth is known for adoration of corgis, and remains one of the longest-established breeders in the world.

6. Iwiw

Back in ancient times, Egyptians held cats and dogs in high standing. According to a historian, dogs were owned to serve a role in hunting, as guard dogs and police dogs in military actions and as household pets. They were referred to as ‘Iwiw’ which references the sound of their bark!

7. The first domesticated dog

The Indian Pariah is one of the fist domesticated dogs known to man, and possibly one of the oldest breeds in the world. The Mahabharata, which dates back to 400BCE features this canine as a faithful family dog.

8. Extinct breeds

Over the years we have lost a number of breeds, including the Turnspit. This working dog, which was often used in factories endured much hardship, largely leading to its demise in the late 1800s.

9. Canine Clowns

Pugs are often referred to as the clowns of the dog world, for their playful nature and quirky features. As much-loved today as they were many years ago, this breed dates back to the Han dynasty in China (B.C 206 – A.D. 200), later introduced to Europe. They became popular in royal circles and even became the official dog of the House of Orange in Holland.

10. Biblical

Dogs are mentioned in the bible several times. However, not quite yet domesticated, they were often seen and referenced in non-favourable terms. As this passage from Isaiah 56:10-11 reads; “Israel’s sentinels are all silent dogs that cannot bark; dreaming, lying down, loving to slumber. The dogs have a mighty appetite; they never have enough.”