From the wolf to the domestic dog

It is still not clear when the present domestic dog was born. It is unquestionable that he descends from the wolf. Its scientific name is therefore Canis lupus familiaris, which means “the tamed wolf”. Many scientists assume that the wolf and humans had been around 15,000 to 20,000 years ago and the dog developed.

In the past few years, however, scientists have made older findings from domesticated dogs. Thus a dog skull from Siberia is dated to an age of 33,000 years, another from a Belgian cave to 36,000 years. Genetic research confirms that these animals are more closely related to today’s domestic dogs than to the wolf. A study published in Science magazine in 1997, which compared the DNA of wolves and dogs, dates the domestication of the wolf even more than 100,000 years ago.

By way of comparison, cats joined humans only about 9500 years ago. The dog is therefore the oldest pet of man. But who came first to whom – the wolf on man or man on the wolf? There is much evidence that the wolf has sought the proximity of man to get some of its prey. But also the people realized quickly that one could teach the wild animal something and that it could also help in hunting.

At some point, the first wolves were probably raised by hand. Thus the formerly wild animals became more and more accustomed to humans and became tame over time. Where the first wolves were domesticated and developed into domestic dogs has not been finally resolved. Recent studies assume that the origin was in East Asia, from where the dog spread to Europe and then to America.