So Many Dog Breeds

It is so interesting the diversity that we find in the dog breed. We have so many different breeds that differ in so many different ways from the little Yorkie to the giant Mastiff. Then we have the hairless breeds such as the Chinese Crested compared to the New Foundland. The breeds don’t just differ in look. There is a vast diversity in personality among them too and yet they all belong to the same species, Canis lupus familiaris.

It is thought that all dogs are descendants of the Canis lupis (Gray Wolf). According to Live Science’s website there was just one domestication event and all the domesticated dogs today are descendants of one domesticated wolf dog. It is hard to fathom so much diversity came from one branch of the tree of life. I think it is incredible evidence that evolution exists. Each dog breed was breed and manipulated to do separate tasks. There are hunting breeds, terriers, toy breeds, herding breeds, etc.

As I researched this topic I found that is now thought that the dog was just domesticated one time and that was about 14,000 to 17,000 years ago. Humans have then since bred the dog for different traits creating different phenotypes and this is what has brought us to the modern dogs. We bred out traits for certain breeds and kept certain traits for other breeds. Some of the breeds seem so different, but are yet considered to be the same species because they can still reproduce among the breeds.

With all the tinkering with the selection of phenotypes and modern technology we now have some breeds that would not be able to exist if they were in the wild. An example would be the bull dog. They are not able to naturally give birth because their heads are too big. They must be born by way of a C-section. Yet the bulldog is a very common breed.

It is just remarkable how far the species has branched and it is important to note because especially in the American culture they are apart of most people’s daily lives. It’s just interesting to take a second to think if that one domestication did not occur we might not have our modern day four legged furry friends.

About Mr. Mohn

Biology Teacher

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