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History of the Dog

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Grey Wolf
The Grey Wolf - the Ancestor of all Domestic Dogs

This ancient mosaic, probably Roman, shows a large dog with a collar hunting a lion.

Domestic dogs belong to the family Canidae, which also includes wolves, foxes, jackals, coyotes, african wild dogs and dingoes. Dogs were domesticated from wolves approximately 15,000 years ago and it is believed that they were the first species to be domesticated by humans.

Dogs have been depicted in ancient art, written about in the bible and mummified remains have been found in egyptian tombs. Breeds were developed by the ancient Greeks and Romans, such as the mastiff, bloodhound and greyhound.

Evidence suggests that dogs were first domesticated in East Asia and as people migrated around the world a variety of dogs migrated with them. The agricultural and subsequent urban revolutions led to an increase in the dog population and a demand for specialization. This resulted in selective breeding to create specialist working dogs and pets.

In the 1800s, Dalmatians were trained to run beside carriages to protect them. The fire service also used them to protect their carriages and subsequently they became a mascot of the fire service and known as carriage dogs.

The Samoyed originated around the 1600s and it was first used to herd Reindeer. Dogs such as the Siberian Husky and the Eskimo Dog were, and still are, used for sled pulling and sled racing.

As the years have passed humans have found many uses for dogs such as, hunting, guarding, tracking, sighting prey, guiding, rescuing and as companions. Many different breeds have been developed to meet these needs and over 800 breeds of dog are recognized by various kennel clubs throughout the world.

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