Origins of the Modern Dog

Source: the experts on the evolution of the modern domestic dog, there is a great deal of disagreement. Did the domestic dog evolve from the wolf? There is a body of evidence, archaeological in nature that shows us that in fact the modern domestic dog did evolve from the wolf (Canis lupus).

Some time around 15,000 years BCE (before current era – I’m getting too smart here), there were happenings in the environment which caused the two canine streams, Canis lupus and Canis lupus familiaris (domestic dog) to part company. Jus what these events were and exactly when they took place is the source of much debate.

Source: have undertaken studies which indicate that the domestication of the modern dog went through a number of stages and that these surges of domestication occurred between 100,000 years ago and present times. Archaeologists on the other hand are more firmly rooted to the opinion that domestication began between 35,000 and 15,000 years ago and were brought into effect through changes in human behaviour and lifestyle. As man began to develop permanent settlements and agricultural communities the wolf/dog precursor was domesticated to assist with guarding against predators and raiders.

Due to the process of domestication and selective breeding for different traits, the modern wolf and domestic dog show a number of physical and behavioural dissimilarities. This raises the issue for some experts in the field to disavow the ‘descent from the wolf’ theory. However, there are certain behaviours which are common to both canine families that strengthen the case for a common ancestry.

Source: study undertaken by Eric Zimen, a wolf biologist, recorded a number of specific behaviours, 362 in fact, that are displayed by wolves. He and his colleagues then studied poodles, yep you got it, poodles to determine the number of wolf like behaviours they replicated.

  • 64% of the 362 wolf behaviours were demonstrated by the poodles with little or no changes
  • 23% of wolf behaviours were still evident although strikingly modified
  • 13% of wolf behaviours had disappeared altogether from the breed

Other differences were noted in domestic dogs, which include:

  • 20% smaller skulls
  • 10% smaller brains
  • proportionately smaller jaws and teeth
  • smaller ears
  • smaller paws and
  • the tail of a domestic dog can and does curl up (not a trait of the wolf)

Source of information:


  1. Alberxico3 says:

    I love wolfs

  2. many thanks for your reply to my hearts story.
    I have much to tell you and you have awakened my wolf spirit that I had forgotten and didnt fully understand and accept until now.

    • BeastofBurden

      You are most welcome. I try to answer all comments. I am heartened by the awakening of your ability to perceive your spirit guides. Please continue on your journey and come back to share your experiences with myself and my readers.


  3. I believe dogs are descended from wolves because the dog although wonderful in its own right falls short of the majesty, cunning, inteligence and mystery of the wolf.
    let meshare an experience i had wheni was 20. i am now 50 and i will never forget what happened one unusually foggy morning in san jose ca near the foothills of alum rock park. I had awoken from a very restless sleep involving some of the worst nightmares of my life! I dreamt of demons taking me away for disturbing a shrine i had found on a creek bank while messing around with childhood friends. we were all 17 or so and we kind of knew it was the last time we would be acting like kids, it was cool the sun was shining and we were all laughing and pushing each other around. I was allways kind of the leader of our little group and more mature so I felt the significance of the moment and wandered off from the others, I stumblede across what looked to me as someones offering or shrine. there were two or three crosses and in the middle was a silver medallion dated 1812 whith a likeness of jesus being tortured whith thornes on his head a little more graphic than usual. I had a strange feeling I was being watched and knew it was wrong but took the medallion. I kept it in a safe and would think about now and then more to put it back than anything else but knowing it was too late. anyway 3 years later after my girl friend got pregnant we where married way too young for the both of us. I had lots of plans for myself but now was working as a cable tv installer and was renting a small cottage for my daughter and wife. anyway the nighmare seemed to be telling me to get rid of the medallion, when I woke up screaming my wife told me to get rid of it without me telling her about the dream.
    I was so shaken that I threw it in the garbage can and put the can out on the street as it was pickup day. the time was aprox 5:20 am and the fog was so thick you could no more than 10 feet. all of a sudden I heard the sound of paws and nails on street to my left but could not see anything, it got louder and louder as it aprouched. being a dog lover and allways having a kinship with dogs I knew to back up because I could feel his pain or panic. through the fog appeared a tall thin timberwolf. as he came near he stopped turned his head, looked me right in the eyes; his eyes were yellowish and he looked to be an old wolf who had been through a lot. then turning his head straight he trotted off straight down the middle of the street. wow! trying to rationalize what had happened I guess he could have been living in the park and wandered down but I know that I disturbed something and he was the spirit or my spirit or you decide.

    • Namaste BeastofBurden

      Well firstly let me thank you for visiting my site and leaving a comment. Now, Wow! I got a huge case of goose bumps reading your story. You are spot on with your interpretation of the events. You did disturb something on that day. The wolf passing you in the morning when you relieved your conscience of the burden of the medallion was an indication from your guide that you had found your way out of the fog and would now be starting on the path you should have taken had you not succumbed to temptaion and removed the medallion.

      I’d be interested to know if your life changed in any other ways after you ride yourself of the medallion.

      Thank you again for sharing your story.


  4. Namaste Kate

    That is a good question and one that I will need to do further research on. Perhhaps another reader may also have some information to provide. Please feel free to respond to Kate’s question.


  5. Thanks for that. But why do modern dogs today have smaller brains then the wolf? :)

  6. I am a believer. I’d be interested in hearing more about this topic.

  7. Analytical Searcher says:

    From the references I’ve got it’s more like 20-30% smaller brain size (The Wolf Almanac, pg 63), and perchance did he happen to compare behaviors with that of other species from the canid family, say the fox and the jackal. I suspect you’re going to find similarities between behavioral patterns all around.

    –The Analytical Searcher

  8. I recently read an article that stated all Domestic Dogs are descended from Wolves, which for me, is easy to believe. But it also stated, that modern day Timber Wolves are part Grey Wolf and part Domestic Dog. Is this true?

    • Timberwolf says:

      Hi Leigh

      From the research I have done in writing this article and the others on Wolf Origins seems to indicate that the modern Timber Wolf may be a mix of ‘gray wolf’ and ‘domestic dog’. This is true in Australia, with very few dingoes being a pure strain.

      Thank you for your comment and I hope to see you back again.

  9. very true…now where does my dogs here get the gesture of curly tails, I wonder…

    • Timberwolf says:

      Hi Bunny.

      Yes, you have to wonder where the curly tail gesture comes from.

      Perhaps some other readers may know and would care to comment.

  10. I have a hard time buying into the dog as a descendent of wolf, since the two often seems so radically different (e.g. the teacup pups you see, vs. a snarling wolf in the wild.) Who knows, maybe there’s a connection, but as with anything, I’ll be far more convinced to see transitionary fossil evidence.

    • Timberwolf says:

      Hi Debra

      Thanks for your input. I too found it difficult to reconcile the evidence that the modern dog is descended from the wolf. Perhaps the more appropriate way to say it is that the modern dog and the wolf share a common ancestor.

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