With around 400 breeds of Canis Familiaris of every imaginable shape, size, color and temperament established since 1850, you are really spoilt for choices when it comes to picking your 'best friend'.
The diversity of dog breeds is the brainwave of Man himself. Light-years ago, we domesticated wolves, fed and sheltered them to obtain loyalty, protection and aid in hunting in return. The evolution from 'Wolf' to 'Woof' gained momentum when the domesticated wolf cubs mated amongst themselves to produce new strains of tamer, more domesticated dogs.
Three processes contribute to the evolution of dog breeds:
- Systematic Selection, which involves carefully selecting certain dogs for inherited traits like body type, coat characteristics, speed, herding, hunting, endurance, and size. This has resulted in producing dogs of distinctive looks and abilities like the Saluki, the Basenji, and the Greyhound.
- Sports, refers to mutation in order to design puppies with unusual traits and exotic looks, such as hairlessness, lack of a tail or short limbs (e.g. the Dachshund).
- Cross Breeding produces new forms by crossing two breeds that differ in appearance or behavior, followed by selective breeding of the offspring, resulting in a lot of genetic variation. The Australian cattle dog, Doberman Pinscher, and the Whippet are a few examples of cross-breeding.
Breed standards maintain the uniform appearance of purebred dogs. Once established, the look of purebred dogs won't change much over time. In contrast, wild species evolve constantly in response to changing natural conditions.
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