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Self-Domestication of Dogs Essay

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Giancarlo Martinez

FYS: Going to the Dogs
Dr. Hobgood-Oster, Dr. Smith
August 19, 2009
                                                    The Domestication of the Dog
What insights are provided to theories of the domestication of dogs by the recent information concerning their evolution and development? What insights into human nature can be derived from examining the different views of domestication of dogs? What are/have been the implications, for both species, of the evolutionary-cultural interactions of dogs and humans?

The Farm-Fox Experiment created by Dr. Dmitri K. Belyaev strongly supports the theory of self-domestication. The theory of self domestication considers domestication as having resulted from behavioral adaptations that allowed dogs to occupy ecological niches by adequate interactions with humans. In the Farm-Fox Experiment, the population of foxes developed, retained and passed on such behaviors that attract and welcome human interaction. Such behaviors are whining, tail wagging, and aggression towards other pups while competing for the intention of their human caregivers. The fact that wolves outgrow these behaviors but dogs do not and that they may contribute to survival supports the theory that dogs used pedomorphosis, the retention of juvenile traits by adults, and therefore evolved from wolves through self-domestication.
In The Domestication of the Dog, Part 1, Evelyn Tiffany-Castiglioni refutes the theory that dogs may have evolved from multiple ancestors through evidence from research conducted in 2002 by Dr. Peter Savolainen in Sweden and his colleagues at the Royal Institute of Technology. The geneticists counted mitochondrial DNA in samples from 38 Eurasian wolves, and 654 dogs from Europe, Asia, Africa and Arctic America. The results suggest that the founders of all modern dog species were three female wolves. The vast difference between dogs, such as that between a Chihuahua and a Great Dane, would then be attributed to...

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