How old are (Pet) Dog Breeds?

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Christoph Jung
Daniela Pörtl


Dogs are our Pets. Everybody knows dog breeds. A dog is often understood only as a specimen of a breed or a mongrel of several breeds. Some scholars argue, that dog breeds would be created as an artificial product starting 150 years ago in the Victorian era. The original dog would be an uniform dog type called “village dog”, hanging around human settlements while scavenging human waste and faeces. Astonishingly we only find very little research on evolution and history of dog breeds and dog breeding. In our article we will search for evidence. We found many records in history, archaeology and genetics pointing out that dog breeds have a long history likely starting in prehistoric times or at least in antiquity. Dog breeds shape no static monuments over thousands of years. We should understand dog breeds as steadily evolving populations in changing ecologies - like each species. Dogs’ ecological niches were made primarily by human. We are able to identify and clearly differ dogs in breeds, each breed fitting to its special niches. We are using dogs’ different traits since thousands of years. Dogs always had and have their jobs as hunting-, herding-, sledding-partners or as pets. Thus, dogs have been shaped to fit optimally to each job. Eventually, they evolved with their changing jobs in continually evolving human societies. Breeds have not been simply invented. Breeds did not derive artificially during some decades in the Victorian era. Victorian dog breeding culture only switched the focus from the behaviour to the appearance and that mainly with regard to fashion dogs. Even standardized modern purebred dogs on the official shows are continuously changing their traits and appearance following human fashions. Dog breeds may be understood as a reflection of human culture. Understanding the history of dog breeds is helpful for a better understanding of our dogs, the human-dog bonding and ourselves.


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Author Biographies

Christoph Jung, Petwatch

Founder , Psychologist and Author

Daniela Pörtl, Saale-Unstrut Klinikum, teaching hospital Leipzig and Jena Universities, Naumburg, Germany

Head of Psychiatric department


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