New research has shown that dogs were first domesticated up to 15,000 years ago.
By, 1 May 2019
Studies by the UnDEAD project compared DNA from 59 ancient dog fossils to that of our domesticated pooches.
Scientists studied the genetic findings alongside archaeological evidence from all over the world, concluding that dogs descended from two separate wolf packs domesticated in Eastern and Western Asia.
It's believed that the wolves lived on the outskirts of hunter-gatherer camps, where they would feed off scraps and leftovers. Over time, these wild wolves become less aggressive and more comfortable around humans. Still, they weren't quite ready for belly strokes just yet!
These early wolf-dogs were very different from our pets. Although humans would have liked having them around, the budding relationship between people and dogs was based around a mutual benefit. The dogs protected us and our livestock from other predators and we fed them in return.
Over thousands of years, these half-wild dogs were bred for their skills as hunters, herders, or guard dogs, eventually creating hundreds of modern breeds. In other words, all of our beloved dogs descended from the same packs of wild wolves. This makes sense when you look at a Husky or a German Shepherd, but it's a little harder to get your head around when you see a Pug or Chihuahua strutting down the street in a stylish doggy coat!
There's still plenty to learn about our pooches
However, despite the recent findings, the story of the dog is far from complete. Professor Greger Larson is the lead coordinator of the study. He said:
"We are still getting a tonne of data coming in every week, so my thinking is evolving all the time. It isn’t quite giving us a coherent picture yet, but we are getting many more pieces of this giant jigsaw puzzle."