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HOUND BREEDING: ITS HISTORY AND PRESENT PRACTICES DENISON BINGHAM HULL* The shaggiest Old English sheepdog, the nakedest Mexican hairless, the most enormous Irish wolfhound, and the tiniest Pekingese are all, according to the best informed opinion today, descended from the wolf. Although the origin of Cantsfamiliaris has admittedly not yet been determined with absolute certainty, no one who has seriously studied the subject now believes that the dog's infinite variety is due to fox orjackal ancestry, or even to descent from several breeds ofwild dogs, as Charles Darwin suggested. Such ancestry is not necessary to explain the dog's many shapes and sizes, for he is the most plastic creature imaginable. Anatomically, genetically, and psychologically the dog is nothing but a wolf, Canis lupus. Anatomically, the differences in size and coat color are only superficial: similarities in fundamental forms, such as the shape ofthe teeth, are so great that there can be little doubt about the relationship . Genetically, there is equal similarity: the periods of oestrum and pregnancy are identical; puppies open their eyes at the same age that wolf cubs do; their milk teeth appear in the same order; the dog and the wolf will interbreed freely, producing hybrids that are fully fertile. Such crosses were reported by Aristotle in the fourth century B.C. and by Pliny in the first century A.D. While we may doubt the evidence ofthese authors, it is difficult to doubt the one hundred and one hybrids bred by N. A. Iljin, the Russian geneticist, in the Moscow Zoo between 1923 and 1930. And psychologically the dog and wolf are also identical. Although both are quickly aware ofmotion in an object, both depend on their sense ofsmell more than.on their vision, and both have extraordinarily keen hearing; wolves learn to bark ifkept in captivity with dogs, and dogs learn to howl * 77 West Washington Street, Chicago, Illinois 60602. 121 if kept with wolves; wolf cubs too are just as amenable to training as puppies are. These facts, ofcourse, do not prove that the dog is descended from the wolfalone, but they do most strongly suggest the possibility. Add to this possibility the theory ofhow the dog was domesticated, and the possibility becomes a probability. Here is the theory. The earliest groups of men were food collectors and hunters. When they had depleted the supply offood in one place they moved to another. Each time they moved they left huge piles ofrefuse containing the bones and offal ofthe game they had killed. Wolves, attracted by the smell of these piles, followed the men from place to place, and as soon as the men left a campsite the wolves moved in and cleaned it up. They were not permitted to come close because they were dangerous, but one day a wolf with her cubs approached a little too close and was killed. Some imaginative man caught one ofthe cubs and tamed it. As soon as it was allowed to run loose it dashed to the garbage heap, and began to clean it up. As a garbage collector the wolf cub was a great success, for it could begin cleaning up while the tribe was still in camp, and therefore help keep the stench and the flies to a minimum. Other men therefore caught more wolfcubs and trained them in the same way, and these rapidly became so dependent on man that they were no longer tempted to stray away and mate with their wild wolf friends. Instead they bred among themselves, and thus in a very few generations established the dog as a definite species. We don't know exactly when all this happened, but we can make a fairly good guess, because cave paintings made in the Paleolithic period have been found which show doglike creatures accompanying men on hunts; and skeletons ofdogs have been found also in the kitchen middens ofthe Neolithic period in Europe. So the approximate date for the domestication ofthe dog is not later than 10,000 B.C., and perhaps even earlier. The type ofdog depicted in the cave paintings and indicated by the skeletons is very much like the modern dingo, Canis dingo, the wild dog...


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