The Evolution of the Gray Wolf Becoming Man’s Best Friend?

By Kim Casey, Newburyport.Com Correspondent
Kim is a huge animal lover and proud owner of two labs. Kim is also an Internet marketer and works closely with The Beach Dog Daycare in Newburyport. She enjoys writing and researching combined with blogging. She is an independent marketer and is self-employed but being an animal lover The Beach Dog Daycare is one of her favorite clients.
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Gray Wolf

Imagine living back in ancient times and having the gray wolf as man’s best friend. The scientific community, using today’s technology, strongly indicates that all dogs can genetically be traced back to the gray wolf. Yes, from wild dog species to your little labradoodle, all bloodlines point to the fact that the gray wolf’s DNA fingerprint is within your dog’s biological makeup. How did it come to be that such a prehistoric domestication took place between man and beast. In this area science is unsure but a few specialist have a unique theory, and it’s one you might not have originally guessed. How did the gray wolf become man’s best friend, and if so how did the breeds of today get so characteristically, and physically distant from that of a wolf?

Domestication is key to the gray wolf becoming man’s best friend.

The story of wolf domestication could possibly date back to a single dwelling cave and a lone family hunting and gathering to simply stay alive. The common answer for domestication is the G rated version straight from a dysentery movie, when a baby cub is abandon by its mother and taken in and raised by humans. While it makes for good theatrics the practicality is lacking. The instinctual behavioral patterns of a wolf includes a “fight or flight” mechanism science has termed “flight distant.” This is how it works. Any given wolf pup around two weeks of age goes from being curious to being fearful. This fearfulness is the fight or flight response that even as humans carry. The higher the fight or flight response triggers is what scientist gauge as the flight distance. For instance a wolf is spooked by the snap of a tree limb in the woods. If he flinches and takes a few steps his flight distance is short and he holds more curiosity. But if the wolf fleas 20 feet up the hill his fight response is a lot bigger, meeting he is triggered more by a skittish behavior than a curiosity to know more. This means that the abandoned pup, within two weeks of life is about to develop his own instinctual flight distance. A characteristic manipulated by man before artificial selection ( captive breeding). So regardless of the hospitality of this caveman family, this wolf is going to run, it’s in his DNA….also, caveman didn’t have bottles to nurse the pup.

The more practical thinking is that a wolf is a pack animal therefore they are behaviorally very similar to the human species. This means that humans and pack animals adapt well to community living. In the beginning it is thought that when man started to co-adapt into tribes or communities the wolf packs probably stuck close for easy access to human scraps. Remember not all wild dogs have the same flight distance so some would remain isolated from humans while the more curious would linger. From this point the split in species begins because the more wild solitude animals would still breed within the pack (natural selection), while the more curious would start breeding closer to the human surroundings. Know there becomes a split in species and in behavior. The wild gray wolf stayed wild and the community wolves breed down in temperament…and this is one step towards the gray wolf becoming man’s best friend.

How Breeds of today are linked to the gray wolf becoming man’s best friend.

So know the last piece to the domestication puzzle. How did that huge, wild, man eating wolf become your little labradoodle? Back 30,000 to 40,000 years ago we see the split in flight distance play a part in the wolf evolving into a less ferocious beast and into a more curious and cautious creature. The science proves that this quick genetic change happens within three generations of breeding. Scientists say Adrenaline…fight or flight hormone and melanin and fur hormone are chemically connected so they change together. This is why the entire physical characteristics changed so fast once the wolf become domesticated. It’s called Characteristic Response. The science proves that this quick genetic change happens within three generations of breeding. That means once those curious wolves branch off from the pack and breed with similar temperament wolves, within the third generation those pups would be less wild and more tame in behavior, characteristics, size and shape. Push further and add another three years and now we are even closer to the gray wolf becoming man’s best friend. So you see, breeding a dog artificially to establish new traits is a fairly fast transaction of genetics. Quick genetic changes evolve the dog towards a domesticated temperament. The genetic cross breeding of dogs yield results fast and dramatically. James Serpell, professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine theorized that domestic dog breeds would be too complicated to trace back to all of their origins because the variables would be to complex. But to answer the question as to how my labradoodle could possibly once had the size and structure of a gray wolf, the science says through artificial selection and continuation of breeding in the trait desired.

From the great and powerful gray wolf to the lap dog of today and all canine species in between the gray wolf becoming man’s best friend was a combination of a few simple events. First wild dogs would have shown opportunistic behaviors by following community’s of man. As the more wild animals ventured off the more docile stayed behind and bred with other less flight distant dogs. Within three generations the genetic traits would be strong enough to be distinct. In such a time-frame of manipulation in structure it would be easy for humans to use man-made modes of breeding to establish just about any traits they desired. And that is why your labradoodle basically has no characteristics left from the gray wolf. View more interesting stories from The Beach Dog Doggie Daycare.