The Dog, Canis familiaris

  • John M. Stewart
  • J. Paul Scott


The dog, Cams familiaris, is the oldest domesticated animal. The actual time when domestication first occurred will probably never be known, but the oldest known remains, obtained from a cave in the Beaverhead Mountains of Idaho, have been carbon dated to be from the period 8300–9500 B.C., which means that they may be as much as 11,500 years old. Assuming, as Lawrence (1967) does, that the first dogs were domesticated approximately 12,000 years ago, they could have gone through as many as 6000 generations in domestication, based on an average generation span of 2 years, or, more conservatively, 4000 generations at a rate of one generation per 3 years. Since dogs associated with primitive human cultures were usually kept in small semi-isolated populations, the opportunities for rapid evolutionary change have been great. As Scott (1968) has pointed out, domestication presents a situation similar to a species entering into a new environment. We would expect the phenomenon of adaptive radiation to have taken place, particularly since dogs spread to all parts of the world and were kept not only in a great variety of human cultural environments, but also exposed to almost every climatic condition, from tropical to arctic. At the time of the historical exploration of the world, dogs were found associated with people on all continents, and most islands as well.


Uric Acid Excretion Breed Difference Pure Breed Cyclic Neutropenia Cocker Spaniel 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • John M. Stewart
    • 1
  • J. Paul Scott
    • 2
  1. 1.The Jackson LaboratoryBar HarborUSA
  2. 2.Bowling Green State UniversityBowling GreenUSA

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