How Closely Are Dogs And Wolves Related?
Wolves and dogs are very closely related. In fact, DNA analysis cannot tell a wolf from a dog. They were probably domesticated when humans left their hunter gatherer lifestyle and turned to agriculture.
Scientific work is continuing to work out exactly when dogs were first domesticated. The consensus is that the domestic dog evolved from the ancestor of the gray wolf and domestication first took place about 10,000 years ago.
Where Did Domestication Take Place?
The dog was the first animal domesticated by man. But exactly where this took place has not been finally settled. One theory is that the ancestral wolf split in to two groups. These groups, known as the East and West Eurasian groups finally went extinct - but not before two populations of dogs were independently domesticated. The West Eurasian group was gradually replaced by dogs from the Eastern group about 6000 years ago.
How Did Man And Dog Become Close?
It is believed that humans took in wolf pups and socialized them from an early age. There is another theory that wolves began to rummage through human waste. Because this was a more reliable source of food these dogs had a better chance of survival. They were eventually tamed and evolved in to domestic dogs. Wolves hunted in packs which were governed by a hierarchy. Humans were able to insert themselves at the top of this hierarchy. The animals gradually learned obedience and the human/wolf relationship developed in to an unbeatable hunting team.