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The domestic dog or simply dog (Canis familiaris when considered a distinct species or Canis lupus familiaris when considered a subspecies of the wolf) is a member of the genus Canis (canines), which forms part of the wolf-like canids, and is the most widely abundant terrestrial carnivore. The dog and the extant gray wolf are sister tax as modern wolves are not closely related to the wolves that were first domesticated, which implies that the direct ancestor of the dog is extinct. The dog was the first species to be domesticated, and has been selectively bred over millennia for various behaviors, sensory capabilities, and physical attributes.
Their long association with humans has led dogs to be uniquely attuned to human behavior and they are able to thrive on a starch-rich diet that would be inadequate for other canids. Dogs vary widely in shape, size and colors. They perform many roles for humans, such as hunting, herding, pulling loads, protection, assisting police and military, companionship and, more recently, aiding disabled people and therapeutic roles. This influence on human society has given them the sobriquet of "man's best friend". Origin
Main article: Origin of the domestic dog
The origin of the domestic dog includes the dog's evolutionary divergence from the wolf, its domestication, and its development into dog types and dog breeds. The dog is a member of the genus Canis, which forms part of the wolf-like canids, and was the first species and the only large carnivore to have been domesticated. The dog and the extant gray wolf are sister taxa, as modern wolves are not closely related to the population of wolves that was first domesticated.
The genetic divergence between dogs and wolves occurred between 40,000–20,000 years ago, just before or during the Last Glacial Maximum. This timespan represents the upper time-limit for the commencement of domestication because it is the time of divergence and not the time of domestication, which occurred later. The domestication of animals commenced over 15,000 years ago, beginning with the grey wolf (Canis lupus) by nomadic hunter-gatherers. The archaeological record and genetic analysis show the remains of the Bonn–Oberkassel dog buried beside humans 14,200 years ago to be the first undisputed dog, with disputed remains occurring 36,000 years ago. The domestication of the dog predates agriculture. It was not until 11,000 years ago that people living in the Near East entered into relationships with wild populations of aurochs, boar, sheep, and goats.
Where the domestication of the dog took place remains debated, with the most plausible proposals spanning Western Europe, Central Asia and East Asia. This has been made more complicated by the recent proposal that an initial wolf population split into East and West Eurasian groups. These two groups, before going extinct, were domesticated independently into two distinct dog populations between 14,000 and 6,400 years ago. The Western Eurasian dog population was gradually and partially replaced by East Asian dogs introduced by humans at least 6,400 years ago. This proposal is also debated.
In 2020, a literature review of canid domestication stated that modern dogs were not descended from the same Canis lineage as modern wolves, and proposes that dogs may be descended from a Pleistocene wolf closer in size to a village dog.
Lateral view of skeleton
Main article: Dog anatomy
Skull of a dog
Domestic dogs have been selectively bred for millennia for various behaviors, sensory capabilities, and physical attributes. Modern dog breeds show more variation in size, appearance, and behavior than any other domestic animal. Dogs are predators and scavengers; like many other predatory mammals, the dog has powerful muscles, fused wrist bones, a cardiovascular system that supports both sprinting and endurance, and teeth for catching and tearing.
Size and weight
Dogs are highly variable in height and weight. The smallest known adult dog was a Yorkshire Terrier, that stood only 6.3 cm (2.5 in) at the shoulder, 9.5 cm (3.7 in) in length along the head-and-body, and weighed only 113 grams (4.0 oz). The largest known dog was a Saint Bernard which weighed 167.6 kg (369 lb) and was 250 cm (98 in) from the snout to the tail. The tallest dog is a Great Dane that stands 106.7 cm (42.0 in) at the shoulder.