From Wolf to Cockapoo – The Progression of Breeds | Purebred Breeders
Chihuahua, Golden Retriever, Cocker Spaniel, Goldendoodle, Chorkie, Beagles, Collies, Poodles - there is no end to the breeds of dogs we see around us these days. How did we end up with so many breeds? To understand this phenomenon Purebred Breeders knows it is important to understand where dogs came from.
Dogs are not just animals to us humans; they are a big part of our life too. As per the studies conducted by scientists, the association between dog and man originated approximately 15,000 years ago. Studies also suggest that Wolves are dog’s ancestors, and that dogs and wolves share similar genetic as well as behavioral traits. Many people believe that the Arctic breeds were the first to arrive, as their physical appearance resembles that of the wolves in many ways. Others believe that village dogs were the first to arrive followed by livestock-guarding dogs and hunting companions. They were followed by the sled dogs, herding dogs, gun and household dogs.
Purebred breeders and selective breeding is not a recent trend; there are many evidences to prove that selective breeding has been in existence for centuries. When man met dogs, he realized how efficient they were and how helpful they could be to humankind. Therefore, he started domesticating dogs for their abilities. With time, the relationship between humans and dogs deepened, resulting in a profound connection. Man started expecting more and more out of his canine companion. So, he selectively bred certain breeds of dogs over numerous generations to intensify the advantageous genetic traits. The result was the birth of various dog breeds with desirable qualities. In 1950, the American Cocker Spaniel was a popular dog breed among owners; it was considered a friendly family dog. However, in a span of few years, the popularity of this breed dropped as the dog turned aggressive. To get rid of this aggressive trait, purebred dog breeders tried numerous different breeding combinations. And, finally, by the 80’s, this breed was back on the popularity chart and once again, people opted for this breed.
With the evolution of new cultures over time, more and more dog breeds proliferated. The need to fulfill new jobs created by man resulted in the birth of more breeds. Some were useful in guarding herds and protecting them from hunters, while some in wars. In the ancient era, the Greyhounds were highly regarded by Egyptians. The Saluki was also very popular amongst them, and was used to hound and capture rabbits and small gazelles.
As we progressed, the motive behind purebred breeders also took a new turn. Every breed has some or the other genetically inherited problem. So, breeders started creating new breeds to eliminate the genetic disorders in dogs. In a way, humans were playing around with the genetic constitution of dogs. This led to the creation of breeds that were healthy, and therefore, more in demand.
Then began the trend of exclusive and show dog breeds. Certain breeds of dogs were solely designed for shows, some for their unique characteristics like hypoallergenic, size etc, and some for looks. For example, the Lhasapoo (a cross between Lhasa Apso and Poodle), Cockapoo (a cross between a Cocker Spaniel and Poodle), Labradoodle (a cross between Labrador and a Poodle) are some of the popular designer dogs in this category. By looking at these breeds of dogs, one can say that they are an extension of man’s longing for the ‘perfect’ companion.
The portrayal of dogs as heroes in movies and other forms of media also add to the popularity of the breeds. People start demanding more for those breeds and purebred breeders meet those demands. For example, the movie 101 Dalmatians increased the demand for Dalmatians that led to intense breeding of this breed.
Nature too has a role to play in creation of new breeds. Environmental changes over time lead to mutation of genes, which naturally create new sets of favorable breeds. Genetic changes are also induced by the kind of life a dog leads. According to the dissertation of Susanne Björnefeldt – “Variation in dog breeds is not only a result of breeding, but also of the comfortable life dogs lead, a life that has entailed genetic changes”.
Purebred Breeders points out that as of today, there are approximately 173 breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), with the 3 recent additions in March 2012. With more than 65 types of dogs waiting to be declared AKC worthy, the number of dog breeds only promises to increase in the coming years.