How did we arrive at Afghans, Airedales and Alaskan Malamutes when all we started with the good old-fashioned wolf? What exactly IS a dog breed?
A dog breed can be defined as a group of dogs that share physical and behavioral qualities that humans have selected
and refined through breeding. A dog breed is not a different sub-species. The Yorkshire Terrier is the exact same species as the Great Dane, despite the clear differences in the physical appearance and character.
The shaping of ‘dog breeds’ first came about thousands of years ago by humans selectively breeding dogs of a certain type together with other dogs of the same or similar type. This was done in an effort to produce dogs that would resemble their parents both mentally and physically, and the reason they were doing this was because back then, dogs were needed to do specific jobs, to work. As different kinds of dogs were better at certain types of work – different dog breeds began to materialize.
Small feisty and tenacious dogs made good ratters for example – they kept the food stores disease-free by removing rats quickly and efficiently. Slightly larger more agile dogs were used for herding, helping farmers control and move their stock. Large dogs were used to pull heavy carts, and at night time, were used as guard dogs (no alarms or cameras in those days!).
As humans evolved, so did our requirements of dogs, and the creating of new dog breeds began to accelerate – dog breeds for mountain rescue, dog breeds for hunting, dog breeds for guarding, dog breeds for herding, in fact dog breeds for almost any kind of job you can think of. There’s no wonder dogs are regarded as mans best friend –not only were they used as entertainment (Grrrr) and sometimes companionship, but they also helped our ancestors survive, thus helping us get us this far.
- Bitch = Female dog. The male dog is just called “dog”.
- Stud = Male dog used for breeding
- Sire = Male parent
- Dam = Female parent
- Whelp = Newborn Puppy
- To Whelp = To give birth
What breed of dog do YOU have?