In Mark Derr’s book, How the Dog Became the Dog, he brings up some very interesting points about how it’s not so much the dog evolving from the wolf, but how the dog slowly transcended from itself, into different species, looks, etc. All these byproducts of domestication created a somewhat perverted want for different traits in dogs: size reduction, shortening of jaws and nose, coat color changes, etc. This desire was mainly of the uniqueness and utility of the dogs themselves.
I loved his idea of “socialized” (versus tamed) wolves, as socialization was key to the process of the domestication of the wolf. That really puts it in a perspective that I’ve been thinking about since I’ve started learning about domesticates. I really like social interaction as a basis to all domesticated life humans have created. From the first encounters, to the multiple visits, to the co-evolving of these species, social interaction was a key part in all aspects of domestication.
I wish I could sit at the table with the theorists of the different ideas about when the dog domestication actually occurred, and just listen to all the different arguments they would have. Basically it boils down to 2 (or 3) groups: first being that dog domestication occurred some 40-50 thousand years ago, saying dogs came about it multiple, different locations and cross-bred with wild wolves (and they say this process still goes on). The second view states that this process started around 12-16 thousand years ago,having to do with the Last Glacial maximum. The third group dates around 27 thousand years ago, based on some DNA evidence of a dog genome.
His argument about the cultural differences that influenced different dogs was impressive as well. One of his examples was WWII, when dogs went\ unfed, and started scavenging, thus creating vicious “canine gangs” as he put it. Mirror that with the Canaan dog, which was a very inbred dog from the Bedouin dog, that was so vicious (and possibly ugly, unwanted) that Israeli officers would told “shoot to kill” when in sight of one. All of this culturally different social interaction caused different domestication styles, perhaps?