How our love of dogs has developed throughout history

The dog has long been known as man’s best friend and some people even go as far to say they prefer dogs to humans. When you consider the fierce loyalty and devotion dogs have to offer, it’s easy to see why they’re so beloved. A 2021 report from The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA), revealed 26% of UK adults had a dog at home and there were an estimated 9.6 million pet dogs in Britain. 

However, the dog hasn’t always been an aspect of human life and it’s only in the last 30,000 to 40,000 years that dogs have lived in harmony with people. The adoration we have for our pooches has blossomed over time from their evolution from the wolf to their introduction to domesticated households.  

In this article, we explore how our love of dogs has developed throughout history. 

How the dog evolved

The dog is believed to be descended from the grey wolf and no evidence of any other canine species has been found to throw this theory into question. When the evolution of the dog took place is widely debated. Some historians have estimated that the divergence of the wolf and the dog occurred roughly 30,000 to 40,000 years ago, while others insist the evidence points to much later, around 11,000 to 16,000 years ago. 

Regardless of when the dog came about, it’s likely that domestic dogs appeared simultaneously all over the world. Each of these dogs will have descended from their own wolf-like ancestors that had a similar genetic structure to each other.  

Domestication

As for the domestication of the dog, scientists believe this happened around the same time as the divergence. Wolves that were aggressive were often killed, as humans feared for their lives, so it’s thought that wolves and early dogs shunned the “survival of the fittest” instinct and instead focused on being friendly and good-natured.

The loyalty and intelligence of these wolves or early canines was identified by humans which led them to be adopted into life among humans and trained to survive and thrive in domesticated homes. 

Dogs today

Dogs have become members of the family in many UK households and often they’re treated like it too! A study by fitted furniture specialists Hammonds has revealed Brits love to spoil their pooches and even let them get away with cheeky behaviour. 

Our dogs have taken over our hearts and our homes. 46.9% of dog owners let their dog sit on the sofa, 36.7% of those surveyed would let their dog sleep in their bed and 11% revealed they would let them sleep in their child’s bed. Dogs are even welcome in the shower, with 29% saying they would bathe their dog in the family bathroom. 

Food isn’t off limits either with 25.9% of those asked saying they share their food or snacks with their furry friend and 26.3% would encourage their dog to beg for food or treats.

A smaller percentage also admitted to allowing their canine to lick their plates clean after a meal (15.8%) or lick pots clean after cooking (12.1%). Eating their meals at the family table wasn’t out of the question either, with 6.4% allowing this. 

87% of Brits agreed they spoil their pets and from these figures it’s clear that plenty of dogs are given the royal treatment in UK homes!


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