Studies have proven that our beloved dogs and the fierce wolves do share the same ancestors. So how exactly did they turn out so different? The answer lies in these 2 words – ‘Domestication Syndrome’. Various theories on dog history suggest a different date to when wolves and dogs separated into different species. A recent study on mitochondrial DNA suggested that it could be dated back to 100,000 years.
Domestication in animals can be understood as a mutual relationship between animals and humans, where the humans have tweaked how the animals lived and reproduced. This process can not be termed as taming. As taming is just is a conditioned behaviour modification whereas domestication is a genetic modification. It is a permanent change in the inherited appearance and behaviour towards humans.
Charles Darwin was the first to notice that there were differences in appearance between the domesticated animals and their wild counterparts. He made this observation over 140 years ago by comparing dogs with wolves and coyotes. You can understand it as breeding of tamer species of the animals to develop offsprings that gradually found a close association to humans.
Alternate Clan Leader
One of the theories suggests that since wolves follow a clan and every clan has a leader, humans easily found the top spot in it. With the evolution of time, humans became rich with resources and had the most control over them. So this made humans a strong person to take the place of the leader of the dog clan. Humans and dogs easily developed a master-pet relation with the domestication syndrome setting in.
Along with a change in temperament and behaviour, domestication also made the dogs look different from the wolves. The distinct features are floppy ears, smaller skull and teeth, the paws are smaller too. The dogs became less scary and less scared than wolves and gained a docile disposition. All these changes happened gradually through the years till we humans found our best friends in them.