Why your dog can live with you, and on your food!

Dog eating bread

Dogs have been human being’s best friends.  This relationship started long ago.  Today, dogs cannot only live with us in our very own domestic environment, but eat our food and survive equally well on it.

According to research, the dog’s ability to digest our food the same way we do developed millennia ago.   When human beings first domesticated dogs, and scientists have different theories on that, they taught dogs to survive with them, in their resources.  And dogs seemed to respond pretty well.

Dogs have been domesticated from wolves, many researchers claim.  Some suggest that ancient hunters used wolves as hunting companions, and came to gradually training and taming them.  These eventually became known as our present domesticated friends.  But some scientists argue that domestication started later, when wolves started stealing food from farms of agricultural settlers.  They eventually started eating food that was consumed by humans, and developed a tolerance for it, and this was the first step towards the domestication of dogs.

Dr Morgane Ollivier of ENS de Lyon, France has claimed that human cultural development has influenced the first domesticated animal, the dog.  DNA samples from 8,000 to 4,000 years ago show the dog’s ability to digest starch is ancient – hailing back to a time when hunter-gatherer societies adopted agriculture.  “As it was absent in samples coming from hunter-gatherers’ contexts, we linked it to the development of agriculture in early farming society,” Dr Ollivier told BBC News.  “This probably constituted an important selective advantage for dogs feeding on human leftovers within a farming context.  It’s a lovely example of parallel evolution of human culture (emergence of agriculture) and the dog genome.”

There are others who have a different perspective: dogs may have evolved from wolves but the reasons and causes of domestication cannot be assigned to one event in history, but multiple social and natural phenomenon.

What we know for sure from present day studies is that modern dogs possess genes for digesting starches, which cannot be found in wolves.  And this process of evolution started around 15,000 years ago, when the dog is said to have split from the wolf.

Sources: BBC.com