The domestication of dogs

Image of yellow lab from Wikimedia Commons

New genetic analyses supports the argument that the domestication of man's best friend coincided with the advent of argiculture and human settlements. Researchers Erik Axelsson (Uppsala University, Sweden) and colleagues present evidence suggesting that wolves became domesticated as they increasingly scavenged in the human settlements.  The researchers sequenced DNA from 12 wolves and 60 dogs to find areas that evolved under selection pressure. What they found were differences in genes relaed to the development of the central nervous system allowing modern dogs to communicate with humans more effectively. Additionally, they discovered mutations in genes important to starch metabolism helping modern dogs rely more heavily on a starchy diet as opposed to a more wolf-friendly carnivorous diet.

Well that certainly explains my dog's passion for pasta.


Axelsson E, Ratnakumar A, Arendt M, Maqbool K, Webster MT, Perloski M, Liberg O, Arnemo JM, Hedhammar A, Lindblad-Toh K. The genomic signature of dog domestication reveals adaptation to a starch-rich diet. Nature (2013). doi:10.1038/nature11837

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My uncle was a Federal Predator Control Agent in the Rio Grand valley in Texas. He told me that the most difficult predators to control were feral dogs, because they know what we think. Next were coyote x dog hybrids, then easiest were coyotes.

By Jim Thomerson (not verified) on 26 Jan 2013 #permalink

This is very interesting! I always thought that there was some sort of connection. Wolves and dogs have so many similarities. It's a little scary to think that a few gene differences separate domestic, loving animals from dangerous, killing animals. I wonder if this new research could apply to house cats and lions? Very intriguing though!

Here's another article on the subject that I think is quite interesting!

By Rebecca Hirsch (not verified) on 27 Jan 2013 #permalink

It's understandable that the ancestors of our pets a few centuries ago we were ready to cut the throats. However, the genes are felt even today - personally I would not even trust a dog with kind eyes, because of their apparent innocence almost always hides a cruel and unpredictable predator.

By Роман Стоун (not verified) on 28 Jan 2013 #permalink

Dogs, wolves, and all the animals are looking to us, the humans, for leadership. We are in the hot seat.

By Joe the Stack (not verified) on 01 Feb 2013 #permalink

Very interesting! I work for dog control and I'm study dog psychology and training. It's proven that dogs only hurt people when they feel threatened. to say a wolf is a killing machines a bit harsh, as naturally if they feel threatened they will attack

By Hannah Hughes (not verified) on 06 Feb 2013 #permalink

This is very interesting information. When you just look at wolves and dogs you have to know that there is some sort of genetic similarity in both. Just little gene section differences and you get two different animals. Its very interesting to see how dogs have evolved and become what they are today, so different from the wild wolves.

By Abigail Pride (not verified) on 12 Feb 2013 #permalink