One of the most consistent lines of argument against domestication is that it must have been a mistake. Many dog lovers will say they wouldn’t do it all again if they had the chance, and some even provide evidence to support this viewpoint. However, a subset of these arguments are due to misconceptions about dog domestication that are not true. Dog domestication original paleo have because of the loss of its wild species and when different species of dog appeared. Dogs would have been the first domesticated species, and represent an important model for understanding domestication. However, as with any example, it is not necessarily representative as a model for all others.
One of the most common arguments against dog domestication is that it is cruel to have taken wolves from their natural environment and forced them to live in close contact with humans. It is claimed that this must have been stressful for the wolves and so they wouldn’t have done it. The problem with this argument is that it presupposes that dogs were originally wild wolves.
1. Dogs Were Originally Wolves
In the West, we generally believe that all dogs were originally wolves. This view is supported by the most recent genetic studies, showing that the majority of dog mitochondrial DNA types (the DNA in cells inherited only from mothers) belong to the subspecies of wolf. However, this supports domestication as it shows that most dogs did come from wolves rather than being another species entirely.
It is true that dogs are now almost indistinguishable from wolves. There are many different wolf subspecies, and so these subspecies would have contributed to the genetic diversity of dog populations. However, for the most part, it is true that dogs are either descended from wolves or a subspecies of wolf.
2. Wolves Are Wild Animals and Dogs Are Domesticated Animals
It is often thought that a wild animal is by definition an animal that lives in the wild, whereas a domesticated animal is one that lives with humans. In this way of thinking, it naturally follows that any animal living in the wild must be wild and any animals living with people must be domesticated. However, this isn’t strictly true. Some domestic animals have escaped and live in the wild now such as elephants and camels. Some wild animals, like penguins and dolphins, live with us too. Such a simple dichotomy is not useful to understand domestication as sometimes the same animal can be both wild and domesticated.
3. Domestication Is Bad for Animals
When we talk about domestication of animals we generally mean the confinement of them to live with humans. In this way of thinking it is natural to think that it must be bad for the animal in question to be confined to live with humans rather than living in their natural habitat. However, some animals benefit from such confinement.
4. Domestication Is the Same as Taming
Taming is the process by which an animal becomes familiar with humans and is comfortable enough to be near them. In contrast, domestication is the process by which animals become genetically different due to selective breeding in order to suit humans. The final outcome of each of these processes may be similar, but there are differences.
5. Domesticated Animals Are Less Healthy or Less Viable Than Their Wild Counterparts
It is often suggested that if an animal has been domesticated it will have lost some of its ability to survive in the wild. Or that otherwise, domestic animals are less healthy than wild animals because they have been bred for food (either meat or dairy products). This is based on the selection of animals by humans in terms of appearance, ability to produce food and willingness to accept captivity. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are less healthy or less viable than wild animals.
6. Domestication Is Not Natural
This passing thought may come from a feeling that domestication is somehow not ‘natural’. It is argued that dogs were originally wild wolves and so must have been living in the wild and only recently gave up their freedom to live with us humans, for whatever reason. This thinking implies that living with people is unnatural for dogs even though there are many domestic animals (elephants, dolphins and geese) that live with humans now.
7. Domestication is the Result of Culture
When we think about the processes of domestication we often assume that it is due to a particular culture (i.e. human society) and only humans have the ability to do such things. However, there are many theories about how domestication came about, including theories that have nothing to do with humans at all. For example, some scientists believe that domestication started when cats became more willing to hunt prey in response to the rise of human populations and spread from there.