Curtin, Charles B. Department of Biology, Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska.
Last reviewed:April 2021
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- Domestic breeds
- Sporting breeds
- Working breeds
- Toy breeds
- Nonsporting breeds
- Wild species
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
Any member of the carnivorous mammalian family Canidae. All breeds of domestic dogs (Fig. 1), the wild dogs, and related species belong to the family Canidae. Despite the various breeds of domestic dogs that are known, the scientific name for all types is Canis lupus familiaris (also referred to as Canis familiaris). The origin of domestic dogs is obscure, but they seem to be most closely related to the wolf (Canis lupus). The dog has been associated with humans for thousands of years. Investigations have identified Southeast Asia, Siberia, and Europe as early centers for the domestication of dogs, which occurred approximately 18,000 to 32,000 years ago, and there are indications that, as early as 4000 years ago, several varieties of dogs had been developed by humans. In many respects, the dog is structurally primitive and shows a genetic plasticity that accounts for the many varieties. There are more than 100 breeds of domestic dogs, and their classification is based principally on their uses. The wild species of the family, numbering about 35–40 and having a wide distribution, include several wild dogs, wolves, coyotes, foxes, dingoes, and jackals. See also: Carnivora; Dog domestication; Domestication; Mammalia
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