Long before human beings domesticated chickens, bred cattle, and raised camels, llamas, goats, bison, sheep, ducks, and lambs, they formed a relationship with an animal that would become early man’s partner on the road to world domination. It’s hard to imagine that poodles and Labradors, Chihuahuas and spaniels, all evolved from wild wolves, but that’s exactly what most scientists who study the issue believe.
Dogs are the only animal whose natural place in the world is at the sides of their human masters. Without humans, after all, there would likely be no dogs, and without dogs, human beings might very well still be languishing somewhere in the upper-middle food chain. The history of dogs and the history of people have been intertwined for tens of thousands of years. They hunted and gathered together, experienced the dawn of farming together, lived together in the first big cities, and waged war side by side.
Today, dogs are an integral part of human society. They accompany police officers serving warrants, follow special forces operators onto clandestine battlefields, guide disabled people through an unforgiving world, and lounge and snuggle on couches and doggie beds while their human companions go on Netflix binges—but how did the two species get from where they started to where they are today?
Using historical references, news articles, and information from dog-focused organizations like the American Kennel Club, the experts at Alaska Dog Works identified 50 key moments in the history of dogs that define the species in a chronological timeline. The result is a condensed telling of the evolution of one of the most remarkable animals ever to walk the planet—and the most important and intimate animal relationship human beings have ever known.
Keep reading to learn how mankind got lucky enough to find a best friend as loyal, reliable, loving, and useful as the venerable dog.