Are all Domesticated Dogs Descendants of Wolves?

Are all current domesticated dogs descendants of wolves? Do DNA results confirm this?

Yes, all dogs are descended from wolves. And genetic studies seem to indicate that all dogs came from one particular dog-type that came from wolves, as opposed to having been derived from multiple different wolf groups scattered around the globe.

Where else would they have come from, anyway?

From the above site’s cite:

OK, I guess I could have drawn the conclusion that dogs might have come from coyotes or jackals.

I saw an interesting documentary about this (sorry that’s the best I can do for a cite). They claimed that dogs and wolves were one and the same.

The most interesting part of the documentary had to do with foxes. People who raise foxes for their fur tried to breed domesticity into the foxes. The figured that if the foxes were tame, they’d be a lot easier to keep before they were killed for their pelts.

Two very interesting things happened. First, it only took three or four generations for tameness to be bred into foxes. This leads one to believe that the wolf personality to dog personality transition happened much more quickly than had been previously assumed and that it could have happened many times all over the world.

The second thing was that once tameness was bred into the foxes, they started to look different. Fur, size and shape of tail, ears and faces and body type immediately started to diverge. They were starting to form into breeds! This made their pelts useless so the “experiment” was halted. This leads one to believe that for some reason niceness genes in canines results in diversity in appearence.


You can read more about Wayne’s (from Qadgop’s link) research here. From that link:

(bolding mine)
With respect to that bolded part, domestic dogs are usually considered to be neotenous (that is, traits common in the juvenile stages of an ancestral form are retained uin the adult stages of later forms) wolves. This is probably a by-product of the “taming” process, which would also account for the morphological changes mentioned by hajario in the taming of foxes.

Dogs and wolves might have had a common ancestor, rather than dogs being an off-shot of wolves.

Gray wolves date back to about a million years ago - well before dogs were first domesticated (~14,000 years ago), and gray wolves diverged from their ancestors probably around 2-3 million years ago. It’s highly unlikely that the two would have therefore come from a common ancestor.

My comment was not on the ancestry of various canines, but on Qagdop question about the OP.

That documentary I mentioned said the same thing though I would never have remembered the word “neotenous.” It said that dogs were emotionally like adolescent wolves. This was based on the various noises that dogs make being similar to the sounds that young wolves and not adult wolves make.


I have heard that domestic dogs are much more vocal than wild dogs because they live with humans, who talk to them. But I don’t know how that applies to feral dogs.

In the past, it has frequently been hypothesized that dogs, or perhaps just certain breeds of dogs, might have been derived from cross-breeding of wolves and jackals. The recent DNA evidence has pretty conclusively demonstrated that this was not the case.

I clearly remember Konrad Lorenz differentiating between “wolf-dogs” (like his Alsatians [German Shepards if you only speak Merican]) and “jackal-dogs” (whatever breed his wife favoured[maybe chow-chows]) Meets Dog**.

Or maybe it was King Solomon’s Ring.

My clear memories aren’t quite what they used to be. Makes life more interesting that way.

Typing skills deteriorate with increasing age…



Originally Posted by Darwin’s Finch


With respect to that bolded part, domestic dogs are usually considered to be neotenous (that is, traits common in the juvenile stages of an ancestral form are retained uin the adult stages of later forms) wolves.


We ourselves are neotenous.


Yes, we certainly are. > Notice the juvenile chimp on the left, the foramen magnum placement is very anterior. Gradually it moves posteriorly in chimp adults, but stays anterior in human adults. An example of retention of juvenile traits, or neotony. There are many other examples.
Sorry for the hijack, I just always liked that photo.

On topic:
Yes, Canis domesticus most certainly are neotonous descendenants of Canis lupus , but I think thats pretty much been covered. The only thing I might add is that wolves and dogs are not really even separate species(despite the names), they produce viable offspring…IIRC wolf-dogs were popular for a brief period in the 90’s. My ex’s aunt owned one. Great topic.

Canis domesticus is not even the current valid name of doggies; they’ve been renamed as Canis lupus familiaris, in light of the fact that they now are recognized as but a subspecies of gray wolf.