Apparently, there are 38 species of cats including domestic cats, cheetahs, lions, and so forth. How many species (not breeds) of dogs are there, including wolves, domestic dogs, foxes, etc.?
Just going by Wikipedia, I count 39 extant species of Felidae and 34 of Caninae.
Edited to add: perhaps a better comparison would be with Canidae, but all non Caninae members of it are extinct. How one labels large clades can be rather arbitrary (family vs sub-family, etc).
This claims to be up to date with the latest generally accepted changes based on molecular phylogeny. It claims in one place that Caninae contains 37 species, and in another place says 35 species.
I looked through that list of canids and all it made me do was want a bunch of pet foxes.
I thought this odd, so I looked it up. Actually, “Dog” is a species. That’s it, “Dog”. So there is one species of “Dog”.
According to their own figures, the American Kennel Club recognizes 202 dog breeds, The Kennel Club recognizes 211 dog breeds, and the Fédération Cynologique Internationale currently recognizes 344 breeds officially. However, all dog breeds belong to the same species and taxon, the Canis lupus familiaris.
Domestic dogs are now generally considered the same species as gray wolves (Canis lupus), although Linnaeus considered them a different species. Domestic dogs are a subspecies of wolf according to Wozencraft.
It’s standard nowadays to consider all domesticated animals to be a subspecies of their closest wild relative. So dogs are no longer Canis familiaris, but Canis lupus familiaris, and cats are no longer Felix domesticus, but Felix sylvestris domesticus. This holds even in cases, like cows, where the wild form is extinct: Bos aurochs taurus is a subspecies (the only remaining subspecies) of Bos aurochs.
Several wild canid species are called “dogs,” including Bush Dog, Short-eared Dog, African Bush Dog, and Raccoon Dog. In fact, there are almost as many wild “dogs” as there are “wolves.”
As has been pointed out, at present domestic dogs are presently considered to be part of the same species as the Gray Wolf Canis lupus.
To nitpick, the genus of the domestic cat is Felis. Felix is just the best-known Felis.
Sylvester would like to have a word with you.
My genetics & taxonomy & stuff is pretty thin…but is it an indicator that 2 species aren’t really distinct if they can interbreed and produce fertile young?
So I think it’s known that dogs & wolves can do so – can dogs & coyotes? Wolves & coyotes?
Perusing the wiki article on canids, and didn’t see any mention of dingos. It turns out that they’re Canis familiaris dingo, or Canis lupus dingo. So apparently they’re domestic dogs gone wild.
This is a very common misconception. Many species can produce completely fertile hybrids. The criterion is whether they produce hybrids frequently enough to lose their species identity. Gray Wolves and Coyotes produce fertile hybrids, but although their ranges overlap over much or western North America they maintain their separate identities.
Coydogs are fairly common in some areas, especially where Coyotes are expanding their range. Regarding wolves and Coyotes, it is believed that both the Eastern Wolf and Red Wolf to some extent represent hybridization events between Gray Wolves and Coyotes. Exactly what their species status should be is controversial.
Yup, there are no placental mammals native to Australia. The only ones found there are humans, and the ones we brought with us, like dogs and rabbits.
Dingo-like dogs, descended from domesticated dogs gone feral, are found in many parts of the world.
And the definition of “species” being based on what animals actually do in the wild is the reason why all domesticated animals are considered subspecies: Once they’re domesticated, you lose the whole concept of “what they do in the wild”.
That’s another common misconception. There are a lot of rodents as well as bats, both placentals, that are native to Australia.
It is often assumed that the dingo arrived with the aborigines, but fossils only date to about 3,500 years ago, long after the aborigines came. They probably came with seafarers from southeast Asia. They belong to a group of primitive feral dogs including the New Guinea Singing Dog, the Indian Pariah Dog,, and the North American Carolina Dog.. Interestingly, feral dog populations in other parts of the world tend to converge on this “Yellow Dog” phenotype.
That’s interesting. Dogs are the domesticated descendants of wolves so I would have assumed that if they went feral their descendants would revert back to wolves.
Are even first-generation feral dogs that much different from wolves in behavior? Excluding physically ridiculous breeds, I’m not sure they’re very different.
But there’s two reasons why they might not revert to be exactly like wolves.
First, their starting point is a phenotype that’s very different from wolves through artificial selection; and it’s possible that inbreeding has removed the genetic diversity that would allow the phenotype to revert easily to something resembling a wolf. Evolutionary change can happen much more rapidly when selection is working on existing genetic diversity in a population; if you have to wait for new mutations to arise, it takes orders of magnitude longer.
Second, I think the environment in most of Australia is different from where wolves typically live. So the selection pressure to revert to a more wolf-like phenotype may not be present, they may settle into a slightly different niche.
Don’t get me wrong; I wasn’t disputing the point. It’s just something that I had never thought about before. I assumed that if human intervention disappeared, domesticated species would revert back to the wild ancestors or go extinct. I hadn’t realized that we changed the animals we domesticated enough that they couldn’t revert back to their ancestral species. So when we take a wild species and domesticate it, we’re creating the potential for a new wild species.
It is thought that dogs are descended from a subspecies or closely related species of Gray Wolf that is now extinct. That form may not have strongly resembled modern Gray Wolves. The Indian subspecies of Gray Wolf can be a bit yellowish, for example The ancestor of the dog could have been a small yellowish Asian form resembling these primitive dogs. Figuring out the ancestry of the domestic dog is particularly difficult because there have been repeated backcrosses with Gray Wolves. Dogs also have been bred to have paedomorphic traits, that is, in many ways they resemble the juveniles of Gray Wolves.