If humans vanished, would dog breeds merge or speciate?

Suppose all humanity goes extinct overnight. Because of some plague, like the Superflu in Stephen King’s The Stand, or for some other reason, it doesn’t matter so long as it leaves the world otherwise intact. Most dogs would soon starve to death for lack of humans to feed them, but a minority would successfully go feral. Then what? Would all the various breeds of dogs mate with each other indiscriminately until there are only mutts, or would they remain separate and diverge, eventually, into different species of animal? They are so very different now, after all!

We sort of have a real world answer to this already the dingos of Australia.

I don’t think they either merged or speciated from different human-bred dog breeds.

Do you think dogs discriminate now? Does one breed look at another and think ‘oh hell naw’?

Survival of the fittest. The kill-iest mutts breed kill-ier pups. Dogs don’t care about breed.

Maybe they do; I don’t know. A dog breeder would know.

It’s estimated that it takes on the order of 500,000 years for a population of large mammals to speciate, so I think we can rule that out if we’re talking shorter time frames.

More than likely, they would be absorbed into the coyote population in the US and whatever similar type of population exists elsewhere. Or rather, the coyote population would be absorbed into the dog population due to the imbalance in numbers between the two populations.

Some breeds that are simply not suited to survival in the wild would largely disappear. Either eaten by prey animals or just dying of an inability to feed itself.

:eek: Oh, the indignity!

Without human intervention, sofas would become setters.

:confused: Is that supposed to be some sort of pun?

Seems the only thing Twain hated more than coyotes was German (the language).

Oh, yes!

In southern areas coyote hybrids would probably work. From what I’ve read coyote/wolf hybrids are quite the nuisance. In the north long haired and long running mutts might work. Winter can be a bitch…

All of that is undoubtably true, but irrelevant to the question.

You never had a dog that tried to hump the furniture?

Not pretty.

No, it isn’t, but, since humping the furniture never results in offspring, humping the furniture is irrelevant to the question.

No, but I once had a dog (a German Shepherd) who was a sick fanatical bastard WRT playing fetch with tennis balls.

How so?

If long haired and long running dogs survive in the north they will probably mate with wolves. The result is a hybrid, and there are many wolf/dog hybrids in Alaska.

Coyotes are excellent at adapting and have already interbred with wolves to survive better. If people were to disappear adaptable dogs would probably mate with coyote or coyote hybrids.

As there are already wolf/dog hybrids and coyote/wolf hybrids unless you can show that dogs will not interbreed how is my statement not relevant?

That Mark Twain description of coyotes is now often the exception, not the rule - at least in the midwest. We’ve got a huge population of well-fed yotes with nice winter coats bounding around right now, and predator hunters aren’t able to put a measurable dent in their population. I personally know two hunters that sell 100 coyote pelts a piece each year. They’ve still got coyotes on the same hunting ground year after year.

So the most realistic answer is coydogs. I think you’d be surprised at how many dogs would successfully go feral. The 3rd world attests to the dog’s survival skills when they’re often left to feed themselves. Also an average sized dog can hang with coyotes, so they’re not all going to be eaten the wild.

As a demonstration of how those encounters play out, here’s a video of a hunter using a dog in hunting coyotes. This video may be disturbing to some viewers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrZW8ii5tS8#t=20m09s

We’d probably end up with some variant of the various Pariah Dogs, or Africanis.

Take a look at urban areas with large populations of feral dogs. Dogs interbreed rapidly and you tend to end up with mutts around 20-30 lbs with short hair, IIRC.