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Huh? How come we have so many breeds?                               


We have small dogs, large dogs, guard dogs, pampered dogs - where did they all come from?

Did breeds evolve naturally? Are they randomly generated? 

The answer is no! Breeds did not "evolve." 

The first dogs are thought to have been wolves. In the beginning, God created wolves to be wild, lean, hunters. A dog and a wolf are the same species of animal. If they mate, they will produce fertile offspring. If a man mates with a parrot he will not produce fertile offspring because a man and a parrot are two different species.  A dog and a wolf are both the same species

Man domesticated wolves by feeding them or by adopting wolf cubs. In return for food and care, the wolves gave their loyalty to their keepers. Man used his canine companions to hunt for food and to guard his home.

When the domesticated wolves had litters of cubs, there may have been some that were smaller than the rest. If the smaller wolves mated other small wolves, possibly from the same litter, a new strain of smaller, tamer, more dog-like wolves began.

It's possible that God created different-looking wild dogs on each continent - there is no limit to His creative powers. We have dingoes in Australia, wild "painted" dogs in Africa, Chihuahuas in South America, etc. But man has changed wild dogs to suit his own purposes. In Genesis we read that God created wild animals and "livestock" at the same time! It was his design that certain animals could be tamed and domesticated by man. 

Man found that his canine friends could be trained to do work, like herding cattle or sheep. Puppies watched their parents and grandparents herding and learned this behaviour. Gradually the herding instinct was imprinted into certain strains of dog like collies. Other dogs were trained to pull carts.

Some dogs were trained to retrieve fishing nets from the sea. So the retrievers were born.

St Bernard trained dogs to seek for people who were lost in snowdrifts. Eskimos trained dogs to pull sleds over the snow. In each region, man used dogs for his own purpose. Working dogs had to be big and strong. Weak dogs died of rabies and other dog illnesses. There were no inoculations in those days. In cold countries, the dogs that survived were the ones with thick coats. A hairless dog would not survive in the Arctic Circle. The survivors interbred, producing more dogs with thick coats. Not that God would be so stupid as to create hairless dogs in the cold areas! It's MAN that thinks along these lines. We tend to think that unsuitable species died out - but would God have put any animal in a country to which it were not suited?

Farmers found that small dogs were good at digging and getting into the burrows of foxes, rabbits and rats, and they began picking the smallest dogs of their litters to mate with other small dogs. Thus began the terriers, or "diggers", fierce enough to kill vermin.

Ladies liked small, fancy lapdogs, or long-haired dogs that they could brush. Children liked unaggressive, playful dogs. When the family dog has a litter, the kids often pick a puppy they like best and say, "Can't we keep THAT one?"  So one dog is kept. Six months later, the father dog mates with his daughter that was kept, and another batch of dogs is produced that look like the family favourite.

Man took it upon himself to select the best-natured dogs to breed with for the purpose of producing pets that were good with kids.

Some dogs were bred for sports like bull-fighting, dog-fighting, and dog racing. People betted on the dogs and everyone tried to breed a winner, deliberately choosing the fastest or most aggressive, for breeding purposes.

They say a dog is as intelligent as a human toddler - some dogs are as intelligent as a four year old, so they understand commands.

Mate two brown dogs together and you get a litter of brown pups (though there may be a few pups of other colours that reflect the grandparents genes.) Mate the next generation of brown dogs together and the percentage of brown dogs will be higher. So we can change the colour of dogs by selective breeding.

By selective breeding, we can produce dogs with long, or short hair. Long or short legs. Long or short ears.

With the invention of the sailing ship and opening up of trading routes, explorers discovered unusual dogs in places like China. They brought back breeding pairs as a novelty. So we now have Pekingese dogs in Africa, England, USA etc. They are no longer confined to Peking. So the environment is not producing the breeds. Man is producing them. Chinese dogs in USA are not caused by evolution.

Did boxers evolve from wolves to become a breed with no tail? NO! Breeders cut the tails off their puppies to make them look like a certain "breed." Cutting off the tail is called "docking." Breeds with docked tails include Airedale, Australian shepherd, Bouvier, Dobermann, boerboel, corgi, fox terrier, Irish terrier, Jack Russell, Norfolk, schnauzer, pinscher, old English sheepdog, pointer, spaniel, poodle, Rottweiler, Weimaraner, Yorkshire terrier. The tail is not always cut at the base, it is sometimes cut at say one third of its true length. If you order a puppy, you can ask the breeder not to dock the tail. It is illegal in some countries, including South Africa, for vets to dock tails, so the breeders do it themselves.

Dobermann with docked tail


Above: Man-made tail. (Sawn off)

In some places it is fashionable to surgically cut the ears of breeds like pitbulls, great Danes,  and Dobermanns so the ears stand up in a point. One man said he used cardboard tampon tubes to train the ears to stand up. These were inserted into the cropped ear, and  and the head was bandaged. People like to buy guard dogs whose ears stand up alert! It makes the dogs look fierce.

In the 19th century man started holding dog shows to show off unusual dogs. Breed standards were written down. It was decided by the breeders what height a certain breed must be. What colour it must be, etc.  Each breed has a Standard by which they are judged in the show-ring today. If a breeder wants to get first place in the show-ring, he will be careful to produce dogs that conform to the breed standard by selective breeding. He won't let his dog run in the street and come back pregnant. He will select a suitable pedigreed mate.

Man has decided that a West Highland terrier must be white. If a bitch produces a pup that is not white (say from a recessive gene from an ancestor) - that pup should not be bred from in order to preserve the appearance of the breed.

The shape of a French poodle is achieved by skillful clipping - those pom-poms are not natural!

The "beard" of a Scottish Terrier is created by shaving the hair off the neck, leaving a tuft under the chin. In actual fact, a Scottie has long hair all over the body, but the hair is hand-stripped or clipped different lengths to conform to a man-made standard. This "breed standard" that breeders have agreed on, becomes the blueprint that new breeders must follow. Dogs are judged in the showring to see if they conform to the standard for their breed.

Sculptured poodle, clipped



Well-groomed Scottie

Scottish Terrier

New breeds are being thought up - the Labradoodle, puggle, cockapoo, etc.  The Africanis was yesterday a mongrel that scavenged in the African townships, but today it's a "breed" that you can buy. Some breeders are miniaturising breeds. We now have teacup poodles and miniature bull terriers.  As houses get smaller, and folk move into complexes for security reasons, the demand for small dogs grows. Silver Labradors are being bred as man strives for novelty. All these breeds are just dogs!

Man has grouped dogs into classes: gun dogs, herding, hounds, terriers, toy, utility, working.

So breeds are NOT randomly generated. They are NOT a result of "evolution."  Breeds came about because man has interfered with nature and deliberately changed the wolf to suit his own purposes. Let's be very careful before we use the word "evolution!"

What about man?  Are we a result of random evolution?  Are we randomly generated? Did we evolve from another species?    

I don't think so! I've never studied zoology but my gut feeling tells me I'm unique. God created man upright and gave him dignity and intelligence above all animals. More than that, God has given man a sense of responsibility towards animals and the whole environment.

Like one who grabs a dog by the ears is a passer-by who meddles in a quarrel not his own. Proverbs 26 v 17 From the Bible 

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