Many of you have a pet dog or know someone who does. Dogs come in many different sizes and shapes from the tiny Chihuahua to the huge Old English Mastiff. There are short dogs like a basset hound, tall dogs like a Great Dane and long dogs like a Dachshund. Some dogs have no hair like a Chinese crested or long hair like an Old English Sheepdog.
According to the American Kennel Club, there are 168 registered breeds of dogs, 10 miscellaneous breeds and 51 Foundation Stock Service breeds for a total of 229 different breeds of domestic dogs. The variety is even greater when you consider that so many people have dogs that are mixed breeds or more commonly referred to as mutts.
As many different breeds and varieties of dogs that there are, one thing they all have in common is that they belong to the same species, Canis familiaris.
But where do all of the dog breeds come from?
Dogs have been domesticated for several thousand years. Man has been cross breeding different varieties of dogs to create a breed for different purposes. In the process, they have made it extremely difficult for researchers to trace the origins of domestic dogs. Researcher Greger Larson from the University of Durham in the United Kingdom explained:
There’s a central irony here which is that because we love them so much, we’ve completely obliterated their early history and made it more difficult to understand their origins.
Some researchers have been trying to determine when dogs were first domesticated by studying their genetics. However, because of all of the cross breeding, Larson said that it’s been very difficult for them to trace back more than 150 years.
Larson and his team decided to look at some of the older breeds of dogs that date back over a thousand years. They studied the Saluki, Chinese Shar-Pei, Afghan, Akita and Basenji which took them back about two thousand years, but anything beyond that was blurred and they lost the trail.
They even looked at archaeological evidence in their attempt to learn when dogs were first domesticated. However, they discovered that the areas where some of the oldest breeds of dogs originated from were areas that had little archaeological evidence and once again their trail gets blurred.
Now, Larson and others are using advanced genetic sequencing technology to further their search. They plan on using this new technology to study the shapes of fossils and compare them to those of modern dogs to see if that may help yield some answers. I’m not sure how successful that will be since modern dogs vary so much in size and shape, especially their skulls.
So again I will ask, from where did dogs come from and when were they domesticated?
I’ll give you a little clue. Many modern taxonomists (people that classify things), are classifying dogs as Canis lupus familaris. Canis lupus is the genus and species of the wolf. Many breeds of dog can interbreed with wolves and coyotes and produce fertile young (young that can also breed and produce young.)
Therefore we can safely say that dogs, wolves and coyotes are all part of the original dog kind. When we be like the Bereans and turn to scripture, we know that God created animal kinds at the time of creation. We also know that Noah took a pair (male and female) of every animal kind on board the Ark which would have included the original dog kind. In Genesis 8:18-19 we read:
So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him. Every beast, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out by families from the ark.
The Genesis flood occurred about 4,360 years ago and we know that when they got off the Ark, that there was a male and female of the dog kind. After the animals got off the Ark, they began to spread throughout the earth. As they spread, they developed into different species within the kind such as wolves, coyotes, foxes, fennets, dingos and zorros.
Somewhere during that time frame, men began to domesticate dogs from the wild members of the dog family. The first reference we have of dogs in Scripture is found in Exodus 11:7 which reads:
But not a dog shall growl against any of the people of Israel, either man or beast, that you may know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.
By the time of Moses, dogs were common place in many places, especially in Egypt and the surrounding area. Many descriptions of dogs from this time describe them as being scavengers around the towns. Most biblical scholars place the birth of Moses to be around 1526 to 1550 BC. As indicated that dogs were most likely domesticated well before the time of Moses, that means that they have been domesticated at least 3,560 years.
Other historical records show that before the Exodus out of Egypt that the Egyptians had domesticated dogs. Their depictions have been found on numerous hieroglyphics and strongly suggest that dogs have been domesticated closer to 4,000 years.
Parry, Wynne. Why ancient origin of man’s best friend remains a mystery, Fox News, May 22, 2012.
The biblical teaching that Jesus was the Suffering Servant who carried the sins of His people when He went to the cross is vividly brought home to children in The Donkey Who Carried a King, the latest children’s book from respected theologian, author, and educator Dr. R.C. Sproul.
Davey was a young donkey who was bored and unhappy because he was never given anything to do. Then one day, some strangers came to the gate—and Davey’s master picked him for a very special task. Davey carried the King, Jesus, into Jerusalem. A few days later, Davey saw some angry people making the King carry a heavy beam of wood. Davey could not understand it—until another donkey helped him see that the King was being a Servant on behalf of His people.
The Donkey Who Carried a King offers a unique perspective on the events of Jesus’ Passion Week and calls all believers, both young and old, to follow in the footsteps of the Suffering Servant for the glory of God. Jesus was willing to leave the glories of heaven to suffer and die in this world on our behalf, so we should serve Him with all our hearts.