Although there is speculation that dogs in North America are somehow a mixed breed with wolves or a separate species from other canines around the world, complex DNA tests suggest otherwise.1 Results show that all domestic dogs come from a common gene pool, and it is suggested that geographically all dogs originated somewhere in eastern Asia.1
Dogs, as a species, can mate with other species such as wolves, coyotes, and jackals, and produce offspring. Certainly all share some physiological features, but the behavioral differences between wolves and dogs are actually profound, putting into question the theory that dogs are merely domesticated wolves. The cultural record of the deep relationship between dogs and humans also challenges the idea of a dog as simply a tamed wild animal or working farm stock.2
The earliest archeological evidence of the purposeful cohabitation of dogs and humans dates back about 12,000 years to canine bones found in Palestinian pet burial sites. Cultural evidence indicates that dogs and humans share a symbiotic bond, each helping enhance the survival of the other through companionship and hunting. The bond between humans and canines is so strong that dogs were even incorporated into the myths and religions of many cultures—from Greece to Egypt to the Aztecs of Mexico. In literature and other art forms of cultures all over the world, dogs have been and continue to be depicted as loyal and heroic companions.2
Why Are Dogs Loyal?
In general, the innate behavioral traits of dogs, especially in certain breeds, lend themselves to loyal human companionship:3
Humans play a role in the development and nurturance of canine loyalty. As the nonverbal communication of affection is perceived as sincere by humans, they respond with like behavior to their dogs, reinforcing the loyal relationship between them.3
Did You Know?
Evidence of canine loyalty comes from some interesting places:
These stories are but a few of many demonstrating the extraordinary relationship humans and dogs have shared over the centuries.
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