Mainly about the history of intelligent design of dogs, for better or worse. Fascinating stuff about the turnspit dog. Also. here:
In order to understand how a breed can go extinct, first we need to get into what a breed is. And in order to get into that, we need to get into what a dog is.
According to the fossil record, the canine was first domesticated between 11,000 and 32,000 years ago. One theory is that ancient humans trapped the pups of ancient wolves, raised them as pets, and used them to hunt. This theory is known as the “hunter hypothesis.”
Another popular theory is known as the “scavenger hypothesis.” From an expert opinion in National Geographic:
Most likely, it was wolves that approached us, not the other way around, probably while they were scavenging around garbage dumps on the edge of human settlements. The wolves that were bold but aggressive would have been killed by humans, and so only the ones that were bold and friendly would have been tolerated.
In either hypothesis — hunter or scavenger — wolves found themselves among humans. In such an environment, a wolf did best if he had certain traits: tameness, obedience, and a general tendency to treat humans as neither predators nor food. Ancient humans had food and shelter to share with the kinder wolves, and weapons and cunning to fight the more aggressive ones.
As consequence, those boldest and friendliest wolves flourished, procreated, and begat later generations.
Good thinking. But the dog origins story may be too simple.
For one thing, it is hard to focus on two ends of a spectrum at once. Kinder wolves make better fireside pets but not good junkyard dogs. Ancient humans, like modern humans, needed to preserve canine qualities in balance, obviously. That’s design. It would require identifying and keeping breeds apart from the beginning.
The only animal the working security dog needs to not attack for sure is his handler (or other friendly dogs/handlers). Otherwise, the dog does whatever his handler tells him, whether it is vicious or not.
But if he were living in a wolf pack, he would—in the same way—need to know enough not to attack the alpha wolf. Also to get along with other wolves.
It may be that the real human achievement was to preserve separable qualities in different breeds. Thoughts?
Of possible interest to some:
The perfect therapy dog (you fall asleep just looking at him)
Guide dogs for the deaf
Note: Cats have fared better than dogs, if you go by the fact that a feline is pretty much the same, no matter what. But then, the cat always wins, right?