The topic of “healthy food” in dogs is one that always keeps us dog lovers busy. Dogs are our family members and we only want the best for our beloved four-legged friends. One buys regular kibble from the supermarket, the other swears by grain-free kibble in the belief that a dog doesn’t need any type of corn, and another feeds fresh meat. What about the current situation and can we still compare the dog to the wolf?
In order to answer this we have to go back to the beginning, namely the domestication and creation of different dog breeds. At this point, there are still questions about the domestication of dogs. The proto-domestication of the dog is said to have started around 35000 BP, this is unwittingly domestication. When we talk about conscious domestication, we rather focus on data that is around 14000 BC. In 2018, the body of a two-month-old puppy was found in ice in Siberia, this puppy is said to have died some 18,000 years ago and has been given the name Dogor. This discovery has taken researchers one step further and provides an interesting view on our bond with dogs.
When we look at the data, we can therefore conclude that dogs have been humans’ best friends for generations. How this bond came about was when wolves and humans crossed paths and the wolf saw advantage in close proximity to humans for food. Research shows that if one follows this theory, it was the wolf who first sought rapprochement. After that, humans saw an advantage in hunting with the wolf and also used the wolf to protect against the threat of other predators. All this in exchange for food. Here the foundation for mutualism was laid.
Looking further, we can conclude that humans have started to cross between different domesticated wolves. Asian ones were crossed with European ones and so on, so they started to get different types. Although in the beginning every cross was very similar in appearance to wolves, this is where the foundations for the different breeds we have now have been laid. But not only in appearance do we eventually see developments, the functioning of the body is also gradually changing. Our domesticated wolves adapt to living with people. At this point we speak of full mutualism and they form a team. We also see this reflected in how we treated our dogs. Evidence has already been found of dogs buried with their owners dating back 8,000 years ago. After further examination of the skeletons, it has also been established that old wounds of these dogs (not linked to death) were treated.
The greatest development in terms of nutrition is when some dogs received more copies of the Amy2B gene between 7000 and 4000 years ago. This gene converts starch to sugar and helps with the digestion of carbohydrates. So living with humans has also adapted the dog’s digestive system. The dates of these adjustments correspond to the rise of agriculture. From this point, there is thus a clear and demonstrable difference between the wolf and what we know as our modern domestic dog. The breeding of certain breeds has only received a huge boost in the last 200 years with the emergence of dog shows, despite the fact that we already saw a clear basis for breeds in 200 BC, for example. In many old documents we see drawings of dogs that we can trace our modern breeds back to. When we started breeding dogs adapted for the tasks we wanted them to perform, we started creating breeds and types.
Now back to the digestive system of the dog. Based on this knowledge alone, it is not so easy to choose the right food. There are many aspects that we have to take into account, the most important being the individual needs of the dog. What works well for one’s dog is no guarantee for another’s dog. Are grains good for a dog despite them being able to digest them? There are many discussions and questions surrounding this topic that I would like to continue on in another blog.