They loved us long before they looked domesticated.
December 30, 2021 2:27 PM   Subscribe

posted by clavdivs at 2:38 PM on December 30, 2021 [2 favorites]

Interesting. My partner and I talk all the time how about how the dogs we've had would never make it in the wild. Cute and friendly, though!
posted by fruitslinger at 3:43 PM on December 30, 2021

I can’t believe I missed that post about domesticated wolves (aka dogs) having a version of Williams syndrome, clavdius. Thank you!

That is just hugely significant, and is revolutionizing my thinking about dogs even as I write this.

I just read through all the old posts and comments about Williams I could find, and they are, as a body, amazingly brilliant and wonderful. And show what Metafilter could do back in the day, the like of which I haven’t seen anywhere else.
posted by jamjam at 4:43 PM on December 30, 2021 [4 favorites]

Interesting. Although, seeing behavioral traits change before stuff like smaller jaws and floppy ears doesn't seem especially surprising. The behavioral traits—like not being afraid of or aggressive towards humans—are kind of a requirement ahead of anything else. It seems to be almost definitional in terms of what a "domesticated" (vs "feral") animal is or isn't.

Even today, a dog that's irreversibly fearful of humans isn't likely to do well. Feral dogs aren't generally beloved by humans, and even the most progressive shelter systems in the industrialized world have problems with dogs who can't be acclimated to being around people.

I wonder how hard it would be, via CRISPR or something, to translate the mutations that behaviorally distinguish dogs from wolves into other species? We've really kinda been slacking on the making-new-domesticated-animals front. I mean, in the whole 20th century, all we managed was the domesticated silver fox (and really, that was because of just one guy) and the hedgehog. And we have a -1 for the Fuegian dog, RIP. Not impressive.

Although, there is an argument to be made that we're not responsible enough to have domesticated animals, much less create more of them.

When I look at my dog, I see an almost religious devotion. And why shouldn't I? As far as my dog is concerned, I am Zeus to his Achilles; I have power literally beyond his understanding, and on some level he seems to realize that. (Among other things, I can retrieve tennis balls from under the couch and cause the Container of Infinite Kibble to refill.) I wonder if the behavior we see in dogs wasn't obtained by essentially short-circuiting the part of the brain that tells you you're having a conversation with God.
posted by Kadin2048 at 5:07 PM on December 30, 2021 [5 favorites]

Thank you for this article. I had to go to the study to find out what a "village dog" is:

Three-quarters of the world's dogs are so-called village dogs, who roam, scavenge for food near human populations and are able to mate freely.

Plus this gives me an excuse to share my favorite dog/wolf meme.
posted by FencingGal at 5:08 PM on December 30, 2021 [2 favorites]

Although, there is an argument to be made that we're not responsible enough to have domesticated animals, much less create more of them.

i think we ought to consider domesticating ourselves first
posted by pyramid termite at 5:20 PM on December 30, 2021 [3 favorites]

Pyramid, don't kid yourself, it was about, "they got that fire stuff and bone bank thing going"
posted by clavdivs at 8:00 PM on December 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

Here you go, pyramid termite: Williams Syndrome, Human Self-Domestication, and Language Evolution
posted by jamjam at 8:12 PM on December 30, 2021 [4 favorites]

i think we ought to consider domesticating ourselves first

Funny enough, we might already have. There's idea out there that, relative to our immediate precursors, modern Homo sapiens has several behavioral and physiological traits that are usually indicative of domestication---e.g., flatter faces, smaller brain size, smaller teeth, reduced aggression, more juvenile behavior.
posted by nosewings at 1:07 AM on December 31, 2021

Oh, and I see that jamjam has posted a much more detailed explanation.
posted by nosewings at 1:08 AM on December 31, 2021

As I mentioned recently, Malamutes -- the oldest of breeds, most wolf like in sppearance but the sweetest in temperament. At least towards people.
posted by y2karl at 8:17 AM on December 31, 2021 [1 favorite]

Plus this gives me an excuse to share my favorite dog/wolf meme.

Maybe I'll get...
10000 years later
posted by jjj606 at 2:24 PM on December 31, 2021 [4 favorites]

Any mention of Malamutes makes me feel worse about being a human:
Breed recognition for the Alaskan Malamute came in 1935, the same year that the Alaskan Malamute Club of America was formed. The original registration period for AKC was very short, just long enough to get enough dogs registered to provide a base on which the breed could grow and develop. During World War II, many sled dogs, including many of the few registered Malamutes, were loaned for war duty. After the war many of these same dogs were used on an expedition to Antarctica. They served and then, due to some bureaucratic decision, were chained to an ice floe and destroyed by an explosive charge (this action nearly incited a mutiny among the Navy men involved). Some time after this tragic event, AKC realized the breed had hardly any registered Malamutes to support it. They reopened AKC registration, but on more rigid specifications. Quality had to be proved by showing each applicant as a “listed” dog and attaining ten championship points. During this time, many early fanciers registered their dogs under the new rules, adding the M’Loot and Hinman strains to the Kotzebues registered earlier. Suddenly, the door to registration was closed by the AKC despite the protests of the Alaskan Malamute Club of America. All registered Alaskan Malamutes today go back to the original Kotzebues or to dogs registered during the open period in the late forties. In closing, I would like to include a quotation from Natalie Norris, an early Alaskan Malamute fancier and one of the best-known women sled dog racers. (I LOVE THIS QUOTE!) “The Malamute is too fine and distinguished a breed to be changed into anything but what centuries of adaptability to its environment has produced. Our efforts should be to breed not only beautiful Malamutes, but as good specimens physically as were originally found in Alaska. It isn’t a question of breeding a better Malamute, but as good an Alaskan Malamute.”
I’ve read a number of versions of the ice floe story, all of which make this one look severely bowdlerized.
posted by jamjam at 5:15 PM on December 31, 2021 [2 favorites]

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