A Simple Chart Shows How Dogs Today Evolved From A Wolf

A simple chart shows how the dogs we love today evolved from a wolf

How did we get from wolves to dogs of all sizes? How do pugs and chihuahuas and pit bulls and English bulldogs and German shepherds and so forth all come from the big Grey Wolf? Evolution! We domesticated wolves by adopting cubs and feeding them and slowly changing their habits. Over generations, the wolves changed and created a new species which we humans selectively bred (over-bred, probably) to exaggerate certain traits to perform certain tasks.

Dog breeds have gotten so different that they have three types of skulls. A dolichocephalic skull, which is common in dogs bred to hunt and sniff, a mesocephalic skull, that's the most common and a brachycephalic skull, the flat one.

In the infographic below, which was spotted by Co.Design and made by artist Alice Bouchardon, you can see how different breeds of dog branch off from the wolf (it's a very simple take on it).

A simple chart shows how the dogs we love today evolved from a wolf


    Evolution? Really? So when I breed my jack russell with another jack russell that's evolution?

      Yes. Anytime something is born, it is part of evolution.

        Well, technically evolution refers to the cumulative effect of genetic inheritance across generations, so @byron97 would be correct in saying that offspring resulting from a single mating of a single pair wouldn't be evolution, but you're correct in saying it's part of evolution.

      This is NOT "evolution"...
      The correct, scientific term would be "selective breeding"...

      Oh my... please educate yourself on evolution and natural selection. Evolution is the process of a species evolving through breeding OVER TIME. It takes many, many years. You breeding some Jack Russels is not evolution.

      No, that's not evolution.

    From wolf to Chihuahuas. How embarrassing for wolves. That's like humans evolving into monkeys.

      Gorillas probably think we are weak and feeble. Chihuahuas are actually perfect evolution. Tiny and lovable (to some people) so they don't have to hunt =\

        just have to deal with being carried around in a handbag.

      Size has nothing to do with how "successful" evolution is. Monkeys are perfectly adapted for life in the trees, humans are too big and far less agile, and we'd probably fall out and break our necks.

    Can't see Dingoes or Austrailian dogs.

      It's there under Sharpei in Spitz and Ancient. It took me a while to find Toy Poodle (which we have) as well which surprisingly is on the German Shepard branch.

      Dingo is in the top left corner. branch off with sharpei in the spitz and ancient wedge.

      The dingo (Canis lupus dingo) is a free-ranging dog found mainly in Australia, as well as Southeast Asia, where it is said to have originated. It is currently classified as a subspecies of the grey wolf, Canis lupus.

      Dingo top left, terrier bottom right and kelpie and shepherd bottom left....is that enough? :p

        I didn't think Dingo would be under ancient, and I missed the hard to read yellow ones.

        I stand Corrected.

    I call BS on this. No way on earth a chihuahua evolved from a wolf no how many generations of breeding you try. I'll say this will all be proven wrong in many many cases.

      It's no more amazing then humans evolving from bacteria in the ocean. And if you don't believe in evolution, then their isn't any point trying to reason with you.

      Wouldn't all dogs have come from the one ancestor?

      It's like saying "no way on earth a human evolved from a gorilla".

        No way on Earth a human evolved from a gorilla. There. I said it. And it's true. So it's not really like saying that at all.

        Dogs on the other hand are the same species. Genetics proves it. They didn't just guess that they are from the same blood-line. They proved it with science. So yes way, the chihuahua evolved from a wolf.

        Last edited 20/01/14 4:57 pm

          Not sure if you got what I was saying, but I'm agreeing with you.

          Yes we didn't evolve from a "gorilla" but humans and monkeys shared the same ancestor.

          Technicalities, technicalities. Irrelevant to the argument, doesn't add to the conversation. You know what I mean.

          You're right, humans didn't evolve from gorillas. We evolved from early humans who evolved from apes.
          This has been "proven with science." Not just by genetics, but through actual fossil evidence.

          Also, wolves and dogs are DIFFERENT species. For an animal to be of the same species they must be able to create FERTILE offspring. So maybe some dogs could mate with some wolves, but their babies would never be able to reproduce.

            Wolves and dogs are interfertile, i.e. they DO produce fertile offspring.
            Not sure what would happen if you bred a pug with a wolf, though. It'd probably explode.

      I agree, there's no way at all that these animals are the same species. That's just as crazy as saying that Pelicans and Sparrows are related somehow!

      If you get the two smallest wolves you can find and mate them, and then mate their two smallest offspring, and so on across several generations, you will eventually end up with dogs (or wolves) that are far smaller than your average wolf. Please educate yourself before you criticise things of which you have no understanding.

    there really was no natural evolution. Dogs, like most other domestic animals were purpose bred for thousands of years.

      There is no such thing as a distinction between "natural" and "artificial" evolution.

      bred = evolution.

    Where'd the Grey Wolf come from? Sparrow?

    Yes. Artificial Selection is still evolution. It just isn't evolution through Natural Selection.

    This "evolution" starts with a creature containing all the necessary genetic information, and stripping it down in various ways to produce breeds with a select subset of the original. There is no new information being added into the system.

    What about Direwolves?

      if you bred the largest wolves you might get something around the size of a direwolf after many generations.
      if that is a successfull evolution is a mystery. the size ofthe wolf would require a larger food source and it would either die out from eating its food source to extinction or come up against man and we would kill them off like we did most of the other big predators

        ...or it'd end up in a Game of Thrones exhibit...

    I shudder at the thought of the comments page on the American site.

    evolution is simply change over time. you are thinking of evolution by natural selection, there is also evolution by artificial selection, examples: the domestic dog, cattle, corn, horses, bananas ... Almost everything we have that's called domestic has been evolved to it's current form by artificial selection orchestrated by us.

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