The Upper Paleolithic beginnings of the domestication of the dog


With this contribution, we would like to present our ideas concerning the first steps in the domestication process of the dog. Two main hypotheses on the origin of the dog have been proposed:

1)"Self-domestication" by wolves: Some wolves were following Paleolithic hunter-gatherers to scavenge on the remains of prey left by the prehistoric people at the human settlements. Generation after generation, these wandering wolves adapted themselves to the human dominated environment.

2)"Social domestication" by prehistoric people: The Upper Paleolithic hunter-gatherers had a cultural tradition that regarded carnivores with a high esteem. Some aspects of such a tradition could have been the keeping of young carnivores for practical reasons (e.g. fur) and for ritual motives (e.g. the keeping of the young as honorable guests or as intermediaries between the hunters’ families and the spiritual keepers of the game). The most docile wolves could have been permitted to reproduce. After several generations of unconscious or conscious selection of human-defined behavioral traits, the first dogs emerged. The place that the first domesticated dogs could have occupied in Upper Paleolithic societies can be deduced by artificial modifications of several canid skulls by prehistoric peoples.

We review the pros and cons of each hypothesis.

Cite this Record

The Upper Paleolithic beginnings of the domestication of the dog. Mietje Germonpré, Martina Láznicková-Galetová, Mikhail Sablin, Hervé Bocherens. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431013)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14382