From grey wolf to domestic dog
The dog's evolution to satisfy certian functions and fulfill certain tasks
All of the different shapes, breeds and attitudes of the common domestic dog (canis familiaris) descend from the grey wolf (canis lupus) thanks to an exceptional selective and evolutionary process started by men. Today we can assert that the process that has turned the wolf into a dog is strongly connected to the history of men and of the humanity.
The relationship between man and dog is fascinating, a mutual cooperative-symbiotic co-evolution. Everything started about 140.000 years ago, when the first nomad hunters started domesticating the wolfs, probably by sharing with them some of their hunt. It´s not completely clear whether all of the modern dogs descend from only one population of wolfs, or as seems more probable, from different ones that have been through the same developmental process at different periods. The scientists agree that most probably the first domestication took place around 15.000 years ago in China.
As the life of men changed from nomadic to sedentary, a new ecological niche evolved (a village) and required even stronger selection. The human settlement became a kind of garbage dump, rich with food leftovers, and those wolves who could access it surely had a nutrition advantage. Distinguished by a willingness to come closer to the settlement and to take into account a shorter escape distance than others, these wolves became “garbage collectors”, prototypes of the modern dogs. At a later stage, thanks to ulterior mutations caused by natural selection, the dog becomes more and more collaborative, until finally he takes on the guarding of the settlement. Hence the dog has been subject to an intense selection in order to fulfill most different tasks. In the course of the millenniums has searched for, cultivated and enhanced numerous genetic options and characteristics that may have been disadvantageous in the wild, but have been immensely useful in an anthropic context.
On the european continent it have been the Ancient Romans to be the first to develop a first selection of the dog breeds and to codify them according to morphological and character standards. From big fight dogs, through livestock guardian dogs, up to fast hunting dogs or even small “pocket” company dogs. It must have been for this relation based on mutual advantage that has modeled the dog into different shapes ans attitudes, all connected to a special task. This is the quintessence of the dog, and its psycho-physical well-being is almost always connected to the possibility to continue the collaboration with humans. The modern dog breeding seems to forget, or even worse not to consider this fundamental issue. Without blaming anyone I´d just like to remark how the work done through thousands of years is being wasted away in a very short time.
The working dog
man's best helper and friend
It´s a well-known fact that the modern utility dog derives from breeds that were strongly connected to pastoral activity. Dogs have been accompanying livestock for centuries, as guardians and conductors. Fits the natural, and later the artificial selection have brought forth temperament, strength, agility, beauty, adaptability, health and a strong bond to the herd and the owner.
Il Pastore Transumante kennel, well aware of this reality, tries to breed dogs with these specific traits, interpreting in a modern key and with regard for animal well-being the natural environment the Maremma sheepdog has evolved in. It´s risky and could jeopardize the fascinating peculiarity of this breed if bred only for morphological beauty. It´s crucial to aim the selection not at the looks alone, but first and foremost at the conservation of the natural character attitudes this breed was born for.
L'allevamento de Il Pastore Transumante nasce col preciso intendimento di ovviare a quel vuoto presente in molti degli allevamenti cinofili presenti in particolare in Italia Settentrionale e punta al difficile obbiettivo di conciliare ricerca e selezione di caratteristiche mofologiche di pregio e al contempo caratteriali e di attitudine al lavoro. La diminuzione di variabilità genetica e la comparsa di problemi caratteriali, sono i due difetti che una selezione finalizzata esclusivamene alla ricerca del bello potrebbero produrre sulla razza. In tale ottica ci occupiamo dei nostri bianchi cani da pastore e del loro ambiente di lavoro, che a nostro parere è il cruciale banco di prova per attestare un corretto benessere psico-fisico del cane e la sua giusta crescita.
Our kennel was founded with the intention to remedy to the lack of purpose that can be found in numerous Maremma kennels, pursuing the difficult objective of conciliate research and selection of valuable morphological traits with working attitude and even temper. A breeding aimed exclusively at beautiful looks may cause in the long run a reduction of genetic variability and appearance of character issues. From our side, we take care of creating a fitting working environment for our white guardians that is an important component in their correct psycho-physical development.
Our breeding methods aim at researching and selecting healthy and even-tempered animals, well socialized and fully representing the typical Maremma characteristics. It´s necessary prevent the loss of the essential qualities of the breed. Breeding in an unnatural way leads to a number of serious of behavioral issues such as shyness or aggressiveness that are not at all typical of this breed and that shall be avoided at any cost. The selection operates on the genetic patrimony, but the phenotype (the dog as we see him) needs a thorough interaction with its enironment. Hence a dog is the result of the continuous interaction between the genotype and the environment that shall be appropriate for the development and character control of the breed.
The livestock guarding attitude of the Maremma has an essentially genetic base. This, together with affinity towards sheep, goats or alpacas, of course cannot be observed if a shepherding breed is raised outside of an agricultural/shepherding context like happens in most of dog kennels.
And if this peculiarity cannot be observed, automatically it cannot be selected, risking to loose in the course of just a few generations all that traits that have rendered the Maremma so functional in the course of the millenniums.