A True Shaggy Dog Story

News Brief by Kip Hansen  —  10 October 2020

The brilliant  zoologist and “bone whisperer” Susan J. Crockford has a new paper just published in the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology.   The new paper is titled:  “Domestic dogs and wild canids on the Northwest Coast of North America: Animal husbandry in a region without agriculture?”.   The other authors are: Iain McKechnie of the University of Victoria and the Hakai Institute as lead author and  Madonna Moss of the University of Oregon.  The paper is about dogs [and not polar bears].   

Dr. Crockford is one of the world’s leading experts “… on the evolutionary history of dogs, especially in regards to their domestication and speciation. In 2007, she was called upon as the scientific consultant for the PBS documentary, Dogs that Changed the World, focused upon the domestication of dogs. In the two-part documentary, she was called upon multiple times to give insight into the process of domestication and the emergence of dogs as a separate species from wolves.” [ Wiki ]

The abstract of the paper:

“Domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) occur in the archaeological record throughout North America but few zooarchaeological studies have examined the extent of wild and domestic canids using multi-site observations across regions. Here, we present a meta-analysis of 172,310 mammal specimens identified from 210 archaeological sites along the Northwest Coast focusing on canid abundance, distribution, and osteological identifications. We show that canids have a ubiquitous geographic distribution and a high relative abundance in particular Northwest Coast sub-regions and that species-level identifications are overwhelmingly of domestic dogs in contrast to ~1% of non-domestic canids (wolf, coyote, and fox). Along with geochemical and genetic data, these zooarchaeological observations indicate a variety of roles for dogs including hunting, companionship, and wool production in a region lacking terrestrial agriculture and domestic livestock. We suggest the frequently applied taxonomic status of ‘indeterminate canid’ underestimates the extent to which domestic dogs played key roles in regional economies and cultural practices. Increased attention to resolving taxonomic ambiguity of canids through improving comparative collections and osteometric datasets will help clarify the non-conventional domestication pathways practiced by Northwest Coast peoples.”

And further on:

“We survey the Holocene zooarchaeological record of mammalian assemblages from across the Northwest Coast to identify geographic patterns of canid abundance and distribution. Using frequencies of species-specific identifications across a large range of archaeological observations in combination with ethnographic, ancient DNA and isotopic information, we argue that most canid bones on the Northwest Coast are likely domestic dogs. Canids were especially significant in southern British Columbia, where two sizes of dogs occur, and the smaller ‘wool’ dogs were particularly abundant.”

The New York Times reported on the paper, focusing on the seeming strange aspect of dogs being breed and kept for their “wool” – their shaggy coats which could be sheared and used as supplemental fiber for blanket making. 

This image, from the Smithsonian Institute, is believed to be “The pelt of a Coast Salish woolly-dog, collected in 1859.”

It is this dog that Iain McKechnie, Madonna L. Moss, and  Susan J. Crockford discuss, among others, in their paper.

“On the Northwest Coast, various ethnohistorical sources describe domestic dogs in Indigenous communities and the use of wool from dogs in the Coast Salish and Makah regions (Allen, 1920; Howay, 1918; Kane, 1859; Swan, 1870; Vancouver, 1801). Dog and mountain goat wool blankets created with plant materials were common in the region before imported European trade goods flooded the market in the mid-19th century (Gustafson, 1980; Howay, 1918: 91). Textiles such as blankets made with dog wool were worn regularly as well as during rituals such as naming ceremonies, weddings, and dance performances and were given as gifts and traded as items with prestige value (Olsen, 2010; Suttles, 1960:302). Anthropologist Suttles (1983:70) remarked that: “Probably the most important form of wealth [among the Coast Salish] was the blanket of woven mountain goat and/or dog wool. These blankets had several advantages as wealth; they were made of materials of practical value and available in large but finite amounts and they were divisible and re-combinable, since they could be cut up or unravelled and the material rewoven into new items.”

I suspect that dog wool is not going to make a comeback in the modern world – it certainly will not replace cashmere for sweaters.   But, readers interested in ancient North American cultures and/or the history of the domestication of the dog will find the paper [repeating the link]  an interesting read.

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Author’s Comment:

I found the idea of breeding dogs for wool odd enough bring it to the attention of readers here –  always good to shake up our fixed  ideas of the purposes of things.  I recently read a blog post rabidly ranting about the fact that in some Asian cultures some people consider domestic cats to be a food item [not a popular idea in the United States].   I have a nearby neighbor who raises American Buffaloes for the meat and sells Buffalo Steaks.

This study adds this domestic dog – the “wool dog”–  to the list of “wool bearing animals”:  Sheep (several types of wool from various breeds), goats (mohair and cashmere) , rabbits (angora), the llamas, alpacas, vicunas and guanacos   (the softest being alpaca wool), camels, and musk oxen (qiviut). 

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138 thoughts on “A True Shaggy Dog Story

  1. Both hunter-gatherers and cultivators ate dogs, employed them as beasts of burden, and of course as night watchers, hunting partners, pets and bed warmers. We still use coyote fur today for hood and collar linings.

    Dogs initially domesticated themselves, as outcast wolves learned to survive by hanging around human encampments or settlements. Then humans selectively bred the most docile or useful.

    Pacific NW Coast Indians knew about agriculture, or at least shifting cultivation, but saw little need to practice it, so plentiful was their environment. So no surprise that they engaged in selective breeding of “livestock”.

    Good archaeological and historical research!

    • On the subject of domestication, it is far more likely that it occurred through human hunters keeping pups alive as a non-deteriorating food source. This is a recorded practice amongst some Hunter-gatherers including primitive Australian aboriginals.

      There are many, many current cases of predators that have learnt to scavenge from humans, yet in the absence of deliberate actions by humans who are already familiar with domestication, we see no progress toward that end. The consistent result, rather, is that the predators become increasingly bold and threatening towards humans… witness the problems created by garbage-raiding bears, suburban foxes, etc.

      We also see the very common case of domestic dogs going feral, reverting to wild habits and becoming a pest – even a danger – rather than an asset.

      In each case, what would logically be the intermediate stage in the wolf/dog domestication narrative is characterised by an increase in risk and problem, not in utility, from the human viewpoint. We should be sceptical of romantic narratives that ignore the real, observed problems.

      Cheers…..

      • “Non-deteriorating food source?” You do realize that dogs require a significant food source themselves? Breeding and raising dogs is not a perpetual motion food production machine.

        Oldest undisputed dog fossil is 14,000+ yrs old…found buried with two humans. I doubt it was so that the deceased would have a food source. Australian Aboriginals didn’t have dogs for another 10,000 yrs.

        Tell us more about this allegedly “very common case of domestic dogs going feral, reverting to wild habits.”

        • Michael Jankowski ==> Just a related point. The Sioux and other North American native peoples kept dogs as food — my grandparents ate “fat puppy” with the Lakota on the Pine Ridge in the early 1900s.

        • Michael….
          Firstly, you take a leap too far. I did not refer to anything like intentional breeding, merely leaving captured animals alive for future use. I suggest you drop the straw-man arguments.

          Secondly, I am referring to keeping a small animal alive in times of excess resources. It stops the food from going rotten in hot weather and if there are no spare resources to feed a pup, the whole argument that wild animals were attracted by unused human kills, falls in a heap.

          Thirdly, I am referencing RECORDED human behaviour in hunter-gatherer groups, not SPECULATIVE animal behaviour that we do not see now as would be expected. Sound science is based on observation, recording and repetition, not a collection of “just so” stories about the unrecorded past.

          Fourthly, feral animals are endemic across large parts of the world. Dogs, cats, pigs, goats, cattle, camels…. few of the major domesticated species have not done so. The “wild” canids in Australia are entirely a mix of Dingo (brought here by Indo-asiatic migrants approx 5-6000 years ago seems the best bet) and good old domesticated dogs have have been escaping and going wild since European settlement. We have millions of them and they are not the kind of animal that you want around your livestock, pets or young children.

        • Dogs go missing around Inuvik every summer. They do quite well on a diet of small mammals. In the Fall they get hungry and start to “pack up” to hunt as a group using instinctual patterns of behaviour.

          So each Fall volunteers head out with rifles to track down and despatch the feral dogs reverting to wild habits – hunting and killing anything that moves.

          Without this pre-emptive behaviour, by mid-winter it would be risky in the extreme to walk around outside town. This has been going on for a long time. Feral huskies can become very dangerous after only a few months on their own.

        • Carrying guns in Australia is not normal practice. However even geologists working in the outback carry a gun for protection from packs of domesticated dogs gone wild. These dogs are more dangerous than dingos because they have no fear or respect for humans.

        • Feral dogs are a great problem in the American Southwest, and when I was young, a terror to livestock, house pets, and small children. When people walked about they often carried a stick, while others carried firearms in order to beat or scare off aggressive dogs.

          These dogs congregated in packs, and were of various sizes and breeds, they were a greater problem than the coyotes. I remember going on a helicopter patrol from Kirtland AFB in New Mexico, the pilot pointed out a pack of “wild dogs” as he called them, one appeared to be an English sheepdog.

          These dogs often raided our property in the early morning hours, trying to get into our henhouse, and causing panic among our bigger livestock. I shot several of them over the years, but like coyotes, the more you shoot, the more of them seem to appear. The state and the BLM implemented eradication efforts which greatly reduced the problem, but feral dogs are still numerous in far outlying communities.

    • Coast Salish people did farm on land, felling trees with fire to create ‘Garry Oak Meadows’ for enhanced growth of foods like roots of Camas Lilly. They maintained the meadows with periodic burning that wasn’t hot enough to kill the trees but suppressed competing trees (Douglas Fir will supplant Gary Oak), and apparently to kill insects.

      Coast Salish people farmed the sea by terracing beaches to create optimum slope for clam growth in the intertidal zone, those ‘clam gardens’ are mentioned by Crockford et al. They’ve been documented by remains of the terraces created with rocks, and tested by researchers who created some and compared productivity to unaltered beach nearby.

      Some inland Salish were quick to adopt farming methods of recent immigrants from Europe, notably in the Similkameen east of the Cascades. Some devious jerks then complained to the government about ‘unfair’ competition from those large families. Fortunately the government rejected the whining. (Similarly in Alberta today devious jerks still try to enlist gummint force against religious groups like the Hutterites who farm collectively/cooperatively. Never mind the long history of farmer cooperatives on the Prairies, and the ‘threshing bee’ practice in the first half of the twentieth century, which I observed as a child. (Separating grain from stalks, using a fixed machine that bundles were brought to, replaced by self-moved ‘combine’ equipment in the second half of the twentieth century, that cut the stalks down and threshed them internally into a bin onboard.)

      PS: I define ‘farming’ as improving and maintaining the land, then growing crops.

  2. The Samoyed breed of dog, usually pure white or “biscuit”-colored, originally from Siberia, bred by the Samoyed people as hunting dogs, guardians and herders of reindeer, companions, and for pulling sleds, has been used for “wool” for centuries. Among the breed’s fanciers in the U.S. and Western Europe are many owners and breeders who brush and collect the “wool,” card it and make lots of beautiful, practical, warm, and very soft items with it. And to lesser extents, Sammies aren’t the only originally northern breed of dog with double-insulating “snow coats” used this way.

    • Quite. The coat doesn’t smell, because Sams don’t produce those oils at their follicles. It’s a much better insulator than wool – right up with alpaca and vicuña. The staple is a good length for spinning. Bitches tend to shed some weeks after having a season, which would coincide with suckling litter.

      Here’s a selection of hand crafted items.

      • I see my link was edited out. It wasn’t supposed to be a commercial promotion of a hand crafts marketplace, but rather to illustrations of the kind of garments typically produced, with their appearance. Try a search for images of Samoyed knit.

    • My younger son and his wife have a Semoyed (Sonny Jim), one of the happiest dogs I’ve ever met (and I grew up with dozens of them). My daughter in law not only knits, but has a spinning wheel, and is experimenting with producing yarn from Sonny Jim’s prodigious fur production.

      He looks like a polar bear, btw.

      • I used to groom dogs
        the volume of hair i removed for a schipperke staggered me 4 jammed full shopping bags of fine down.
        I donated it to a local craftswoman to spin.

        I always keep fine hair from all my own dogs when grooming
        the plan is to have enough to blend with merino wool for a largeish rug as a collateral memento of them
        just have to learn to spin, I have the wheel

        • You saved me part of a post. We used to have Schipperkes and more than once I thought (and said) after brushing them, that if I knew how to knit, I could make a new dog out of all the fur in the brush!

          • ozspeakup and Mark -==> We had dear friends who had two lovely Schipperkes who served in their true-purpose-bred professional as boat dogs. Sailed the Caribbean with them.

  3. What did the native American populations have? They didn’t have sheep. Mountain goats weren’t domesticated and difficult to get. The only good option of reliable wool was dogs. Makes sense, you use what you got.

    • Keith mountain sheep are common in North America right up through the Yukon and Alaska. Dahl sheep in the Kluane Range are relatively small and ever so tender and tasty!

      • Interesting.

        Different hair/fur has different properties.

        Apparently frost does not stick to coyote fur as much as other furs. Big eco-fuss recently about Royal Canadian Mounted Police still using coyote fur on hood of parkas.

        Caribou hair is hollow thus has some insulation properties.

        Sea Otter fur is very soft.

        Horsehair was used under ballroom dance floors to give a bit of spring, perhaps as late as the 60s (find one of the few old Elks Club buildings still remaining and you might find such).

      • Plant fibres are not durable, they tend to rot.

        IIRC sheep wool is curlier than dog hair, which is an advantage.

        Mountain goats had been introduced to the Olympic Peninsula, so Coast Salish people there collected hair torn off by brushing against bushes. Coast Salish people on Vancouver Island traded with them for some, pricey as not a great supply.

    • The real funny/sad thing about that video, ..

      …. is that there are LOTS of people who are really just like that !!

      • Yes fred, it’s funny/sad. That’s the reason the whole CCGW thing has taken off, these gullible fools believe everything they are told.

        If there’s more bytes to read than a post on a social media platform then they are simply too lazy to ‘read up’ on anything, or question it.

        • Notice that it is always okay to mock stupid people. But seriously, this video was kind of sexist, don’t you think? Pretty women who are bone bastard ignorant? It hit a wrong note with me, is what I’m saying.

          • Ian what difference does it make if they are pretty? If people, men or women chose to believe what they’re told without question, then they are gullible. They keep telling us we’re equal, men, women, pretty or ugly. Makes no difference.

            The film clip was suggesting that city folk need to have a proper understanding of how things are in the country, educating people to ways they have no understanding of. Doesn’t matter how you look at it, we are all ignorant until we’re not.

          • Hello Megs. The reason it makes a difference if the women are pretty is that it upholds the presumption that pretty women take their social status from their looks, and don’t have to be smart.

            I have known two beautiful women who were also smarter than me, and they both kept their brains a secret until I was finally forced to notice. (Because you can’t conceal intelligence forever. Smart people who try to hide their intelligence eventually give themselves away, by saying and doing smart things.) Women are encouraged to pretend they’re inferior to men in order to get men to like them. There a lot of pretty girls out there who want to be liked enough to let the guys think that guys are smarter than the girls.

          • Megs and Ian ==> Gee, that is a difficult social issue to discuss. In the 1950s, when I was a schoolboy, in the lower grades, most girls were always smarter than most boys, probably because girls mature a little faster than boys at that age.

            In “junior high” (grades 7-9), this began to change as the boy-girl interaction began to kick in and, as Ian says, girls wanted to be “liked” and the perception was that boys didn’t like girls that were obviously way smarter than they were.

            In high school, all bets were off. I was one of the “brainiacs” – could sleep through most classes, popping up with correct answers when called upon, scoring high on tests having read the textbook once at the beginning of the year. I LIKED smart girls. Most of the kids were desperately slow and uninteresting.

            But, Hollywood has brought the world down to a terrible and disturbing level — a social Fun House Mirror distorting reality. Thus, “pretty women” are used as an icon of stupidity. Men must appear to have spent most of every day in a gym body building.

            The UK has different standards for television. Angela Landsbury, Judith Dench, etc.

          • Ian, the video clip was way over the top. It was meant to be, not to be disparaging to women but to indicate that you can learn things you didn’t know about country life at the local fair. It was simply meant to be amusing, just saying “come to the fair” doesn’t draw attention.

            People are going way to far with PC rules, or how they perceive them. I would have thought that you would have seen, from the point of view of a man that there is plenty of anti male sentiment coming from the extreme feminist movements.

            We need to get back to mutual respect Ian, pretty has nothing to do with it. A woman can be strong and confident, but a woman coming across as aggressive is just as bad as a man doing the same. In the end in gets you nowhere.

          • Hello Kip. There was an study a few years ago quoted by Jezebel (that’s a sharp, funny feminist website) that said that, when guys go to bars to pick up girls, they tend to avoid smart girls. So Jezebel had tips for girls on how to pretend to be stupid. (“Because you want to get laid, don’t you?”)

      • fred250 ==> Yes, another example of large mammal under-hair (under-fur) being spun and used. Thanks.

  4. “neighbor who raises American Buffaloes for the meat”

    I assume you mean that he raises American Bison.

    https://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/news/its-bison-not-buffalo-and-other-american-bison-facts

    “Are bison and buffalo the same? Though the terms are often used interchangeably, buffalo and bison are distinct animals. Old World “true” buffalo (Cape buffalo and water buffalo) are native to Africa and Asia. Bison are found in North America and Europe. Both bison and buffalo are in the bovidae family, but the two are not closely related.”

    There are YouTube Videos of Cape Buffaloes tossing lions around like rag dolls.

    • The common name for the critter that used to occur by the million on the North American plains is the Buffalo. Scientific name is indeed, Bison, bison, and the scientific name for the domestic dog is as was pointed out above, Canis familiaris, but the self appointed pendantic busybodies that unfortunately inhabit the world don’t run around correcting everybody to call Fido a canid.

      • Mr. Case confuses the Linnean Taxonomy of animals with their proper English names.

        Buffaloes live in Africa and Asia. They are large four legged herbivores, and their Linnean Family is Bovidea, but buffaloes are part of a different genus of animal than Bison. Biologically, bison are far more closely related to domestic cattle than either cattle or Bison are to any buffaloes. No one would call a cow a buffalo, and no one should call a bison a buffalo either.

        I may be a pedantic busybody, but Mr. Case is just plain wrong. And claiming that he is only one of millions of people who are wrong doesn’t make him or any of them right. It makes all of them wrong.

        • While you are technically correct Walter, most everyone the last 200 years referred to the Plains and Wood Bison as Buffalo. The capitol of Saskatchewan, Regina, was originally called Pile Of Bones, which there was mountains of buffalo bones piled waiting for shipment to fertilizer plants when the railroad finally arrived in the early 1880’s. The American bison or simply bison (Bison bison), also commonly known as the American buffalo. When I was growing up on the prairies the last century, the Buffalo were the plains animals and mostly extinct, and the Bison were referred to the more northern woods species. But they were really all Bison.

          Even the old folk poem/song Home on the Range, the first line is where the buffalo roam. The largest National park in Canada, (All of NA actually and the size of Switzerland) Wood Buffalo National Park, is the second largest national park in the world and is named ‘Buffalo’. Either/or names are correct in popular culture, but scientifically, you of course are correct.

          Both are large, horned, oxlike animals of the Bovidae family. There are two kinds of bison, the American bison and the European bison.

          Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam
          Where the deer and the antelope play
          Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
          And the skies are not cloudy all day

          • There are so many misnomers and misphrases used in common parlance that it renders one pedantic to speak “correctly:”

            Indian – Native American
            The sun rises in the east and sets in the west.
            Hot water heater – (it’s a cold water heater)
            etc.

          • Earthing2 October 10, 2020 at 2:04 pm
            Thanks, after my rant I thought maybe I should have put up a YouTube of “Home On The Range, but your answer was just right (-: When they call me Mr. Case, I know I hit a nerve.

          • Noaaprogrammer wrote:

            Indian – Native American

            My neighbor is a member of the Yakama Nation. They use the term Indian to refer to themselves and their activities.
            http://www.native-languages.org/yakama_culture.htm

            However, things have progressed to the use of Indigenous peoples, and Indigenous peoples’ Day. I guess there is some problem with the meaning of “native.”

          • John F Hultquist ==> So, I am “native” and I am “indigenous”. I was born here, and my ancestors were born here….how far back do I have to go to be a Native American?

            Archaeology coupled with DNA research has shown that nearly all “indigenous peoples” in the USA are relatively recent arrivals from someplace else.

          • Earthling2: “There are two kinds of bison, the American bison and the European bison.”

            I think you are overlooking a third kind, the British bison. If I make a new British acquaintance (here in the USA), I usually ask them if they know the difference between a bison and a buffalo. They usually do not know. The difference is: You can’t wash your hands in a buffalo!

            By the way, the most common name for a city or town in the lower 48 states is Buffalo.

        • And claiming that he is only one of millions of people who are wrong doesn’t make him or any of them right. It makes all of them wrong.

          I am reminded of the woman who calls her husband on the cell phone to tell him there’s some guy driving the wrong way on the free way he takes to work. His reply of course was, “They’re all driving the wrong way!”

        • Walter ==> As you probably know, when biologists turned their hand to restoring native American Bison, commonly called Buaffalo here in the USA, they had a great deal of trouble finding any that were “pure” — not adulterated with “domesticated cow” DNA.

          • Both Bison and domestic cattle (Bos Tarus) are members of the same genus. The same cannot be said for bison and Asian and African buffaloes.

            I do not care about the purity of species. I care about the correct use of language.

        • By Bison I suppose you are referring to the English language mis-transliteration of the Germanic “wisent”?

        • The name buffalo is listed in many dictionaries as an acceptable name for American buffalo or bison. Look it up…we all even agree with you, but you continue to be a purist and your way or the highway. There are 31 places called Buffalo in the world and all but 3 are in North America. And many more with the term Buffalo in it, such as Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump in southern Alberta. Tell them to change the name of Buffalo, New York to Bison, New York. Maybe it you now trying to change the name of the Buffalo Bills to the Bison Bills.

  5. My ancestors come from Belarus and years ago I made contact with family there. On our “farm” was Albena who grew apples and raised livestock. She also had a spinning wheel which she used to spin the dog’s wool. She presented me with a pair of socks made from that wool. I still have them. So many places still use this method–only it was a result of communism that Albena did it–trying desperately to make everything count because of the scarcity that communism causes.

    • Shelly ==> Thanks for sharing your family story. Gads, humans are inventive and really know how to “make do.”

    • Eric ==> Yes, certainly, lots of mammals have guard hairs and a softer inner fur. Thanks for sharing the Newfoundlands info. Newfoundlands are BIG, aren’t they?

      • If you wanted nice white hair, you could try getting it from a polar bear.

        Gently teasing out some of that fluffy white coat of theirs. 😉

  6. Excellent research by Dr. Susan, et al. Let’s not forget the most famous types of dogs, the ones made famous by the group “Three Dog Night”. This was a reference to the Inuits saying the coldest nights were three dog nights, where you had three dogs sleep on your feet to keep your feet warm. I wonder if climate change has eliminated this practice?

    • Ron ==> Not likely — I have slept outside on the ground in -15F and could have used a dog or three. Most Inuits live in modern homes — often factory built, from photos I’ve seen.

  7. The interesting question is when man first domesticated the wolf. Some think 40kya. Well before humans invaded North American continent ( c 16kya)

  8. Kip: I have a couple of pairs of Dog wool socks from Siberia. They are ~1cm thick and very toasty in winter boots. They even are modestly artistic – dark gray with pure white toe and heel caps. In Nain, in northern Labrador, they make mitts from caribou hair. The hairs are hollow and make for good insulation.

    • Gary ==> Thanks for weighing in with interesting additions. One other reader mentioned Siberian dog wool, but you’re the first to mention Caribou.

  9. Everybody assumes dogs are domesticated wolves. There is actually little evidence for that, and what we do know is that dogs that revert to wild, like dingos, have a very different appearance and behavior to wolves.

    The domestic dog could have been domesticated from a wild dog that went extinct. They keep finding older and older dog fossils.
    Prassack, Kari A., et al. “Dental microwear as a behavioral proxy for distinguishing between canids at the Upper Paleolithic (Gravettian) site of Předmostí, Czech Republic.” Journal of Archaeological Science 115 (2020): 105092.
    “This supports the presence of two morphologically and behaviorally distinct canid types at this middle Upper Paleolithic site (28,500 BP).” They call them protodogs. There are fossil remains of dogs from 35,700 BP. That is 20,000 years before clear evidence of domesticated dogs around 16,000 BP. 20,000 years is a huge amount of time in dog years. Other animals started being domesticated around 12,000 BP. Such a long period of time between the first and the second is suspicious. An alternative explanation is that dogs evolved naturally and were domesticated around 16,000 BP after many millennia of being prey. Several domesticated species have gone extinct in the wild after domestication, like horses.

    • “..Everybody assumes dogs are domesticated wolves. There is actually little evidence for that,…”

      I can concur with that Javier. I find it pretty hard to believe that small breeds of dogs like the Dachshund and the Chihuahua could have wolves in their ancestry. My nephew owns a female Dachshund. When I look into her sweet sad eyes, I can’t see how anyone can claim they are domesticated wolves.

      • CD ==> I raised dachsies, wire-haired ones. One time, reaching into her kennel to check on her new-born pups, I was greeted by her ancestral wolf, and should have gone for stitches in my hand. On another occasion, finding a really large rat loose in my pet shop, I called her and her mate in to the store and watched them chase, catch, rip into two and eat that rat — very wolfish, those two.

        Dog breeds have been created by humans doing selective breeding.

      • Phil ==> Great story — it only took them 55 years to create a population in which “most” of the foxes are domesticated and behave more like pet dogs. That’s pretty fast — but it also, over the years, produced a lot of fur coats.

    • Not generally known, many “dogs” have been and gone. Think jillions of years.
      Aelurodon Amphicyon Cynodictis Dire Wolf Dusicyon Epicyon Eucyon Hesperocyon Ictitherium Leptocyon Tomarctus.

  10. Our Siberian Husky leaves mountains of fine underfur when she sheds (most of the year). We gave some to a woman who spins, and she made some very fine, soft gray yearn with it.

    • We had a family fried with 3 Symonds , always shedding. Lots of fur forvspinning and knitting mittens, socks and hats

      • Maureen ==> From yours and other comments, we find that many dog breeds have been supplying fiber for spinning into yarn. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  11. I want to commend Dr. Crockford for her continued splendid, and very interesting, work. I think its only a matter of time til she’s recognized as THE Polar Bear expert.

    • When it comes to getting up close and friendly with Polar Bears, there are others who have a better claim. The problem with the group of them is that they are all too willing to extrapolate beyond the limits of their expertise.

      It’s sad and pathetic that some really great Polar Bear biologists get it so wrong because they ignore the fact that the arctic has been seasonally ice-free for much/most of the holocine. That doesn’t diminish my respect for their knowledge but it makes me very unhappy.

      Thank goodness we have Susan, who has the intellectual horsepower to hold these folks to account.

  12. Susan has it wrong. We did not domesticate dogs. Dogs domesticated themselves to take advantage of us. link

    There is some evidence that dogs and humans co-evolved. link Could it be that our ability to cooperate was something we learned from dogs? How much are dogs responsible for what we call civilization?

    • The article to which you link is entirely speculative and without solid evidence. What we OBSERVE is that…
      1. Predators that become accustomed to scavenging from humans consistently become more aggressive and problematic, not less so. If that were not so, we would see many examples of ongoing domestication world-wide. But in the absence of intentional action by humans already familiar with domestication, it doesn’t happen.
      2. Domestic species reverting to wild types and behaviour (going feral) consistently become more aloof, more aggressive and more problematic for humans.
      3. Human hunter-gatherers are known to keep captured juvenile canids as non-deteriorating food sources. Australian aboriginals are a recent example (often observed to cripple the pup to prevent it from wandering off.) A captured juvenile permitted to grow to adulthood in a time of plenty and applying its normal pack instincts to its human hosts is a far more likely narrative.

    • commieBob ==> Both links are just alternative opinions and hypotheses. If you’re really interested, you might try reading Crockford’s book on the topic. I linked it above.

    • Commie Bob,

      I’ve had far too much Thanksgiving beer to answer in detail but I never said we domesitcated dogs: entirely the opposite. Evidence suggests dogs domesticated themselves. If there is interest I will put together a blog post about this but all of the questions posed here are ones I asked myself 30 years ago but included the critical one: what had to happen, biologically speaking, to turn a wolf into a dog (or a brown bear into a polar bear)? I wrote my PhD dissertation on my attempt at an answer (a scientific hypothesis grounded on know facts). Contact me if you’d like to read it.

      All the best, Susan

      • Dear Susan
        Very interesting research and many valuable comments.
        My thought, for what it’s worth is the easiest way to domesticate a wild dog is to obtain their puppies?
        Take care

        • We adopted an Arctic wolf that had been caged for 19 months. Three or four others had tried to adopt her, but couldn’t deal with her. We found that she attached herself to my wife, and would nip anyone who moved too quickly in my wife’s presence, mostly me. It took two years before she would come to me on her own. She was highly intelligent, and would obey commands, as long as you didn’t raise your voice. Hearing a loud voice made her refuse to obey, and even when she did ‘obey’, she often found her own way to execute the requested behavior. She did learn to sit and stay on the roadside when walking on a road, as a car passed. She really taught me the concept of a pack, she loved hers, and never left our few acres without one of us until she passed after sixteen years.

          • Steve Keohane ==> A friend of my wife once “gifted” us a German Shepherd /Wolf cross (50/50). It would cow-tow to me (including peeing on the floor) but was ok with everyone else. Finally had to pass it on to a real dog/wolf breeder as it played too rough with my kids — chased them down, grabbed them by the back of their necks, and tossed them to the ground- all very friendly, part of a doggie game — but this terrified us parents.

    • jorgekafkazar ==> Very cute.

      [Readers: You can safely watch this YouTube — only 35 seconds long and worth the time.]

    • Of course! A real scientist would have seen immediately that it was dog farts that started Holocene inception.

  13. When in England in 2018 we visited a small museum, that I think was in Buckie Scotland, where there was an item on display which was a dog skin float and the dogs were specially reared in Lossiemouth for the purpose. Dog resources could be substituted for any other animal product; skins used as water bladders, clothing, food storage, blown up and used for sports.

  14. We show that canids have a ubiquitous geographic distribution and a high relative abundance in particular Northwest Coast sub-regions and that species-level identifications are overwhelmingly of domestic dogs in contrast to ~1% of non-domestic canids (wolf, coyote, and fox).

    Domestication was a very smart move by the dogs.
    Now there’s a whole supermarket alley just with dog and cat food.

  15. The Brittany (not Spaniel in the USA terminology) has been our companion since 1972; and in my family since about 1955. The breed has several interesting characteristics.

    Thus and therefore: I am thrilled that WUWT, Kip, and Susan & friends have produced and provided this shaggy dog story.

    While not coastal themselves, we have friends from interior bands – east of Stevens Pass, Washington – that did interact with the coastal bands. Will send this link on to them.

  16. I believe that domestic dogs, dingos, coyotes and wolves are all capable of interbreeding, which suggests fairly close common ancestors.

    The wolf-like canids are a group of large carnivores that are genetically closely related because their chromosomes number 78. The group includes genus Canis, Cuon and Lycaon. The members are the domestic dog (C. lupus familiaris), gray wolf (C. lupus), dingo (C. lupus dingo), coyote (C. latrans), golden jackal (C. aureus), Ethiopian wolf (C. simensis), black-backed jackal (C. mesomelas) (74 chromosomes), side-striped jackal (C. adustus) (74 chromosomes), dhole (Cuon alpinus), and African wild dog (Lycaon pictus).] Newly proposed members include the red wolf (Canis rufus), eastern wolf (Canis lycaon), and African golden wolf (C. anthus). The members of Canis can potentially interbreed.

    (wiki–)

  17. We show that canids have a ubiquitous geographic distribution and a high relative abundance in particular Northwest Coast sub-regions and that species-level identifications are overwhelmingly of domestic dogs in contrast to ~1% of non-domestic canids (wolf, coyote, and fox).

    Domestication was clearly a smart move by the dogs.
    Now we have whole supermarket aisles with nothing but dog and cat food.

    • David ==> Not quite “also”….she was primarily a dog expert, who has been weighing in on the Polar Bear controversy for many years. “Bone Whispering” is her actual profession.

  18. Dear Dr Crockford
    Very interesting research and many valuable comments.
    My thought, for what it’s worth is the easiest way to domesticate a wild dog is to obtain their puppies?
    Take care

  19. As an aside, and in no way being critical of Dr Crockford’s work, can anyone tell me if there is a scientific definition of abundance? In my University geology courses, when estimating mineral content of sample rocks, one had to say if a particular rock was in abundance but there was nothing to say what the threshold was when a mineral (or anything in fact) became ‘abundant’. Was it 40%, 50%, the majority of content, more, less? Has vexed me for ages!

  20. Little has been recorded about the Northwest Coast Indians’ dogs.. According to reports of early travelers, the dogs had the appearance of coyotes. They were highly trained by their masters, who called them by their name, treated them like respected members of the family, and according to tales old Indians tell, even sang to them. The dogs were trained to enter the woods and chase the game out to the hunter. The Coast Salish used them particularly for driving mountain goats into ambush and for herding deer and elk into lakes, where they could be attacked and slain by men in canoes.
    What breed were these dogs? They have mixed long since with the pets of white settlers and reliable identification is no longer possible. Perhaps students interested in dog history will one day attempt to unravel the mystery of their origins… Coast Salish women, utilizing a simple loom, wove in wool–a practice uncommon in North America since the continent was not well-supplied with wool-bearing animals until after the introduction of sheep by white men. In addition, the Puget Sound women had their own little wool-bearing animal–a tame dog, quite small, but with a thick coat of creamy wool which could be shorn at regular intervals. When the wool was hacked off with a mussel shell knife, the fleece was so thick that according to one historian you could lift it up by one corner, like a mat. The Coast Salish also utilized the wool of the mountain goat. The Salish Indians along the Fraser River sometimes hunted the goats and traded the hides to the Coast. They also searched over the hillsides in spring and summer, when the goats were shedding, and gathered the tufts of fur which rubbed off on the bushes as the animals passed by. Perhaps it was this gift of wool which inspired Salish women to begin weaving cloth. Early explorers describe the dogs as having the appearance of Pomeranians, usually white in color, but sometimes varying to a brownish black. They were usually kept on tiny islands in Puget Sound and the Straits of Juan de Fuca and were not found among the more northerly Indians of the Northwest Coast. The women would paddle out daily from the village with food and drink for the dogs and always took them along with them during prolonged absences from the village on food gathering trips and other necessary excursions. A woman’s wealth was said to have been judged by the number of dogs she owned. Captain George Vancouver reported meeting a group of two hundred Indians, most of them in canoes, but a few walking along with a drove of about forty dogs, which were sheared close to the skin like sheep.
    The opening of the Hudson’s Bay trading posts and the subsequent appearance of the easily obtainable Hudson’s Bay blankets spelled the death knell for the weaving of these beautiful Salish blankets and mantles, only a few of which survive today in museums and private collections.

  21. With the coming of the gold rush in 1858 and the resultant drastic changes in Coast Salish life styles, the dogs were no longer a valuable commodity and soon became extinct. Today there is not an Indian living who even remembers how they looked.
    The wool of the dogs was much finer than that of the goats, and the yarns produced from it were very much like those of a fine grade commercial wool. The shearing was sometimes repeated two or three times in a summer and even then it was hard to get wool enough for many blankets. Women would mix the dog wool with mountain goat wool and together with goose down or duck down and the cotton from the fireweed and other plants, in any proportions available. Clay beaten into the wool with a flat, sword-like piece of wood helped remove the grease from the wool and also whitened it, for dog wool was not so white as the wool of the mountain goat. Next the weaver combed the fibers out with her fingers or hand carders and then rolled them on her leg. The wool was then ready for spinning. The spindle used was a smooth stick three of four feet long. At is lower end was a whorl of carved wood (often beautifully decorated), to keep the strands from slipping.
    The loom for weaving the yarn consisted of two horizontal rollers supported in slots cut in wooden uprights set in the ground. Although not always used, the alternate strands of the warp were often keep apart by a simple heddle of thin wood to allow the hand to pass through. The warp was run around these rollers in a series of continuous cords so that the web could frequently be pulled around to a convenient position for the weaver, who always wove from the top downward. (Reg Ashwell, Coast Salish, Their Art, Culture and Legends, Hancock House, Surrey, 1978:50-62, emphases supplied).

  22. Until European contact and the introduction of knitting, Coast Salish women primarily used mountain goat wool for their textile production. Sheep were not introduced to Vancouver Island until the 1850’s, shortly before the Cowichans learned to knit. Since then sheep’s wool has been used exclusively for knitting Cowichan sweaters.
    Cowichan knitters spin wool three different ways: with a Salish spindle and whorl, with a converted sewing machine, and with a homemade spinning machine. The spindle and whorl are rarely used today: There are five known types of Salish spindles (Marr 1979:67). The version used exclusively by the Cowichan people was very large and was used for spinning two ply mountain goat wool and dog hair for weaving. The spindle was a tapered shaft approximately four feet long. The whorl, which rested one-half to two-thirds of the way down the shaft, was about eight inches in diameter. Coast Salish spindle whorls were often highly decorated, and many fine examples can be found in museum collections… Neither the large mountain goat wool spindle nor the smaller sheep’s wool spindle are much-used today; the majority of spinners prefer to use machines. After missionary teachers instructed their pupils in the use of a European spinning wheel, it was adapted to produce the large quantities of thicker yarn needed for knitting and for much of the Salish weaving. (Margaret Meikle, Cowichan Indian Knitting, Museum Note No. 21, UBC Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver, 1986:1-11;emphases supplied).

  23. Leaving the south-west in early Indian days, you might have traveled for thousands of miles in any direction, except south, without seeing any weaving. Weaving was a northwestern specialty, for weaving was very unusual in America north of Mexico. You would not find a real loom anywhere until you got to the Puget Sound country. Students of Indian history find that one of their most interesting problems is this one of loom weaving among a few northwestern groups. They are all Salish and they are gathered on two sides of the present Canadian border. They wove in wool. Ruth Underhill, Ph.D. in her “Indians of the Pacific NorthWest, 1945” refers to the Salish blanket – “only a few of which are left anywhere in the country. There was not much use of colour until the Whites brought yarn in trade. Then a few women in Canada began making colour ed designs and our Klallam and Cowlitz tried it also. A few really beautiful blankets were made in fine yarn and magnificent colour. However, there was no one to encourage them to make these for sale, as Indians are encouraged in the south west.

    They found that they could get Hudson Bay blankets with far less trouble and so they gave up the art some seventy-five years ago.

    If that had not happened, Salish blankets might have been as famous as those of the Navajo.”(Oliver N. Wells, SALISH WEAVING: PRIMITIVE AND MODERN, As Practiced by the Salish Indians of Southwest British Columbia, Frank T. Coan, Sardis, 1969:3).

  24. The Loom – Two basic types of loom were used by the early Salish Weavers and are still in use. The two-roller loom – as illustrated by Paul Kane in the well-known picture, and the single bar loom, commonly referred to as a three piece loom. Each of the types have had variations noted in their construction, both in the past and as used today.

    The two-bar loom was developed by the Pueblo Indians between 1100 and 1300 (P. 47. Pueblo Crafts). Whether the Salish tribes were using the loom at that time is not known.

    Some believe the single bar loom was in use prior to the two bar loom, which developed from it.

    It is known, however, that both types were in use among the Salish and other North West tribes when the Europeans first came to the NorthWest.

    (Oliver N. Wells, SALISH WEAVING: PRIMITIVE AND MODERN, 1969:12;emphases supplied).

    • Donna, some editing needed.

      I think mountain goats were only in the Olympic mountains, having been introduced there, perhaps some in the Cascades, so their hair There are many in the Rockies well to the east.

      You should also be clear to distinguish between dog ‘wool’ and sheep wool, quite different.

      And check ‘Cowichan sweaters’, sounds like a later thing to me. Certainly was a substantive local industry at one time including in the 1960s. One woman managed to get a mechanized machine, IIRC for ‘carding’ sheep wool, at substantial expense for her, shipped from England.

      Keep in mind that blankets were used as outer clothing, the HBC blanket was sized to cover much of the body of a tall man, half of it would wrap a papoose well. Much tighter weave than hand-woven blankets.

      Tribal people were not locked to tradition – contrary to claims today, they dumped the dogs when sheep wool became available, stopped weaving blankets when HBC ones became available. They could trade their labour for blankets.

      BTW, some stories are wrong – a renowned painter showed a poodle near a woman weaving a blanket, he made sketches in the field and painted when back home.

  25. Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge Vol. .7(1), January 2008, pp. 188-196 Coast Salish weaving−Preserving traditional knowledge with new technology Leslie Tepper Canadian Museum of Civilization, 100 LaurierSt, PO Box 3100, Station B, Gatineau, Quebec J8H 4H2, Canada E:mail: leslie.tepper@civilization.ca Received 31 July 2007; Revised 25 October 2007 Hand made textiles are an important source of traditional knowledge. Infused with symbolic and ritual meaning they can serve as a conduit of cultural information. During times of rapid social change, transmission of both the technology and symbolic content of these textiles is difficult to maintain. Among the Coast Salish weavers of Canada’s Northwest Coast, efforts to preserve their weaving heritage have now incorporated multimedia technology for the teaching of traditional knowledge. The paper explores the recent partnership of the Canadian Museum of Civilization and Coast Salish weavers to develop a new working tool. Keywords: Weaving heritage, Traditional weaving, Coast Salish weavers, Canada IPC Int. Cl.8: D01

    http://nopr.niscair.res.in/bitstream/123456789/606/1/IJTK%207(1)%20(2008)%20188-196.pdf

  26. In 1997 Dr. Crockford published a book on the Salish Wool Dog, for which the paper edition sells for $(CAN)30.00, while the DRM-Free PDF eBook edition is free to download. I highly recommend this book to the readers of this forum

    ”Osteometry of Makah and Coast Salish Dogs” by Susan J. Crockford
    http://archpress.lib.sfu.ca/index.php/archpress/catalog/book/52

    I was amazed to read that the Salish Wool Dog breed went extinct sometime in the Mid-twentieth Century, because of the lack of human interest in its continuance. With the understanding that extinct species have a track record of sometimes returning from the dead, has anyone considered the possibility of un-extinting the Salish Wool Dog? Unlike extinct ice age megafauna, the cloning of dogs is now a for-profit industry, provided viable DNA is available.

    Dr. Crockford has a number of fiction and non-fiction DRM-Free eBooks available for purchase which I have acquired and downloaded to my eBook library, as a show of support for her research. Please consider doing the same. The eBooks are published by Smashwords.com and sold by Kobo.com.

    Michael Ronayne

    • I presume a few were adopted as pets, perhaps sold to outsiders, but may have inter-bred by now.

      Given the number of people who fawn over specific dog breeds, and even create them, perhaps someone will recreate the breed if practical. That style of tail is common in Japa, I gather.

  27. Also here: https://oddstuffmagazine.com/funny-pictures-march-13-2016.html REF

    As well they roam the North Slope area of AK:
    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/hungry-polar-bears-look-for-food-at-alaska-airport/ REF

    With polar bears roaming around the freinges at least of Iqualuit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LNf-EDXx-Q REF

    not to be confused with https://www.munich-airport.com/on-the-taxiway-with-the-polar-bear-1421773 REF actually a nickname for de-icing machine, no polar bears near Munich Germany.

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