PRIMITIVE ABORIGINAL DOGS
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PRIMITIVE ABORIGINAL DOGS
by A. Beregovoy. Bachelor of biology.
It is known that a dog was the first domesticated animal. Comparisons of the morphology, physiology, behavior, and recent studies of mitochondrial DNA indicate that all breeds of dogs descended from the same ancestor, a wolf.
Domestication of a wolf happened about 15000 years ago in Asia. Later dogs began to be spread among human tribesthanks to migrations, wars and trade. The presence and participation of dogs gave people a valuable experience, and this accelerated and made easier the domestication of some other animals. Domestication and changing of dogs continued wherever they were with people, and this process mostly depended on the traditions of their owners and local conditions. Together with people dogs significantly expanded their spreading area, populating all continents and landscapes, from the polar deserts to rain forests, and many islands of the South seas, except for Antarctica. As a result aboriginal dog breeds appeared.
The word Aboriginal means "original", and the name « Aboriginal dogs» in this case applies to dogs of certain geographical areas, where they were discovered and described by travelers, ethnographers and naturalists. Naturally, their history in each particular place is connected with the history of people with whom they live. That is why we got much of the information about them from ethnographic sources. Aboriginal breeds of dogs formed in primitive selection and free keeping. Theypropagated almost without artificial restrictions and with a minimum of care of their owners. In some countries they are still living in the same way as they lived hundreds or thousands of years ago. When asked «where are these dogs from», peoplegave one universal answer: "God gave them to us, or:" they came from the sky ".
Physical isolation separated different groups of people from their dogs, and this was enough to keep and strengthen the differences between local breeds. Strictly speaking, those breeds were not breeds in the modern format, because there was no a focused selection of couples during breeding, the dogs propagated out of control. Many dogs involved in reproduction and mortality of puppies was the main limit of their quantity. Differences between geographically close specieswere often only statistical and dogs with mixed traits were normal in those regions where there were trade contacts between their owners. Natural selection has always played a great role and a selection for qualities which were necessary for people was active only when the ownersupported the most valuable dogs at difficult time. For example, when he fed themost valuable bitch or kept its puppies in the shelter in bad weather.
In addition to primitive traditional keeping and selection, one can say about the primitivity of the dog’s appearance, mentalsystem, hunting style and other features of the dogs. Among the Aboriginal breeds some individuals can have more primitive features than others. Aboriginal dogs with primitive appearance living now are the oldest breeds in the world. In general their appearance is quite common in all countries, and easily recognizable on the visible "wild" signs, such as the almost square or slightly distended format, wedge head with pointed muzzle,side-long set ears, standing ears and dimensions and proportions of the body. We mean such dogs as Russian laika, dingoes and bassendji. There are some differences in system of breeding:the most primitive of them have only one heat a year in a definite season. But the main differences are in their innate reactions to wild and domestic animals, familiar and unfamiliar people, ability to hunting, guarding, obeying, etc... There are some ancient aboriginal breeds which became specialized for certain work, for example, the so-called tazi and Caucasian sheep-dogs but they also have primitive features in character, work style and physiology.
The evolution of Aboriginal breeds continued until recent times. However, the growing of human population and the global spread of a cosmopolitan culture have become a serious threat to their existence. A lot of unique Aboriginal dogs have already become extinct, while others are rare and lose its uniqueness due to mixing with imported hounds cultural (factory). The Aboriginal breeds, which have received recognition of dog clubs, also lose their original dignity and turn into plantbreeds developed for exhibition sport.
In ancient times the similarity of dogs with Wolf, Coyote or jackal has not made it the honor, at least among Europeans. Wolf was always a negative character in literature, folklore and superstition and was never perceived as a beautiful animal. Probably, so it was in the ancient world. Primitive dogs with wolf-like appearancewere the most usual and numerically dominated everywhere. They were true and not demanding friends of hunter and defenders of his family and property. In places with the most fertile soil and mild climate people began to live a settled life, there appeared centers of civilization with developed agriculture, there appeared towns with crafts anda class of wealthy and prominent people. At the same time, thanks to selection aimed at preserving any qualities that distinguish dogs from wolves, dogs began to appear that looked totally different.
In ancient Egypt there already appeared greyhounds with acute-angled ears and twisted tail and lop-eared with sabre-liketail Saluki, hounds, borzye, large mastify, the Shepherd's dog, short-legged looking like dachshunds and small indoor dogs.
Later, in medieval Europe factory breeds of dogs have evolved further in different directions making them less similar to their ancestor, the Wolf. By the beginning of the nineteenth century it was a heyday of factory dog breeds in their numbers and the number of species. Then the dog exhibition radically changed the dog breeding. Now documents confirming the origin of dogs sometimes become almost as important as the dog itself. Puppies from winners of the exhibitions are expensive and most in demand. Pure-bred dog with an unusual appearance has become a part of owner’s style, like his clothes, or style of his house. They are striking, prestigious dogs. Pure breed confirmed with documents, automatically means nobility and a kind of aristocracy of the dog. If a breeder used to be a hunter as well, and bred dogs for other hunters, now a so-called professional breeder sells any puppies including of hunting dogs though he is not a hunter.
Scornful attitude to Aboriginal, unregistered dogs is popular nowdays, but there are quite many doglovers who are quite educated and informed that primitive dogsbred at home and employed with adequate work, are not worse than the old plant species, and often exceed them. Comparing Aboriginal breeds of dogs with cultural factory breeds on their practical usefulness,we should also consider their diversity in domestication level and subtle specialization in serving people.
The signs of plant species, which distinguish them from the original wild type, in many cases are nothing more than a biological anomaly. Excesses in anatomical and morphological variations have become an exterior trademark of some plant breeds have their price in the form of inconvenience, and sometimes even in the survival of the dog and should be compensated with the owner’s care. In addition, their overall adoptation and health are weakened by long existence under a regular veterinary supervision that kept animals of not quite full value genetically.
Primitive Aboriginal dogs are more perfect biologically and are better adopted to survival without human care. Aboriginal dogs used by people for any work or living freely, are developed functionally correctly, without any frills: their movements and jogging are economical, accurate, well coordinated and easy like wild dogs. It has always maintained with a strong, though unconscious selection.
Other features of their perfection include a complete set of teeth mainly symmetrically located and strong during the life and many popular plant species can hardly boast with it. They have a long potential duration of active life,an innate immunity anda great resistance to local diseases transmitted by mites and blood-sucking insects and even immunity or tolerance to the mites, fleam and lice; they have greater endurance while hunting, grazing, herd guarding in bad climatic conditions. They require less food because their digestion is more effective.
In those areas of the world where the Aboriginal dogs have been used for work for a long time, they work from the heart. Best of all they do what they have been adapted to do in their country of origin, in the home or other similar circumstances. Hunting, guarding the house or farm, they don't need to be regularly given promotion. Moreover, they often remain hungry for a long time, but do not quit working. The enthusiasm of a primitive dog is explained with the fact that the process of work with the participation of the owner is the best reward for the dog.
While hunting primitive dog uses the full set of feelings, given to it by nature to find game, like a wolf. When dealing with a large and dangerous animal, the dog should weigh itsr bravery with the degree of danger. Otherwise it will be quickly killed orinjured and her owneer can loose his assistant, and the owner who is not rich cannot afford to keep a flock of dogs.
Unfortunately, primitive dogs began to be replaced by factory breeds and fade in cities at first, then in some countries and, finally, by the middle of the twentieth century their extinction accelerated worldwide.
The increasing popularity of plant breeds can be explained with the fact that they are more easily controlled and more comfortable to hold in densely populated places. Aboriginal breedswere placed towards the periphery, in the wilderness, where the population is less. But time passes, and arriving people bring new dogs there. Where dogs are kept on an ancient tradition, allowing them to roam and mate uncontrollably, Aboriginal breeds, mixed with imported factory species lose their specificity and therefore cease to exist as a breed.
In some geographical areas the extinction of Aboriginal dogsoccurs as a result of changes in the lifestyle of the nativepopulation. For example, the escimo driving dogs are the best in the world, but they almost died out because the people don’t need them any more. Modern escimodon’t live in igloo made of ice now, they live in warm standard cabins with electricity. Now the Canadian Eskimo dog is recognized officially as a purebred. It is used for sports or for a family hobby of riding in nartah. Canadians know the price of qualities of Aboriginal dogs and are determined to save them as a driving breed.
Unfortunately, attempts to rescue still living Aboriginal dogs from extinction face many difficulties. Most zoologists do notstudy them because they consider it a trivial subject. Dogs are domesticated animals. National and international environmental organizations are not interested in them because the Aboriginal dogs don't belong to wild species and on existing legislation cannot be regarded as species threatened with extinction. They don't appear in the Red List either.
Aboriginal dogs are of great value to all dog lovers as a unique creation of nature and man. In our time, when they have become a rarity, dog fans show an increasing interest to them. They are valued for various reasons. There is a large category of people seeking romantic "call of the ancestors", dreaming about simple independent life as in "the old good time" and untouched nature. They are attracted with unbiased appearance and nature of Aboriginal dogs. There is another important category of animal lovers. Are those who appreciate the Aboriginal dogs just for their working qualities. They areneeded to protect sheep herds of wolves and kojots, for hunting or for a ride in the nartah. There are people who are fond of Aboriginal dogs because they are the dogs of their ancestors, part of the national heritage.A modern connoisseur of Aboriginal dogs is no longer confused by the presence of wolf’s features. On the contrary, they are more likely to appreciate them for that. Wolf features of huskies are an important part of their primeval beauty. This is their so called wild beastiness...
To bring together the attempts of Aboriginal dog lovers in 1999, Janice Kohler-Macnik organized the society for the preservation of primitive Aboriginal dogs (PADS – Primitive Aboriginal Dog Society).
Russia is a country which is rich in valuable Aboriginal dogs, including the world's best drivers, and the Shepherd's hunting breeds. On evil historical irony of Russia, being a native land for the best and most numerous driving Aboriginal dogs, missed the development of the growing worldwide sport - riding sledge dogs . Worse, during the Soviet period there was the systematic extermination of the native dogs of the North, which is in all regions where these dogs existed. It is not too late to find and recover the lost. Not so long ago, the public learned that still Kamchatka and Chukotka type Aboriginal huskies have remained alive. Is it still possible to find and recover at her home a unique Amur husky? There is still somewhere alive fastest indigenous hunting huskey of Muncey? And where are those extremely capable of "fox-like" hunting huskey ofEvenks? How many huskies of old aboriginal type still drive deer? Aboriginal Caucasian Sheepdogs, Central Asian sheepdogs, Tazy and taigany are uniquie breeds and it is impossible to let them extinct.
PADS decided to open an Office in Russia that would give a real opportunity for all people interested in maintaining the Aboriginal dogs to communicate with each other, to exchange views, experiences and coordinate efforts to find, save and, if possible, reinstate aboriginal breeds on the territory of Russia.