The degree of odour, also, differs in the different kinds of jackal (1/43. See Isid. Geoffroy St.-Hilaire 'Hist. Nat. Gen.' tome 3 page 112, on the odour of jackals. Col. Ham. Smith in 'Nat. Lib.' volume 10 page 289.); and Colonel H. Smith makes a sectional division of the group with one character dependent on not being offensive. On the other hand, dogs-- for instance, rough and smooth terriers--differ much in this respect; and M. Godron states that the hairless so-called Turkish dog is more odoriferous than other dogs. Isidore Geoffroy (1/44. Quoted by Quatrefages in 'Bull. Soc. d'Acclimat.' May 11, 1863.) gave to a dog the same odour as that from a jackal by feeding it on raw flesh.

The belief that our dogs are descended from wolves, jackals, South American Canidae, and other species, suggests a far more important difficulty. These animals in their undomesticated state, judging from a widely-spread analogy, would have been in some degree sterile if intercrossed; and such sterility will be admitted as almost certain by all those who believe that the lessened fertility of crossed forms is an infallible criterion of specific distinctness. Anyhow these animals keep distinct in the countries which they inhabit in common. On the other hand, all domestic dogs, which are here supposed to be descended from several distinct species, are, as far as is known, mutually fertile together. But, as Broca has well remarked (1/45. 'Journal de la Physiologie' tome 2 page 385.), the fertility of successive generations of mongrel dogs has never been scrutinised with that care which is thought indispensable when species are crossed. The few facts leading to the conclusion that the sexual feelings and reproductive powers differ in the several races of the dog when crossed are (passing over mere size as rendering propagation difficult) as follows: the Mexican Alco (1/46. See Mr. R. Hill's excellent account of this breed in Gosse's 'Jamaica' page 338; Rengger 'Saugethiere von Paraguay' s. 153. With respect to Spitz dogs, see Bechstein's 'Naturgesch. Deutschlands' 1801 b. 1 s. 638. With respect to Dr. Hodgkin's statement made before Brit. Assoc. see 'The Zoologist' volume 4 for 1845-46 page 1097.) apparently dislikes dogs of other kinds, but this perhaps is not strictly a sexual feeling; the hairless endemic dog of Paraguay, according to Rengger, mixes less with the European races than these do with each other; the Spitz dog in Germany is said to receive the fox more readily than do other breeds; and Dr. Hodgkin states that a female Dingo in England attracted the male wild foxes. If these latter statements can be trusted, they prove some degree of sexual difference in the breeds of the dog. But the fact remains that our domestic dogs, differing so widely as they do in external structure, are far more fertile together than we have reason to believe their supposed wild parents would have been. Pallas assumes (1/47. 'Acta Acad. St. Petersburgh' 1780 part 2 pages 84, 100.) that a long course of domestication eliminates that sterility which the parent-species would have exhibited if only lately captured; no distinct facts are recorded in support of this hypothesis; but the evidence seems to me so strong (independently of the evidence derived from other domesticated animals) in favour of our domestic dogs having descended from several wild stocks, that I am inclined to admit the truth of this hypothesis.

There is another and closely allied difficulty consequent on the doctrine of the descent of our domestic dogs from several wild species, namely, that they do not seem to be perfectly fertile with their supposed parents. But the experiment has not been quite fairly tried; the Hungarian dog, for instance, which in external appearance so closely resembles the European wolf, ought to be crossed with this wolf: and the pariah dogs of India with Indian wolves and jackals; and so in other cases. That the sterility is very slight between certain dogs and wolves and other Canidae is shown by savages taking the trouble to cross them.

Charles Darwin

All Pages of This Book