Buffon got four successive generations from the wolf and dog, and the mongrels were perfectly fertile together. (1/48. M. Broca has shown ('Journal de Physiologie' tome 2 page 353) that Buffon's experiments have been often misrepresented. Broca has collected (pages 390-395) many facts on the fertility of crossed dogs, wolves, and jackals.) But more lately M. Flourens states positively as the result of his numerous experiments that hybrids from the wolf and dog, crossed inter se, become sterile at the third generation, and those from the jackal and dog at the fourth generation. (1/49. 'De la Longevite Humaine' par M. Flourens 1855 page 143. Mr. Blyth says ('Indian Sporting Review' volume 2 page 137) that he has seen in India several hybrids from the pariah-dog and jackal; and between one of these hybrids and a terrier. The experiments of Hunter on the jackal are well-known. See also Isid. Geoffroy St.-Hilaire, 'Hist. Nat. Gen.' tome 3 page 217, who speaks of the hybrid offspring of the jackal as perfectly fertile for three generations.) But these animals were closely confined; and many wild animals, as we shall see in a future chapter, are rendered by confinement in some degree or even utterly sterile. The Dingo, which breeds freely in Australia with our imported dogs, would not breed though repeatedly crossed in the Jardin des Plantes. (1/50. On authority of F. Cuvier quoted in Bronn's 'Geschichte der Natur' b. 2 s. 164.) Some hounds from Central Africa, brought home by Major Denham, never bred in the Town of London (1/51. W.C.L. Martin 'History of the Dog' 1845 page 203. Mr. Philip P. King, after ample opportunities of observation, informs me that the Dingo and European dogs often cross in Australia.); and a similar tendency to sterility might be transmitted to the hybrid offspring of a wild animal. Moreover, it appears that in M. Flourens' experiments the hybrids were closely bred in and in for three or four generations; and this circumstance would most certainly increase the tendency to sterility. Several years ago I saw confined in the Zoological Gardens of London a female hybrid from an English dog and jackal, which even in this the first generation was so sterile that, as I was assured by her keeper, she did not fully exhibit her proper periods; but this case was certainly exceptional, as numerous instances have occurred of fertile hybrids from these two animals. In almost all experiments on the crossing of animals there are so many causes of doubt, that it is extremely difficult to come to any positive conclusion. It would, however, appear, that those who believe that our dogs are descended from several species will have not only to admit that their offspring after a long course of domestication generally lose all tendency to sterility when crossed together; but that between certain breeds of dogs and some of their supposed aboriginal parents a certain degree of sterility has been retained or possibly even acquired.

Notwithstanding the difficulties in regard to fertility given in the last two paragraphs, when we reflect on the inherent improbability of man having domesticated throughout the world one single species alone of so widely distributed, so easily tamed, and so useful a group as the Canidae; when we reflect on the extreme antiquity of the different breeds; and especially when we reflect on the close similarity, both in external structure and habits, between the domestic dogs of various countries and the wild species still inhabiting these same countries, the balance of evidence is strongly in favour of the multiple origin of our dogs.


If the several breeds have descended from several wild stocks, their difference can obviously in part be explained by that of their parent species. For instance, the form of the greyhound may be partly accounted for by descent from some such animal as the slim Abyssinian Canis simensis (1/52. Ruppel 'Neue Wirbelthiere von Abyssinien' 1835-40 'Mammif.' s. 39 pl. 14.

Charles Darwin

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