Dog Evolution with Izzy Sharpe

Alaska, USA


Izzy always dreamed of leading a team of dogs through the Alaskan landscape as part of the great Iditarod race.  She marveled at the skill required and the bond with the dogs. She didn’t have 12 dogs, but she did have her beagle, Monte. So Izzy let her imagination take her and Monte to Alaska. A crowd started to gather as Izzy prepared Monte for the sled ride.

All of the sudden an unfamiliar voice burst out over the crowd. “Ten, nine, eight…”


Izzy hopped on the back of the sled and yelled, “Mush!” Monte stretched his short legs and ran as fast as he could. He heaved and pulled the sled as far as the first turn in the trail. He heaved and pulled a little more, and then a little less, until he couldn’t pull any longer. Monte stood frozen in the snow.


“The Iditarod only uses breeds like the Alaskan malamute, Alaskan Husky or Siberian Husky,” someone in the crowd reasoned. “These dogs were bred for strength, endurance, and handling cold temperatures.”

Izzy put a blanket over Monte. Izzy rubbed Monte’s short legs and long floppy ears. They stood on the sidelines and watched the dog sled teams race through before returning to Izzy’s bedroom.


The Explanation

Dogs are actually a subspecies of the grey wolf. Around 30,000 to 20,000 years ago domestication of dogs began. Then humans used artificial selection to create various dog breeds. People in Great Britain wanted good hunting dogs. So they bred Beagles, like Monte, to have a great sense of smell. People in Alaska needed good sled dogs. So they bred strong, athletic dogs that could master the wild terrain. All dogs breed have the same common ancestor so are considered the same species. But because of artificial selection, a wide variety of breeds emerged based on desiring particular traits.



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