History Of Dogs: Do Pugs Really Come From Wolves?

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Female pug dog painting, 1802. (Bonhams London/Wikimedia Commons)

Aside from being canine, pugs and wolves don't seem to have much in common. Really, pugs don't even have much in common with other dog breeds, from the towering Great Dane to the friendly Golden Retriever. The evolution of dogs that created a myriad breeds occurred over thousands of years, giving rise to cuddly creations that are each in their own way man's best friend.

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Canis lupus, otherwise known as the big gray wolf, first appeared in Eurasia early in the Pleistocene period, about a million years ago. Shortly after that, around 750,000 years ago, it's believed that the gray wolf migrated to North America. For a brief period of a few thousands years, the gray wolf and dire wolf (Canis dirus) coexisted, but thanks to climate change and prey extinction, the dire wolf fell away and the gray wolf became the alpha canine in North America. By the time the Inuit people crossed the Beringia, the gray wolf was a well-established predator in North America.