Have you ever wondered what would happen to your dog if you were no longer around? Can dogs survive without human influence? The majority of the world’s dogs, about 80%, live independent lives, offering some insight into this question.
Dogs are the most successful domesticated species on Earth and have evolved under human care for thousands of years. Selective breeding has resulted in over 400 modern dog breeds with unique physical and behavioral traits. Initially, dogs were bred for functional roles such as herding and hunting, but in recent years, emphasis has shifted towards companionship and appearance. Breeders play a significant role in shaping breeds by selecting desirable traits.
However, some features that appeal to humans can have negative effects on dogs’ health and happiness. For example, flat-faced dogs like pugs and bulldogs often struggle with breathing and are prone to various health issues. Many modern breeds rely on human intervention for reproduction, with some requiring caesarean sections to give birth.
While domestic dogs can benefit from being part of human families, some live isolated lives with limited agency. If humans were to disappear, breeds heavily dependent on human care would struggle to adapt and survive. However, this would only affect a small percentage of dogs, as most free-ranging dogs coexist with humans in some way. These dogs rely on human-made resources like garbage dumps and food handouts for survival. Without humans, natural selection would come into play, favoring dogs with essential survival traits.
Over time, distinct dog breeds would fade, and unrestricted mating would lead to a uniform “village dog” appearance. These dogs would have a medium size, balanced build, short coats in various colors, and upright ears and tails. They would adopt social and dietary behaviors similar to their wild counterparts, such as dingoes in Australia.
To improve dogs’ lives, it is important to consider their well-being, health, and environment. Giving dogs more agency and allowing them to make choices can increase their happiness. Reflecting on a possible future without dogs prompts us to evaluate our actions towards them and ensure they align with their best interests.