Dogs (American Indians Ready Reference)
Article abstract: Dogs provided hunting assistance, food, and companionship among all Indian groups
The first dogs in America were domesticated from wolves in Asia and were brought to the Americas some time between forty thousand and fifteen thousand years ago. There were two major breeds of dog in native North America, one long-legged and the other short-legged. The former resembled a German shepherd in build, and the latter was similar to a beagle, though both were extremely variable in coloring and hair length. There is no evidence of selective breeding to keep breeds separate, and dogs with intermediate characteristics were common.
Both breeds of dog were used primarily as hunting aids, flushing game into the open or treeing it. Some dogs apparently were adept at forcing animals into the open by digging into their burrows, but it is unclear whether any tribes regularly trained dogs for hunting skills. Dogs also were used for hauling travois in the Great Plains, for pulling Inuit dogsleds, and as pets everywhere.
Dogs occasionally were eaten throughout North America, especially in times of food shortage. Some groups, such as the Iroquois, had annual feasts at which the eating of a dog was a central part of the activities. In Western Mexico, dogs were eaten more regularly, and the modern chihuahua is descended from a dog bred particularly for eating. These dogs are depicted in ceramic sculptures in prehistoric...
(The entire section is 258 words.)
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