In Chapter 9 of Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond discusses the six main characteristics necessary for an animal to be domesticated successfully.
- Captive breeding: Some animals breed easily in captivity and others do not. For an animal to be domesticated, it must breed easily and readily in captivity without the need for artificial aids or inducements. While modern technology has contributed to the ability of zoos to breed rare and exotic animals, that technology did not exist when animals were first domesticated.
- Quick Growth: To make raising animals for food productive, the animals must grow quickly so that their food value is worth the investment in feeding and care.
- Docility: An animal must be fairly docile and easy to handle by humans and also avoid getting in fights with other animals to be domesticated easily. Animals which routinely attack their owners and herd-mates are hard to care for.
- Social/herd structure: Animals that have social herd structures and shared territories in the wild are easier to manage than solitary animals.
- Flexible and efficient diet: Domestic animals must have a flexible and efficient diet on which they can readily grow and thrive. Domestic food animals should be basically herbivorous so they can graze rather than requiring special diets.
- Calm: Animals such as antelope which are prone to panic attacks escape or injure themselves and so make bad choices for domestication.