up arrow Domestic Foxes In Boxes (From Russia With Love)


Dogs are humanity’s oldest friend. For tens of thousands of years, they’ve helped us hunt, helped guard the home and helped keep us warm at night. There’s little doubt that tens of thousands of years ago, grey wolves became domesticated dogs. The question is how?

According to one narrative, grey wolves circled neolithic camp fires in search of food. Humans selectively fed and bred the tamest among them. Over time, Canis lupus evolved into Canis lupus familiaris –– the domestic dog.

In the late 1950s, a Soviet scientist sought to test this theory. Dmitry Belyaev attempted to re-enact the selective process through which dogs evolved. He used silver foxes. Belyaev selectively bred 35 generations over 40 years based solely on their friendliness to humans.

Over time, the foxes developed traits that we associate with domestic dogs. They developed floppy ears, curly tails and spotted coats. These traits developed even though they weren’t selected by researchers. Remember, they were just breeding for friendliness.

The path to floppy-eared foxes was long and arduous. Researchers worked tirelessly over forty years to achieve a substantial population of domestic foxes. Belyaev concluded that neolithic man could not have reproduce his experiment under primitive conditions. Instead he reached another conclusion: dogs selected themselves.

The wolves that possessed the traits Belyaev selected in foxes were probably the ones most likely to approach the camp fire. Generations of selective breeding produced packs that were likely to follow humans as they traveled in search of food. As they became domesticated, human selection started to accelerate the process.

The legacies of Belyaev’s experiment are now available in the US as pets. SIBFOX is a Las Vegas distributor of Siberian domestic foxes in America. Where’s Pom? doesn’t know enough about the company to endorse the business but we did want to make our readers aware of it.