Canis familiaris 
- Bering Strait
- Far East
- South East Asia
- Middle East
Early Dogs from the Middle East
- Excavation of a Natufian tomb in Israel dated 10,000 BCE. (Davis & Valla,  1978).
- A man and a puppy are buried together. The human's hand is lying on the little dog. This is a possible indication of an existing affectionate bond.
- Descendants of such dogs presumably populated Africa.
Archaeological Records of the Earliest Evidence and Dispersal of Canis familiaris in Africa, North of the Equator
|Date CE |
Earliest evidence for Canis familiaris on the African Continent
5th Millennium BCE
- 4,700 BCE at Nabta Playa (Gautier, personal comment)
- 4,500 BCE at Merimde Beni Salame (Boessneck , 1988)
- 4,500 BCE at Maadi (Boessneck, 1988)
4th Millennium BCE
- Extension from the lower river Nile into other Neolithic centers in Northern Africa.
- Confluence of White and Blue Nile in Nubia (present day Khartoum in Sudan).
- Mountainous areas in the Sahara (Magreb, Tibesti, Hoggar, Tassili).
Two slender gaze hounds wearing collars (top right) are pursuing a hare and an antelope. This is detail from decorated pottery found near Hierakonpolis (Egypt) and dated 3,700 BCE. (Hendrickx , 1992)
Hilzheimer (1926) describes and shows details from pottery associated with the Naqada 1 culture (dated ca. 3,500 BCE) and found near Hierakonpolis.
Pre-dynastic hunting scene
Tesem hunting antelope. Tomb Udumu, 1st Dynasty. (Boessneck,1988).
Pre-dynastic brachycephalic dogs
Engravings on an ivory sceptre head found in Hierakonpolis, showing a row of lions and broad-skulled dogs (Quibell , 1900, cited in Osborn and Osbernová, 1998)
Rock art in Sahara mountains.
Cave rock art:
Hunting scene with dogs. Found in Hill station at Sefar, Tassili-n-Ajjer , Algeria. Dated c. 3,700 BCE. (Méry , 1968).
3rd Millennium BCE
From the Sahara into the Sahel
- According to archaeological records, the dog progressively occupied the present day Sahel zone.
- Its moving frontier then stopped for about 1,000 years.
- The Equatorial Forest may have obstructed further migration of Stone Age herdsmen.
4th Millennium BCE: Dogs of Ancient Egypt
Neolithic communities along the lower river Nile joined forces and laid the foundations for the Old Kingdom . The first Pharaoh came to rule in 3,250 BCE. By that time the dog had moved beyond the borders of present day Egypt.
Multiple artistic expressions provide proof that during the successive reigns of the Pharaohs, the aristocracy was in a position to breed dogs selectively.
Artworks indicate that the commoners raised dogs for utilitarian purposes.
Numerous embalmed dogs have been found, indicating that this animal was integral to Ancient Egyptian mythology.
Dogs of the Ancient Egyptian Aristocracy
A sight hound (Tesem) with hanging ears followed by an achondroplastic bitch with pricked ears. Tomb of Sarenput 1., early 12. dynasty (Boessneck, 1988)
Hunting scene in the desert. Tomb Antefoker, 12. dyn. (Boessneck, J., 1988).
Servants at work in the company of Tesem. Mus. Kairo Nr 1562, 5. dynasty (Boessneck, 1988)
Ancient Egyptian Dogs
Common village dog. Gise, tomb, 2184, 5/6 dyn. (Boessneck,1988).
Tomb Achethotep 5 dyn. (Boessneck,1988).
The hieroglyphic sign for the dog. (Siber , 1893 cited in Tschudy, 1923)
Common village dogs as well as selectively bred dogs of the aristocracy flourished throughout Neolithic days and the Bronze- and Iron Ages in Ancient Egypt.
The Bantu Migration
The Early Iron Age Bantu Migration & Expansion
The event of the Iron Age in association with political pressure in the North due to Roman occupation, might have urged some Bantu people to look for greener pastures to the South.
The movement started 2,000 years ago from the savanna bordering Cameroon and Nigeria . (Huffman , 1997).
Moving south of the Equator
Bantu migration along the Great Rift Valley:
in search of grazing in the southern savanna, and to save their cattle from trypanosoma infection caused by the tsetse fly, they followed tsetse-free corridors.
The Iron Age South of the Equator
The sub-equatorial Iron Age is divided into: Early (200 – 1,000 CE) and Late (1,000 – 1,800 CE) Iron Age.
The Early Iron Age introduced the use of iron implements, agriculture, cattle herding and the dog to southern Africa.
The Southern Tip of Africa
Early Iron Age sites recorded the presence of the dog:
- 570 CE - Limpopo river-border Botswana.(Plug , 2000)
- 650 CE - lower Thukela river (Van Schalkwyk , 1994)
- 800 CE - Cape St. Francis (Chappel, 1968). This was a Khoisan site suggesting that the Early Iron Age Bantu speakers had made contact with the local population
The Enigma of the Historical Khoikhoi Dog
During the Stone Age, Khoikhoi herders reached the most southern tip of Africa by the beginning of the CE. However, only remains of sheep dating that far back have been found at these sites. Remains of the dog only date back from 800 CE onward, once the Bantu people arrived.
Contact with Western Civilization
Portuguese explorers cast anchor at St. Helena Bay in late 1497. Vasco da Gama’s diary refers to the Khoikhoi and domestic dogs in southern Africa: "They have many dogs like those of Portugal which bark as do these."
A Khoikhoi family preparing for travel. Painting by Daniell (1804). (Transvaal Museum Library)
Khoikhoi family in the early 1700’s Artist unknown. S.A. Library.
Theal writing on conditions in Southern Africa before 1505, describing the cattle, sheep and dogs of the Khoisan people:
"The only other domestic animal was the dog. He was an ugly creature, his body being shaped like that of a jackal, and the hair on his spine being turned forward; but he was a faithful, serviceable animal of his kind"
A mouse-grey, ridged and prick-eared dog in KwaZulu-Natal. Photo Johan Gallant (1995)
Kollb in 1713 describes the Khoisan dogs:
"They have a small head and a very sharp muzzle. The coat is mouse-grey. They are seldom higher than one el and barely one third longer. The ears are erect and sharp."
Bushman Rock Art
Bushmen hunted for ages without dogs. The practice was introduced with the arrival of the Early Iron Age.
Hunters carrying bows, arrows, quivers and a brush or fly-switch, accompanied by dogs.
Baboon hunting scene
Possible Foreign Impact?
The dog arrived in South Africa around the 5th century. By the year 800 it was part of all indigenous communities.
Possible foreign impact by:
- Arab traders (8th century)
- Eastern seafarers (10th century)
- Late Iron Age (11th century)
- Portuguese explorers (15th century)
- Dutch settlers at the Cape (1652)
- British settlers (1820)
- Anglo-Zulu war (1879)
Africanis from Northern KwaZulu-Natal
Desert bred Saluqi by Dr.Gail Goodman
Blood samples from desert bred Saluqis in the Middle East and Native African Dogs in KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa) indicate an ancient genetic relationship between these dogs. (Greyling , 2004).
For more information on the genetic diversity and structure in indigenous AfriCanis dogs from southern Africa, click here.