A Primitive Dog's Purpose
When people ask me what kind of dog I have, the next question is usually “what were they bred for”? The answer to this question is a hard one because not all primitive dogs were bred for a purpose that makes sense in modern society. Even today, free-roaming, village, and semi-feral dog populations make up the majority of dogs on the planet but explaining to people that their “purpose” is to be “dogs”, is hard for many people to understand.
The most popular visual dog silhouette that represents a “dog” is primarily a German Shepherd. This pointy stoic form is what comes to mind when many modern people think of a dog. They think of a loyal and motivated companion, content to be at your side or calmly watching over you. While this caricature is not out of the question for many human/dog relationships, it isn’t the norm for primitive dog households.
Primitive dog households may have dogs that embody some of the characteristics of societies “ideal dog”, but usually not all of them nor are they present all the time. The gregarious, attentive, loyal, and drive modern dog has been bred for the last 200 years to be just that. But for the 20,000+ years prior to this, the vast majority of dogs were not bred to be engaged with a human. They were bred to work independently if they were bred to work at all.
Very early village dogs primarily had a purpose of being bed warmers, garbage clean up, alarm systems, and a food source. Eventually, they followed us on the hunt or guarded the village against intruders. This is the stopping point for the most primitive of our dogs. The breeds range up from this point, but they all still have characteristics that return to these roots. So when someone asks me about my dog’s purpose, I am most honest when I say “to be a dog”.
This site is called “couch wolves” for a very simple and honest reason. That is what many of these dogs are. Their ancestors co-existed and co-domesticated with humans because they found life to be a little easier with us around. They found sources of comfort and ease around us. Humans made life easier for them. And in today’s society, that is clearly represented in the form of a couch. Our dog’s wolf-type cousins found comfort in humans, and today our primitive dogs find comfort in our modern human lives. Their “purpose” today is to be our companions, in many ways just as it was 20,000+ years ago. Expect that today the digs are comfier and they are much less likely to eat them.
In many ways, the life of a primitive dog is a dog’s most natural existence. Human cohabitation is their natural ecology. To be with us in our simplest natural form. And that being said there is nothing wrong with enriching that life with training, tricks, sports, or nights on the town. Because sharing our lives and communicating with them is also an integral part of the primitive dog experience.
I find that primitive dog owners are all a little more centered in the natural world, be it physically, spiritually, or just a resonance. They like the feet the ground under their feet, like to touch their roots or be with the raw source of what they love. Primitive dogs embody this and materialize it into our modern plastic and pavement filled world.
The next time someone asks you what your primitive dog’s purpose is, be honest and tell them the truth - “To be a dog”. In doing so you honor the heritage of all dogs. You also honor your dog’s unique relationship with the world today, as an individual.
If you’re not already a member, I recommend joining the Couch Wolves Community and spending some time sharing your dog with us! We love to honor each dog’s individual story and at the same time celebrating our dog’s true purpose - to be a dog.