Taxonomy of the domestic dogs and humans - Canis Lupus Familiaris

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Do you wonder what the dog's taxonomy is? Let’s start from the beginning. The taxonomy is the branch of biology responsible for classifying and naming each of the living beings. Although Aristotle already made a first taxonomic classification, the botanist Linnaeus is considered the father of this science, and today his nomenclature continues to be used for the taxonomic classification of living beings.

The classification of dog from kingdom to species is based on a series of groups or categories, also known as taxa, to which belong individuals that share certain common characteristics. They have a hierarchical sense, which means that each category is included in the previous categories that precede it.

In addition, some categories include subcategories, to further differentiate the individuals belonging to them. Next, we will see the taxonomy of the dog (Canis lupus familiaris), making reference to the most important categories.

Classification of dog from kingdom to species

It is the highest taxonomic category, and divides living beings into 5 groups: animals, plants, fungi, bacteria, and protists.

The dog belongs to the Animalia or Metazoa Kingdom, which includes living beings with sexual reproduction and embryonic development, which consume oxygen in the breathing process, and have the ability to move (locomotor system).

Phylum of the dog according to his taxonomy

It is the category located between the Kingdom and the Class. It is differentiated in superphylums and subphylums to facilitate the classification of individuals pertaining to it and that differ in certain characteristics.

The dog belongs to the Phylum Chordata, which means from the chordates. These are individuals that have notochord or dorsal cord in some of their embryonic stages. This dorsal cord provides some rigidity to the individual and, in some cases, like that of the dog, it is replaced by the spine.

Class of the dog according to his taxonomy

It is the category located between the Phylum and the Order, and, like the others, can present sub and supercategories such as the subclass and the superclass, respectively. Each class comprises a variable number of orders.

The dog belongs to the Mammalia Class, that is, of the mammals. They are characterized, as their name already indicates, by owning mammary glands to feed their younglings. Other characteristics common to individuals of this class are that they possess warm blood, a body covered by hair, and a jaw formed by a single bone.

The Order of the dog according to his taxonomy

It is the taxonomic category located between the Class and the Family, which includes one or several Families. Between Class and Order stands out an intermediate category known as superorder or cohort. When it comes to animals, the Order is a fundamental category in the classification of individuals.

The dog belongs to the Carnivorous Order, of the carnivores. Its fundamental characteristic is the adaptation of the molars, premolars, and canines to be able to feed on meat to a greater or lesser extent.

The Genus of the dog according to his taxonomy

The Genus is the category that includes one or several species that have very similar characteristics. The Genus is described by a single word, whose initial always starts with a capital letter, and is written with cursive letters (for example, in the case of the dog, Canis).

The dog belongs to the Canis Genus, which also includes wolves, jackals, coyotes, and the Australian wild dog or dingo.

The Species of the dog by his taxonomic classification

It is the hierarchically inferior category to which a living being belongs, and which is exclusive to that living being. The name of the species consists of 2 words, written in italics: the first refers to the genus and the second to the species itself, always written in lowercase and accompanied by the first (because, by itself, it has no meaning). Individuals belonging to the same species are characterized by being able to breed with each other and have fertile offspring.

The dog belongs to the species Canis lupus, together with the wolf. In fact, the dog is considered a subspecies of the wolf, hence his scientific name is Canis lupus familiaris. In effect, the archaeological remains and the genetic studies seem to indicate that the dogs arose from several groups of gray wolves (that is to say, there were several simultaneous domestications) between 11,000-16,000 years ago. As for the hundreds of dog breeds that exist today, all of them belong to the subspecies Canis lupus familiaris, without distinguishing specific taxonomic categories, since they have arisen from the artificial selection made by the human being.

Borja Ros Villanueva, veterinarian and ethologist in Adetcan.
Adetcan is a project formed by two veterinary ethologists and canine educators who provide counseling, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of behavioral problems in dogs and cats. The service is at home. We are in Santiago de Compostela but we work throughout Galicia.