The Dog That Defied Darwinism
The development of the Córdoba Fighting Dog and its consequences
The domestication and development of dog breeds is a fascinating subject, showing how biology and culture overlap to create new kinds of life. Domestication is often seen as ‘unnatural’ in some sense, as does selective breeding, but we should remind ourselves that humans are not the only species to domesticate others. Fish and insects are well known for engaging in farming and domesticating plants, fungi and other animals. One could argue that certain ants enslave others, even controlling them through violence. Despite our best efforts however, we have learnt that not all species will co-operate to become domesticated. If Man could tame deer and others in that family, it would have happened a long time ago. The semi-domestication of reindeer is about as close as it gets. Domestication itself is a specific biological act, with a common set of processes across animals and plants, although they are not fully understood even today.
The story I want to look at here is a unique example of selective breeding which seemed to defy the basic commandments of evolutionary biology - the compulsion or instinct to procreate. The tale is a sad one, of a dog species developed to become the ultimate fighting machine, at the expense of all the beauty of that creature. But it also should remind us that biology is a study dominated by exceptions, and even the most fundamental rules can be broken. Whether you see this as a natural or unnatural phenomena will probably depend on your own philosophical position about Life and what constitutes Life.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Grey Goose Chronicles to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.