May 18, 2021

Humans started feeding dogs 3,500 years ago

An investigation by the University of Barcelona (UB) has concluded that humans began supplementing dogs’ diets with millet at least 3,500 years ago.

In a statement this Monday, the institution explained that experts from the Prehistoric Studies and Research Seminar (SERP) have analyzed remains of 36 dogs from the Bronze Age and the First Iron Age found at the Can Roqueta site in Sabadell (Barcelona) and have published their findings in the ‘Journal World Prehistory’.

They have discovered that, although humans already conditioned canine feeding since the Neolithic Age, with the introduction of cereals and legumes, 3,500 years ago they added millet, a cereal introduced in the middle of the Bronze Age in the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula and that supposed an important change in the economy of the human populations.

Millet allowed a more intense agricultural exploitation throughout the year and was a more digestive food source than traditionally grown gluten-containing grains.

The majority of the dogs found in Can Roqueta, therefore, were fed by the human community in a mixed way: the diet consisted of cereals with gluten and legumes that were surely transformed into flour, mixed with water and combined with proteins of animal origin.

Researchers have also distinguished among Can Roqueta dogs some specimens with a carnivorous diet and others with a markedly vegetarian diet, which raises a “diversification of the functionality of the dog” from El Hierro Age.

There is also a morphological variation: very large dog specimens are beginning to be registered, possibly the result of hybridization with wolves, and others more graceful and small, because the need arose for dogs to watch over animals such as goats or sheep.


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