The bond between dogs and their humans is well documented throughout history. For many generations, dogs and humans have coexisted and enhanced each other’s lives. It’s hard to imagine a time when the two species didn’t interact at all, isn’t it? 

So how exactly did canines get the moniker of (wo)man’s best friend? Let’s dive into the history of canine-human relations to find out how they went from wild animals to some of our dearest companions: 

The Start of a Beautiful Friendship 

Although it’s hard to pinpoint a specific moment in history that this special relationship began to evolve into what it is today, scientists believe it started when man domesticated wolves. Many believe that packs of wolves started living closer to human settlements for easier access to food scraps. Interactions were small at first, but eventually blossomed into real relationships. Once humans started raising wolves from the time they were pups, a deeper bond began to develop. Since canines are pack animals that follow an unspoken hierarchy, humans easily took up the role of alpha in their newly-formed packs.

Thank You, Oxytocin 

Something that dogs and humans share is the hormone oxytocin. The brain releases it to give you those warm and fuzzy feelings. It can also be used to provide a sense of calm when fear might be running rampant—as it was when they started to interact. Humans and dogs both release this hormone, especially when locking eyes with each other. This biological response can create an instant bond between man and dog, and since it is formed on a chemical level, it is inherently very strong. The next time you make eye contact with your pup and feel the depth of your love in your gut, it’s real! You are having a positive hormonal response to your close relationship.

How Dog Became Man’s Best Friend

While oxytocin might have helped to develop the relationship between man and dog, their unique ability to live and work together has strengthened it. They truly are man’s best friend. Today, we rely on dogs for:

  • Love
  • Protection
  • Herding
  • Hunting
  • Retrieving
  • Search and rescue
  • Assistance for people with physical and health disabilities 
  • Alerting 
  • And so much more

There are not many species that can so seamlessly perform such a wide array of tasks while also serving as one of the main sources of love in a person’s life. 

The Origin of the Phrase “Man’s Best Friend”

The official title of “man’s best friend” originated in a Supreme Court case in 1870, when attorney George Graham Vest declared, “The one absolute, unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world—the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous—is his dog.” Anyone who has ever owned a dog can deeply relate to this sentiment. 

The team at Oakland Veterinary Referral Services understands the importance of the bond between pets and their people. This is why we offer specialty veterinary and emergency services to help you get the care you need for your pet at all times. To learn more about our array of services or to schedule an appointment, please call (248) 334‑6877.