Domestic Animal

Domestic animals are those kept for the use or companionship of man. When studied in their relation to the animal kingdom as a whole it is readily seen that they belong to the highest groups of animals; but the actual process of original domestication is unknown to us. It is also very evident that the origin of some of the domesticated groups themselves is very obscure. In general it may be said that only when a distinct breed has been produced by human interference may we call the result domestication.

Classes to Which the Domestic Animals Belong

Among the highest class of animals—the Mammals—familiar illustrations are dogs and cats, horses and asses, cattle, elephants, camels, and the like. Birds include the domesticated pigeons, fowls, ducks, ostrich, peacock, canary, and others. Among fishes, goldfish and carp belong to the domestic class; while the honey bee and the silkworm moth belong to the lowest domestic group—the insects.

Where Animals Were First Domesticated

The original home of fully three-fourths of our domestic animals was the continent of Asia, where, also, the first home of man himself is placed. It seems quite probable that nearly all of these animals were first held as captives by the early peoples for food supply, and that their other uses developed later. As the races spread to the continent of Europe and thence over the habitable world, their animal servants spread with them, and others were added, adapted to varying climatic and other conditions. Our own continent—North America—has added only the turkey and the cochineal insect, while South America has contributed the alpaca, llama, and guinea-pig. No new domestic animals have been developed during the last two thousand years; and the natural conclusion is that all must have come into use at various stages from the very earliest period of man down to the time of the Christian Era.

Results of Domestication on Animals

Many animals have been greatly changed in form, size and habits by domestication, especially the dog, sheep, pig, donkey, pigeon and chicken, so that a great variety of breeds and strains have been developed. Many kinds of dogs are incapable of existence apart from human care. The donkey does not run wild, and chickens are never found at a great distance from human habitations. Others, though much varied in form and size, are still capable of independent existence, such as the horse, goat, ox, cat, and goose, but a group like the cheetah, water buffalo, and swan are only partially domesticated, and little changed by association with man.