While not as prominent as wolves or coyotes, dogs have also been around since early in ‘Souls history. Dogs and dog hybrids are popular for their wider range of appearances, markings, and colorations, and starting with the pack Cour des Miracles, dogs were explicitly given a place within ‘Souls.
Dogs were present throughout the world prior to the extinction of humanity, and they remain so after the fact. Wild canines, more easily able to survive, are generally dominant over dog populations; however, there are a few areas of the world in which dogs have become one of the top predators, such as South America. The Canine World Species Map merely displays areas where dogs might be considered a dominant population.
Purebreds versus Landraces
In a post-apocalyptic world, it is highly unlikely breeds are recognizable as they were known prior to the apocalypse. While some traits and characteristics, physical and instinctual, may have persisted in the landrace-type dogs remaining after the apocalypse, truly purebred dogs are a rarity.
The Problem with Purebreds
Prior to the apocalypse, many purebred dogs were produced through poor breeding practices, including inbreeding and puppy mills, which restricted genetic diversity and encouraged genetic illnesses and other weaknesses, leading to increased health problems and all-around weaker individuals. The first few generations of post-apocalypse dogs would had a difficult time surviving in competition with wild canine species and other predators.
As the surviving dogs bred indiscriminately with other breeds and species though, outcrossing and fresh blood would decrease some of the genetic problems. Breeds or groups of dogs within a given breed without the inclinations toward genetic illness will generally survive much better in the short and long run. Still, some genetic issues may still be prevalent, having the ability to show in later generations in higher incidence.
Appearance versus Functionality
In addition to the problems inherent with poor breeding, there is the problem of dogs bred for appearance over functionality. Especially in the last several centuries before the apocalypse, humans created many breeds for purely aesthetic purposes, and even very old breeds originally used for functional purposes have been bred to be less so.
A stark example of a functional subtype of a breed versus its show confirmation subtype: compare the Seppala Siberian Sleddog to the Siberian husky commonly seen in shows today. The Seppala is said to be far closer to the “original” (i.e., founding Russian and early 20th-century American imports) Siberian husky dogs in both appearance and ability. For more information and examples with comparative pictures, see 100 Years of Breed “Improvement.”
Breeding for appearance often leads to ghastly health problems—for example, the breathing and respiratory problems faced by brachycephalic (broad, flat headed) dogs are worse as compared to their older ancestors. The respiratory system of a dog is compromised for a look humans find attractive — such traits are highly unlikely to remain in any surviving dogs in the ‘Soulsverse, whether landrace or not. For examples of what wouldn’t have survived, see Unlikely Breeds.
Post Apocalyptic Breeds: Landraces
- Animals or plants adapted to the natural and cultural environment in which they live or originated (e.g., a large type of dog developing naturally to compete with other large predators).
- Animals or plants that display characteristics that arose via controlled breeding (e.g., humans selecting large offspring to produce a large type of dog).
After the apocalypse, it is highly unlikely many breeds would persist as we know them today. Instead, landraces are far more commonplace. Landraces are different from breeds in that they typically originate without interference, whereas a breed is developed by specific pairings based on traits that humans found (or Luperci find!) desirable. The obvious advantage in this is that it’s similar to how a species develops: by adapting over time to its environment. This encourages characteristics specialized for a given environment, and increases chances of survival.
An example of this is the spitz and husky-type dogs found in Alaska and northwestern Canada. Although Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, Samoyeds, Alaskan Huskies, and many other similar breeds of dog may have all lived separately, with different breeders, owners, and trainers, following the apocalypse these dogs may not have much incentive not to interbreed with each other. That said — sometimes cultural influences may have caused a particular breed to remain pure in a given area — or even as a given family.
Certain dog characteristics make for better survival than others, but not all survival characteristics in dogs are exactly alike. A wide variety of dog landraces — albeit perhaps not exactly alike any breed we know — have survived the apocalypse. Some may have even flourished! For a very good example of how very different dog types might hunt and fight to survive after the apocalypse, see this National Geographic video.
Herding dogs did as the name suggests — they aided humanity in herding pursuits prior to the apocalypse. In general, these are medium-sized dogs with high intelligence. Many of these breeds are also very sociable and work well together, so it’s likely they would form packs and find it easier to survive. Their close relationship with humans, as well as their instinctual familiarity and experience, may have led these Luperci breeds to begin domesticating livestock earlier than others.
Pinscher and Schnauzer Dogs
Pinscher and Schnauzer dogs originated as companions, guardians, and herders. They vary in size, from the Giant Schnauzer to the Miniature Schnauzer. These are high-intelligence dogs, and they are typically energetic and lively. However, some of the the Pinscher-type dogs have shorter fur, which may make it more difficult for them in particular to survive in colder climates.
Mountain Dogs are generally very large, and as they were typically bred in colder climates, they usually have longer and thicker fur. These dogs may survive very well in mountainous, cold regions, but they would not do as well in extremely hot regions. Their size also makes for moderate difficulty surviving—dogs of this size may have difficulty sustaining their appetites, and it is likely extreme hugeness would not survive as a trait without specific breeding programs.
Terriers are a diverse group, ranging from the tiny Yorkshire Terrier to the American Staffordshire Terrier. These dogs were bred to assist humans with a variety of purposes — including small animal hunting, pest control, and companionship. Though these dogs are intelligent, active, and energetic, they are typically of medium-to-small size, and many of them have very short fur. Terriers are widely regarded as particularly “tenacious”–human breeders of these dogs have noted they are especially energetic and rough in play (no matter the breed) and sometimes have difficulty reading the body language of other canines.
Spitz-type dogs are generally cold-weather Dogs; most of these types of Dogs were bred in the coldest regions of the world for various human uses—they are both hunters and sled-pullers. Generally, these breeds are quite old, and some are thought of as “closest” to their wolf ancestors, making it highly likely that they would have a high survival rate after humans disappear.
Primitive-type dogs were a rare dog type in the time of humans; they were not common breeds. It is especially unlikely for many of these breeds to have survived without mixing blood with other dogs, wolves, jackals, or coyotes. However, the advantage of these primitive dogs (sometimes referred to as pariah dogs) is that they are very adapted to their environment–landraces of such dogs may therefore dominate other canine species in their home ranges, regardless of other species’ adaptability. Many of these dogs were intended as hunting animals—for example, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, originally bred in Zimbabwe, was developed to assist in the hunting of lions.
Scenthounds are extremely varied. There include tracking dogs such as the Bloodhound, bred specifically to be able to follow a prey’s scent trail, and group hunting dogs such as the English Foxhound and American Foxhound, which may run in groups hundreds of dogs large. As such, many scenthounds are extremely social and able to work with other canines. Examples include the Black and Tan Coonhound and the Beagle. Scenthounds’ characteristic droopy ears might disappear quickly, however. While the drooping ears do perform the function of “funneling” the scent upward toward the dogs’ noses, upturned ears are seen almost universally in wild canines and clearly provide a distinctive hearing advantage.
Pointers and Setters
Pointers and setters were bred with a particular instinct: they stopped and indicated game with muzzles, tails, and body language for a human net and gun hunters. Pointers were typically meant to work alone; they may not be as readily sociable as group hunting dogs. Nonetheless, these dog types may find survival easier than other dog types: they are quiet and efficient hunters, and hunting instincts in these dogs may begin displaying as early as two months old. Generations of breeding insured that these dogs did not scare prey or attack prior to a hunter’s command.
Retrievers and Water Dogs
These types of dogs were originally bred for waterfowl hunting. Naturally, most of these dogs have an instinctive drive to swim; they may do well surviving near lakes and rivers or in swampy areas. They generally have a friendly demeanor and are quite docile, which may regulate them into middle-tier ranks in mixed dog packs.
Sighthounds were originally bred for hunting, relying on sight rather than smell to hunt prey. Dogs of this type tend toward large, lean, and short furred. Many dogs of this type are especially adapted for desert and steppe regions. Sighthounds tend to have very deep chests and may suffer from the canine ailment of bloat more easily than many other breeds.
Flushing dogs were originally bred to scare up game (typically birds) for a hunter. Unfortunately, these dogs would not likely survive very long in a post-apocalypse setting—their first instinct is to frighten prey for a hunter, and this instinct generally does not lead to successful hunting. These traits would quickly die out in Luperci. Some features of spaniel-type dogs may still exist, but these hunting instincts have almost certainly been extinguished.
Companion and Toy Dogs
These are typically smaller dogs—most of these breeds do not exceed 30 pounds (14 kg). Toy dogs were almost universally bred for their companionship—as such, they are generally docile and intelligent. Nonetheless, many of these dogs would have difficulty surviving without humanity around. Some are extremely small — e.g., Chihuahuas, which can weigh as little as 2 lbs (1 kg) — and are completely unable to defend themselves against larger animals.
As many toy breeds were also designed for aesthetics over practicality, some would not be able to exist at all without human interventions. One example of this is the French Bulldog. Top-heaviness and slim hips make mating difficult: males often cannot remain atop their partners in their natural form. Beyond their difficulties in mating, female French Bulldogs almost always required caesarian sections (not possible for Luperci), as the pups’ heads are too wide for the mother’s birth canal.
Smallness of size does not necessitate a breed or its predominant features have died out. Some small dogs were working dogs, and may be far more capable of survival than companion and truly toy-sized dogs. Nonetheless, extreme smallness is not a feature likely to have survived in modern Luperci.
Dachshunds, Basset Hounds, and Corgis are examples of short legged, long-bodied dogs. Unfortunately, there is little chance of this body type being passed along to continuing generations. While these animals were originally bred for their hunting and tracking abilities, they are also are prone to back and spine problems and their short legs make it difficult for them to flee from larger predators. Without the selective breeding of humanity, their long-bodied legginess would quickly die out.
Most of these dogs tend to be on the extremely large size, but the defining feature of a Molossoid-type dog is a pushed-in, upturned nose, a broad head, and unusually large jowls. This can vary between breeds—the Rottweiler has virtually no Molossoid nasal features, whereas the Boxer is extremely Molossoid in nasal formation. Such features often create respiratory issues–these dogs have more difficulty breathing, are more prone to respiratory illnesses and breathing troubles, and tend to overheat more easily. The muzzle features present in the Molossoid-type dogs is likely to be bred out quickly and and should not be strongly present in any remaining canines.
Hairless Khalas, Xoloitzcuintli, Peruvian Inca Orchids, and other hairless breeds would likely disappear very quickly in a post-human world as they’re relatively disadvantaged in terms of general survival. Being hairless leaves dogs vulnerable to weather and temperature in both extremes — they have no protection against the cold, nor against sunburn or plant rash. Injuries that might be minor in their furred relatives could be critically dangerous to hairless dogs as well; attacks that might be buffered by thick fur would instead cause grievous injury and infection, etc.