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Public Education Educator Resources Natural Selection 9-12

Learning Objectives

Students will understand how wolves were domesticated into dogs through natural selection.


Grade Levels



Next Generation Science Standard

HS-LS4-4. Construct an explanation based on evidence for how natural selection leads to adaptation of populations.


Materials Needed

Computers with access to internet

My Ideal Dog Breed worksheet




Explicit Instruction/Teacher Modeling

  • From the reading, there are two major theories regarding how dogs were domesticated.
  1. Humans sought out wolves.
  2. Wolves sought out humans.
  • Both agree that natural selection favored wolves that were bold and friendly. They also agree that bold and aggressive wolves would be killed and therefore unable to breed. This allowed the bold and friendly dogs to breed, which was a key to the eventual evolution into dogs.
  • As a small group, hypothesize how dogs could become so different from wolves in appearance but still retain much of their genetic makeup.

Independent Working Time

  • As discussed above, natural selection helped to weed out undesirable behaviors in wolves and allow wolves with desirable behaviors to survive.
  • Have students read the following article about natural selection and dog breeding: Breeding and Natural Selection
  • Have students share ways that breeding and natural selection are similar.
  • Have students consider the traits of a dog they would like to have.
  • Instruct them to research dog breeds here: AKC Dog Breeds
  • Pass out the Ideal Dog Breed sheet and have students complete it.

Review and Closing

  • Allow students to share their dog breed with the class.


Chan, M. (2016, August 25). The Mysterious History Behind Humanity’s Love of Dogs. Time. Retrieved from

Dog Breeds. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Hare, B. (2013, March 3). Opinion: We Didn’t Domesticate Dogs. They Domesticated Us. National Geographic.Retrieved from

How is Breeding Like Natural Selection. (n.d.). Retrieved from