It was once thought that dogs evolved in the Middle East. But new studies seem to indicate that they came from a small section of modern China. Dogs are descended from wolves and retain many of their characteristics. They were probably first domesticated in the Middle East thousands of years ago. With the advent of agriculture and later, other of man's needs, dogs were bred according to the jobs they were needed for. Today there are a number of groups that the different breeds are part of such as hunting, herding, guarding, and so on.