Pre-mastication by human mothers is the origin of the kiss?

We are not sure of the origin of the human kiss. It is something we don’t normally think about because it occurs instinctively as an act of love or affection. But it seems that this familiar human act is linked to dog weaning 💖. This is an article about dog weaning more than it is about the human kiss.

In the wild, when the grey wolf is breeding, pre-mastication and food-disgorging plays a role in the social life of the dog’s original ancestors. When it is time for the mother to wean her puppies off her milk, she will return from a hunting trip having killed and eaten a prey animal with her mouth smelling of food. This stimulates her young to sniff at her head. The video below demonstrates this admirably.

They lick her mouth and nip at her jaws to encourage her to regurgitate the food that she has eaten. Even if she’s hungry she will instinctively feed her begging young by disgorging her half-digested kill.

And when the female wolf goes to earth to produce a litter, she is fed regurgitated food by the rest of the pack. She is confined to the den and fed repeatedly in this manner. And when she feeds her cubs with her regurgitated food other pack members including males do the same thing. The male wolves are amazingly attentive to the cubs, sometimes making 20-mile trips to find prey, rushing home to feed the young before they have digested the food too much.

And even though wolves eat putrid food, they don’t offer this up to their offspring. They are selective in only giving freshly killed meat. And they ration the amount by disgorging small separate amounts of food to make sure that each cub enjoys their meal and is fed sufficiently.

Wolf pups beg for food from mom
Wolf pups beg for food from mom. Screenshot.

Ironically, humans find the idea of puppies eating regurgitated food as slightly unpleasant at least, and disgusting at worst. However, Dr. Desmond Morris in his book Dog Watching interestingly tells us that it happened with people before the advent of baby food.

Back in the day, human mothers in primitive tribal societies chewed food into a soft paste and then transferred it by mouth to their babies thus identically replicating the behaviour of a she-wolf feeding her puppies.

And it is posited that this is the origin of that deeply ingrained human action: the loving kiss. And here’s the clincher: when a dog licks his owner’s face, people regard this as being kissed by their dog. Dr. Maurice says that this behaviour “is closer to the truth than most people realise”.

I have touched on the topic of dog weaning puppies. I guess rarely, domestic dogs also regurgitate their food to feed their puppies in the human home. The owner might see this as a female dog vomiting and be perhaps upset by it and concerned. But it might be an instinctive action by the mother wishing to feed her puppies.

Domestic dogs start the weaning process when her puppies are between 3-4 weeks old. She leaves them alone for longer periods and when she returns, she is more reluctant to nurse. The pups are more active and she permits them to feed while she stands. She becomes more impatient and starts to walk away.

At five weeks of age, she may growl at her puppies when they approach for feeding. She may snap at their faces but deliberately avoid making contact. It’s a deterrent.

Over the next two weeks, sometimes a puppy might persuade his mother to allow him to feed but at seven weeks old she is likely to have stopped lactating altogether.

In the family home, this is a point at which owners offer puppies dishes of milk and special puppy foods. This precludes the need of the mother to regurgitate food as part of the weaning process.

I have not watched the video 😎.

Note: This is an embedded video from another website. Sometimes they are deleted at source or the video is turned into a link which stops it working here. I have no control over this.

Below are some articles on dog history.

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