I did an interesting study a while back; the goal being to determine exactly when, or as close to exactly when today’s Canine (dog) first began to evolve from Grey Wolves, as possible.
Unfortunately, it turns out it is very much impossible to get an exact date. Why not check fossil records, you ask? Well, (and I spoke to an archaeologist about this) it turns out conditions must be very exact for the fossilization process to occur; there just isn’t many dog fossils out there. So- much of this ends up falling in the realm of theory.
It is believed the two species began to split about 14 kya (thousand years ago; 14 being the extent to the oldest fossil records we do posses), but we only have written records to prove existence- and where was the first known civilization to develop a form of writing/symbols and record keeping (I am not talking about cave-drawings)? You guessed it- Ancient Egypt.
So- it is believed that region popped up around 6 kya; extensive records of various breeds having existed then. Great; that leaves a gap of about 8 thousand years of nothing.
First of all, it is pretty obvious dogs did not first evolve in the Middle East; the climate is way to hot for a wolves’ thick coat. No; wolves would have came from further north; likely somewhere in what today is Northern Russia (the fact that many of the first Asian dog records we have generate from northern China support this).
But how did they spread all the way to Egypt? There are various theories, but one of the most supported, and my personal belief, is that sometime between 14 and 30kya wolves began to piggyback among nomadic tribes of humans, leeching off their trash for food, and traveled west/south alongside various groups.
Because they no longer had need for such advanced pack hunting coordination and strong carnivorous features, they slowly began to loose them- evolving physical traits to suit the environments they currently occupy (ex. Chow- Northern China, Basenji- Egypt). The earliest breeds occurred naturally; humans did not begin to actively start cross-breeding until much more recent in out history.