#4. Silver Foxes: As Friendly as Dogs, as Independent as Cats
In the 1950s Soviet Union, a young man named Dmitry Belyaev became fascinated with the domestication of dogs from wild, ravenous wolves into the fluffy, couch-hogging companions of today. Belyaev set his sights on replicating this process, only A) much faster and B) this time instead of those fancy wolves, he went with the silver fox as his subject. And he nailed it.
New York Times
"Come to me, minions!"
Belyaev carefully selected the friendliest, tamest foxes and made them bone. In just a few fox-generations, the furballs were bonding with the scientists, craving any attention they could get. They wagged their tails more and more, started getting floppier ears and spotted coats and became more doglike in their behavior.
Today, this has resulted in a breed of foxes that is "as devoted as dogs but as independent as cats." And yes, they're totally selling these little guys as pets, with the price tag currently set at $7,000. Here, have a video of a pet silver fox pup:
Look at that thing go. Look at that little ball made of fluff and mischief and tell us you're not reaching for your wallet already.
Of course, like with every proper scientific experiment, there's a flip side to Project Silver Fox. See, Belyaev was never content with just creating cute, tame foxes. To prove that domestication and tameness were linked to a specific gene, he also sought out the meanest, most dangerous foxes and intentionally started breeding those. And that branch of his experiment was a roaring success as well. That's right -- even today, Russia is totally breeding a small army of genetically engineered, highly aggressive killer silver foxes. And they look exactly like your new, cuddly pet.
Which leaves the owner vulnerable to a dangerous switcheroo.