Asian origins of native American dogs confirmed

Jul 10, 2013

Once thought to have been extinct, native American dogs are on the contrary thriving, according to a recent study that links these breeds to ancient Asia.

The arrival of Europeans in the Americas has generally been assumed to have led to the of indigenous ; but a comprehensive genetic study has found that the original population of native American has been almost completely preserved, says Peter Savolainen, a researcher in at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.

In fact, American dog breeds trace their ancestry to ancient Asia, Savolainen says. These native breeds have 30 percent or less modern replacement by European dogs, he says.

"Our results confirm that American dogs are a remaining part of the indigenous American culture, which underscores the importance of preserving these populations," he says.

Savolainen's research group, in cooperation with colleagues in Portugal, compared mitochondrial DNA from Asian and European dogs, ancient American , and American dog breeds, including Chihuahuas, Peruvian hairless dogs and Arctic sled dogs.

They traced the American dogs' ancestry back to East Asian and Siberian dogs, and also found direct relations between ancient American dogs and modern breeds.

"It was especially exciting to find that the Mexican breed, Chihuahua, shared a DNA type uniquely with Mexican pre-Columbian samples," he says. "This gives conclusive evidence for the Mexican ancestry of the Chihuahua."

The team also analysed stray dogs, confirming them generally to be runaway European dogs; but in Mexico and Bolivia they identified populations with high proportions of indigenous ancestry.

Savolainen says that the data also suggests that the Carolina Dog, a stray dog population in the U.S., may have an indigenous American origin.

Savolainen works at the Science for Life Laboratory (SciLifeLab www.scilifelab.se), a collaboration involving KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm University, the Karolinska Institutet and Uppsala University.

Explore further: Honey bees sting Texas man about 1,000 times

More information: rspb.royalsocietypublishing.or… .1098/rspb.2013.1142

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

See spot see

Mar 02, 2013

(HealthDay)—It's a dog-see-dog world. With no sniffing involved, dogs can recognize the faces of other dogs among the faces of humans and other animal species, according to a new study.

Genetic study confirms: First dogs came from East Asia

Nov 23, 2011

Researchers at Sweden's KTH Royal Institute of Technology say they have found further proof that the wolf ancestors of today's domesticated dogs can be traced to southern East Asia -- findings that run counter to theories ...

Recommended for you

Rising temperatures can be hard on dogs

10 hours ago

The "dog days of summer" are here, but don't let the phrase fool you. This hot time of year can be dangerous for your pup, says a Kansas State University veterinarian.

Monkeys fear big cats less, eat more, with humans around

13 hours ago

Some Monkeys in South Africa have been found to regard field scientists as human shields against predators and why not if the alternative is death by leopard? The researchers found the monkeys felt far safer ...

User comments : 0