A genetic study by Peter Savolainen, a researcher in evolutionary genetics at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, has found that dog breeds from North and South America have Asian ancestry.
The native breeds have 30 percent or less modern replacement by European dogs. It had been thought, prior to this study, that when Europeans settled in the American continent their dog breeds successively replaced the genetics of the native breeds.
Savolainen’s research group, in cooperation with colleagues in Portugal, compared mitochondrial DNA from Asian and European dogs, ancient American archaeological samples, 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.
The research confirmed conclusively that the modern day Chihuahua has Mexican roots. The breed shares a DNA type uniquely with Mexican pre-Columbian samples.
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.