Tag Archives: breeds

Re-thinking dog domestication

A research team led by the University of Durham has published a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA).  This study shows that today’s modern breeds of dog have little in common genetically with their ancient ancestors. 

Dog domestication occurred over 15,000 years ago – and there is still much to learn!

Years of cross-breeding are the major influence on the genetic differences, although the researchers are quick to add that other effects on genetic diversity will include patterns of human movement and the impact on dog population sizes caused by major events such as World War I and World War II.

The research team analysed genetic data from 1,375 dogs representing 35 breeds. They also looked at data showing genetic samples of wolves because other research studies have concluded that the dog descended directly from the gray wolf.

Lead author Dr Greger Larson, an evolutionary biologist, says the study demonstrated just how much there is still to understand about the early history of dog domestication.  “We really love our dogs and they have accompanied us across every continent.  Ironically, the ubiquity of dogs combined with their deep history has obscured their origins and made it difficult for us to know how dogs became man’s best friend.”

The study also refutes claims of previous researchers that genetic differences in breeds such as the Basenji, Saluki and Dingo were evidence of an ancient heritage.  The Durham team’s study shows that these dogs are genetically different because they were geographically isolated and were not part of the 19th Century Victorian-initiated kennel clubs that blended lineages to create most of today’s breeds.

A Saluki (copyright Keith Dobney)

Source:  University of Durham press release

The National Mutt Census (USA)

With the advancement of DNA technology, more people want to know what their mixed breed dog is made up of.   More than half of all dogs in the USA are mixed breeds, making The Mutt the most popular dog!

Mars Veterinary, which has its own veterinarians and genetics research unit, decided to conduct the first-ever Mutt Census last year, inviting owners of mutts to complete an on-line questionnaire and requiring them to use a DNA test kit  called the Wisdom Panel ™.

It is now official that the German Shepherd Dog is the breed most commonly found in mixed breed dogs.  The Top 10 Mutt Breeds are:

The Top 10 Mutt Breeds

1. German Shepherd Dog
2. Chow Chow
3. Labrador Retriever
4. Boxer
5. Rottweiler
6. American Staffordshire Terrier
7. Miniature Poodle
8. Golden Retriever
9. Siberian Husky
10. Cocker Spaniel

To find out more about the Mutt Census, click on the logo below.  This will take you directly to the Mutt Census website.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced DogChristchurch, New Zealand