We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Research & business

View Profile

Publication details

Larson, Greger, Karlsson, Elinor K., Perri, Angela, Webster, Matthew T., Ho, Simon Y. W., Peters, Joris, Stahl, Peter W., Piper, Philip J., Lingaas, Frode, Fredholm, Merete, Comstock, Kenine E., Modiano, Jaime F., Schelling, Claude, Agoulnik, Alexander I., Leegwater, Peter A., Dobney, Keith, Vigne, Jean-Denis, Vilàt, Carles, Andersson, Leif & Lindblad-Toh, Kerstin (2012). Rethinking dog domestication by integrating genetics, archeology, and biogeography. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 109(23): 8878-8883.

Author(s) from Durham


The dog was the first domesticated animal but it remains uncertain
when the domestication process began and whether it occurred just
once or multiple times across the Northern Hemisphere. To ascertain
the value of modern genetic data to elucidate the origins of dog
domestication, we analyzed 49,024 autosomal SNPs in 1,375 dogs
(representing 35 breeds) and 19 wolves. After combining our data
with previously published data,we contrasted the genetic signatures
of 121 breeds with a worldwide archeological assessment of the
earliest dog remains. Correlating the earliest archeological dogswith
the geographic locations of 14 so-called “ancient” breeds (defined by
their genetic differentiation) resulted in a counterintuitive pattern.
First, none of the ancient breeds derive fromregionswhere the oldest
archeological remains have been found. Second, three of the ancient
breeds (Basenjis, Dingoes, and New Guinea Singing Dogs) come from
regions outside the natural range of Canis lupus (the dog’s wild ancestor)
and where dogs were introduced more than 10,000 y after
domestication. These results demonstrate that the unifying characteristic
among all genetically distinct so-called ancient breeds is a lack
of recent admixturewith other breeds likely facilitated by geographic
and cultural isolation. Furthermore, these genetically distinct ancient
breeds only appear so because of their relative isolation, suggesting
that studies of modern breeds have yet to shed light on dog origins.
We conclude by assessing the limitations of past studies and how
next-generation sequencing of modern and ancient individuals may
unravel the history of dog domestication.