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Rethinking dog domestication by integrating genetics, archeology, and biogeography

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

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Greger Larson

Elinor K. Karlsson

Angela Perri

Matthew T. Webster

Simon Y.W. Ho

Joris Peters

Peter W. Stahl

Philip J. Piper

Frode Lingaas

Merete Fredholm

Kenine E. Comstock

Jaime F. Modiano

Claude Schelling

Alexander I. Agoulnik

Peter A. Leegwater

Keith Dobney

Jean-Denis Vigne

Carles Vilàt

Leif Andersson

Kerstin Lindblad-Toh


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.


Larson, G., Karlsson, E. K., Perri, A., Webster, M. T., Ho, S. Y., Peters, J., …Lindblad-Toh, K. (2012). Rethinking dog domestication by integrating genetics, archeology, and biogeography. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109(28), 8878-8883.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jun 1, 2012
Deposit Date Mar 12, 2012
Publicly Available Date May 22, 2012
Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Print ISSN 0027-8424
Electronic ISSN 1091-6490
Publisher National Academy of Sciences
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 109
Issue 28
Pages 8878-8883


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