Did you know that a genetic study of dogs identified 14 ancient breeds that could be traced to a small population of grey wolves in Asia 15,000 years ago? Researchers think that as few as three females gave rise to the modern dog population, similar to the human “Eve” identified by genetic research.
What are the most ancient dog breeds and what makes them so unique?
Of the group of 14 ancient breeds, the oldest 7 are:
Rounding out the list are:
Most of these ancient breeds originated in Asia. Scientists think that the oldest Asian breeds arrived in Africa and the Arctic via human migration, noting that both canine and human DNA provide clues to human migration patterns.
While a few of the ancient breeds on the list were bred as companion dogs, most were working dogs, performing tasks like guarding, hunting, and pulling sleds.
The majority of today’s dog breeds were developed relatively recently (hundreds of years ago instead of thousands), mostly in Europe.
So the next time you see an example one of these ancient breeds at the dog park or walking down the street (or in your own living room!), you’ll be looking at a dog with genetic fingerprints most similar to wolves, even if some of them don’t look much like wolves anymore…Pekingese, we’re talking to you!
- Aaron Seminoff