Sunday, July 14, 2013

Dogs of the World

I like dogs. (I love cats, but that's another story.) Lately I've been reading a few articles having to do with the genealogy of dogs, particularly in the Americas.

When I was a kid, school described North American indian tribes as having horses and ponies. I was too young to question that at the time. Later, it was explained that the ponies originated with the Spanish explorers in Mexico, and that they quickly spread throughout North America. I assumed the indian dogs were a similar story.

But it turns out that dogs had already been here when the Spaniards, the Vikings, and other Europeans arrived. It had been assumed that when the indigenous people died out, their dogs died with them, having no one to take care of them.

These recent articles explained that the original 'American' dogs came over the land bridge from Asia and Siberia with the people who became indigenous indian tribes. Those dogs did not die out and were not supplanted by European dogs. They survived, interbred with the European dogs, and are still here.

This was discovered by comparing the DNA of American dogs with that of Asian and European dogs. The American DNA was much closer to the Asian DNA than the European DNA. This was true as far east as Greenland.

So the Mexican hairless, the Peruvian hairless, and any number of other breeds are about as American as they can get.

My family has a mutt. He's a great addition to our family, and I assume he's an 'American' mutt. How about you? Tell me about your dog.

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