Thursday, May 9, 2013

#Dog Gone Wild: #NativeAmerican Dog Origins

A Native American Dog
By Aine D

Dog Gone Wild:
Native American Dog Origins

Welcome back! Today we are going to take a break from Ohio's Archaic Heritage to discuss one of the most important transformations in human history - the domestication of the dog.

The dog was the first animal humans domesticated. Mitochondrial DNA places the genetic split of the wolf and domesticated dog around 100,000 years but the oldest fossil record we have of this divergence is approximately 33,000-36,000 years ago. The domestication of dogs began in Eastern Asia and did not occur in North American. You can learn more about the domestication of the dog from this article.

The Paleoindian had brought their domesticated dogs to North American when they cross over the Bering Strait. Just like today, the Paleoindians may have viewed their canine companion as a member of their family. The cohabitation of canine and humans offered many benefits to the Paleoindian such as protection, hunting companion, and a pack animal to pull their sled or travious. During the Pleistocene Epoch there were two wild wolf breeds that cohabited in North America. These being the Grey and Dire Wolves. You can learn more about these two breeds at 

Izzy Posing (A North American Eskimo Dog)
by: Christmas K
Mitochondrial DNA studies show Paleoindian dogs and Euresia dogs share a common ancestry with the Eurasian Grey Wolf. There has been no evidence of a separate domestication of the North American Grey Wolf which proves that the domestication of the dog never occurred in North America but had already been achieved in Asia. Thus the domesticated dog came to North America with the Paleoindian.

Native Americans continued to inbreed their dogs instead of cross-contaminating the gene pool with
wolf DNA. This practice continued until they were introduced to European dog breeds in the late 17th to early 19th centuries. The Native American Dog slowly became extinct as it's DNA was mixed with the European DNA. The closest breed to resemble its Paleoindian ancestor in North America is the Eskimo Dog. Although its fur and vocalization is reminiscent of its wolf ancestor even the Eskimo Dog's DNA links it to the Australian Dingo, the New Guinea Singing dog, and the Shiba Inu.

The Native American Dog changed drastically after it came into contact with European dogs yet one thing remained the same, Native Americans still loved and appreciated their canine companions. You can read more about the Native American Dogs at: and

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