American Dogs’ Ancestry Linked To Ancient Asia, New Study Suggests [REPORT]

By Philip Ross on July 11, 2013 3:49 PM EDT

arctic sled dog
American dogs’ ancestry has been traced back to Asia, according to a new report from researchers in Sweden. The Arctic sled dog, pictured, is an American dog breed indigenous to the Americas. (Photo: Reuters)

American dogs' ancestry has been linked to ancient Asia, a new study from Sweden suggests. Breeds like the Peruvian hairless dog, Chihuahua and Arctic sled dog, which are indigenous to America, all have genetic roots that date back at least 1,000 years and have not mixed with European breeds, International Business Times reports. The new study comes from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.

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The news of American dogs' ancestry being linked to Asia is surprising, since previous studies have shown that most U.S. dogs today evolved from European pooches. Science World Report notes that researchers previously believed all dog breeds indigenous to America were wiped out during the arrival of Europeans. But they now say that's not the case. The report from Sweden proves that the original population of Native American dogs is actually well preserved.

"Nobody knows exactly what happened," Peter Savolainen, co-author of the study into American dog's ancestry, told Discovery News. "Most probably migrated together with the humans that entered America from Asia via the Bering Strait. Our data shows dogs came in several migrations, at least one with the Indian-American ancestors and at least one with the Inuit ancestors."

In a press release, Savolainen said that his study confirms that American dogs remain part of the indigenous American culture, and that the DNA from these native breeds has less than 30 percent of its ancestry from Europe. He said American dogs' ancestry is rooted instead in Asia.

"The scientists found a direct link between ancient American dogs and modern breeds," Nature World News reports. "The mitochondrial DNA is inherited from the mother and remains relatively unmodified over many generations."

"It was especially exciting to find that the Mexican breed, Chihuahua, shared a DNA type uniquely with Mexican pre-Columbian samples," Savolainen said in a statement. "This gives conclusive evidence for the Mexican ancestry of the Chihuahua."

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