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Where do dog breed come from? The evolution of modern dogs

H. G. Parker, D. L. Dreger, M. Rimbault, B. W. Davis, A. B. Mullen, G. Carpintero-Ramirez, E. A. Ostrander

THE domestic dog is divided into more than 350 distinct breeds, each with specific traits and behaviours. Some studies have defined the genetics of a small number of breeds, but none have been comprehensive enough to show how and when most came into existence.

In this study, the researchers examined genomic data from 1346 dogs representing 161 breeds. Phylogenetic methods and a genome-wide analysis of recent haplotype sharing were used to uncover the geographic patterns of development and origins of common traits.

The analyses showed that almost all of the breeds fell in to 23 larger groupings called clades, evolutionary descendants of a common ancestor. Although genetically defined, the clades also tended to bring together dogs with similar traits; for example, herders such as sheep dogs, corgis and collies fell into the same clade. The grouping of different breeds that share particular jobs suggests that ancient breeders bred dogs for specific purposes, such as guarding or herding. The study found that the majority of dog breeds did not share large genetic determinants outside of their clade or …

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