English version


The way we see it, it is impossible to recreate a pure-bred race once it´s blood has been mixed, but a pure bred race can always be given back it´s old nobility when it has degenerated through bad feeling or through excessive work not fitted to the nature or, finally, through lack of necessary care, in short, whenever the degeneration has not been effected by mixing the blood.

Abd el Kader 1846


Father Soliman ( al Tahawy ) quotes the legendary Emir Abd al Kadr as saying, " The way, we see it, it is impossible to recreate a pure-bred race once it´s blood has been mixed." Modern geneticists see it no differently. Father Soliman talks for hours on which measures the breeders of the Middle East took to keep the race pure and how brutally they proceeded when absolutely necessary.

W. Schraps 1982


Only a breed with inexhaustible streams of the purest and noblest blood in it´s veins will not waste away and degenerate when forced to struggle for existence in this way.

W.S. Blunt 1880


From the Wolf to the Dog


Corresponding authors: Peter Savolainen. Department of Gene Technology, School of Biotechnology, KTH-Royal Institute of Technology, Roslagstullsbacken 21, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden. Tel: +46-8-55378335. Fax: +46-8-55378481. E-mail: savo@biotech.kth.se , Ya-Ping Zhang. State Key Laboratory of Genetic Resources and Evolution, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650223, China. Tel: +86-871-5032804. Fax: +86-871-5032804. E-mail: zhangyp@mail.kiz.ac.cn

Received for publication April 3, 2009. Revision received August 17, 2009. Accepted for publication August 25, 2009.

There is no generally accepted picture of where, when, and how the domestic dog originated. Previous studies of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) have failed to establish the time and precise place of origin because of lack of phylogenetic resolution in the so far studied control region (CR), and inadequate sampling. We therefore analysed entire mitochondrial genomes for 169 dogs to obtain maximal phylogenetic resolution, and the CR for 1,543 dogs across the Old World for a comprehensive picture of geographical diversity. Hereby, a detailed picture of the origins of the dog can for the first time be suggested. We obtained evidence that the dog has a single origin in time and space, and an estimation of the time of origin, number of founders and approximate region, which also gives potential clues about the human culture involved. The analyses showed that dogs universally share a common homogenous gene pool containing 10 major haplogroups. However, the full range of genetic diversity, all 10 haplogroups, was found only in south-eastern Asia south of Yangtze River, and diversity decreased following a gradient across Eurasia, through 7 haplogroups in Central China, and 5 in North China and Southwest Asia, down to only 4 haplogroups in Europe. The mean sequence distance to ancestral haplotypes indicates an origin 5,400-16,300 years ago from at least 51 female wolf founders. These results indicate that the domestic dog originated in southern China less than 16,300 years ago, from several hundred wolves. The place and time coincide approximately with the origin of rice agriculture, suggesting that the dogs may have originated among sedentary hunter-gatherers or early farmers, and the numerous founders indicate that wolf taming was an important culture trait.

Key Words: dog • Canis familiaris • domestication • mitochondrial DNA