There are at least five types of dogs that have DNA tying to breeds from 11,000 years ago, according to a new study.


Is your dog your very best companion? We understand. There's a good reason that canines are said to be a man's—or woman's—best friend. But just how long exactly have dogs been around? A group of researchers—consisting of scientists from the Francis Crick Institute, the University of Oxford, the University of Vienna, and archaeologists from over 10 countries—published a study in the journal Science that just gave their answer. According to the article, titled "Origins and Genetic Legacy of Prehistoric Dogs," the team dug deep to discover that the genetic makeup of the modern dog traces back to the end of the Ice Age—which means your dogs are actually connected to some of the most ancient pet species, CNN reports.

a Chihuahua and a larger, fluffy mutt sit next to each other and are backlit by the sun
Credit: Hillary Kladke / Getty Images

To come to their findings, the scientists studied the DNA from ancient dog bones. From there, they found that there were five types of dogs with specific genetics that came out of the Ice Age. These dogs have "mixed and combined" lineages that are still found in the everyday dog today. The researchers uncovered that Rhodesian ridgebacks have ties to DNA from an ancient Middle Eastern or African lineage, Siberian huskies have genetic makeup from an ancient Siberian lineage, and dogs like chihuahuas and Mexican hairless dogs have some pre-Columbian DNA.

Anders Bergstrom, the lead author and post-doctoral researcher in the Ancient Genomics Laboratory at London's Francis Crick Institute, also shared that canines have been housebroken and found worldwide for some time now. "Already by 11,000 years ago—before agriculture, and before any other animal had been domesticated—dogs had not only been domesticated, but they had already diversified genetically and likely spread across large parts of the world."

Bergstrom added, though, that the mixing of DNA is common in dogs. "All dog breeds from Europe share a common history that started with an ancient mixture, many thousands of years ago, between two very distinct dog lineages—one related to dogs in the Near East, and the other related to dogs in Siberia. This ancient mixing event between these two lineages gave rise to the European dog gene pool which later would give rise to all present-day European dog breeds," he said. "We find that when we compare the history of dogs to the history of humans, to a quite large degree they mirror each other, suggesting that in many cases, the history of dogs has been shaped by humans. In many cases humans would simply bring their dogs with them as they migrated and moved across the world."


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