Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Ep 129: The domestication of the dog and the Australian dingo

The Australian dingo and the New Guinea Singing Dog may be the world's oldest dog breeds.

The study, Genome-wide SNP and haplotype analyses reveal a rich history underlying dog domestication, which was published in Nature and is a major genetic study into the domestication of the dog, was a world-wide effort and had 37 authors - including Dr Alan Wilton, of the School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences at UNSW. The study found that the dingo and the New Guinea Singing Dog are the most closely related breeds of modern dogs to the original wolves from which all dog breeds come from. They are also the most like the original domesticated dog.

The study looked at 48,000 sites in the dog genome in hundreds of wolves, almost a thousand dogs from 85 modern breeds and several ancient dog breeds. Dr Wilton, a celebrated scientist in the field of dingo research and conservation who won the Unsung Hero of Science Award in 2004, provided the dingo DNA. The data suggest most dogs were domesticated in the Middle East around 10,000 years ago, rather than in Asia as had been previously thought.

Dingoes separated from other breeds of dog when brought to Australia around 5,000 years ago. However, they never made it to Tasmania, which became isolated from the mainland around 12,000 years ago. It is thought that the dingo out-competed the thylacine (Tasmanian Tigers) leading to its extinction on the mainland.

Other ancient breeds include Chow-Chow, Basenji, Akita, Chinese Shar-Pei, Siberian husky and Alaskan malamut.

I had a great chat to Dr Wilton about this work into the domestication - or as I repeatedly say, domestification... - of the dog and also about his work in dingo studies and conservation.

To listen to this show, tune in here (or press play below):

vonHoldt, B. (2010). Genome-wide SNP and haplotype analyses reveal a rich history underlying dog domestication Nature, 464 (7290), 898-902 DOI: 10.1038/nature08837


  1. I was going to query you about the domesticification thing, but I see that you acknowledged it in your notes above. So is domestification a real word? Love your show. Cheers. Nigel

  2. Stephanie J Little WolfApril 04, 2014 7:25 am

    too bad he use malamutes and siberian huskies instead of more ancient and primitive dogs such as Indogs of India or Alaska Village dogs in Alaska, or of the true Eskimo dog the Greenlander. Malamute DNA is shown to be little related to original indigenous coastal maritime dogs of the far north. Another dog that he should of sampled are the dingoish Carlolina Dog.

  3. Stephanie J Little WolfApril 04, 2014 7:27 am

    also, you have to use RNA for complete analysis

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