Study: Small dogs originated in the Middle East

Tags: ,

chihuahua.jpg

Chihuahua Gordon is adoptable at the Humane Society of New York.

Discovery News reports that a new study traces the origins of small dogs back to the Middle East of 12,000 years ago. (Read the original story.)

According to the study, which appears in the journal BMC Biology, a version of the gene responsible for a dog’s small size probably resulted from the domestication of the Middle Eastern gray wolf, which is smaller than other wolves.

The DNA studies, combined with the archaeological record, then
suggest that at least 12,000 years ago, the first domesticated small
dogs entered the world, with humans playing a major role in the process.

“(There) could have been a mutation arising early in the history of
dogs,” said [study lead author Melissa] Gray, “which was maintained by breeding and artificial
selection by humans, or could have been an adaptive trait that
developed during domestication as a means to coexist with humans.”

Also interesting: Archaeological evidence has found dog remains close to the size of Great Danes in Belgium, Germany and Western Russia dating to 13,000-31,000 years ago — meaning big dogs came before small dogs.


What’s the upshot?

All small dogs, normally weighing 20 pounds or less, share the
variant of IGF1 also found in Middle Eastern gray wolves, the
scientists discovered. This means the gene must have surfaced early in
the history of small dogs, but after dogs in general were first
domesticated.

The DNA studies, combined with the archaeological record, then
suggest that at least 12,000 years ago, the first domesticated small
dogs entered the world, with humans playing a major role in the process.

Check out all the adoptable small dogs posted on Petfinder and adopt your own little bit of history!

Comments