Dogs indigenous to Turtle Island were once thought to have been extinct, but a recent study says these breeds weren’t wiped out by the arrival of Europeans, and are actually thriving.
“Our results confirm that American dogs are a remaining part of the indigenous American culture, which underscores the importance of preserving these populations,” said Peter Savolainen, a researcher in evolutionary genetics at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, in a press release.
Indigenous dogs were found to contain less than 30 percent of European dog DNA.
American dog breeds include the Inuit, Eskimo and Greenland dogs, Alaskan Malamute, Chihuahua, xoloitzcuintli (Mexican Hairless dog), perro sin pelo del Peru (Peruvian Hairless dog), and the Carolina dog.
“It was especially exciting to find that the Mexican breed, Chihuahua, shared a DNA type uniquely with Mexican pre-Columbian samples,” Savolainen said. “This gives conclusive evidence for the Mexican ancestry of the Chihuahua.”
The research also confirmed that strays are generally runaway European dogs and suggest that the Carolina dog, a stray dog in the United States, may have originated in this country.
Savolainen’s findings were published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B journal on July 10.