This just in!! African village dogs are more genetically diverse than teacup dogs!

The folks at PNAS have been biting their nails to the quick, anxiously awaiting the release of their groundbreaking news- Mutts are more genetically diverse than purebreds! The article had been under embargo until yesterday, forcing the researchers and journal editors to keep the valuable information under wraps. "I had a really hard time not telling my wife," admitted one of the journal editors, "I almost slipped up two times!"

As a precaution to prevent leaks to the media, the authors of the study have spent the last 10 days sequestered at an undisclosed hotel. Insider reports said they enjoyed the pool and the room service, but wondered why they weren't allowed to rent 'movies'.

When finally the day came, the press release rolled out and the authors returned to their homes amid a flurry of scientific admiration.

According to the study findings, dogs sampled from 318 villages in Egypt, Uganda, and Namibia had significantly different genetic diversity than non-native and mixed breed dogs, suggesting they are genetically distinct from other dog breeds. The results have thrown a long-accepted paradigm on its head. With the diversity of dogs that humans have been able to create through careful inbreeding, it has always been accepted that purebreds must be more genetically diverse than mutts.

Allow me to illustrate...

African village dog

i-5953529e82daad65feaa1bde114159d3-african dog.jpg

Hamna shida



I'm so diverse it hurts

African village dog

i-ccbdf3dd6da266cdff694f1639a4acf1-african dog2.JPG




Go ahead. Just admit you envy my family jewels and my genetically diverse junk.

Now, if you ask me, it doesn't take a fancy geneticist to figure out which group is more genetically diverse! I'm definitely not sold on these results.

In all probability, the release of these findings will cause a shock-wave through the scientific community and a spike in the number of grant applications for canine genetic studies. Or else, it will be the source of endless amusement and a cause for the authors to be demoted to technicians. Let's hope we get our real answer soon.

OK, well in truth (as one of our readers busted me on), the real point of the article was to examine genetic diversity in order to determine if the domestic dogs found in Africa originally came from Eurasia. It's a cool paper on a topic I actually love- domestication. And all names were omitted to protect the innocent.

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By Larry Prisonsex (not verified) on 07 Aug 2009 #permalink

Wasn't the point of the article that diversity of African village dogs is as high as it is in Southeast Asian village dogs, thereby throwing into question the hypothesis that domestic dogs originated in Southeast Asia? The idea being that the genetic variability in a species (or sub-species, in this case) is usually close to the species' point of origin?

You totally busted me, R. But debates over the origin of dog domestication didn't make as good of fodder for sarcasm. Still, hats off to you!

It's only because I own (well, house and feed) a pair of New Guinea Singing Dogs (who look suspiciously like the puppy in the "Nimefurahi" photo), so I'm very interested in the origins of dogs. I find it fascinating that there's so little interest in finding out how dogs got domesticated, considering how important they are to us.

R. Simon. I have a vague recollection of a TV show on original type domesticated dogs. Part of it was about a lady who was breeding them. I think it was Bedouins who had primative dogs. She would visit them for stud service on her dogs. They would also give her puppies, etc. I think other unmanipulated types were discussed as well.

By Jim Thomerson (not verified) on 08 Aug 2009 #permalink

Many purebreed dogs come from a tiny genetic pool. E.g. West Highland Terriers were bred from just a few mutant white Scottish Terriers. When a dog wins a Best in Breed type award it is in demand as a stud dog and gets to spread its genes more widely. So within a particular breed there would be quite low diversity compared to dogs whose breeding is not controlled.

(not a scientist so I probably missed the point - nice blog)

By Taissa Csaky (not verified) on 27 May 2010 #permalink