Extensive genetic resources and a high-quality genome sequence position the dog as an important model species for understanding genome evolution, population genetics and genes underlying complex phenotypic traits. Newly developed genomic resources have expanded our understanding of canine evolutionary history and dog origins. Domestication involved genetic contributions from multiple populations of gray wolves probably through backcrossing. More recently, the advent of controlled breeding practices has segregated genetic variability into distinct dog breeds that possess specific phenotypic traits. Consequently, genome-wide association and selective sweep scans now allow the discovery of genes underlying breed-specific characteristics. The dog is finally emerging as a novel resource for studying the genetic basis of complex traits, including behavior.