Out of southern East Asia: the natural history of domestic dogs across the world

Cell Res. 2016 Jan;26(1):21-33. doi: 10.1038/cr.2015.147. Epub 2015 Dec 15.


The origin and evolution of the domestic dog remains a controversial question for the scientific community, with basic aspects such as the place and date of origin, and the number of times dogs were domesticated, open to dispute. Using whole genome sequences from a total of 58 canids (12 gray wolves, 27 primitive dogs from Asia and Africa, and a collection of 19 diverse breeds from across the world), we find that dogs from southern East Asia have significantly higher genetic diversity compared to other populations, and are the most basal group relating to gray wolves, indicating an ancient origin of domestic dogs in southern East Asia 33 000 years ago. Around 15 000 years ago, a subset of ancestral dogs started migrating to the Middle East, Africa and Europe, arriving in Europe at about 10 000 years ago. One of the out of Asia lineages also migrated back to the east, creating a series of admixed populations with the endemic Asian lineages in northern China before migrating to the New World. For the first time, our study unravels an extraordinary journey that the domestic dog has traveled on earth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Africa
  • Animal Migration
  • Animals
  • Animals, Domestic / genetics*
  • Asia, Southeastern
  • Biological Evolution
  • China
  • Dogs / genetics*
  • Europe
  • Gene Flow
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genome
  • Middle East
  • Phylogeny
  • Wolves / genetics