Complex population structure in African village dogs and its implications for inferring dog domestication history

Adam R. Boyko, Ryan H. Boyko, Corin M. Boyko, Heidi G. Parker, Marta Castelhano, Liz Corey, Jeremiah D. Degenhardt, Adam Auton, Marius Hedimbi, Robert Kityo, Elaine A. Ostrander, Jeffrey Schoenebeck, Rory J. Todhunter, Paul Jones, Carlos D. Bustamante

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

143 Scopus citations


High genetic diversity of East Asian village dogs has recently been used to argue for an East Asian origin of the domestic dog. However, global village dog genetic diversity and the extent to which semiferal village dogs represent distinct, indigenous populations instead of admixtures of various dog breeds has not been quantified. Understanding these issues is critical to properly reconstructing the timing, number, and locations of dog domestication. To address these questions, we sampled 318 village dogs from 7 regions in Egypt, Uganda, and Namibia, measuring genetic diversity >680 bp of the mitochondrial D-loop, 300 SNPs, and 89 microsatellite markers. We also analyzed breed dogs, including putatively African breeds (Afghan hounds, Basenjis, Pharaoh hounds, Rhodesian ridgebacks, and Salukis), Puerto Rican street dogs, and mixed breed dogs from the United States. Village dogs from most African regions appear genetically distinct from non-native breed and mixed-breed dogs, although some individuals cluster genetically with Puerto Rican dogs or United States breed mixes instead of with neighboring village dogs. Thus, African village dogs are a mosaic of indigenous dogs descended from early migrants to Africa, and non-native, breed-admixed individuals. Among putatively African breeds, Pharaoh hounds, and Rhodesian ridgebacks clustered with non-native rather than indigenous African dogs, suggesting they have predominantly non-African origins. Surprisingly, we find similar mtDNA haplotype diversity in African and East Asian village dogs, potentially calling into question the hypothesis of an East Asian origin for dog domestication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13903-13908
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number33
StatePublished - Aug 18 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Canis familiaris
  • Microsatellites
  • Principal component analysis
  • Single nucleotide polymorphisms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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