When and Where Did Dog Domestication Happen?


Editor’s note: Have you seen the new Dogster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? This article appeared in our June-July issue. Subscribe to Dogster and get the bimonthly magazine delivered to your home.

We know dogs have been part of our lives for a very long time, but opinions on exactly when and where dogs and humans came together is hotly debated among scientists. The latest study in this quest to definitively prove the origins of man’s best friend — a huge collaboration between scientists worldwide — is taking place at the University of Oxford in England.

Although most researchers are in agreement regarding the “when” part of modern dog origins, probably some 15,000 years ago, a few scientists claim an even longer timeframe — more than 30,000 years. The “where” part of the equation has widely varying opinions and theories. The latest study at Oxford hopes to determine exactly when domestication occurred and where, closing the book on the debate for good.

Led by Greger Larson, a biologist in the archaeology department at the University of Oxford, and Keith Dobney from the University of Aberdeen, the project is an enormous collaboration between nearly every canine genetics researcher. Dr. Larson and his team have been extracting DNA samples from ancient dog bones housed at various museums and universities around the world.

All of the samples will be used to create a gigantic database of dog DNA. With all the data in one place, a huge number of scientists can all access the same information and, hopefully, finally learn the answer to our questions about the exact origins of our beloved furry friends.

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