Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Wolflike Genes in Dogs

This nifty graphic first appeared in National Geographic magazine in 2012. Geneticists analyzed the DNA of 85 breeds of dogs and categorized them into four categories according to how wolf-like they are gentically. The graphic below displays the dogs in order of their genetic similarity to wolves, from the "wolflike" breeds at the top of the chart, through "herders," "hunters," and "mastifflike." The color red represents percentages of wolflike genes.

With roots in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, these breeds are genetically closest to wolves, suggesting they are the oldest domesticated breeds.
Familiar herding breeds such as the Shetland sheepdog are joined by breeds never known for herding: the greyhound, pug, and borzoi. This suggests those breeds either were used in the creation of classic herding dogs or descended from them.
Most in this group were developed in recent centuries as hunting dogs. While the pharaoh hound and Ibizan hound are said to descend from dogs seen on ancient Egyptian tombs, their placement here suggests they are re-creations bred to resemble ancient breeds.
The German shepherd’s appearance in this cluster, anchored by the mastiff, bulldog, and boxer, likely reflects its breeding as a military and police dog."


  1. This was very interesting to study. I was surprised that most of the mastifflike breeds had such little genetic similarity to wolves such as the german shepherd. The chow is definitely wolflike.

  2. Cyd, hello !

    Wanted to share this nice quote from this article :

    "our perspective is always linear and never cyclical"