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Genetics. 2006 Feb;172(2):1121-8. Epub 2005 Oct 11.

Unequal contribution of sexes in the origin of dog breeds.

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Department of Evolutionary Biology, Uppsala University, Sweden.


Dogs (Canis familiaris) were domesticated from the gray wolf (Canis lupus) at least 14,000 years ago, and there is evidence of dogs with phenotypes similar to those in modern breeds 4000 years ago. However, recent genetic analyses have suggested that modern dog breeds have a much more recent origin, probably <200 years ago. To study the origin of contemporaneous breeds we combined the analysis of paternally inherited Y chromosome markers with maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA and biparentally inherited autosomal microsatellite markers in both domestic dogs and their wild ancestor, the gray wolf. Our results show a sex bias in the origin of breeds, with fewer males than females contributing genetically, which clearly differs from the breeding patterns in wild gray wolf populations where both sexes have similar contributions. Furthermore, a comparison of mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosome diversity in dog groups recognized by the World Canine Organization, as well as in groups defined by the breeds' genetic composition, shows that paternal lineages are more differentiated among groups than maternal lineages. This demonstrates a lower exchange of males than of females between breeds belonging to different groups, which illustrates how breed founders may have been chosen.

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