Australia's dingo and the New Guinea Singing Dog may be the world's oldest dog breeds, according to a major new genetic study into the domestication of the animal dubbed man's best friend.
The international study, published in the journal Nature, suggests that those two breeds are the most closely related to wolves. They may also be most like the original domesticated dog as it was across Asia and the Middle East thousands of years ago, according to one of the 37 authors of the study, Dr Alan Wilton, of the UNSW School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences.
"This paper examines the domestication of the dog from the wild wolf using genetic differences," Dr Wilton says. "Forty eight thousand sites in the dog genome were examined in hundreds of wolves, almost a thousand dogs from 85 modern breeds of dog and several ancient dog breeds.
"The data suggest most dogs were domesticated in the Middle East, which was the cradle of agriculture 10,000 of years ago, rather than in Asia as had been suggested previously.
"It also shows dingoes, which have been separated from other breeds of dog in Australia for the past 5,000 years, are the most distinct dog group with most similarity to wolves," says Dr Wilton.
Read the full story at the Faculty of Science newsroom.