Paleogenomics pp 273-306 | Cite as

Paleogenomic Inferences of Dog Domestication

  • Olaf ThalmannEmail author
  • Angela R. Perri
Part of the Population Genomics book series (POGE)


Domestication is the result of a complex interplay of both biological and cultural processes. The mechanism underlying today’s variety of domesticates has long sparked the interest of researchers but has always been difficult to define. While dogs (Canis familiaris) are now firmly established as the earliest domesticated animal, most questions about their domestication are still unresolved, including the location, the timing, and the potential drivers of domestication. Genetic evidence accumulated over the last 20 years unequivocally identified Canis lupus—a gray wolf—as the species giving rise to all modern dogs and suggested locations including Eastern Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, and Europe as potential domestication origins. Inferences about the timing of dog domestication are equally controversial. A date in the latest Upper Paleolithic, between 15,000 and 12,000 years ago, has long been the accepted timing of domestication due to clear archaeological evidence of morphologically distinct modern dogs by this time, and more recent genetic findings have confirmed the onset of dog domestication in the Late Pleistocene. In order to disentangle the complexity and thus derive a comprehensive understanding of dog domestication, we need to develop evolutionary models that include all available evidence from archaeology, morphology, and genetics. While time travel is still fiction and studying domestication at the moment of action impossible, paleogenomic approaches provide intriguing prospects and necessary means to decipher the many facets of domestication and deliver such evidence. Consequently, recent paleogenomic work has proposed a dual domestication process in Europe and Eastern Asia, which might be a first step toward reconciling some of the previous divergent conclusions.


Dogs Domestication Fossils Genetics Paleogenomics Wolves 



O.T. is grateful to M. Arandjelovic and M. Katarzyńska for helpful comments on the manuscript. O.T. further credits M. Katarzyńska and D. Schwochow for providing pictures. O.T. was supported by the National Science Centre, Poland (2015/19/P/NZ7/03971), with funding from EU’s Horizon 2020 program under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement (665778). A.R.P. was supported by the Max Planck Society. The authors thank L.A.F. Frantz for providing a figure.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Metabolic DiseasesPoznan University of Medical SciencesPoznanPoland
  2. 2.Department of Human EvolutionMax Planck Institute for Evolutionary AnthropologyLeipzigGermany
  3. 3.Department of ArchaeologyDurham UniversityDurhamUK

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