Showsight May 2017



W e’ve all been brought up on the lore of breed creation and distri- bution, whether our breeds arose from giant dogs spread like seeds along Hannibal’s travels or from island to island by seafaring Phoe- nicians or simply planted along the Silk Road. How else can we explain such far-flung relatives as those in the Sight- hound family or Mastiff family? Not so fast; apparently, there is another expla- nation, one actually supported by sci- ence rather than conjecture and a new genome analysis is turning what we thought we knew about breed creation upside down. The study ( Parker, Heidi G. et al. Genomic Analyses Reveal the Influ- ence of Geographic Origin, Migration, and Hybridization on Modern Dog Breed Development, Cell Reports, 19: 697-708 ) examined genomic data from the largest and most diverse group of breeds studied to date, amassing a dataset of 1,346 dogs representing 161 breeds, and adding to that an additional 405 dogs from another study using the same methods. The results? Most (78%) of the breeds fell into 29 multi-breed clades (family groups) of 2 to 16 breeds. If the criteria were relaxed a bit, then 151 breeds (93%) could be divided into 23 clades of 2 to 18 breeds each. This left only 11 breeds as “orphans”.


Some of the clades go along with our general notions of groups and families. The Retriever clade has Retrievers, the Spaniel clade has Spaniels (including the Cavalier King Charles) and so on. See the table on page 56 of breeds and clades to find where your breed fits. There are some surprises—lots of them! The Tibetan Mastiff is grouped in the Asian Spitz clade, completely sepa- rate from the European Mastiff clade. Dalmatians are in the Setter and Point- ers clade, which isn’t that big a stretch, but still, and the breeds we group as Sighthounds are sprinkled amongst sev- eral different clades. We all know the Sighthound group has several “absolute” Sighthounds—the Greyhound, Borzoi, Afghan Hound and Saluki, all of which are assumed to be closely related. Not so. The Greyhound, Borzoi, Whippet, Irish Wolfhound, Scottish Deerhound and Italian Grey- hound are all a subgroup within the “UK Rural clade”, the other main division of which contains the Collie, Sheltie, Aus- sie, both Corgis, Border Collie, Kelpie, Australian Cattle Dog and Old English. The Saluki and Afghan Hound are in the

Mediterranean clade, with their clos- est relations the Anatolian Shepherd (okay, we knew there was Saluki blood in there somewhere), Azawakh, Levri- ero Meridionale and Sloughi—again, no big surprise, but then the Mastino Abru- zzese, Kuvasz (I always knew I liked them!)—and Komondor? And finally another Mediterranean subgroup, not as closely related—the Ibizan Hound, Cirneco, Pharaoh and Great Pyrenees! It’s not intuitive to think the Saluki is more closely related to the Komondor than it is to the Greyhound, but haplo- types don’t lie! While on the subject of Sighthounds, two other breeds labeled by the AKC as Sighthounds, the Basenji and Ridge- back, are in yet two other totally differ- ent clades. The Ridgeback shares a sub- group within the “European Mastiff” clade with the Great Dane, while the Basenji is a clade unto itself. The Nor- rbottenspets and the Podengos, also (controversially) designated as AKC Sighthounds, were not included in the study, but one can guess the Norrbot- tenspets would have fallen in the Nor- dic Spitz clade and the Podengo in the


50 • S how S ight M agazine , M ay 2017

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