Ancient Dog Breeds

From the wonderful world of Wikipedia, I learned that the Shiba Inu is among 14 ancient dog breeds. However, if you dig into the source of the study, it gets even more interesting. The study was done by Parker et al. published in the journal Science in 2004.

Here are a couple of pictures from the study. I cropped out the section of the picture that identified the 14 ancient breeds and their genetic variation from the Gray Wolf. What I conclude from the picture is that the Shiba Inu, Chow-Chow, Akita, and Basenji have less genetic variation from the Gray Wolf than the other ancient breeds.


I'm less sure about how to interpret this next picture. I also don't know what the numbers mean. It looks like the initial break from the Gray Wolf was the Shar-pei and the Shiba Inu/Chow-Chow/Akita. But if you look at the previous picture the Shar-pei seemed to have more genetic variation from the Gray Wolf, so I'm not sure how to reconcile that with this tree, which shows that the Shar-pei was part of the initial break from the Gray Wolf.


Hence, although I am confused about the status of the Shar-Pei, I conclude that Shibas are at least in the top 5 most ancient dog breeds.

Why does all of this interest me? I like to think that Shibas are special, as I'm sure most dog owners like to think their dog's breed is special. And this study offers more conclusive evidence of the Shiba really being unlike other dog breeds. It makes me feel better about being ignored by my dog. And makes me feel that I'm not such a bad dog parent when Loki does not have the innate willingness to please its human owner that other dogs seem to possess.

4 comments:

2shibas said...

I completely agree with everything you said. Sometimes when I watch people walking their dogs off-leash and rolling around on the floor with children, I think: where did I go wrong with my dogs? But it's not us. The shibas are an ancient breed, and it makes sense that they're not so far removed from the wolf. Thanks for these interesting tidbits!

blue said...

Hi, you may enjoy this site.

http://www.shiba-dog.de/ShibaDog-en.htm

And I think many of characteristic traits of Shiba came from the cultural difference.
For example, some Shibas do not like to be hugged.
I guess this is caused by the fact Japanese do not like to display any body contact of affection in public even between close family members.
Also many Shibas are very aloof to strangers.
Japanese are usually very shy too and I believe they have encouraged Shibas to be like that as they consider it as a virtue like a spirit of Samurai, being only loyal to its master.
Until 100 years ago or so the meat had not been a big part of Japanese diet because of their religious belief therefore the herding did not exit in their culture. And obviously it had given so many aspects of domestication to European dogs.
Have you ever been to any Japanese garden?
The concept of them are so different from European or even Chinese gardens that Japanese believe the nature should look like the nature even when it is under the control of humans, in other words, the original characteristics of the nature should be respected.
These explain some of the traits Shibas own but not everything.
Why are Shibas so Diva/drama queen?
I have no idea, that is definitely not Japanese.
Also if Shibas were originally used for hunting, why they do not do good recall???
Hunters have to go home at the end of the day. If their dogs do not come to them, what would hunters do???
These are the mysteries of Shibas.

Dave said...

Recall: They eventually come home sooner or later. Problem is most people don't live out in the rural areas, so they haven't experienced a free-roaming Shiba Inu before.

They come home when they're hungry or thirsty.

Lex Mullin said...

The places where the branches split are called nodes. Nodes indicate a common ancestor between the branches that follow the nodes. So the first node seems to be between Shar-pei and Shiba, because they have a common ancestor closest related to the wolf. Since then, there has been genetic variation in the Shar-pei changing its genetic makeup, that's why it end up further in the first graph. The Shiba maintained more of its ancestral genes, which is why it remains closer to the wolf concerning genetic variation in the first graph. Does that make sense? - A student currently taking genetics, evolutionary biology, and have taken paleontolgy.

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