Music and NPR News for Central and Northern Michigan
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

New study looks at history of American dogs

Flickr User Matt Beckwith

A recent study out of Ann Arbor looks at the history of dogs in the U.S., and how the ancestors of the pooch laying on your floor - or your couch -  affects dogs today.


The study looked at what dogs were like when they arrived in the U.S. and how they were used in European and Native American culture.

Similarly to modern day pets, dogs were an integral part of their communities...used for things like hunting and warmth.

Jacob Enk is a senior scientist at Arbor Biosciences, which worked on the study. He said when travellers crossed the Bering land bridge around the first ice age, they brought something with them.

“They brought these dogs that they had already developed a very close symbiotic relationship with, and instead of coming to North America and domesticating local wolves or local coyotes, they really held on to these what were probably very important members of their community these dogs.”

Enk said North Asian dogs and European dogs didn’t have much interaction or interbreeding with Native American dogs.


He said when Native people were forced from land or killed, their dogs died out as well.  The only remaining trace of Native American dogs today is in the form of a tumor that contains their genome.