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Pariah dogs: 9 ancient and wild dog breeds

By: Jaymi Heimbuch on June 26, 2014, 12:55 p.m.
Australian dingo

Photo: John Carnemolla/Shutterstock

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Australian dingo

Another wild dog with controversy surrounding its origins is the Australian dingo. While some scientists argue that the dingo is a subspecies of grey wolf separate from the subspecies that is the domestic dog, other scientists pose that the dingo originated from domesticated dogs brought to Australia from Asian sea-farers somewhere around 4,000 years ago and went feral soon after, eventually evolving into a unique breed of wild dog. What makes the understanding of the dingo so difficult is knowing whether DNA links to domestic dogs have always been there or show up because of interbreeding with feral domestic dogs brought to the continent in more recent centuries. But both DNA and archeological evidence seems to point to a closer connection with domestic dogs than wolves, even if it is far back in their evolutionary history. No matter the status of dingoes on the canid family tree, the “pure” dingo of today is in danger of disappearing because of just such widespread interbreeding with modern domestic dogs.