North America’s original dog breeds: were there Native Americans on four paws?

Narrated from: Dog Breeds History

Modern day USA is full of dogs. There are more than 80 million dogs, and those are only the registered ones. However, if you look into the history of dog breeds you have come to love and respect, you will notice that all of them are immigrants – every dog breed styled “American” has been developed in the past 100 to 200 years from dog breeds that came from Europe or Asia.

Still, before Columbus crossed the Atlantic, North America had been populated for more than 10,000 years. Weren’t there any dogs that could be called “native”?

Well, of course there were – after all, dogs are a man’s best friend. Still, scientists find it hard to determine what “native” actually means. It is believed that the first humans in North America migrated from Siberia and brought their dogs with them. According to genetic research, no dog breeds have evolved from local wolves, but rather some 14,000 thousand years ago domesticated descendants of the Asian Grey wolf were spread throughout the continent.

However, there is some opposition to this thesis – some scientists actually believe that thousands of years ago, the Native Americans domesticated American wolves in the same way that their Asian forefathers domesticated the Asian wolves.

This theory is supported by the fact that there are legends for the origin of dogs among Indian tribes; and according to those legends, the first dogs came to men by their own free will. According to another curious myth, a dog’s original lifespan was 20 years, but dogs gave away half of it so that their beloved humans could live longer.

No matter how dogs came to North America, they were present there for thousands of years. There were a lot of Indian tribes, and some of them were not particularly fond of dogs; however, many Indians adored their furry brethren and dogs were an integral part of their societies. According to many scientists, dogs weren’t bred selectively as much as in Europe, and thus resembled strongly their wolfish cousins. However, there were some distinct breeds of native dogs.

Sadly, none of them have survived until the present day. Most scientists and most Indians agree that the Native American dogs are extinct – they were interbred with European dogs after Columbus reached the shores of America and their bloodlines are lost. A fading memory of this time could be the Carolina dog, aka the American Dingo – these dogs still exist in some parts of the state.

There are few records on the lost Indian breeds. Some of the breeds that are still remembered are the Hare Indian dog and the Wool dog. However, no pure members of these breeds can be found today; and if anyone offers to sell you a “Native American dog”, he is probably trying to swindle you!

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