Good News for Rare Dog Breed

The New Guinea singing dog, also called a highland wild dog, was long thought to be extinct in its natural habitat. But a few years ago, some wild dogs were seen, then captured briefly so that DNA samples could be taken. The wild dogs turned out to be from the rare and ancient highland wild dog breed.

The dogs figure into some theories on dog domestication, as the dogs are closely related to both Australian dingoes and early domestic dogs from Asia. They could be an early ancestor of Japanese breeds like the Shiba Inu and the Akita, according to the New York Times. They share much common genetic heritage with the small captive populations of singing dogs, but those dogs are badly inbred and lack the genetic variation of the wild dogs.

No wild singing dogs had been seen in decades, and researchers feared that they had inbred with village dogs, leading the wild dog into extinction. But in 2012, an ecotourism guide snapped photos of a wild dog that led to research expeditions in 2016 and 2018. A total of 15 different dogs were observed, and DNA samples were collected from two living and one deceased dog. The analysis showed an overlap of about 72% of their genes with captive singing dogs descended from eight wild dogs captured in the 1970s, a CNN story reported.

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