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Why Dog History Remains a Blur

Those darn Victorians did it
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 26, 2012 5:56 PM CDT

(Newser) – Our ignorance about canine history can be blamed, ironically, on our own love for dogs, LiveScience reports. Scientists recently tried tracing dogs' genetic lines—and culling out details of their early domestication—but lost track in the 19th century, when Victorians established today's standard breeds. The 15,000 years that came before that are a "big blurred mess," says a British researcher. "We love them so much, we've completely obliterated their early history and made it more difficult to understand their origins."

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Some modern breeds, like Aghan hounds and Salukis, do have deeper genetic roots, but only go back a couple thousand years—not nearly enough to reach the first domesticated dogs. Researchers did conclude, however, that these "ancient breeds" look different simply because they avoided being hybridized in the mid-19th century. Still on our list of doggie questions: where and how many times they were domesticated, and how many wolf populations contributed to the modern canine. (Read more dogs stories.)

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