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Alaskan Breeds Only True American Breeds Study Shows…

Discovery: According to a new study the only breeds of dogs that actually have American ancestry are Alaskan Inuit sled dogs, such as the Eskimo dog and the Greenland dog.

"They originate from the indigenous Indian-American and Inuit dog populations, and have only marginally been mixed with European dogs in modern time," says the study’s co-author Peter Savolainen: "They are all equally American."

Alaskan Breeds

Savolainen, an associate professor at KTH-Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, explained the determination after tracing the origin of mitochondrial DNA lineages for several dog breeds suspected to be pre-Columbian, meaning before Europeans settled in the Americas. Dogs inherit their mitochondrial DNA from their mothers.

Alaska’s Denali National Park uses sled dogs to patrol its 6 million acres of Arctic terrain.

Scientists widely agree that the original stock of all canines worldwide originated from Asia. This is similar to the widely agreed-upon view that all members of our species originated in Africa before some people left that continent.

“There was a single origin of the domestic dog somewhere in Eurasia,” Savolainen explained. “The exact place is still debated, but our previous studies strongly indicate the southern part of East Asia, basically southern China.”

The earliest archaeological evidence for dogs in the Americas dates to around 10,000 years ago, long before the dawn of transoceanic travel in the 15th century that saw the arrival of Columbus and other Europeans.

Most U.S. dogs today, however, have European origins. Golden retrievers, poodles and many more breeds fall into this category.

Inuit sled dogs, the Eskimo dog and the Greenland dog, though, show no European heritage in their genes. Like Native Americans, they were in the United States and nearby areas long before Europeans arrived.

“Nobody knows exactly what happened,” Savolainen said. “Most probably migrated together with the humans that entered America from Asia via the Bering Strait. These humans became today’s Indians and Inuits.”

“Our data shows dogs came in several migrations, at least one with the Indian-American ancestors and at least one with the Inuit ancestors,” he continued.

The result for Alaskan Malamutes was ambiguous, but these dogs appear to come from slightly different stock originating in Siberia, Japan, China and Indonesia. The Alaskan husky and the American Eskimo dog have a known origin from Siberian spitzes and European dogs.

The dogs with the most pre-Columbian Mexican heritage, according to the study, are the Chihuahua and Xolo (Mexican hairless dog). 

The researchers additionally determined that a group of free-ranging dogs based in South Carolina and Georgia — known as Carolina Dogs — likely have an ancient Asian origin.

Carolina Dogs might have once been associated with a Native American tribe, the canine’s relatives turning feral once their humans disappeared.

“The reason might be that the human population keeping these dogs was wiped out when Europeans came,” Savolainen said.

Prior research by Sarah Brown of UC Davis and colleagues is consistent with the latest findings about the Inuit sled dog, Eskimo dog and Greenland dog. Brown and her team found “ancient DNA evidence for genetic continuity in arctic dogs.”

Scientists hope to use such DNA studies and other research on dogs to learn more about past human migrations. From at least 10,000 years onward, wherever migrating humans went, dogs often came too.

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Iditarod Dog Found 7-Days After Disappearing From Team

Anchorage Daily News/MCT Photo 

ABC News: The 53-year-old winner of the 41st Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race made history this week as the oldest winner of the grueling endurance race, but an Iditarod dog lost for seven days may have had the most amazing journey at this year’s race.

May, a strawberry blond female, got loose last Thursday from the team of Newton Marshall, the Jamaican musher leading her sled in the 1,000-mile race across Alaska.

When Marshall stopped mid-race Thursday to help a fellow musher repair her sled, the lines of the two sleds became entangled, and May was separated from the team, according to a post on Marshall’s fan Facebook page.

As the search for May, a veteran Iditarod dog, got under way, it also played out on social media, with the team behind her owner, veteran Iditarod musher Jim Lanier, who also competed in this year’s race but did not race with May, posting sightings and frequent updates to his own Facebook page.

Lanier’s wife, Anna Bondarenko, flew to Alaska to “be the familiar face to call May in from the cold,” according to a post on Facebook. She relied on help from local residents to search for May, borrowing snow machines and crisscrossing the state by plane as new sightings of May came in.

May was seen running along the Iditarod trail numerous times but was always missed by those who spotted her, and by Anna who was “always a day behind her, due to weather issues flying between checkpoints,” read a Facebook post.

On Thursday, with hope running slim, the couple got the good news that May had been found by three snowmachiners on a trail.

“We had just pulled over on the side of the trail … and about 100 yards away a dog was trotting down the trail,” one of the snowmachiners, Kaitlin Koch, 22, told the Anchorage Daily News. “It was coming at a pretty slow pace, and we were waiting to see if someone on a four-wheeler or snowmachine was with her.”

Describing the dog as alone, skinny and with blood on her paws, Koch said she got off her sled and approached May, who welcomed the help.

“She came right up to me,” Koch said. “She sat in my lap the entire trip back to Big Lake.”

The trio had doubts that the missing Iditarod dog they had heard about could be this one, so far away from the race’s end, but they called Iditarod headquarters to report her found, just in case. One hour later, one of Lanier’s friends arrived to take the dog home, reports the Daily News.

“It’s an incredible journey,” said the friend, Stan Smith, to the Daily News, also noting the dog had eaten canned salmon and kibble stew as part of her recovery.

A Facebook post from Lanier, who could not be reached today by ABCNews.com, estimates that May traveled over 150 miles before being found while Smith, himself an Iditarod veteran, told the Daily News he thought May likely traveled 300 to 400 miles.

Based on the sightings of May reported along the course, Smith, who also could not be reached today, believes the dog was trying to find her way back to the start of the race but missed a crucial turn along the way.

“She was absolutely running home,” he told the Daily News. “She traveled several times from Rohn to Nikolai, all the way up the Dalzell Gorge, up the Alaska Range to the other side, through Rainy Pass, across Shell Lake; she was spotted multiple times in Skwentna. So many reports of seeing her. They were all heading south.”

While May’s musher, Newton Marshall, the improbable dog sled racer from Jamaica, was forced to drop out of the race in Nikolai after May became lost, her owner went on to finish the race.

Lanier crossed the finish line of his 16th Iditarod on Thursday — the same day May was found — in 35th place. The race took him 10 days, 10 hours, 21 minutes and eight seconds to complete, according to his Facebook page.

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