We know that domesticated dogs come from the gray wolf, but beyond that, we don’t know a heck of a lot about how dogs became dogs.
Dogs were the very first creatures that humans domesticated, and their remains have been found along with those of humans from before we even had basic things like agriculture. And, with the advent of molecular tools, researchers were able to identify the animal that was domesticated (the gray wolf), as well as a handful of breeds that appear to be “ancient,” and split off close to the source of domestication.
It was a nice picture, but apparently it was probably wrong. That’s the conclusion of a study that appeared in this week’s PNAS, which uses a combination of genetic, archeological, and historic evidence to argue that the history of domestic dogs is such a mess that we’re not going to be able to unravel it without resorting to large-scale genome sequencing efforts.