Working Paper Review Version 2 This version is not peer-reviewed

Biological and Cultural History of Domesticated Dogs in the Americas

Version 1 : Received: 18 August 2020 / Approved: 20 August 2020 / Online: 20 August 2020 (09:52:56 CEST)
Version 2 : Received: 7 June 2021 / Approved: 8 June 2021 / Online: 8 June 2021 (12:10:40 CEST)

How to cite: Segura, V.; Geiger, M.; Monson, T. A.; Flores, D.; Sánchez-Villagra, M. R. Biological and Cultural History of Domesticated Dogs in the Americas. Preprints 2020, 2020080453 Segura, V.; Geiger, M.; Monson, T. A.; Flores, D.; Sánchez-Villagra, M. R. Biological and Cultural History of Domesticated Dogs in the Americas. Preprints 2020, 2020080453


Domestication had a dramatic influence on the cultural evolution of human histories, and on the biological evolution of domesticated species. Domestic dogs occurred earlier in the Americas than other domesticated animals. Older records in the continent come from North America, dated 11,000-8,400 ybp, and in the Andes from 5,600-5,000 ybp. In order to present an overview of human-dog interaction in the Americas, and to identify gaps in knowledge of this subject, we reviewed 178 publications on zooarchaeological record of burials, genetics, morphology, and ethnological information of American dogs, revisiting the history and interactions across the continent. There is no evidence of an in-situ dog initial domestication. Pre-Columbian diversity in North America includes at least three varieties, whereas in South America six varieties were documented. Historical descriptions of phenotypes (e.g. humped dog) may represent an expression associated with mutations. We find that archaeological, historical, and ethnographic records reveal non-traditional uses and hybridizations with other canids. For example, the Coast Salish people exploited woolly dogs for manufacturing blankets. Dog acquisition by some Amazonian cultures began towards the end of the nineteenth century. Overall more than 41 dog breeds originated in the Americas and are currently recognized by kennel clubs. The main gap in knowledge points to the relationships between American breeds, local hybridizations, migratory routes of dogs following Indigenous peoples’ social networks, historical-cultural contexts, and quantification of morphological diversity. North and Central American dogs have been more intensively studied than those from the Amazon regions or Patagonia. We find that the history of domestication in the Americas is far from simple and integrative studies are needed.


Archaeology; Morphology; ancient DNA; feralisation; hybridization; breed; Salish dogs; Canis; skulls


Biology and Life Sciences, Animal Science, Veterinary Science and Zoology

Comments (1)

Comment 1
Received: 8 June 2021
Commenter: Marcelo R. Sánchez-Villagra
Commenter's Conflict of Interests: Author
Comment: There are too many changes to explain in detail here (including the title which is now: “Biological and cultural history of domesticated dogs in the Americas” instead of “The History of Domesticated Dogs in the Americas”. The changes to the original version are those noted in the text in RED in the revised version, which I upload below under “Supplementary File”… I hope this is helpful?
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