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Fourteen ancient breeds of dog have been identified through advances in DNA analysis. These breeds of domesticated dog show the fewest genetic differences from wolves. The breeds are geographically diverse, including dogs from Siberia, Japan, Alaska, China, Tibet, and Africa.
|Cladogram of ancient dog breeds.|
DNA from dogs of 85 (mostly) AKC-registered breeds (5 individuals per breed in most cases) were tested by Parker et al. This study had some surprises, especially the suggestion that three breeds – the Norwegian Elkhound, Pharaoh Hound, and Ibizan Hound – are not as old as typically stated, but rather are more recent recreations of old types. Also, five pairs of breeds are closely related: Alaskan Malamute and Siberian Husky, Collie and Shetland Sheepdog, Greyhound and Whippet, Bernese Mountain Dog and Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, and finally the Bull Mastiff and English Mastiff.
However, the assumption that a small sample from a single dog breed can be representative for the entire breed is argued to be invalid by long-time repeated incidental or intentional interbreeding with local dogs, thereby gradually replacing original wolf clade elements but maintaining the original phenotype by ongoing selection for the original use and conformation. Also, as there are some 400 known dog breeds (of which the AKC recognizes 167), it is possible that an extended study would reveal additional "ancient" breeds.