Arabian Village Dog

Illustration courtesy of the Swedish Kennel Club

The oldest known dog remains are from Israel, where dogs have been loved by humans, and buried with them, for over 12,000 years. Middle Eastern village dogs were instrumental in dog evolution. From the Middle East, dogs spread to Africa and Europe, where eventually they were bred to become most of the hundreds of dog breeds we know today. Dogs that remained in the Middle East took on the iconic form of the Saluki, sleek and cool under the desert sun.

Fun Fact

A village dog is the oldest known fossil dog. The dog lived nearly 15,000 years ago in what is now Germany and was buried with a human family.

  • About the Arabian Village Dog

    Village dogs are the free-breeding, “outside” dogs found around the world living in and around human settlements big and small. They’re also known as island dogs, pariah dogs, or free-ranging dogs. Many village dog populations precede the formation of modern breed dogs. They make up about 3/4s of the billion or so dogs living on Earth today. They serve as trash cleaners, sentinels, and even sometimes companions while still retaining much of their freedom. Because village dogs are found all over the world and pre-date modern breeds, they don’t have a breed standard— they come in many colors, a variety of sizes, and can have short or medium length fur. Dogs were originally domesticated in Central Europe (in fact, Central Asian village dogs are suspected to be the closest living relative to the earliest ancestors of domestic dogs) and followed humans into Europe where they found a living eating scraps and trash everywhere they went. Over time, some of them adapted to roles helping humans hunt, tend and guard livestock, and guard homes. They also changed humans wherever they went, making dog lovers of many people. Where humans went, so too did their dogs. Village dogs made their way into the Americas and still inhabit most areas of Central and South America and the Caribbean where they are called “street dogs”. Whether they are “satos” living in Puerto Rico, “potcakes” living in the Bahamas, or the common street dogs on the mainland, these dogs are almost completely descended from European dogs imported during the Colonial Era. Native American dogs once numbered in the millions, but only one in a hundred or so American village dogs today have maternal or paternal lineages that trace back to pre-Colombian times. Prospective owners are unlikely to find a breeder of village dogs because they have developed in rural areas and are often strays. Village dogs should be appreciated for their historical and genetic significance. Without their contribution to the doggie gene pool, it is possible we wouldn’t have the myriad of breeds that we love and appreciate today.

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