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What on Earth is a "Village Dog"? More on an Ancient Breed You've Probably Never Heard of Before.

For the past 5 years, we've been hit with one lingering question: "What breeds are Bindi and Rosie?!"

I can definitely understand why this question comes up so much. After all, while both dogs look very similar, they're also very different. They both have physical characteristics that correlate with many different breeds, which often leaves people scratching their heads.

Is Bindi a ridgeback mix? Maybe a whippet-mix? Rosie's got to have some lab in her, right?! What about Black Mouth Curr for Bindi?

Well, we've finally had the chance to find out what on earth our mystery mutts actually are through Embark DNA Testing. The results were very interesting!

Our girls are both 100%...

American Village Dog!

What IS a Village Dog?

While most people associate Village Dogs as simply another question mark in their search to find out more about their dogs, here's why more people should be fascinated by their results. First off, Village dogs make up less than 1% of all the breeds tested on Embark, which means your Village Dog is quite unique.

Although Village Dogs aren't recognized by kennel clubs, Village dogs are indeed a breed of dog. Despite hearing this, you may be thinking "But... what ARE they?! Aren't Village Dogs just... strays?"

First, let's address what they’re not. Village dogs weren't "created" by people per se,

like the diverse set of nearly 400 pure breeds recognized by the AKC. Village dogs also aren't the same as strays or feral dogs, but they’re not exactly domesticated, either.

From Embark's Site:

"When we identify a dog as a Village Dog, it's not because we can't figure out what breeds are in the dog. Village Dogs are free-ranging, free-breeding dogs whose ancestors were indigenous to a geographic area. In effect, they are the descendants of the founding population of dogs in a region."

According to Adam Boyko (canine genetics expert), “When you are looking at village dogs, you have something more akin to natural selection, albeit in an environment that’s managed by humans.” In other words, Village Dogs are a mixture of the domestic breeds introduced by humans with the "ancient pariah" or "wild dogs" of their surrounding communities. Many Village Dog populations precede the formation of modernly bred dogs, and have a lot to tell us (genetically) about the history of canines within specific geographic areas.

Just like a dog breeds generated from years of selective breeding, Village Dogs are startlingly similar no matter where you go. Whether you have an American Village Dog, an African Village dog, or an East Asian Village dog, you'll often see common denominators when it comes to their appearance. But how and why is this?

Rather than being shaped by humans through breed selection, natural selection has molded Village Dogs to fit their unique roll in the world. Equipped with short coats, often upright ears, slim heads, and a narrow frame, the Village dog embodies the form of a natural-born scavenger (and sometimes companion) in the human communities they've historically been entwined with.

What Can Village Dogs Teach Us?

While some people may be a bit disappointed when they don't get the breed make up that they've been hoping for, rest assured that your Village dog is a part of history. Village dogs are essential genetic resources that can help us understand canine evolution in many areas all over the world. As per Shannon Et Al,

"Village dogs are more genetically diverse and geographically widespread than purebred dogs making them vital for unraveling dog population history"

(Shannon Et Al).

So, if you've got a Village Dog - don't sweat! You've got a little piece of canine history right in your own home.

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Sources & Further Readings

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