Remember when I threw a small fit when I came across this site that claimed all the genetic evidence pointed to the coyote as the ancestor of the domestic dog? Actually, all the genetic evidence thus far has clearly pointed to the simple reality that not only are dogs descended from the wolf (Canis lupus) and has pointed to the Middle Eastern subspecies as the main genetic stock from which all dogs are derived. This evidence also suggests that domestic dogs are a form of Canis lupus, not a unique species or derived from some other canid– be it living, dead, or imagined.
Well, here’s another dubious and poorly thought out theory about the origins of a certain breed of dog. This site claims that the basenji, which is actually very closely related to these ancestral Middle Eastern wolves, is derived from the Ethiopian wolf.
Let me show you where that is wrong:
I know that the Ethiopian wolf was once claimed to have been an African offshoot of Canis lupus. Later genomic analysis found that the Ethiopian wolf is more distantly related to the dog and wolf species than the golden jackal and the coyote. Some golden jackals, it has more recently been revealed, are actually part of the wolf and dog species. These particular wolves have not been compared to the other wolf and dog subspecies using a genome-wide analysis, but my guess is that these “African wolves” (Canis lupus lupaster) are probably closely related to the Arabian wolves and domestic dogs. These wolves do have unique mitochondrial DNA sequences, as do some Indian pallipes and Himalayan chanco wolves, but these might all prove to be much more closely related to dogs and the other Middle Eastern and South Asian wolves than the the mitochondrial DNA analysis would suggest.
However, there is no evidence that any dog is derived from the Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis). They do hybridize with dogs and produce fertile offspring, but all of the studies on hybridization have been on the dog contribution to Ethiopian wolves. It is possible that some dogs in the Ethiopian Highlands have some contribution from Ethiopian wolf, but it is a stretch to make the claim that the basenji of rainforests of Central Africa has anything to do with the Ethiopian wolves living in the harsh alpine country of Ethiopia.
If you want to make things very confusing, some of the newly discovered African wolves are from Ethiopia, but it is not accurate to call them Ethiopian wolves.
Canis lupus lupaster ≠ Canis simensis
And neither have been found to be ancestral to Canis lupus familiaris, which is mostly derived from Canis lupus arabs and Canis lupus pallipes.
This site also make a claim that black-backed jackals crossed with basenjis, too.
The only thing I need to do with that one is laugh.
Black backed jackals, let me repeat, cannot interbreed with domestic dogs.
Golden jackals, yes. Golden jackals are much more closely related to the wolf and dog species than they are to anything else that is commonly referred to as a jackal.
See where they are on the dog family phylogenetic tree pictured above? African wild dogs and dholes are actualy more closely related to wolves and dogs than black- backed jackals are. And no hybrids between the dog and wolf species and these two canids has ever been produced, even though they should be placed in the genus Canis. If black-backed and side-striped jackals belong in the genus Canis, then dholes and African wild dogs clearly do.
Black-backed jackals are actually the oldest extant species in the genus Canis. And no one has found that black-backed or side-striped jackals, which are found only in Sub-Saharan Africa have ever crossbred with dogs. Although many prick-eared dogs have been claimed to be part black-backed jackal, not a single hybrid has been produced so that a DNA sample could be taken.
My guess is that these hybrids simply don’t exist.