I found this article pretty interesting. A recent genetic research article on the origins of the dog has found that the likely place of origin for the dog, rather than the Middle East as has been held to be the case for some time, is East Asia:
Genetic researchers have released results of a study that indicates that modern domestic dogs originated in eastern Asia.
The modern domestic dog, Canis lupus familiaris, is a closely related subspecies of the wild gray wolf, Canis lupus. Biologists have long known that the first dogs originated through domestication of wolves around 15,000 years ago. While the descent of dogs from wolves through domestication is non-controversial in genetics, determining the region in the world where this occurred has been more of a question. Earlier studies had suggested a Middle Eastern origin for dogs.
A new study focusing on the lineage of the Y-chromosome indicates that dogs originated somewhere in eastern Asia, south of the Yangtze River. The Y-chromosome is carried by males and its study complements earlier findings which focused on mitochondrial DNA, which is passed through the female line. Both lines point to the same Asian origin, strong independent evidence that the genetic studies are valid. The researchers claim that the earlier studies indicating a Middle Eastern origin left out important samples of genetic material from the eastern Asian region and were thus incomplete.
The conclusions are based on an analysis of the genetic diversity in populations of dogs in various regions of the world. The widest range of genetic diversity is found in the eastern Asian region, while dogs in other regions contain only portions of the total complement of eastern Asian genetic material. This indicates that these wider populations are descended from smaller groups that spread out from the Asian region in the past.
The study is here.
I think this makes a certain amount of sense. If you go back a thousand years or so ago, before world commerce exploded, there was more morphological diversity in dogs in East Asia than anywhere else. Whereas in the west there were a relatively small number of types and characteristics, e.g. mastiffs, coursing dogs, etc., in Asia there were all of those characteristics and more, some of which have barely filtered to the rest of the world even today. Rather than the East Asians getting mastiffs from the Romans (a claim I’ve read over the years) I think it’s much more likely that Alexander’s troops brought them back from Asia.
Wherever there’s the most genetic diversity is a pretty good place to look for the place of origin.