A Comparison of Dog Shoulder Height in European and Native American Contexts

Author(s): Martin Welker; Rebecca Duggan

Year: 2017


Dogs are the only domestic animal to have existed on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean prior to the Columbian Exchange. Historic documents indicate that European colonists to North America brought their own dogs and generally preferred large breeds capable of protecting livestock, hunting, defending settlements from both predators and Native American raids. As early as 1619 the Virginia Assembly banned colonists from trading European dogs to Native Americans, and these policies were quickly adopted in many colonial legislatures, remaining in effect until the 1700’s. We compare morphometric data from a sample of over 200 individuals from sites in Europe and the American colonies dating to between 1000-1800 AD, and Native American contexts in Eastern North America spanning the last 6000 years. Though many indigenous breeds were eventually influenced by admixture, our analysis identifies noticeable differences in dog’s average shoulder height, supporting assertions that many breeds introduced by European colonists were significantly larger than local Native American breeds at the time of contact.

Cite this Record

A Comparison of Dog Shoulder Height in European and Native American Contexts. Martin Welker, Rebecca Duggan. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430740)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -80.815; min lat: 39.3 ; max long: -66.753; max lat: 47.398 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 17538