138 – Dawn of the Dog|Jan Koler-Matznick

Dawn of the Dawn - Photo by Lynn Jackson

Jan Koler-Matznick: Daring New Hypothesis Regarding the Origin of the Dog

Dawn of the Dog? What if dogs are really kissing cousins to wolves, not direct descendants?

Jan Koler-Matznick didn’t plan to be a heretic when she grew up. Nonetheless, her 2016 treatise, Dawn of the Dog: the genesis of a natural species, flies in the face of scientific hypotheses established for decades. Jan’s years involved in purebred dogs, working as a biologist and behaviorist, working with wolves and New Guinea Singing Dogs left her convinced that it was not realistic to believe that domestic dogs are direct descendants of canis lupus, the grey wolf.

“The people who are doing the research, writing these things, were never intimately involved with these animals,” Jan said. “I have worked closely with domestic dogs, wolves and New Guinea Singing Dogs (dingos).”

New Guinea Singing Dogs

It was her desire to study the most primitive dogs, animals largely unimpacted by humans, that led her to the New Guinea Singing Dogs.

“I got my first two (NGSD) puppies home from the airport in Portland,” Jan remembered. “I was standing there in my kitchen with my mouth open, thinking to myself, I don’t know what they are! They’re not dogs. They’re not wolves…”

In reference to the DNA analysis connecting dogs and grey wolves, Jan noted that similarity of DNA does not mean ancestor/descendant relationship. “Two species can have extremely similar DNA because they came from a common ancestor.” In other words, Jan hypothesizes that there was one progenitor to both the wolf and dog.

“I think someday the ancestor of the dog will be found lying in a museum drawer some where,” Jan mused. “Most of the new species described in the last couple decades have come out of museum drawers because they were misidentified or not identified at all.”

She is looking forward to results from a UK group studying the origin of the dog. A researcher has put together an international consortium of specialists conducting a significant study using ancient wolves and dogs, sequencing DNA from their bones. “I’m hoping we’ll get some answers before I die.”

Listen to Jan Koler-Matznick on Pure Dog Talk

Listen to this fascinating interview on Pure Dog Talk and read her book available on Amazon.


Janice Koler-Matznick has a Bachelor degree in Biology, a Masters in environmental science, a certification in applied animal behavior (Board of Professional Certification of the Animal Behavior Society), and 45 years experience as a dog trainer. She is a member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Canid Specialist Group and has authored/co-authored journal papers on the New Guinea dingo, dog origin, dog cognition, and the uses of dogs. Her special interest subjects are the origin of the dog, dingoes and aboriginal village dogs.

Featured Photo Credit: Lynn Jackson


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