Free-roaming, wild dogs around the world
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. Although they are not recognized by kennel clubs, they are indeed a breed of dog. With the migration of people, there is often some introduction of more conventional domestic dog breeds into Village Dog populations—and we can easily identify this.
Village Dogs are "outside" dogs found around the world living in and around human settlements. They're also known as island dogs, pariah dogs, or free-ranging dogs. Many Village Dog populations precede the formation of modern breed dogs. They make up about 3/4s of the billion or so dogs living on Earth today.
Just like a dog breed generated by years of selective breeding, Village Dogs are startlingly similar no matter where you go. They have a short coat, a narrow head, often upright ears, and a slim body. Rather than being shaped by human fancy or purpose, Village Dogs have a form and function molded by natural selection to exquisitely fulfill their unique role: a consummate scavenger, and a sometimes companion, in human communities.
Embark's co-founders have studied Village Dogs on six continents since 2007 in their efforts to understand the history, traits, and health of the domestic dog. Through this work, they have discovered the origins of the dog in Central Asia, and they also identified genetic regions involved in domestication and local adaptation.
As a result, Embark is the only company with global Village Dogs in their reference panel.