The History of Coast Salish ‘Woolly Dogs’ Revealed by Ancient Genomics and Indigenous Knowledge

Audrey Lin, Liz Hammond-Kaarremaa, Hsiao-Lei Liu, Chris Stantis, Iain McKechnie, Michael Pavel, Susan sa'hLa mitSa Pavel, Senaqwila Sen̓áḵw Wyss, Debra qwasen Sparrow, Karen Carr, Sabhrina Gita Aninta, Angela Perri, Jonathan Hartt, Anders Bergström, Alberto Carmagnini, Sophy Jessica Laura Charlton, Love Dalén, Tatiana Feuerborn, Christine France, Shyam GopalakrishnanVaughan Grimes, Alex Harris, Gwénaëlle Kavich, Benjamin Sacks, Mikkel-Holger Sinding, Pontus Skoglund, David Stanton, Elaine Ostrander, Greger Larson, Chelsey Armstrong, Laurent Frantz, Melissa Hawkins, Logan Kistler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ancestral Coast Salish societies in the Pacific Northwest kept long-haired “woolly” dogs that were bred and cared for over millennia. However, the dog wool-weaving tradition declined during the 19th century, and the population was lost. Here, we analyze genomic and isotopic data from a preserved woolly dog pelt, “Mutton”, collected in 1859. Mutton is the only known example of an Indigenous North American dog with dominant pre-colonial ancestry postdating the onset of settler colonialism. We identify candidate genetic variants potentially linked with their unique woolly phenotype. We integrate these data with interviews from Coast Salish Elders, Knowledge Keepers, and weavers about shared traditional knowledge and memories surrounding woolly dogs, their importance within Coast Salish societies, and how colonial policies led directly to their disappearance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1303-1308
Issue number6676
Publication statusPublished - 14 Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the University’s Research Publications and Open Access policy.

Cite this