Maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) has been used extensively to determine origin and diversity of taurine cattle (Bos taurus) but global surveys of paternally inherited Y-chromosome diversity are lacking. Here, we provide mtDNA information on previously uncharacterised Eurasian breeds and present the most comprehensive Y-chromosomal microsatellite data on domestic cattle to date. The mitochondrial haplogroup T3 was the most frequent, whereas T4 was detected only in the Yakutian cattle from Siberia. The mtDNA data indicates that the Ukrainian and Central Asian regions are zones where hybrids between taurine and zebu (B. indicus) cattle have existed. This zebu influence appears to have subsequently spread into southern and southeastern European breeds. The most common Y-chromosomal microsatellite haplotype, termed here as H11, showed an elevated frequency in the Eurasian sample set compared with that detected in Near Eastern and Anatolian breeds. The taurine Y-chromosomal microsatellite haplotypes were found to be structured in a network according to the Y-haplogroups Y1 and Y2. These data do not support the recent hypothesis on the origin of Y1 from the local European hybridization of cattle with male aurochsen. Compared with mtDNA, the intensive culling of breeding males and male-mediated crossbreeding of locally raised native breeds has accelerated loss of Y-chromosomal variation in domestic cattle, and affected the contribution of genetic drift to diversity. In conclusion, to maintain diversity, breeds showing rare Y-haplotypes should be prioritised in the conservation of cattle genetic resources.