Canus lupus dingo is common throughout Australia and in scattered groups across Southeast Asia. The primary wild populations are found in Australia and Thailand, though groups have been located in Myanmar, Southeast China, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Borneo, the Philippines and New Guinea (Nowak 1999; Corbett 1995).
Biogeographic Regions: oriental (Native ); australian (Introduced )
Pure dingoes have been demonstrated to occur only as remnant populations in central and northern Australia and throughout Thailand. However, based on external phenotypic characters, they may also occur in Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Philippines and Viet Nam.
Australian adult males of C. l. dingo are generally larger than females, weigh between 11.8 and 19.4 kg, and have an average body length of 920 mm. Females weigh between 9.6 and 16.0 kg and average 885 mm in body length. Shoulder heights range from 470 to 670 mm. Southeast Asian dingos of both sexes are smaller than dingos found in Australia, likely due to an essentially carbohydrate diet as compared to the high protein diet of Australian dingos.
Dingos are typically ginger-colored with white points in Australia, but black and tan, or black and white pelage patterns of purebred individuals may be found. Southeast Asian dingos are also commonly ginger-colored, though higher numbers of pure black individuals are found in Southeast Asia than in Australian (Straham 1983; Corbett 1995).
Range mass: 9.6 to 19.4 kg.
Average length: 885-924 mm.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Canis lupus dingo is found throughout Western and Central Australia in forests, plains and mountainous rural areas. They may also be found in the desert regions of Central Australia where cattle waterholes are available. Natal dens are made in caves, rabbit holes or hollow logs, all in close proximity to water. Most Asian populations are found near villages, where humans provide food and shelter in exchange for protection of their homes (Corbett 1995).
Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial
Terrestrial Biomes: forest
Other Habitat Features: suburban
Habitat and Ecology
The diet of Australian dingos is comprised of 60% mammalian prey, with birds and reptiles comprising the remainder. On occasion dingos may eat kangaroos, wallabies, sheep, and calves, but the majority of their diet is composed of small animals, especially the introduced European rabbit Oryctolagus (Straham 1983; Nowak 1999).
Asian populations all live in close association with humans, so much of their diet is composed of household refuse including cooked rice, raw fruits, and minor amounts chicken, fish, or crab meat. Some individuals in Thailand have been observed hunting lizards and rats, but also lived in close proximity to villages (Corbett 1995).
Dingos are opportunistic predators and hunt small prey alone. They will hunt in pairs or family groups when pursuing large prey (kangaroos, sheep, and cattle) where they hassle the prey from several directions until they can knock it off balance and attack it (Riddle 1979; Staham 1983).
Foods commonly eaten include: rabbits, rats, possums, wallabies, kangaroos, sheep, calves (cows), birds, reptiles, carrion and human refuse.
Animal Foods: birds; mammals; reptiles; carrion
Plant Foods: seeds, grains, and nuts; fruit
Primary Diet: carnivore (Eats terrestrial vertebrates)
Dingos are the primary mammalian carnivore in Australia. They compete with foxes and feral cats for small animal food sources, but have greater success with catching large prey during times of drought than do foxes and cats. For this reason, dingo populations remain high, and are thought be responsible for the loss of numerous medium-sized Australian mammals, including species of bandicoots, macropodids, and rat-kangaroos. However, some researchers suggest that dingos actually help to maintain populations of small Australian mammals. Dingos are also appreciated for their help in controlling European rabbit populations, which are pests throughout Australia (Corbett 1995, Riddle 1979).
Dingos are primarily killed by humans, crocodiles, and sometimes by other canid species, such as jackals and domestic dogs. Dingos are also killed by dingos from other packs. Pups may be taken by large birds of prey. They are secretive and will aggressively defend themselves as a group.
Canis lupus dingo
Canis lupus familiaris
This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
Known prey organisms
Canis lupus dingo
This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
Life History and Behavior
Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical
Dingos live up to ten years in the wild and up to 13 years in captivity (Corbett 1995).
Status: wild: 10 (high) years.
Status: captivity: 13 (high) years.
Status: captivity: 14.0 years.
Status: wild: 14.8 years.
Status: captivity: 14.0 years.
A single, dominant pair breeds in a dingo group. Dominant females will kill the young of other females in the pack. Dominant pairs tend to mate for life. Other pack members help in caring for the young of the dominant pair.
Mating System: monogamous ; cooperative breeder
Dingos produce one litter of pups per year. Mating seasons in dingos varies depending on latitude and seasonal conditions. In Australia dingos mate from March to April, in southeast Asia they mate from August to September. The gestation period is 63 days, with common litter size of 1 to 10 individuals, averaging 5.4 young per litter. Males and females pair during their third year and often mate for life (Riddle 1979; Corbett 1995)
Dingos and domestic dogs interbreed freely and wild populations are largely hybridized throughout their range, except in Austalian national parks and other protected areas (Straham 1983).
Breeding season: Breeding season varies with region.
Range number of offspring: 1 to 10.
Average number of offspring: 5.4.
Average gestation period: 63 days.
Average weaning age: 56 days.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 22 months.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 22 months.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization (Internal ); viviparous
Pups of C. l. dingo first venture from the natal den at three weeks of age. By eight weeks, the natal den is abandoned, and pups occupy various rendezvous dens until fully weaned at 8 weeks. Pups usually roam by themselves within 3 km of these dens, but are accompanied by adults on longer treks. Both male and female pack members help the mother introduce the pups to whole food (9 to 12 weeks), usually by gorging on a kill then returning to the den to regurgitate food to the pups. The mother waters the pups by regurgitation, as well. Pups become independent at 3-4 months, but often assist in the rearing of younger pups until they reach sexual maturity around 22 months (Corbett 1995; Nowak 1999).
Parental Investment: altricial ; female parental care ; post-independence association with parents; extended period of juvenile learning
The Australian government protects dingos in national parks and reserves only. In many public areas, dingos are considered pests and are subject to control measures. Although the dingo is not considered threatened or endangered, pure populations in Australia and Asia are at risk of complete hybridization due to interbreeding with domestic dogs. Interbreeding often results in offspring that pose a greater threat to the sheep industry (since they breed twice as often as pure dingos) and are more dangerous as pets because of innate aggressive behavior. Australian preservation societies have formed to protect, educate and breed purebred dingo lines. The general public is banned from owning dingos as pets (Corbett 1995).
CITES: no special status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: vulnerable
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
Dingo's were formerly widespread throughout the world (Corbett 1995) and although populations of wild dogs remain abundant in Australia and other countries, the proportion of pure dingoes is declining through hybridization with domestic dogs.
Estimating Dingo abundance is difficult because the external phenotypic characters of many hybrids are indistinguishable from pure Dingo's. For example, populations of 'wild dogs' in the southeastern highlands of Australia have been fairly abundant over the past 50 years. However, the proportion of pure Dingo's, as based on skull morphometrics, has declined from about 49% in the 1960s (Newsome and Corbett 1985) to about 17% in the 1980s (Jones 1990) and the pure form may now be locally extinct (Corbett 2001). Such quantitative data is not available for countries other than Australia, Thailand and Papua New Guinea so that the following qualitative estimates of abundance refer to pure Dingo and/or hybrid populations as based on general body form, pelage colour and breeding pattern.
In Australia, pure dingoes are common in northern, northwestern and central regions, rare in southern and north-eastern regions, and probably extinct in the south-eastern and south-western regions. The density of wild dogs (dingoes and hybrids) varies between 0.03 and 0.3 per km² according to habitat and prey availability (Fleming et al. 2001). Dingoes are rare in New Guinea and possibly extinct as there have been no confirmed sightings for about 30 years (Newsome 1971, Brisbin et al. 1994, Bino 1996, Koler-Matznick et al. 2000). Dingoes are common in Sulawesi but their abundance elsewhere in Indonesia is unknown. They are common throughout the northern and central regions of Thailand, but less so in the southern regions; considered rare in the Philippines and probably extinct on many islands. Present in Malaysia, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, China, Myanmar and India, but abundance unknown. Dingoes are probably extinct in the wild in Korea, Japan and Oceania, although several local dog breeds share dingo-like characteristics.
Dingoes were formerly widespread throughout the world (Corbett 1995) and although populations of wild dogs remain abundant in Australia and other countries, the proportion of pure dingoes is declining through hybridization with domestic dogs. Estimated populations of pure dingoes and/or hybrid populations can be found in Sillero-Zubiri et al. (2004).
Bounties for dingo skin and scalps exist in some regions of Australia. Dingoes are also sold in human food markets in several Asian countries. They are also bred by private individuals and companies in Australia and USA and sold as pets.
Although protected in Federal National Parks, World Heritage areas, Aboriginal reserves, and the Australian Capital Territory, the dingo is a ‘declared’ pest throughout much of its remaining range, and landholders are obliged to manage populations; the dingo is ‘undeclared’, but not protected, in the Northern Territory (Fleming et al. 2001). The dingo is not protected in any other countries of its range.
No conservation measures have been taken other than that the dingo has been nominated as a threatened species in the State of NSW and the Australian Federal Government has recently published ‘best practice’ guidelines to manage and conserve dingoes (Fleming et al. 2001). The efforts of dingo ‘preservation’ societies in Australia are currently ineffective because most of their stock is untested or known to be hybrid (Corbett 2001). There are no conservation measures for wild dingoes in Asia. However, in New Guinea, the Department of Environment and Conservation has indicated that measures will be initiated to protect New Guinea singing dogs (I.L. Brisbin pers. comm.).
Occurrence in captivity
Dingoes and/or dingo-like hybrids occur in many zoos and private facilities worldwide. Tests using skull measurements of deceased animals or valid DNA tests are required to assess the purity of captive populations.
Gaps in knowledge
1) Morphological and genetic assessment of the taxonomic status of dingo-like dogs in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, China, Myanmar, India, Philippines and, where present, their distribution, abundance, ecology and behaviour.
2) The ecological role of hybrids in Australia. If pure dingoes become extinct, will hybrids alter predation rates on native fauna and livestock?
3) Rabbits are a major prey in Australia but their populations have recently been decimated by rabbit calicivirus disease. What will be the effect on dingo ecology including predation on livestock?
4) What are the ecological effects of dingo control on feral cat and fox populations in Australia (mesopredator release)?
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
In Australia, millions of dollars have been spent to build and maintain a 3,307 mile long fence to keep dingos out of Southeastern Australia - sheep industry territory. Within the fence boundaries, dingos are considered vermin and are regularly killed for bounty (up to $500). Farmers allege that dingos seek out the sheep for food, though research has shown that dingos prefer natural food sources and only seek out domestic ones when natural food sources are scarce. Sheep and cattle are estimated to compose only four percent of their diet (O’Neill 1997; Corbett 1995).
Negative Impacts: injures humans (bites or stings)
Dingos pose little economic importance in Asia, athough some regions consume dingos as their primary protein source and sell cuts of their meat at market for edible and medicinal purposes (Corbett 1995).
Positive Impacts: food ; source of medicine or drug
Canis lupus dingo
The taxon Canis lupus dingo is named for its most famous and original member, the Australian Dingo, but it also includes non-Australian animals such as the New Guinea Singing Dog, the Thai Dog, and other animals which are considered taxonomically identical to the Australian Dingo, so any differences would be at the level of "variety," "landrace", or "breed". The name indicates that, like the familiar common dog, Canis lupus familiaris, it is one of many subspecies of Canis lupus, the gray wolf. While current taxonomy lists it as "provisionally separate" from C. l. familiaris, the current taxonomy notes that it is legitimate to view the two as united into one subspecies, the "domestic dog", while admitting that this "stretches the subspecies concept."
- 1 Origin
- 2 Taxonomic synonyms
- 3 Other Dingoes
- 4 References
Dingoes may have evolved in the northern areas of Thailand and Vietnam between five and six thousand years ago from south Asian wolves quite similar to the Indian Wolf and the Arabian Wolf. The early evolutionary process was one of domestication; a process which has both biological and anthropological elements. Wild wolves and human cultures evolved a commensal relationship in which each derived benefits from learning to tolerate or interact with each other, a process that transformed the physical features and instincts of those populations of wolves living around human settlements from wolf into dingoes, generally considered to be a subspecies of Canis lupus intermediate between wolf and dog.
Current taxonomy identifies nine taxonomic synonyms for the term Canis lupus dingo, the majority of which referred to the Australian Dingo but several of which refer to animals found in Southern and Southeast Asia.
"harappensis", an ancient dingo found in South Asia
During excavation seasons in 1924-25 and 1930–31, a team of researchers at Harappa, in modern Pakistan, collected a wide variety of ancient domestic animal remains which had been buried since three thousand years BC. The remains included a dog which the researcher who wrote the report named the Canis tenggeranas harappensis, noting "marked skull affinities to the Indian Wolf" and hypothesized to be the ancestor of the Indian Greyhound. Since that time, however, mammalogists reviewing the evidence have concluded that it is taxonomically identical to the Australian Yellow Dingo and have therefore grouped it together with the Australian Dingo into the taxon Canis lupus dingo.
"tenggerana", the dingoes of Java
In the late nineteenth century, experts working in the Tennger Mountains in Eastern Java identified a dog living there which they named "Canis familiaris tenggerana". They observed the dogs living alongside the natives in a semi-domesticated state. Since that time, Canis familiaris tenggerana has been identified and reclassified as C. l. dingo.
In a report to the Linnean Society of New South Wales in 1882, N. De Miklouho-Maclay identified several anatomical and behavioural differences between Australian Dingoes and dogs that inhabited the coastal lowlands(Maclay Coast) of Papua New Guinea. He gave the Papuan coastal canines the scientific name Canis papuensis. The differences between Canis dingo and Canis papuensis included a much smaller brain, which he attributed to the quite different lifestyles of the two animals. There were several differences in overall looks and build. In fact, the dogs he dubbed Papuan Dogs or New Guinea Dogs bore little resemblance to the canines commonly known as New Guinea Singing Dogs. Whereas the Australian Dingo is well known for its intelligence and boldness, as well as near independence from humans, he reported that the coastal Papuan canines remained on the periphery of native villages, regularly feeding on cast-offs and human waste. Hunting on their own was almost unknown. Instead of the bold independence of the Australian Dingo, the coastal dogs behaved very subserviently toward humans, exhibiting begging and grovelling. Additionally, he stated, "The Canis papuensis is very different in appearance and character from Canis dingo; is generally smaller, has not the bushy tail of the dingo...." Since New Guinea Singing Dogs or New Guinea Dingoes were not mentioned in his report, it is unknown whether Miklouho-Maclay was even aware of their existence. His report was only concerned with canines he observed along the Maclay Coast.
"hallstromi" New Guinea Singing Dogs
Dingoes without recognized taxonomic synonyms have also been identified.
Dingoes of Peninsular Southeast Asia
Pure Asian dingoes live freely in many areas of Southeast Asia.
The most common variety is the "Thai Dog", sometimes called the "Thai Dingo", which are also found in neighboring countries. They tend to be somewhat smaller than Australian Dingoes, and live and behave less like wild animals. Although many are kept as pets or working dogs, the majority roam freely and subsist by begging and scavenging from humans. Many Thai people believe that as Buddhists they gain merit by leaving food out for the free-roaming "neighborhood dogs" in the streets. Consequently, Thailand has a large population of wild dogs and also many of the attendant problems having such a population entails, such as periodic rabies epidemics.
Extensive morphological and genetic testing has supported the observations of Australian Dingo experts that Thai Dogs are taxonomically identical to the Dingoes in Australia. However there are a few noticeable differences. Black and ginger color variations, rare in Australia, are common in Thailand and Thai Dogs tend to have shorter hair. Their behavior is also substantially different; they live among and alongside people as urban free-ranging dogs. As such, they are viewed as unexceptional mongrel dogs, and not, as in Australia, as wild animals distinctly different from true dogs. In some sub-cultures in the region they are commonly looked to as a source of dogmeat and eaten as a delicacy; in the wider community they are more likely to be kept as guard dogs, used as hunting dogs, or carefully bred into specific breeds such as the Thai Ridgeback.
Other noted varieties of Canis lupus dingo include:
- ' Phu Quoc ridgeback dog' (Cho Phú Quốc) is a short haired primitive breed of dog with hair whorls on their backs. Phu Quoc Dogs and Thai Dogs differ from one another in several ways. Nonetheless, the Phu Quoc ridgeback dog is considered a progenitor of the Thai Ridgeback. Pure Phu Quoc ridgeback dogs still exist on the mainland of Thailand. The Phu Quoc ridgeback dog was discovered on the island of Phu Quoc (which it is named after), an island located off the west coast of Vietnam and the Vietnamese territory. It is believed that Phu Quoc Dogs were originally transported to the islands from the mainland by Thai fishermen. The Phu Quoc ridgeback dog is considered one of the three rarest canines and is in dire need of field research and wild population conservation efforts. Systematic breeding of the captive population on the island has had a positive affect on island tourism. For more information see the main article "Phu Quoc ridgeback dog"
The "dingoes" of Bali
Experts report that Bali Street Dogs and a breed of dog developed from them, the Kintamani, are genetically closer to Australian Dingos than they are to any of the many other breeds and landraces that they were compared to in the study. The physical similarity to Australian Dingoes is more clearly obvious in the case of the relatively uniform Kinatami dogs than in the wide physical diversity seen among the street dogs, which are noted for their distrust of humans, even when taken in as puppies.
"Dingoes" of Eastern Asia
Similar American dogs
Several experts have provided evidence that shows some native North American dogs should be classified as Canis lupus dingo. Prominent among these canines is the Carolina Dog, also known as "Yellow Dogs" or "Yaller Dogs". Formerly common and widespread in the United States, such dogs continue to survive living independently in isolated forests and swamps of the southeastern United States. Although increasingly many show signs of admixture with non-native breeds, the physical and genetic isolation from non-native breeds and closeness to the Australian Dingo can still be observed, especially now that they have been kept pure by captive breeding.
- Corbett, L.K. (2008). "Canis lupus ssp. dingo". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 13 August 2011.
- Wozencraft, W. C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 575–577. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
- "Mammal Species of the World - Browse: lupus". Bucknell.edu. Retrieved 2010-08-10.
- "Mammal Species of the World - Browse: dingo". Bucknell.edu. Retrieved 2010-08-10.
- Laurence, Corbett (1995). The Dingo in Australia and Asia. Comstock/Cornell, 1995. p. 9-11. ISBN 080148264X.
- "Full text of "An annotated bibliography on the origin and descent of domestic mammals, 1900-1955"". Archive.org. Retrieved 2010-08-10.
- Page 206
- "Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales" 6. Linnean Society of New South Wales. 1882. p. 626.
- VIETNAMNET, Ha Noi, Viet nam. "VietNamNet - Saving the Phu Quoc dog from extinction". English.vietnamnet.vn. Retrieved 2010-08-10.[dead link]
- Laurence, Corbett (1995). The Dingo in Australia and Asia. Comstock/Cornell, 1995. ISBN 080148264X.
- "The Kintamani Dog: Genetic Profile of an Emerging Breed from Bali, Indonesia - Puja et al. 96 (7): 854 - Journal of Heredity". Jhered.oxfordjournals.org. 2005-07-13. doi:10.1093/jhered/esi067. Retrieved 2010-08-10.
- Holger Funk. "Shiba and Dingo". Shiba-dog.de. Retrieved 2010-08-10.
- Weidensaul, Scott (1999-03-01). "Tracking America’s First Dogs". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 2006-10-11.
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