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
The American Dingo
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", and formally recognized by the American Kennel Club as the "Carolina Dog". Formerly common and widespread in the United States, American Dingoes 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.
- Corbett, Laurie The Dingo in Australia and in Asia 1995, Cornell University Press, pp. 9-11
- "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]
- Corbett, Laurie The Dingo in Australia and Asia
- "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.
New Guinea singing dog
The New Guinea singing dog (also known as the New Guinea dingo, Hallstrom dog, bush dingo, New Guinea wild dog, and singer) is a wild dog once found throughout New Guinea. New Guinea singing dogs are named for their unique vocalization. Little is known about New Guinea singing dogs in their native habitat. There are only two confirmed photographs of wild singing dogs. Current genetic research indicates that the ancestors of New Guinea dingoes were probably taken overland through present day China to New Guinea by travelers during pre-Neolithic times.
History and classification[edit source | edit]
The first singing dog was taken from New Guinea in 1897. At that time many naturalists killed their specimens and studied them later. Such was the case with the first New Guinea dingo, which was shot and killed by Sir William MacGregor on Mount Scratchley at an elevation of 2,133 metres (6,998 ft).
MacGregor sent both the skin and the skeleton, preserved in alcohol, to the Queensland Museum. He described the dog as 11.5 in (29 cm) at the shoulder and primarily black in colour. White markings trimmed the neck, the throat, chest and tip of the tail. In 1911 C.W. DeVis assembled and studied MacGregor's specimen, along with Professor Wood Jones, followed by H.A. Longman in 1928. From 1897 until 1954, this single specimen comprised the scientific community's entire body of knowledge regarding the New Guinea singing dog.
In 1956, Albert Speer and J.P. Sinclair obtained a pair of singing dogs in the Lavanni Valley. The dogs were sent to Sir Edward Hallstrom who had set up a native animal study center in Nondugi, and then on to the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia.
There has been considerable controversy regarding the taxonomic classification of New Guinea dingoes. In 1958, Ellis Troughton examined the two Singer specimens from the Taronga Zoo in Sydney. Subsequently, the New Guinea singing dog was classified as a distinct species and was named Canis hallstromi (in honor of Sir Edward Hallstrom). Singing dogs have been reclassified several times and have variously been called Canis lupus hallstromi or Canis familiaris hallstromi. They have been classed as variants of the dingo or domestic dog. They have been called Canis dingo and Canis dingo hallstromi. Most authors class the New Guinea singing dog either as either a separate species or a domestic dog.
The NGSD is not genetically or ecologically exchangeable with any other canid population, and the NGSD is an evolutionarily significant unit. Mammal Species of the World lists these dogs as part of Canis lupus dingo, provisionally separate from Canis lupus familiaris.
Physical description[edit source | edit]
Build[edit source | edit]
Compared to other species in its genus, the New Guinea singing dog is described as relatively short-legged and broad-headed. These dogs have an average shoulder height of 31–46 centimetres (12–18 in) and weigh 9–14 kilograms (20–31 lb). They do not have rear dewclaws.
The limbs and spine of Singers are very flexible, and they can spread their legs sideways to 90°, comparable to the Norwegian Lundehund. They can also rotate their front and hind paws more than domestic dogs, which enables them to climb trees with thick bark or branches that can be reached from the ground; however their climbing skills do not reach the same level as those of the gray fox.
The eyes, which are highly reflective, are almond-shaped and are angled upwards from the inner to outer corners with dark eye rims. Eye color ranges from dark amber to dark-brown. Their eyes exhibit a bright green glow when lights are shone in at them in low light conditions. Researchers believe there are two reasons for the bright reflective glow; not only do the pupils open wider and allow in more light than in other dog breeds, there is also a higher concentration of cells in the tapetum. These two features allow singing dogs to see more clearly in low light, a trait which is unusual in canids.
New Guinea singing dogs have erect, pointed, fur-lined ears. As with other wild dogs, the 'ears' perk or lay forward, which is suspected to be an important survival features for the species. The ears can be rotated like a directional receiver to pick up faint sounds. Singer tails should be bushy, long enough to reach the hock, free of kinks, and have a white tip.
Fur[edit source | edit]
Pups are born with a dark chocolate brown pelt with gold flecks and reddish tinges, which changes to light brown by the age of six weeks. Adult coloration occurs around four months of age. For adult dogs, the colors brown, black and tan have been reported, all with white points. The sides of the neck and zonal stripes behind the scapula are golden. Black and very dark guard hair is generally lightly allocated over the hair of the spine, concentrating on the back of the ears and the surface of the tail over the white tip. The muzzle is always black on young dogs. Generally, all colors have white markings underneath the chin, on the paws, chest and tail tip. About one third also have white markings on the muzzle, face and neck. By 7 years, the black muzzle begins to turn gray.
Behavior[edit source | edit]
Flannery’s short 1988 report on dogs in the mountains of Papua New Guinea is regarded as the only available report on direct observation of wild specimens. He described them as "extraordinarily shy" and "almost preternaturally canny". According to Robert Bino (a student from the University of Papua New Guinea) these dogs use their resting places under roots and ledges in New Guinea only sporadically. Bino theorized that these dogs are highly mobile and forage alone and concluded that they therefore might use several hiding places in their home range.
During research observations, the examined dogs generally showed a lower threshold of behavior (e.g. scent rolling) than other domestic dogs, as well as an earlier developmental onset than other domestic dogs or grey wolves (e.g. hackle biting at 2 weeks compared to other domestic dogs/grey wolves at 6 weeks) and a quantitative difference (e.g. reduced expression of intraspecific affiliate behaviors). The dogs observed did not show the typical canid play bow; however, Imke Voth found this behavior during examinations in the 1980s.
Several unique behaviors have been exhibited by New Guinea singing dogs.:
- Head toss: This behavior, shown by every observed dog, is a prompt for attention, food or a sign of frustration, expressed in varying degrees depending on the level of arousal. In the complete expression, the head is swept to one side, nose rotated through a 90° arc to midline, then rapidly returned to the starting position. The entire sequence takes 1–2 seconds. The mildest expression is a slight flick of the head to the side and back. During this behavior, the characteristic contrasting black and white chin markings are displayed.
- Copulatory scream: At the copulatory tie, the female emits a repetitive sequence of loud, high-pitched yelps lasting about 3 minutes. This scream has a strong arousal effect on most domestic dogs.
- Copulatory contractions: About 3 minutes after the start of the tie, females begin a series of rhythmic abdominal contractions. During each contraction, the skin of the flanks and lumbar area is drawn forward. These contractions are accompanied by groans and occur regularly, several seconds apart (they may pause intermittently), continuing for the length of the tie.
- Additionally, Singers have an unusual form of auto-erotic stimulation, which includes a strong tendency to target the genitals for both playful and aggressive bites, a cheek-rub that may be a marking behavior and a tooth-gnashing threat.
During estrus, when potential partners are present, same-sex Singers often fight to the point of severe injury. Furthermore, adults also display a high degree of aggression towards unfamiliar dogs, which would indicate that they are strongly territorial. Their distinctive aggression could not be observed to that extent among Australian dingoes (who live without human contact).
Based on dogs in captivity, it has been theorized[who?] that wild singing dogs do not form permanent packs. All sightings in the wild were of single dogs or pairs and, according to observations by Imke Voth in the 1980s, some dogs are more comfortable in pairs and others in small groups. Researchers have noted rough play behavior by the mothers towards their pups, which often switched over to agonistic behavior, as well as "handling". The mothers did not adequately react to the pup's shouts of pain but rather interpreted it as further "invitation" for "playing". The researchers stated that this behavior was noted in their subjects only and does not necessarily apply to all Singers.
Vocalizations[edit source | edit]
New Guinea singing dogs are named for their distinctive and melodious howl, which is characterized by a sharp increase in pitch at the start and very high frequencies at the end. According to observations made by Ortolani, the howling of these dogs can be clearly differentiated from that of Australian dingoes, and differs significantly from that of grey wolves and coyotes.
An individual howl lasts an average of 3 seconds, but can last as long as 5 seconds. At the start, the frequency rises and stabilizes for the rest of the howling, but normally shows abrupt changes in frequency. Modulations can change quickly every 300–500 milliseconds or every second. Five to eight overtones can generally be distinguished in a spectrographic analysis of the howling.
New Guinea singing dogs sometimes howl together, which is commonly referred to as chorus howling. During chorus howling, one dog starts and others join in shortly afterward. In most cases, chorus howling is well synchronized, and the howls of the group end nearly simultaneously. Spontaneous howling is most common during the morning and evening hours. A trill, with a distinctly "bird-like" character, is emitted during high arousal. It is a high-frequency pulsed signal whose spectral appearance suggests a continuous source that is periodically interrupted, and might last as long as 800 milliseconds. Such a sound is not known for any other canid; however, a similar sound (with lower frequency) has been described for a dhole at the Moscow Zoo. When they are kept with dogs that bark, Singers may mimic the other dogs.
Reproduction[edit source | edit]
Like other dingo types, female Singers come into heat once a year rather than twice a year normally associated with domestic breeds. Their breeding season generally starts in August and ends during December. Gestation averages 63 days. In Tierpark Berlin, 80% of the litters were born in October and November and the gestation period was 58 to 64 days. The litter size was 1 to 6 pups. Reports of 25 female singers in captivity showed that when they did not conceive during their first annual estrus, about 65% have a second estrus cycle, sometimes even a third, 8–16 weeks later.
Males in captivity often participate in raising the pups, including the regurgitation of food. Female Singers are protective of their young and will aggressively attack their male counterpart if they feel he poses a danger to the puppies. During the first breeding season following their birth, especially if there is a potential mate present, pups are often aggressively attacked by the same-sex parent.
Diet[edit source | edit]
Reports from local sources in Papua New Guinea from the 1970s and the mid-1990s indicate that Singer-like wild dogs found in New Guinea, whether they were pure Singers or hybrids, fed on small to middle-sized marsupials, rodents, birds and fruits. Robert Bino stated that they their prey consisted of cuscuses, wallabies, dwarf cassowaries and other birds. Singers in captivity do not require a specialized diet but they seem to thrive on lean raw meat diets based on poultry, beef, elk, deer, or bison.
Distribution[edit source | edit]
The reported habitat of the New Guinea singing dog consists of mountains and swampy mountain regions of Papua New Guinea at an altitude of 2500 to 4700 meters. The main vegetation zones are the mixed forest, beech and mossy forest, sub-alpine coniferous forest and alpine grassland. Based on archaeological, ethnographic, and circumstantial evidence, it can be assumed that Singers were once distributed over the whole of New Guinea and later restricted to the upper mountains. Since there have been no verified sightings of these dogs in Papua New Guinea since the 1970s, these dogs are either rare, or possibly extinct. There were reports of Singers in the Star Mountains until 1976, and in 1989, Tim Flannery was able to take a picture of a black-and-tan dog in a Dokfuma. It is important to note that although Flannery made sightings of dogs, there was no way for him to verify them as pure or hybrid or that they were, in fact NGSD at all. In his 1998 book "Throwim Way Leg", Flannery states that Dokfuma (which he describes as subalpine grassland with the ground being sodden moss, lichens and herbs growing atop a swamp) at 3,200 meters elevation had plenty of singing dogs which could usually be heard at the beginning and end of each day. It is also important to note that the word "plenty" is a subjective term with meaning based on personal opinion with no scientific evidence provided. No count was taken in any scientific manner and no DNA testing has been conducted in order to verify purity. When alone in his campsite one day a group of canines came within several hundred meters of him. Flannery apparently did not have his camera along or ready since he reported no pictures taken. In 1996 Robert Bino undertook a field study of these dogs, but was not able to observe any wild Singers and instead used signs such as scats, paw prints, urine markings and prey remnants to make conclusions about their behavior. No DNA sampling was conducted. There have been reports from local residents that wild dogs have been seen or heard in higher reaches of the mountains. A more recent sighting was the fleeting glimpse of a dog at Lake Tawa in the Kaijende Highlands. Local assistants assured the researchers that the dogs at Lake Tawa were wild-living dogs since there were no villages near that location. It needs to be made clear, however, that "wild-living" does not necessarily mean that canines observed by natives are NGSD. It is possible that they are simply feral domestic dogs or NGSD hybrids.
Relationship with humans[edit source | edit]
Dr. Alan Wilton, a geneticist and senior lecturer at the University of New South Wales in Australia, has theorized that all of the singing dogs of New Guinea as well as the dingoes in Australia may have sprung from a single pregnant female. Over thousands of years the New Guinea dingoes spread throughout the whole of the island. In highland areas the dogs occasionally kept company with native humans, but more often they lived independently without masters. In the lowland villages they were more apt to take up residence with the many native villagers who inhabited the area. It is from these lowland tribes that we may gain a true understanding of the singing dog's place among humans. The onset of European culture with their domesticated dogs spelled the beginning of the end for pure New Guinea singing dogs in the lowlands. "Singing Dogs are very gentle and friendly with people, though inclined to be a bit shy with strangers at first," wrote New York owner Phillip Persky. "They are not at all aggressive with people" Sharon McKenzie said. "I've never heard of a case of a Singing Dog biting anyone." "They are notorious escape artists," Mr. Persky reported, "and can climb and jump with cat-like agility, so enclosures have to be secure." They are great diggers and can climb fences as easily as a squirrel. They can get through a space you would not have thought a snake could get through," Sharon laughed. "This is the only breed I know of in which bitches are dominant," Sharon observed. "Bitches really call the shots."
According to reports from the late 1950s and mid-1970s wild dogs believed to be Singers were shy and avoided contact with humans. It was reported in the mid-1970s that the Kalam in the highlands of Papua caught young Singers and raised them as hunting aids but did not breed them. Some of these dogs probably stayed with the Kalam and reproduced. The Eipo tribe kept and bred wild dogs as playmates for their children. Although the majority of the Highland tribes never used village dogs as a food source, it is known that even today they attempt to catch, kill and eat wild dogs. Some local myths mention these dogs as bringers of fire and speech or as the spirits of the deceased. Dog-findings in archaeological sites of New Guinea are rare, mostly consisting of teeth (used as ornaments) and trophy-skulls. One grave has been discovered. The earliest Singer remains was a tooth found in the lowlands. It was estimated to be about 5,500 years old. Findings from the highlands were thought to be of similar age, on a stratigraphical basis, but as of 2001 had not been dated. Since the beginning of the 20th century the inhabitants of the highlands started to keep chickens and Singers had a penchant for poultry. To add to the problem, natives kept other domestic dogs. The crossbred dogs were generally larger in size as well as less of a challenge to train so they tended to be of more value than singing dogs. One might conclude that the relationship between the contemporary New Guineans and their dogs will give information about how they treated the Singers, but modern "Village Dogs" are not genetically representative of pure New Guinea singing dogs.
Origin and taxonomic status[edit source | edit]
For these dogs an origin in Indonesia or South-East Asia is likely; however, the exact location and date is unknown. Genetic analyses also indicate towards an origin in East Asia. These dogs were most likely brought to Papua New Guinea by humans; the dogs could not have covered the distance between the islands by swimming, since even at lowest sea level the distance would have been too great. Findings indicate that there were dogs about 5,500 years ago, which at least looked similar to the Singers.
As stated earlier there is controversy regarding the origin of New Guinea dingoes. Singers may have been transported to New Guinea as a tamed wild animal to serve as a hunting aid or as human food. There is no proof for domestication and they do not show the characteristic morphological features of domestication. Singers may have developed blood enzymes specific to the breed after arriving in New Guinea or they may have inherited them from a different ancestor than those of modern domestic dogs. While interbreeding between Singers and other domestic dogs has occurred, this does not support their being the same species, since all members of the genus Canis are capable of producing fertile hybrids. Genetically and ecologically the New Guinea singing dog is not replaceable with any other canid-population and the available data indicates that the New Guinea singing dog demonstrates a unique evolutionary entity, possible a sister-taxon of the Australian dingo. Since the Singer has diagnostic characteristics that differentiate it from other members of the genus Canis, the name Canis hallstromi is used to identify it as a distinguishable taxonomic entity inside the genus Canis. Although these hypothoses are based on captive Singers, it is assumed that the described, regarded as unique, characteristics probably could not have developed during captivity. It is further suspected that these dogs would be an example on how dogs looked in the time before domestication and that their keeping by the inhabitants of Papua New Guinea would not fully match the common concept of domestication. In addition the ecological balance between the Singers and their prey is regarded as evidence that these dogs were not domesticated when they arrived on the island. As a further argument against the status of the Singer as a feral domestic dog, Koler-Matznick states that there exist no reports of demographically self-sustaining feral dog populations that are not at least partially dependent on humans. Even in the absence of other large predators, domestic dogs never become totally independent predators.
Kristofer M. Helgen disagreed. He said that these dogs are biologically interesting and deserve further ecological study, but neither molecular nor morphological evidence support the claim for taxonomic status as a separate species, particularly in the light of the morphological plasticity of the domesticated dog.
Genetic status[edit source | edit]
During genetic analysis regarding the origin of the Australian dingo, the scientists found the mtDNA-type A29 among Australian dingoes, as well as domestic dogs from the islands of South-East Asia, North America, East Asia and New Guinea Singings Dogs. This mtDNA-type fell in a phylogenetic tree of wolf-and dog-types right in the main clade of domestic dog mtDNA-types (70% of the mtDNA-types). Furthermore the Singers had a unique mtDNA-type that differed from A29 by two point mutations: This showed the real possibility of a shared origin with Australian dingoes, as well as a genetic exchange and affiliation with the domestic dog. Are the dingoes of Australia descended from New Guinea singing dogs or the other way around? Since Papua New Guinea and Australia were connected via a land-bridge until 6,000 years ago, traveling from one to the other would have been possible. Further DNA-analysis may show that Thai dingoes are also closely related to New Guinea singing dogs. It has been theorized that Singers and Australian dingoes might demonstrate a genetic line that separated itself from other dogs about 4,600 to 10,800 years ago. As long as nothing contrary was proven, a person has to assume that the current isolation of NGSD from village dogs makes interbreeding/hybridization unlikely.
The most current genetic research was completed by Australian scientist Dr. Alan Wilton from the UNSW School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences. In all, there were thirty-seven researchers from around the globe who took part in data collection and analysis. News of the study was released to newspapers on 18 March 2010. Research revolved around analysis of 48,000 genome sites found in hundreds of wolves and over a thousand dogs. The overwhelming conclusions showed that genetically, the Australian dingo and the New Guinea singing dog are closely related to each other. In fact, they are so closely related that the Australian dingo database may be used to ascertain purity in singing dog DNA sampling. Additionally, the study concluded that New Guinea singing dog and Australian dingo DNA is unique from all other canidae and is easily identified. They found Australian dingoes and New Guinea singing dogs to be the oldest of the ancient breeds, dating back at least 4,000 years. Singers belong in the Asian group, sharing it with dingo, Chinese Shar-pei, Chow-chow and Akita. This internationally recognized study collated at American universities UCLA and Cornell was published in the science journal Nature.
There was a time when the New Guinea singing dog was not considered worthy of study, since they were considered feral domestic dogs. Nowadays however, archaeozoologists who promote protection of these dogs argue that Singers are a living relic of the earliest dogs and at least a part of the heritage of the people of Papua New Guinea. The Singer is regarded as being worthy of protection, since the captive population is highly inbred and the wild population is probably excluded from several parts of its original distribution area. The Department of Environment and Conservation in New Guinea has announced protection measures.
The importance of the New Guinea dingo lies in its evolutionary age and purity as an evolutionary unit. These facts together with several unique genetic, behavioral, ecological, reproductive and morphological characteristics form the basis for its conservation.
Conservation and preservation[edit source | edit]
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (November 2011)|
There are two organizations that exist for the sole purpose of conserving and preserving New Guinea singing dogs. The organizations, New Guinea Singing Dog Conservation Society (NGSDCS) and New Guinea Singing Dog International (NGSDI) are both based in the United States.
Hybridization is one of the most serious threats facing the New Guinea dingo. NGD are handicapped, as are many canids such as the Australian dingo, by their susceptibility to being bred by canines other than those of their own kind. This vulnerability has and is still causing a "watering down " of dingo genes needed to maintain purity.
See also[edit source | edit]
References[edit source | edit]
- Corbett, L. K. (2008). "Canis lupus ssp. dingo". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 Oct 2011.
- Koler-Matznick, J.; B.C. Yates, S. Bulmer and I..L. Jr. Brisbin (2007). "The New Guinea singing dog: its status and scientific importance". The Journal of the Australian Mammal Society 29 (1): 47–56. doi:10.1071/AM07005. Retrieved 16 October 2011.
- Crew, Becky (5 July 2013). "Expedition to Find the New Guinea Singing Dog: The Rarest Dog in the World". Scientific American. Scientific American. Retrieved 5 July 2013.
- Muller, Natalie (13 September 2011). "Dingoes originated in China 18,000 years ago". Australian Geographic. Australian Geographic Society. Retrieved 25 October 2011.
- Flamholtz, Cathy J. (1991). A Celebration of Rare Breeds Vol.II. Centreville, AL, U.S.: OTR Publications. pp. 147–151. ISBN 0-940269-06-6.
- Funk, Holger (2005). "Shiba and Dingo". Retrieved 30 May 2010.
- Coppinger, Raymond; Coppinger, Lorna (2001). Dogs: A Startling New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior & Evolution. New York: Scribner. p. 280. ISBN 0-684-85530-5. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
- Janice Koler-Matznick (2004). "THE NEW GUINEA SINGING (WILD) DOG". Alien Press Inc. Retrieved 6 April 2010.
- Koler-Matznick, Janice; Brisbin Jr, I. Lehr; Feinstein, Mark; Bulmer, Susan (2003). "An updated description of the New Guinea Singing Dog (Canis hallstromi, Troughton 1957)". J. Zool., Lond. 261 (2): 109–118. doi:10.1017/S0952836903004060. Retrieved 2011-11-13.
- "Canis lupus dingo". Mammal Species of the world. bucknell. Retrieved 20 April 2010.
- Wilton, A.; et al, John P.; Lohmueller, Kirk E.; Han, Eunjung; Parker, Heidi G.; Quignon, Pascale; Degenhardt, Jeremiah D.; Boyko, Adam R. et al. (2010). "Genome-wide SNP and haplotype analyses reveal a rich history underlying dog domestication". Nature 464 (7290): 898–902. doi:10.1038/nature08837. PMC 3494089. PMID 20237475.
- Janice Koler Matznick (20 January 2004). "The New Guinea Singing Dog". KENNEL CLUB BOOK. Retrieved 6 April 2010.
- Flannery, Tim (1995). Mammals of New Guinea (2nd ed.). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
- Bino, R. (1996). "Notes on Behavior of New Guinea Singing Dogs". Science in New Guinea 22 (1). pp. 43–47. Field Study of NGSD
- Janice Koler-Matznick, I. Lehr Brisbin, Jr. and Mark Feinstein (March 2005). "An Ethogram for the New Guinea Singing (Wild) Dog (Canis hallstromi)". The New Guinea Singing Dog Conservation Society. Retrieved 7 April 2010.
- Dorit Urd Feddersen-Petersen (2008). Ausdrucksverhalten beim Hund. Stuttgart: Franckh-Kosmos Verlags-GmbH & Co. KG. ISBN 978-3-440-09863-9.
- Laurie Corbett (2004). "Dingo". Canids: Foxes, Wolves, Jackals and Dogs. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Retrieved 26 February 2010.
- Ortolani, A. (1990). Howling vocalizations of wild and domestic dogs: a comparative behavioral and anatomical study. Unpublished BSc thesis, Hampshire College, Amherst, Massachusetts.
- Christian Matschai (2005). "Haltung und Zucht von Hallstromhunden oder Urwalddingos (Cams lupus f. hallstromi) Tierpark Berlin" (in german). Der Zoologische Garten. Retrieved 7 April 2010.[dead link]
- Ehrlich, Don (Summer 2011). "Singers Singing-Hear the Cry of the New Guinea Singing Dog". Zoological Association of America Newsletter & Journal 5 (2).
- Kristofer M. Helgen, Stephen J. Richards, Robert Sine, Wayne Takeuchi, Bruce M. Beehler (2007). "A Rapid Biodiversity Assessment of the Kaijende Highlands, Enga Province, Papua New Guinea". Conservation International. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
- Savolainen, P; Leitner, T; Wilton, AN; Matisoo-Smith, E; Lundeberg, J (2004). "A detailed picture of the origin of the Australian dingo, obtained from the study of mitochondrial DNA". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 101 (33): 12387–90. doi:10.1073/pnas.0401814101. PMC 514485. PMID 15299143.
- Wilton, Alan; Pollinger, John P.; Lohmueller, Kirk E.; Han, Eunjung; Parker, Heidi G.; Quignon, Pascale; Degenhardt, Jeremiah D.; Boyko, Adam R. et al. (2010). "Genome-Wide SNP and Haplotype Analyses Reveal a Rich History Underlying Dog Domestication". Nature 464 (7290): 898–902. doi:10.1038/nature08837. PMC 3494089. PMID 20237475.
- The world’s oldest dog breed – the Dingo — The Dog Lobby. Doglobby.org (2010-03-19). Retrieved on 2012-12-30.
- Dingo may be world's oldest dog breed. Perth Now (2010-03-18). Retrieved on 2012-12-30.
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- Dingo may be world's oldest dog. Machines Like Us (2010-03-18). Retrieved on 2012-12-30.
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