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Dingoes and Other Wild Dogs

Topic: Feral and Wild Dog Relatives

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Tags: Basenji, Canaan Dog

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In many different areas of the world even today there are species or breeds of wild dogs that still survive. Typically these wild dogs have a close resemblance to both wolves and coyotes but also to some of domestic breeds of dogs. Many researchers, scientists and even dog breeders argue that any wild dog is not a pure breed, since there will have been breeding between what are now considered the domestic breeds and the wild breeds. There are virtually no areas that wild dogs survive that domestic dogs aren't also common.

From this natural out breeding process, many scientists prefer to call wild dogs by the term feral. Whether you call them wild dogs or feral dogs, these canines have adapted to an ever shrinking territory, and some are even close to extinction. It is ironic that the out breeding with domestic dogs may in fact be the only footprint of some of these wild breeds within the next fifty years unless more effort is made to protect wild populations and natural habitat.

Australia and Dingoes

Most people are familiar with three different species of animals native to Australia and they include kangaroos, Koala bears and dingoes. There is a lot of misinformation, myths and pure nonsense out there about all three species, but the dingo seems to have more than its fair share of negative press.

In reality the modern dingo is, like virtually all wild dogs, at least somewhat influenced by domestic breeds. Breeding between wild dingo populations and domestic dogs is fairly common, especially domestic dogs that have become wild through being lost or abandoned in the wild areas found throughout much of the country.

The true wild dingo is considered to be a unique breed by the Australian National Kennel Council and the breed has been adopted as the national dog breed of the country. A fully mature dingo will weigh between 50 and 70 pounds and typically will not measure more than about 24 inches at the shoulder. Males are taller and heavier than females and also have a more masculine looking head and body. Their muzzle tends to be longer and narrower than most domestic breeds and they have a slinking, lower to the ground movement that is not seen in other dog breeds. The coat of the dingo is heavy and thick and can be found in colors of ginger to yellow, tan, black, brindle and a white to sandy color. A true dingo will have a white tip on the tail and white on the paws and feet. Colorations that include any patterning or variations of the typical colors usually indicate a hybrid from some domestic dog breeding with the dingo.

Unlike what most people believe, dingoes can be domesticated and have been for centuries by the aboriginal tribes. They are different than typical domestic dogs and tend to be more independent and much less affectionate than most breeds of dogs. They maintain a very high prey drive even when domesticated and can be very challenging to socialize. Even in their wild state these dogs don't tend to stay in packs for long periods of time, rather they separate to hunt and live and come together in packs to breed and establish roles with the very loose social structure. Many dingoes travel in pairs and tend to avoid the larger pack gatherings.

Pariah Dogs

There are several different types of Pariah dogs found in very different areas of the world. The term "pariah" was first given to feral or wild dogs that roamed the cities and countryside of India. It is believed that the term "pariah" was used to designate these dogs as the lowest type of dog as they are often semi-wild or completely feral, outcasts from society. In rural areas and small villages these dogs often lived as unofficial pets of the town or area, fed on scraps and generally cared for by the whole community. In turn they kept down vermin and acted as natural guards for the inhabitants.

All Pariah dogs around the world have the same general body type and overall appearance. Genetically they are linked together as well as closely linked to the wolves, proving that they are one of the earliest ancestors of the modern domestic dog breeds. The general appearance of a Pariah dog includes a shorter muzzle, wedge shaped head, highly erect triangular ears, longer legs, longer body and a medium length tail that is usually curled tightly over the back. In some cases they may closely resemble the overall appearance of the Basenji and or the more northern spitz type dogs. In hot climates the Pariah dog has a shorter coat and in cooler climates a longer double coat may be found. Colors tend to range from yellow to rust and black with brindles and some parti and tri-colors.

It is important to keep in mind that Pariah dogs are a type of dog that is unique, more in keeping with a breed rather than a hybrid. Purebred Pariah dogs are not a mixed breed dog or a result of domestic dogs breeding and leaving different hybrid litters in the wild. Typically since Pariah dogs are feral or semi-wild they are often rather poorly fed, leading to overall smaller sized dogs. When taken into captivity and properly cared for these dogs often maturing at between 30 and 50 pounds. While there is no official registry for these dogs in India, several groups are working to preserve the purebred Pariah dog and encourage the development of a registry.

In Israel the Pariah dog is recognized as a breed, known as the Canaan Dog. These dogs have the typical Pariah dog physical appearance but are much more attuned to living with humans. They are outstanding hunting, herding and agility dogs but they do need an owner that has experience with a dominant breed. The first Canaan Dog was imported to the United States in 1965 and as enjoyed a steady increase in popularity since then. They are very active dogs and are best suited to farm life or at least a home with a large, very securely fenced yard.

The United States also has a native Pariah dog breed known as the Carolina Dog or the American Dingo. These dogs look almost identical to the Australian Dingo, although they are smaller and much more social in temperament. They are a true pack breed and do best when very involved in the family. Although they bond very strongly with their family and the pets in their house they are very wary of strangers and need to have a lot of early handling and socialization by people outside of the family to be calm and relaxed around strangers. Some have a high prey drive and they do need to be kept within a securely fenced yard.

Other articles under "Feral and Wild Dog Relatives"

Article 1 - "Dingoes and Other Wild Dogs"
Article 2 - "Feral Dogs - A Serious Problem"
Article 3 - "Coyotes and Wolves"
Article 4 - "Rescuing and Training Feral Dogs"
Article 6 - "Wolf Hybrids - Not For Everyone"
Article 7 - "Native American Indian Dogs "

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