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Articles > Dogs

Native American Indian Dogs

Topic: Feral and Wild Dog Relatives

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Filed under Dogs
Tags: North American Indian Dog, Collie, Behavior

Hello, my name is Rachelle Randall and I am the proud owner of two well-mannered Shih Tzu adult dogs. They recently had their second litter of puppie…


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Within North America there is a type of dog that has long been known as an "Indian Dog". While this may not be a politically correct name, the general overall understanding of this term is very similar to the understanding of the term Pariah Dogs in other areas of the world. In general the dog domesticated and used by the Native American people, also known as First Nations People in Canada, had a definable appearance.

In essence these dogs looked somewhat like wolf-dog hybrids in physical shape, although they are smaller in both height and weight. They often were depicted has having the upright, triangular ears, longer, narrow muzzle and dense, thick double coat similar to that of a wolf or coyote. In addition these dogs also had a typical wedge shaped head, common with Pariah Dogs all over the world. Tails were moderately long, carried low to the hocks in a gentle curve. These dogs could walk or lope for miles and miles without tiring and assisted as hunters, protectors and watchdogs to the nomadic people of North America.

Modern Day Native American Indian Dogs

The modern Native American Indian dog is very similar to its ancestors, although there are some variations. Currently there are two different registries for this breed including the Native American Indian Dog Registry and the National Kennel Club, both that recognize the dog as a distinct breed. The large kennel clubs do not recognize the breed, and there is lots of controversy surrounding these canines.

The modern day North American Indian Dog can have one of two different coat types, either a short coat or a longer coat more typical of that of a Smooth Collie. The coat, regardless if it is short or long is always double with a very thick, dense inner coat. Colors are divided into two categories, silver through to black in one group and anything patterned or broken colored considered to be a second category. This broken coat color is often similar to a tortoise shell coloration in cats, but may also be more brindle in nature. Any type of unique coat is said to be the most prized, often these dogs were seen to be "Spirit Dogs" and were considered very rare and special by the native groups.

The temperament of the Native American Indian Dogs is really very gentle towards their human family but they are also highly gifted hunting dogs. Naturals at hunting small animals, they can and will socialize very well with cats and other small animals if they see that animal as part of their family. Ideally suited to being around children of all ages, the Native American Indian Dog is both playful and affectionate but not aggressive or prone to being territorial or possessive of their space, food or toys. Proper socialization with children is important as with any breed, but the gentle nature of these dogs is really a good match for most families with kids.

Challenges To Life With A Native American Indian Dog

As with any breed that has lived its life in a semi-wild state, the Native American Indian Dog needs lots of room and space, plus they require long periods of time outdoors to be happy. They are not suitable for living in an apartment or as being kept totally indoors. Crate training is not recommended for these dogs as they tend to fear confined spaces and may become very stressed and anxious if crated, even for short periods of time. While the dogs do need outside time every day they also crave human attention and are affectionate dogs. They may be very leery and nervous around new people if not routinely socialized.

The Native American Indian Dog is highly intelligent and has many of the characteristics of the working dogs. They do best with positive reinforcement types of training and are highly sensitive to the owner's tone of voice. Typically verbal correction is all these dogs will need to understand they are on the wrong track. Repetitive training quickly becomes boring for these dogs and they need to have challenges and changes in their daily training routines. Some of the Native American Indian Dogs may also have natural herding instincts, making them a very versatile dog breed.

Like any dog they need to be kept in a secure fence and they will roam and travel great distances if they get out of the yard. Since these dogs do mature at up to 100 pounds, they need to be leash trained and obedience trained at an early age. In more northern climates these dogs are often used to pull sleds in the winter months and they can be idea for this type of intense work.

The Controversy

There is considerable controversy around the actual naming of the Native American Indian Dog. The breed has been promoted by one particular kennel and breeder, and other kennels and breeders, including those managing the registry, were then formed. The controversy is that the breeders claim that these dogs can trace their lineage back to the feral dogs first domesticated by the original tribes of Native Americans. Detractors from this claim indicate that the first Europeans brought domestic dogs with them to South and North America and that these dogs bred with whatever were the native dogs, resulting in a hybrid prior to any recording of the breed. In addition non-supporters of the Native American Indian Dog as a distinct breed present the argument that Native Americans did not selectively breed dogs and there was no control for out breeding with wild canines such as wolves or even coyotes, as well as the European dogs.

Regardless of the lineage of the Native American Indian Dog, it is true that the modern dogs being called Native American Indian Dogs bear a very close resemblance to those dogs depicted in early photographs, drawings and written accounts of dogs in North America. With continued DNA testing and research it is highly likely that the exact lineage of the dogs will eventually be known and understood.

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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