The Dingo or Australian Native Dog is a Canis lupus familiaris subspecies that has never been fully domesticated. Anatomically, it is neither dog nor wolf, thus words lupus and familiaris are sometimes absent from its Latin name. It is believed that this wild dog is actually a true ancestor of all domesticated dogs as well as all modern dog breeds. However, this is still uncertain since there is no clear evidence of what exactly Dingo is – whether it is a primitive dog, a wolf, half wolf and half dog, a missing link between domestic dog and wolf, or some other species. Even their true origin is still a mystery to some extent. By one theory, Dingoes originated from semi-domesticated pariah dogs from Southeast Asia, who were brought into Australia by migrating tribes more than 4.500 years ago. However, some scientists believe these wild dogs as well as all other domesticated dogs have evolved from Indian wolves more than 6.000 years ago. This opinion was based on a large number of similarities in the anatomy of Dingoes and these wolves, but recent genetic studies favour the first theory.
Either way, upon their arrival in Australia, Dingoes were mainly kept by some native Aboriginal groups as watchdogs, camp cleaners as well as an emergency food source. Later on, the majority of these dogs has returned to their wildlife and became savage again. They adapted quite well to the harsh Australian wilderness, becoming the largest mammal predator there. In connection with this, it is believed that Dingoes have been a direct cause for the extinction of three indigenous Australian species – the Tasmanian devil, the Tasmanian nativehen and the thylacine. However, recent evidence suggest it is more unlikely, and that the possible causes of their extinction have actually been climate changes and human intervention. As of yet, they’ve become quite attractive for some dog owners, who have started breeding them as companion pets. But, as you probably guessed it, the Dingo is not considered a purebred dog and is not included in any FCI group. Nonetheless, it is still a primitive dog in almost every sense and it is our duty to closely examine this beautiful animal.
- 1 Name(s) And Habitats
- 2 Dingoes In The Wild
- 3 Dingo Dogs As Pets
- 4 Main Domesticated Warrigal Characteristics And Training
- 5 Australian Native Dog Physical Characteristics
Name(s) And Habitats
The widely accepted name Dingo was probably derived from the Aboriginal word “tingo,” which they often use to call dogs from their encampments. However, various native groups in Australia have a lot of other names for these dogs, such as Boolomo, Mirigung, Maliki, Noggum, Warrigal, Joogong, Kurpany, Repeti, Palangamwari, etc. Some people even call them Australian Wild Dogs or Australian Wolves, which, of course, is up to a debate, but I can understand them. It is not that surprising Dingoes have so many different names since they can be found all across Australia, inhabiting various ecosystems – from the scorched deserts and tropical forests to snowy mountains. Also, they can be found in Indonesia and in some parts of Southeast Asia, especially, in Thailand and Sulawesi. As you can clearly see, they are widespread in this part of the world, a testament of their high adaptability. So, if you wish to have a Dingo as your pet, it doesn’t matter where you live, this dog will adapt to every environment. Lovely :)
Dingoes In The Wild
As a wild animal, the Dingo is an extremely efficient predator, who can hunt alone or in small groups. This is a silent hunter, whose hunting habits depend on the type of climate. In warmer environments, Australian Native Dog is usually a nocturnal hunter, while in colder regions he is more active during a day. The size of their groups (usually varying between two and twelve Warrigals) depends on the size of prey. The bigger the prey, the bigger the pack. Dingoes prey on almost everything they can kill, from insects to cattle. Their diet includes many mammals and other wild species, such as agile wallaby, red kangaroo, water buffalo, magpie goose, wombat, wallaroo, possum, rabbit, rat as well as different kinds of lizards, crabs, beetles, and fish. Unfortunately, they usually kill and eat cattle, sheep, goats, and sometimes even domestic cats, which is the reason they’ve been hunted by farmers to the edge of extinction in some regions. Apart from that, Dingoes have been known as efficient scavengers too, who can easily survive by eating the carcasses of various animals.
Dingo Dogs As Pets
There is an ongoing debate on whether or not Dingoes are suited to be kept as pets. The opinions are divided and both sides have their own arguments. There are many evidences that Dingoes can really be excellent pets. Many of the actual owners have often been full of praise of these canines. According to them, domesticated Dingoes are almost identical to other domesticated dogs. They are affectionate, smart, friendly, and eager to please. They can be equally well used as watchdogs, guard dogs, and even herding dogs, which is very strange considering their hunting habits in the wilderness. However, other evidence suggest the opposite. According to some, Dingoes cannot be fully trusted. There are many cases of them escaping with no apparent reason. Also, they have been known to attack humans. Some of the strongest arguments against their domestication are the recent attacks on children on Fraser island. There are at least three cases in which children were harmed or even killed by a Dingo.
So, is there a safe way to keep a Dingo as a pet? There actually is, but you will have to know some things beforehand. First of all, you must understand you’ll never be able to fully domesticate a pure Dingo. After all, this is a wild canine by nature, who is, unlike domesticated dogs, well aware of its individual survival capabilities. In other words, he doesn’t depend on people to survive and will only submit to a man if it suits its needs! Second, you will have to separate a puppy from its mother around six to eight weeks of age. This is very important since older Dingoes are almost impossible to tame. The sooner you separate a puppy the better. It is also suggested that you, at least, adopt one male and one female puppy at the same time. You see, Dingoes are known to have only one mating partner a whole life! Who said there is no matrimony among animals, hm? ;) So, this will work like some sort of happiness policy. Now, it is also very important to know how to properly raise your Dingo(es).
Main Domesticated Warrigal Characteristics And Training
After separation, you will have to treat a puppy with lots of respect and care until it gets used to you and all other members of the household. This is a delicate process, which demands patience and understanding. The moment you gain his respect, you should immediately start with its socialization and training. Needless to say, neither one of these two tasks is easy. When you work with a Dingo, you have to be authoritative and dominant, but spontaneous, patient, calm and focused. Also, you have to be consistent with the training, but never rude or bully. Remember, this is not a pure dog and he won’t tolerate any forceful treatment, which can result in all sorts of bad things. Once properly treated, Warrigal can easily learn even the most complex commands. Yeah, this is a stubborn but very smart canine, able to quickly comprehend and soak all the tricks you have in store for him. Using the adequate training methods, Dingoes can even be housebroken easily. Also, they can be trained to become nice sporting dogs, who can compete in agility and obedience trials.
Once properly tamed and trained, Dingo can be a wonderful family companion, who can be both playful and gentle. He is equally affectionate with all family members, but only submits, like every other pack animal, to its primary owner – an Alpha. Contrary to a wild Australian Native Dog, domesticated one is often nice and friendly with children, especially, if they grow up together. However, he cannot be fully trusted in this case. He will, for sure, enjoy games with them, but won’t tolerate any abusive behavior, so it is necessary that you monitor them while playing. When it comes to strangers, Dingo is usually reserved and shy, but can be very protective, especially, if he thinks his primary owner is in trouble. Besides, this is a very territorial animal, who can’t stand somebody unknown sneaking around. In such situations, he will warn you with a loud but short bark as well as growling. In general, Dingoes bark seldom, but they can also howl or yelp from time to time, which can be annoying. Anyhow, they are considered quiet pets.
Main domesticated Dingo dog characteristics are high intelligence, resourcefulness, agility, independence, curiosity, alertness, boldness, stubbornness, loyalty, and cheerfulness. Warrigal is a very active canine, which demands a lot of daily exercise. It is recommended that you take him for a long walk or a hike in nature as often as you can. If you’re, for some reason, unable to do so, it would be nice that you, at least, play some games with him in your yard. This way you will keep your Dingo healthy both mentally and physically, which is particularly important. Remember, this is actually a wild animal, who can wreak havoc if neglected. When outside, it is not advisable to have your Warrigal off-leash since he is usually very curious and unpredictable. Also, Dingoes can never be trusted with other dogs and pets, even if they are socialized and well trained. Their strong hunting instincts are never to be underestimated. Of course, socialization will help to some degree, but you can never know how other dogs will treat your Dingo.
Ideal Living Conditions
As I wrote above, Dingo can be quite easily housebroken and has no doggy odour, which means that you can keep him indoors if you wish. Of course, he can get used to such life, at least, to some degree, and can be quite gentle and relaxed at times, but that is certainly not his favorite place to be. After all, this is a very active animal, which prefers large open spaces, where it can run, play, and roam freely. So, if you intent to own a Warrigal, it would be best that you have a large yard. This will suit his needs perfectly, but make sure you built high enough wall or fence around it. You see, one of the Dingo‘s unique traits is his ability to climb trees! Now, imagine how useful it could be for him to escape, and escape he will if chance be. Dingoes like to roam and explore their surroundings – their territory, it is in their blood. Yeah, this is a reason enough why it is recommended that you live in a rural area if you wish to have a Dingo. Indeed, you can hardly ever know what tricks he has up his sleeves, so it’s best to be prepared in any case.
Health And Annual Estrus Cycle
The life expectancy of a Dingo is approximately 12-14, but in some cases it can live over 20 years. However, such long life has rarely been witnessed in domesticated Dingoes. They are generally healthy, but are susceptible to some common domesticated dog diseases, such as hip dysplasia, canine distemper, canine parvovirus, etc. They can also suffer from various parasites, including hookworms, tapeworms, whipworms, coccidia, etc. Like the Basenji or wolves, Warrigals have an annual estrus cycle a year. This means that females can only be pregnant once a year. Although it’s scientifically proven that they come in heat twice a year, only the second time can be actually fruitful. Depending on the region, mating occurs in spring (usually between April and May) or in late summer (between August and September). The size of the litter varies in numbers, but it’s usually around five puppies. Both parents equally take care of them until they reach six months of age.
Australian Native Dog Physical Characteristics
The Dingo is a larger medium-sized canine of rectangular shape with the compact and muscular body. He is super flexible, just like the Norwegian Lundehund. He can bend his head on its back and can spread his legs outwards by 90 degrees. This helps him greatly while climbing. Also, with such great athletic abilities, he can easily cope with any kind of terrain, doesn’t matter how rough it is. The coat of a Warrigal is dense, short and soft. However, the length and density of hair may vary depending on the climate of an area he is living in. Dingoes can easily adapt to cold or hot weather. They shed sparsely and are easy to clean and groom. Brushing once a week will be just enough to remove fallen hair. Main Dingo colors are reddish and yellowish ginger (those are the most common colors), tan, black, and white (cream), which can vary in shades. Usually, Dingoes are bi-colored with white markings on feet, chest, and the tip of tail. The prevalent black or white specimens are very rare today.
The quite flat head of a Dingo is wedge-shaped and a bit broad. The slightly tapering muzzle is pointed at the nose. It is slightly longer in comparison to those of similar sized dogs. Also, Dingoes have longer canine teeth and larger carnassials, which explains why they can be so dangerous. The oval-shaped eyes vary in color and can be yellow, orange or brown. The very mobile ears are large, erect and pointy. The broad nose is usually brown or black. The medium-length neck is thick without dewlap. The not-that-deep chest is quite narrow. The back is strong and slightly lean. The sabre-like tail of a moderate length is brushy. It is usually relaxed, but when the Dingo is excited it is held upon its back. The front legs are straight, strong, and a bit thicker than the hind legs, which are very muscular and lean. The paws are cat-like with arched toes and hard pads. The dewclaws are absent in Dingoes, which is not the case with the majority of domesticated dogs. Just another proof, how this canine is indeed unique.
Dingo Dog Size And Weight
– Height between 19,5 and 23,5 inches (50-60 cm)
– Weight between 35,5 and 53 pounds (16-24 kg)
– Height between 17,5 and 21,5 inches (44-54 cm)
– Weight between 22 and 39,5 pounds (10-18 kg)
Note: There are cases of Dingoes being a lot larger, in fact, weighing more than 66 pounds (30 kg).
Cultural Icon Of Australia
We can all agree a person can hardly speak about Australia without having a picture of a kangaroo, a koala, or a Dingo in mind. Rightfully so. These animals are indeed unique and fascinating and are true mascots of this distant continent. Dingoes, particularly, have been identified as intermediates between earthly and supernatural. Throughout history, they have often been associated with bad things (devils, cannibalistic demons, thieves, werewolves, betrayers, cowards, etc.), but they also have always had a sacred role, especially, in the indigenous people’s beliefs. The native tribes of Australia associate Warrigals with holy places, rituals, myths, dreamworld creatures, etc. Some of them even believe that they can communicate with otherworldly entities, including the dead. It seems that people have always been fascinated with this “mythical” animal that still roams this earthly world. And, even though responsible by some for the extinction of two of the most iconic marsupials (Tasmanian devil and thylacine), nowadays Dingo actually took their place in the Australian pantheon of fame.
Unique And Charming
Some people among us always search for something special, something unique. If you are one of those, then Dingo is definitely a “dog” for you! Looking at previous paragraph, you can clearly see why. Now, it is true that a pure Warrigal can never be fully domesticated, but that is actually the charm about this canine. It is like a forbidden fruit, a temptation to some, which makes owning one so attractive. However, today, more than a third of Australian Dingoes are hybrids, developed through interbreeding with domesticated dogs. So, finding a pure one is even harder. Also, Dingoes are still illegal for keeping in some states and countries, so it would be wise to check with authorities if you’re allowed to own one according to law. If not, you will have to find another dog breed that will suit your needs. Luckily, there are a few very similar dog breeds, such as the New Guinea Singing Dog, Carolina Dog, Canaan Dog, and the Basenji. Well, it is still not THAT, but at least it’s something. In the end, I have only one thing to say to those lucky enough to get a pure Dingo – I envy you ;)