The Australian Dingo
The Australian Dog is an ancient, free roaming, primitive canine unique but not endemic to the continent of Australia with subspecies located in South East Asia where they were thought to have originally come from. Unlike wolves, dingoes can react to social cues and gestures from humans and it’s generally believed that the ancestors of modern dingoes were brought to Australia on boats as food or guard dogs by Asian seafarers about 4,000 years ago. Whether there were several introductions or all descended from one introduction, (theoretically one pregnant female) is not known
The Dingo is an opportunistic hunter who also scavenges for food and the largest terrestrial predator on the continent therefore has played an important role in the various ecosystems of Australia since its arrival. At the time of their introduction, Tasmania was separated from the Australian mass so they never inhabited Tasmania but quickly spread throughout the mainland and are suspected to have caused the extinction of the Tasmanian Tiger, Tasmanian Devil and Tasmanian Native-hen.
Dingoes can breed with other dogs and both the Australian Blue Heeler and the Australian Kelpie are part Dingo. The Dingoes of Fraser Island are considered to be of significant conversational value. Due to their geographic and genetic isolation, they are considered to be the most similar to the original dingoes the most pure dingo populations as they there are not “threatened” by interbreeding with domestic dogs.
DINGOES & ABORIGINALS
Dreamtime stories of the Aborigines on the coastal regions depict dogs running excitedly up and down a boat and finally jumping into the water is seen as further evidence for the introduction of dingoes by seafarers. Traditionally dogs have a privileged position in the aboriginal cultures of Australia and the dingo is a well known part of rock carvings and cave paintings. There are ceremonies and Dreamtime stories passed down through the generations. The Aboriginals were believed to have slept with the Dingoes on cold nights and women often carried pups to satisfy their motherly instincts before releasing them back in the wild.
Dingoes have a relatively broad skull, a pointed muzzle, and erect ears. Eye colour varies from yellow over orange to brown. Compared to other similarly-sized dogs, dingoes have longer muzzles, longer canine teeth and a flatter skull. The fur colour is mostly sandy to reddish brown, but can include tan patterns and be occasionally black, light brown, or white. Completely black dingoes probably weren’t prevalent in Australia in the past, but have been sighted only rarely in recent times and are now more common in Asia than in Australia. Most have small white markings on the chest, muzzle, legs, and paws. All other colour and colour-patterns on adult dingoes are regarded as evidence for interbreeding with other domestic dogs.
DO DINGOES BARK?
It is often thought that these dogs do not bark but this isn’t true. Unlike domestic dogs, dingoes tend towards a howl and whimper and bark less than domestic dogs. Compared to most other domestic dogs, the bark of a dingo is short and sharp. They also emit a sort of “wailing” sound, which they mostly use when approaching a water hole, probably to warn those already present.
More information can be found at http://www.australianfauna.com/dingo.php
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