The Dingo is categorized as being a wild dog found throughout Australia. The Dingo is a very ancient breed of dog that was introduced to the Australian continent, likely from Asian seafarers about 4,000 years ago. Researchers have traced the origin of the Dingo to domestic dogs that likely originated from southeast Asia.
History and Ancestry
While the Dingo is a species that was introduced to Australia, many people believe that this wild dog originated from the continent and is a native species to the area. The Dingo has been on the Australian continent long enough to become a functional and essential part of its natural ecological system; making its way to the top tier of predators on the continent. Many researchers believe that the emergence of the Dingo in Australia played a role in the disappearance and extinction of the Thylacine on mainland Australia.
Researchers and scientists have studied the archeological patterns of the Australian continent and discovered that the Dingo species did not appear until recent history. There are no Dingo fossils in Tasmania, which indicates that Dingoes must have arrived after rising waters separated the island from mainland Australia. This process happened about 12,000 years ago.
It was in 1969 that archaeologists discovered evidence in caves on the Nullarbor Plain near Madura, Western Australia, that led to the agreement that the Dingo was on the Australian mainland at least 3500 years ago. However, before this discovery, Dingoes were considered to have been in Australia for a much longer period of time.
Technological advances since the mid-2000s have also supported this claim in regard to the origin of the Dingo. There was a study published in 2011 that utilized DNA testing and sequencing to show that the Australian Dingo is closely related to the East Asian domestic dogs. They believe that the Australian animal arrived from South-East Asia between 5,000 to up to 10,000 years ago!
Additionally, there was another study that was published in 2012 that further narrowed down this claim to a more specific period. During this period, there were several animals that arrived on the Australian continent, likely through New Guinea. Since then, these wild canines have been isolated on the Australian mainland, where they have reproduced and worked their way up the food chain, becoming a top predator on the continent.
Even though the Dingo was an introduced species of wild dog, it has been on the Australian continent long enough to become an essential and functional member of the natural ecological system. Many researchers believe that the prosperity of the Dingo is what ultimately led to the extinction of the Thylacine. This was likely due to increased competition and predation from the growing human population on the continent.
A wild Appearance
The Dingo is a medium-sized dog that has a very lean and hardy body. They have adapted over the years to be fast and agile; with the ability to run for extended periods of time. The head is the widest part of the Dingo’s body and quite large in proportion to the rest of its body.
The Dingoes that are found in northern and northwestern Australia are often much larger than the Dingoes that are found in central and southern Australia. Many people have drawn comparisons between the New Guinea singing dog based on appearance. However, the Dingo is much taller than the New Guinea singing dog at the withers.
A quality that makes Dingoes unique from other dogs is that they are able to rotate their wrists, allowing them to open doorknobs or latches. This has proved troublesome for people who have kept Dingoes in captivity. In addition, the shoulder joints on these dogs are very flexible, allowing them to climb fences, cliffs, trees, and rocks, unlike other dogs. This quality is much like the Norwegian Lundehund, which was bred to hunt game on cliffs and rocky areas.
Dingoes are very rarely kept as domestic companion animals. However, it is still legal to keep these wild dogs as pets in New South Wales and Western Australia without a permit. If you wish to have one of these pets outside of these areas, you will need a permit. Additionally, it is illegal to keep one of these dogs in the states of Tasmania, Queensland, and South Australia.
The only way that Dingoes can be kept as pets is if they are taken from a litter no older than six weeks of age and then provided with aggressive training to curb their wild characteristics. These dogs need wide open spaces to run in and do not do well with city life. If you live in a small apartment or house in the city, these dogs are not for you!
It is usually not recommended to keep a Dingo as a pet due to its wild character. However, Dingoes that are kept as pets can live for up to 15 years. Compared to their wild counterparts, this is a long time! Dingoes that are kept in captivity live to be 10 years old on average and Dingoes in the wild typically only live for six years at most.
Behavior and Temperament
Although it is very rare, there have been some recorded Dingo attacks on humans. This is usually a result of how the individual person is interacting or acting towards the wild dog. Most of the time, Dingos are afraid of people and will cower away. However, if the Dingoes perceives that the human is going to attack him, it will likely demonstrate aggressive behavior and defended itself.
Dingoes that have made their way into urban areas and are used to feeding on human scraps may be more aggressive towards humans if their food supply is scarce. Additionally, female Dingoes are known to show aggressive tendencies towards people who get close to their pups.
Dingoes tend to engage in mating only once a year. The female typically gives birth to about five babies that are fully independent dogs by six to eight months of age. If a more dominant female Dingo is in the area, it has been documented that it will kill the babies of a less dominant female.
Feeding and Diet
In the wild, the Dingo is an opportunistic carnivore. They mainly indulge in eating other mammals, particularly wild rabbits, kangaroos, wallabies, and wombats. However, when they do not have access to these wild animals, they have been known to go after other domestic animals and livestock on farms in the area. This has caused them to become increasingly unpopular with farmers local to Australia.
Occasionally, Dingoes have been known to eat reptiles and birds if they do not have access to other food sources. Dingoes prefer to hunt alone, but they will engage the help of other Dingoes if they need to take down an animal that is much larger in size.
As we previously mentioned, Dingoes have been on the Australian continent for approximately 4,000 years. During this time, they have developed the ability to quickly adapt to many different kinds of habitat and change along with their surrounding ecosystem. The Dingo has been instrumental in keeping the wild rabbit and real pig population down within Australia. However, there have been people who have attempted to irradicate this breed due to the threat it poses to other domestic animals. These attempts have been unsuccessful though.
As of today, the main threat to Dingoes comes from its encounters with other predators such as other dog breeds. In addition, they face a threat from quickly expanding cities; this has pushed them further into the outback.