The dingo (plural dingoes or dingos) or warrigal, Canis lupus dingo, is a type of wild dog, probably descended from the Indian Wolf, canis Indica. It is commonly described as an Australian wild dog, but is not restricted to Australia, and apparently it didn't even originate there. Odd.
Modern dingoes are found throughout Southeast Asia, mostly in small pockets of remaining natural forest, and in mainland Australia, particularly in the north. They have features in common with both wolves and modern dogs, and are regarded as more or less unchanged descendants of an early ancestor of modern dogs.
The name dingo comes from the language of the Eora Aboriginal people, who were the original inhabitants of the Sydney area.
The Australian animals may be descendants of Asian dingoes that were introduced to the continent some 2,000 to 3,000 years ago.
These golden-orange lovebirds may live alone, especially the young males - like bachelors; they can also live in packs of up to 15 animals. They roam great distances and communicate with wolf-like howls.
Dingo hunting is opportunistic; they hunt alone or in cooperative packs. They pursue small game such as rabbits, rodents, birds, and lizards in addition to larger prey such as kangaroos, sheep and deer. These dogs will eat fruits and plants as well. They also scavenge from humans, particularly in their Asian range.
Dingoes breed only once a year. Femme Dingoes typically give birth to about five pups, which are not independent until six to eight months of age. In packs, a dominant breeding female will kill the offspring of other females. Bitchy Dingoes!
Australia is home to so many of these animals that they are generally considered cute, but pests!
A famous "dingo fence" has been erected to protect grazing lands for the continent's herds of sheep. It is likely that more dingoes live in Australia today than when Europeans first arrived.
Though dingoes are numerous, their pure genetic strain is gradually being compromised. They can and do interbreed with domestic dogs to produce hybrid animals. Studies suggest that more than a third of southeastern Australia's dingoes are hybrids. I think my dog is part Dingo actually.
Dingoes are a little smaller than wolves. Dingoes have a lean, athletic build. Male dingoes are larger than females. Males weigh 26 to 43 pounds and females weigh 21 to 35 pounds.
Dingoes have unique wrists in the canine world, capable of rotatation. This enables dingoes to use their paws like hands and turn door knobs! Their ability to go where other dogs can't means dingoes can cause more problems for humans than other wild members of the dog family can.
Dingo colour varies but is usually ginger: some have a reddish tinge, others are more sandy yellow, and some are even black; the underside is lighter.
Alpine dingoes are found in high elevation areas of the Australian Alps, and grow a second thicker coat during late autumn for warmth which usually sheds by mid to late spring.
Most dingoes have white markings on the chest, feet, and the tip of the tail; some have a blackish muzzle. They can live for up to 15 years in captivity, but have a more usual lifespan of 3-7 years :(
The earliest known dingo skulls have been found in Vietnam and are about 5,500 years old. Dingo remains from 5,000 to 2,500 years old have been found in other parts of South-east Asia, and the earliest fossil record of dingoes in Australia is 3,500 years old. Dingo-like bones have also been found in Israel and the West Bank dating 14,000 years old! Dinosaur Dingoes!
Dingoes have a more independent temperament than domestic dogs. They are extremely agile and are known to climb trees. Like my dog!
Modern dogs are believed to be the result of artificial selection of various traits from a single domestication of the grey wolf about 15,000 years ago: the modern dingo appears to be a relatively pure-bred descendant of one of the earliest domestications!
Aboriginal people across the continent adopted the dingo as a companion animal, using it to assist with hunting and for warmth on cold nights. (The terms "two-dog night" and "three-dog night" are believed to come from Aboriginal idiom, describing the overnight temperature.)
The laws concerning keeping dingoes as pets are inconsistent from one state to another in Australia. It is recommended that if dingoes are to be pets, they be adopted at a young age in order to help them bond with humans. However, dingoes are wild dogs and have strong hunting instincts. They may kill birds and small animals, and get into fights with other similarly sized mammals. When hunting larger animals, dingoes hassle or annoy their prey until the prey is off balance or tired, and the dingoes can attack. They are accustomed to fighting for rank within the pack, and may do the same thing when playing or interacting with other domestic dogs, resulting in dog fights and the appearance of the dingo as the aggressive animal. Like other hunting dogs, dingoes need to be heavily worked in order to be happy and they need space to run
Remember that Seinfeld thing "The dingo ate your baby"?, well it came from a few stories.
Dingoes have received bad publicity in recent years as a result of the highly publicised Azaria Chamberlain disappearance and also because of dingo attacks on Fraser Island in Queensland.
In 2001 around 200 dingoes lived on the island, and 20 people were attacked in the preceding six years. In April 2001 a nine-year-old child was killed in one such attack near Waddy Point on Fraser Island. This led to a cull of the animals which were actually protected by law. The owners of the island, the Ngulungbara people, fought the cull through a legal injunction.
In all, 65 dingoes were eventually killed. In 2004 more legal battles began after a dingo entered a bedroom in Kingfisher Bay resort where two young children were present. More recently in September 2006 a dingo was shot dead by Parks and Wildlife rangers after it attacked a four-year-old child who had been playing in shallow water near Eurong on the island.