The American Dingo Is Incredible: Their Origins Are Wild (Literally)

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American Dingo

The Carolina Dog also called the American Dingo exists in both domesticated homes and the wild. In this article, we look at the different features of the American Dingo, their origin story, their peculiar behaviors, and more! 

American Dingo: 7 Majestic Things About The Dog Breed

1. American Dingos have many names:

The Carolina dog, the American Dingo, the Yellow Dog, Dixie Dingo, the Yaller dog, are all names to describe these medium-sized wild dog breeds. 

Even though they have multiple names, they have only one location – they exclusively live primarily in the southeastern United States, especially in isolated stretches of long-leaved pine and cypress swamps. 

Originally a local variety of breed, the Carolina dog was rediscovered living as a wild population, although originally documented in dog publications in the 1920s. American Dingo shows an admixture with Asian dog breeds. 

Based on genetic analysis of the mitochondrial DNA, it can be assumed that the Carolina Dog is a descendant of East Asian dogs who reached North America together with the Native Americans over the Bering Land Bridge. The population has apparently only minimally mixed with dogs brought to America by the Europeans. 

2. American Dingo features: 

Size, height, and weight:

Although they are medium in size; American Dingo range in build from muscular but slender and graceful animals to somewhat stockier animals. Their height ranges from 17 to 24 inches (45–61 cm) and a properly fed Carolina dog is lean to somewhat stockier, healthy, strong, and athletic. Their weight ranges from 30 to 65 pounds (15–30 kg). 

The physique is typical for pariah dogs: long-legged, slim, square building, straight back, close-fitting throat skin, slightly sloping croup like in the dingo, but also the Canaan dog or the Korea Jindo dog. 


The tail is usually turned up and often has a hooked fold. This was super distinct during their discovery in the 1970s. 


The noticeably elongated fox-like snout and ears are spitz-like. The ears are distinctive and erect, very long and moderately thin, tapering to elegantly pointed tips, and can be individually rotated in the direction of any noise or sound they hear, providing extremely sensitive hearing superpowers. 


Dog paws are also graceful but strong. The back center is firm and narrow. The overall build of their paws is relatively large. 

Coat and fur color:

The coat colors are very diverse, from monochrome (mostly deep red-brown, with lighter areas around the mouth and on the underside) to multi-colored in different color structures. 

The coat is generally short and smooth, characteristic of a warm-weather dog. Colors vary and can include fawn, tan, white, buff, reddish ginger, black or piebald with or without white areas on the toes, chest, tail, and muzzle. They can have spots that are brownish, beige, sand-colored, yellow, and orange. Puppies often have a melanistic mask that usually fades when the adult coat arrives. 

Eyes and lips:

The eyes are slanted and almond-shaped and they can vary in color but are usually dark brown or medium to dark orange. 

The area along the edges of the American Dingo’s eyes often (but not always) have a distinctive black “eyeliner” hue which becomes more distinct and exaggerated by the contrast in lighter colored dogs. 

Lips are often black, even in light colored dogs, which make their face more pronounced in contrast. 

3. American Dingo’s origin seems to be all over the place: 

Preliminary studies of the DNA of American Dingo dogs produced interesting results. 

If they were descendants of multiple random crosses of abandoned dogs, their DNA patterns would be well distributed throughout the canine family tree, but they are not. They are located at the base of the tree, where very primitive dogs are found.

37% of the mitochondrial DNA haplotypes of American Dingo are exclusive and related to those of East Asia, others are shared with Chinese or Japanese dogs or are universal, while none is specifically European.

As Native American paintings show accompanying dogs whose appearance looks strikingly like that of the Carolina dog, it is assumed that this is a breed present among human groups prior to the European conquest. This hypothesis is strengthened by the striking resemblance between this breed and the wild dog from Chindo Island or Jindo, in Korea.

4. American Dingo’s behavior: 

Social despite independent personality:

Due to their origins, this Dingo is very shy when there is a lack of socialization. But when he is well brought up he is very friendly, but reserved towards everything foreign. In other words, With humans, they are reserved, cautious and these dogs are evasive with respect to strangers.

American Dingo is also affectionate with those who live together although they limit their search for affection. Rehoming American Dingo has recently become popular and they can make good family pets with adequate socialization. Therefore, the American Dingo is considered adaptable and, despite its wild origins. They can be a lovable pet if you respect their independent personality.


Hunting takes place in a very effective pack formation. When hunting snakes, they use a whip motion that “breaks” the snakes in mid-air. They are also considered to be very flexible and skillful in their movements and are good climbers.

They use the white underside of the tail to mark specific parts once they have located prey. 

Intelligence and motivation: 

Owners should also bring a large portion of canine intelligence with them when getting involved with an American Dingo. They are considered very intelligent, happy, eager to discover, and easy to motivate. These dogs develop a close relationship with their owner and are cuddly, sensitive, and very affectionate within the family. Like many dogs, they observe the facial expressions and gestures of their human pack members very closely and pay just as much attention to the pitch of the voices. As a result, they treat sick and needy people differently than they do with healthy people.

5. American Dingo’s discovery can be traced to I. Lehr Brisbin:

Working in the early 1970s, an ecologist named I. Lehr Brisbin was detecting traces of radioactivity in animals around the Savannah River Nuclear Power Plant, when he became interested in stray dogs (white dogs with brown markings). 

Brisbin initially thought this dog was one of the many strays in the area, but as he spotted more and more of these dogs in traps and in the forest, he began to wonder how many of these dogs there could be in the wild. Soon, he decided to go to the kennel, where surprisingly, he found several similar dogs whose appearance he associated with the Australian dingo. Did you know? Brisbin later found another female dog at an animal shelter and took in other dogs in the years that followed. 

He discovered that there were many more dogs with this same appearance: tall and long bodies, ginger-colored fur with white underparts, tails that are hook-shaped, high erect ears, black eye rims, and prehensile feet. They could not be abandoned domestic dogs that went wild, since they were all of the same phenotypes, did not bark, and had the same vocalization. He then considered that he had discovered an animal that had not been previously described.

6. American Dingo’s birth cycle: 

Sexual maturity is early and they have three annual periods of heat, sometimes four. 

Females dig elaborate burrows, while an alpha female reserves the lower part of the basin. They also dig small holes in the fall. In autumn these dogs also dig “snout holes”, hundreds of small holes that fit exactly on their snouts. The females show this behavior more often than males. These holes are arranged in certain patterns. The reasons for this behavior are still under research. 

The females can be in heat up to three times a year (but the rule is more likely once or twice a year), which in the wild is embedded in seasonal reproductive cycles and leads to a high number of puppies. According to their discoverer Brisbin, this is done to ensure rapid reproduction before diseases such as B. heartworm infestation would strike. 

Some pregnant female American Dingoes dig burrows and give birth to their young there. After the birth or during the gestation period, the mother pushes sand over the excrement with her snout. The pack dynamic was also new to the researchers, puppies are cared for together.

7. Recognition as a breed: 

The American Dingo is not recognized as a breed by the FCI. 

But they are now a registered breed recognized by the American Rare Breed Association  and the United Kennel Club. The UKC has classified them as pariah dogs: specifically Group 3. Sighthound and Pariah Dog. This group also includes, for example, the Basenji and the Thai Ridgeback.

Since 2008, artificial breeding efforts to establish them as a standardized breed (usually capitalized as Carolina Dog) have made some progress, with recognition in two smaller national kennel clubs and acceptance into the breeding program of a major one.

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