Carolina Dog – General Description
The Carolina Dog, or American Dingo, is a landrace or naturally selected type of dog which was discovered living as a wild dog or free roaming dog by Dr Lehr. J. Brisbin. Carolina Dogs are now bred and kept in captive collections or packs. They were discovered during the 1970s living in isolated stretches of longleaf pines and cypress swamps in the Southeastern United States. Carolina Dogs are of medium size, with a fawn coat and frequently a melanistic mask.
Classification and Standards
- UKC Pariahs
Character & Temperament
Very rare breed that typically hunts in packs.
Dr. I. Lehr Brisbin Jr., a Senior Research Ecologist at the University of Georgia’s Savannah River Ecology Lab, first came across a Carolina Dog while working at the Savannah River site. Horace, a stray white dog with brown markings, was wandering the site’s boundary when he caught Brisbin’s attention. Brisbin, who had seen many rural dogs chained to the back of porches and doghouses, assumed this was just a normal stray. Many of these dogs roamed the woods and would turn up in humane traps, and Brisbin began to wonder how many more of these were in the wild. On a hunch, he went to the pound and was surprised by the resemblance the dog had to dingoes.
Evidence of Ancient Roots
Some ancient paintings and rock art of Native Americans depict dogs that have physical traits similar to those of Carolina Dogs. Carolina Dogs also have a ginger-colored coat that is found on other wild dogs, including Australian Dingoes and Korea’s native dog, the Jindo. Also, fossils of the dogs of Native Americans exhibit similar bone structures to Carolina Dogs. Brisbin found a resemblance between 2,000-year-old skulls and those of the Carolina Dogs, but concluded that there was too large a difference to prove any connection. Along with this, DNA testing has pointed to a link.
Height: 17-24 inches (45–61 cm.) Weight: 30-65 pounds (15–20 kg.)
In the 1980s, most Carolina Dogs were moved to captivity for study.
Female dogs had three estrus cycles in quick succession, which settled into seasonal reproductive cycles when there was an abundance of puppies. Brisbin noted that this was most likely to ensure quick breeding before diseases, like heartworm, take their toll. Some pregnant dogs also dug dens in which to give birth. After they gave birth or while pregnant, the dog would carefully push sand with her snout to cover her excrement. Excellent at locating and catching small mammals e.g. shrews and mice, using a pouncing technique similar to a fox. The dogs also dug “snout pits”, or hundreds of tiny holes in the dirt that perfectly fit their muzzles during this time. More female dogs dug them than males.
In the wild, Carolina Dogs lived in sparsely settled land instead of the highly populated areas stray dogs commonly occupied. When hunting, Carolina Dogs used an effective pack formation. They hunted snakes using a whip-like motion, and preyed on small and medium-sized mammals such as raccoons.
It is of interest Carolina Dogs were first noted on the Savannah River Site which by design was depopulated and secured of all trespass and traffic for decades beginning in 1950. The Savannah River Site was also one of two sites secluding South Carolina’s remnant deer population at the time of the discovery of the Carolina dog.
The preliminary DNA testing may provide a link between primitive dogs and Carolina Dogs. Brisbin stated, “We grabbed them out of the woods based on what they look like, and if they were just dogs their DNA patterns should be well distributed throughout the canine family tree. But they aren’t. They’re all at the base of the tree, where you would find very primitive dogs.” This wasn’t conclusive, but it did spark interest into more extensive DNA testing.
Size & Appearance
Height: 17-24 inches (45–61 cm.) Weight: 30-44 pounds (15–20 kg.)
Carolina Dogs can be registered with the American Rare Breed Association and the United Kennel Club. ARBA includes the breed in its “Spitz and Primitive Group”, which includes primitives such as the dingo and Canaan Dog. The UKC has classified them as a pariah dog, a class which includes other primitive breeds such as the Basenji of Africa and the Thai Ridgeback.
The word pariah is derived from a Tamil word first used in English in 1613, to refer to the lowest level of the traditional Indian caste system; in English, it is used to mean “a social outcast”. The Indian feral dog was considered an outcast as well. The term “pariah” when referring to feral or wild dogs of the Indian feral dog type is sometimes replaced with primitive, in the sense of “relating to an earliest or original stage or state” or “being little evolved from an early ancestral type”. It is assumed that dogs placed in “pariah” or “primitive” groups are of an older type than other modern dog breeds. Future genetic testing may show the actual heredity of these breeds or types.
Health & Maintenance
No unusual health problems or claims of extraordinary health have been documented for the Carolina Dog.
- Weidensaul, Scott (1999-03-01). “Tracking America’s First Dogs”. Smithsonian Magazine. – http://www.smithsonianmagazine.com/issues/1999/march/dogs.php
- Handwerk, Brian (2003-03-11). “Did Carolina Dogs Arrive With Ancient Americans?”. National Geographic News. – http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/03/0311_030311_firstdog.html
- Mlot, Christine. “Stalking the Ancient Dog”. NetPets. – http://www.netpets.org/dogs/newsroom/ancientdog.html
- Weidensaul, Scott (1999-03-01). “Tracking America’s First Dogs”. Smithsonian Magazine.http://www.smithsonianmagazine.com/issues/1999/march/dogs.php
- “Primitive Dogs Of The Southeast”. University of Georgia. 2001-04-13. Archived from the original on 2007-06-14. – http://web.archive.org/web/20070614135050/http://www.uga.edu/srel/dogs.html
- “American Rare Breed Association”. Archived from the original on 2006-10-13. – http://web.archive.org/web/20061013080146/http://www.arba.org/CarolinaDogBS.htm
- “United Kennel Club”. Arienne Associates. 1996. Archived from the original on 2006-09-02. – http://web.archive.org/web/20060902134226/http://www.ukcdogs.com/RegBreedGroups.htm
- “pariah – definition of pariah”. TheFreeDictionary. – http://www.thefreedictionary.com/pariah
- The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition. “primitive: Definition, Synonyms, More”. Dictionary. Houghton Mifflin Company. – “adj. Not derived from something else; primary or basic. Of or relating to an earliest or original stage or state; primeval. Being little evolved from an early ancestral type.” – http://www.answers.com/topic/primitive
- Noloha [CC-BY-SA-2.0-de (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons
- Flaxseedoil1000 (self-made by Flaxseedoil1000, Riverside Rescue) [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
- Flaxseedoil [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
- Kurt Sagmeister [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
- Apishion [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
When the first primitive humans crossed the Bering land bridge into North America from Asia, they were accompanied by a primitive form of dogs that resulted from the domestication of southwest Asian wolves in the region of Iraq a few thousand years earlier.
These small, nondescript dogs moved quickly with their human companions down through the western part of North America. Skeletal remains and mummified bodies of these dogs have been found along with the artifacts of the Basket Maker culture of the primitive Southwest Indians. From here, these primitive dogs moved into the eastern United States. Archeological investigations have documented ceremonial burials of these dogs, indicating their presence as companions of the Indians of the southeastern forested woodlands of that region, long before the arrival of the white man on this continent.
Recently, studies of the free-ranging dogs of certain regions of South Carolina and Georgia have disclosed the continuing existence of small primitive dogs, whose appearance, as well as behavior and general ecology, suggest a close ancestry with, and possible descent from those first primitive dogs.
Called the “Carolina Dog,” these animals most closely resemble the Dingo of Australia, which may indeed be among their closest living relatives. The striking resemblance between these dogs and the Dingo, half a world apart, is likely due to the way in which both animals have filled a free-living, or “pariah” niche on the fringe of human civilization and culture.
The Carolina Dog was recognized by the United Kennel Club on January 1, 1995.
The Carolina Dog is a dog of medium build, possessing the general appearance of a small jackal or wolf in combination with many features of a small Sighthound. The distinctive features of the breed are those that confer survival advantages under free-living conditions in the tall grass savannah and bottomland swamp forest habitats of the southeastern United States. The dog typically has a medium-length straight back, with a distinctive waist which sets off a deep brisket from a highly tucked-up loin. The tail is distinctive in both its fish-hook-like configuration and its variable carriage, depending on mood.
The large, upright ears and long, graceful neck are also distinctive and suggest the appearance of a small, versatile and resourceful predator, well adapted to surviving on its own in a natural habitat. In ideal conditions, a Carolina Dog should appear thin and tight. It is not inappropriate, for example, for the ribs to show slightly as in a well-conditioned racing sighthound. Individuals that are greatly overweight should be severely penalized. The dog is to be shown in a natural condition, with little or no evidence of grooming or scissoring. Whiskers are not to be removed.
A generally shy and suspicious nature is characteristic, but excessive fear and any resistance to examination is not desirable. No individual should be expected to be friendly and outgoing, or to enjoy physical contact with strangers.
Very Serious Fault: Outward aggression.
Viewed from above, the head forms a wide triangle, with the tapering of the muzzle accentuated by the highly-developed jaw muscles. The skull tapers to a strong, pointed muzzle. The stop is slight, but distinct. Younger dogs often show fine wrinkling on the forehead, giving a frown effect.
SKULL – The skull is strong and impressive. It is broad between the ears and moderately rounded, and has ample muscle. There is a distinct furrow extending down between the eyes. The forehead is slightly rounded. There is a prominent occiput.
MUZZLE – The length of the muzzle is approximately equal to the length of the cranial portion of the skull. The jaws are powerful, clean and deep. The tight-fitting lips are black.
TEETH – A full complement of white, well-developed, even teeth meet in a scissors or level bite.
Serious Faults: Undershot bite. Overshot bite.
EYES – The almond-shaped eyes are dark brown in color. They are set obliquely. Eye rims are black and unbroken. Overall expression is one of softness and intelligence, but highly cautious.
NOSE – The nose is black and has large, well-opened nostrils.
Minor Faults: Liver-colored nose. Dudley nose. Butterfly nose.
EARS – The ears are mobile and expressive. They are slightly rounded at the tip, and fine in texture. The ideal ear is shaped like an equilateral triangle, although the base may be slightly shorter than the ascending edges. They are carried erect when the dog is alert, but can be folded and carried back along the neck. The ears are set well on top of the head, slightly pointing forward. Ear placement is more important than size, but it is essential that they be forward-pointed and set on top of the head.
A characteristic position is for one ear to be firmly pricked, and the other to rotate sensitively to pick up sounds.
Semi-prick ears and drop ears are permitted, but are to be penalized according to the degree of deviation from a full, upright configuration.
The neck is notable in its strength and development. It is strongly crested, fitting well into the shoulders, thus accentuating the crest to give the head a lofty carriage. The neck is graceful and swanlike, yet muscular and well arched, providing the animal with a means of making rapid and effective downward stabbing movements with the head when hunting in tall grass.
Serious Faults: Short neck. Throaty neck.
The long shoulders are laid back.
FORELEGS – The forelegs are straight. The forearms have good length, moderate bone and strong musculature. The moderately straight, flexible pasterns are of good length.
The chest is narrow to medium in width and is deep, with plenty of lung and heart room. The brisket reaches to the elbows in mature specimens. There is a definite waist with a well-defined tuck-up.
The back is strong and straight. It may be moderately long, but must have no suggestion of slackness. There is a slight rise over the loin.
The hindquarters are strong, powerful and muscular. They are set under the body. They are well angulated and exhibit tremendous drive and agility, enabling the dog to turn quickly while moving forward. The hindquarters are parallel when in full gait.
HIND LEGS – The thighs are thick, strong and well muscled, almost as in a well-conditioned racing sighthound. Rear dewclaws are desirable, but their absence is not to be penalized.
While standing, the forefeet may be slightly turned out, but equally so. The moderately small feet are compact, never splayed. The toes are well arched. The pads are hard. The nails are strong.
Like the ears, the tail is a most expressive and characteristic feature of this breed. It is set on as a continuation of the spine. It has a moderate brush, but is most heavily haired on the underside, which is always light colored or at least paler than the upper surface, which may show some dark sabling.
When the dog is alert, the tail is held in a characteristic “fish hook” carriage, usually at about a 45-degree angle from the horizontal. When the dog is gaiting at a trot, the tail is usually carried in a downward “pump handle” configuration. At other times, especially when the dog is being approached by a stranger, the tail may be held low or tucked between the rear legs, but it must never be slack or loose in its hang.
Serious Faults: Any tail which twists, curls, or is held unduly forward over the back.
COAT & SKIN
This is a distinguishing feature of the breed. Its appearance is affected by the seasons. The winter coat is distinctly heavier than the summer coat. In the cooler months, there should be a wealth of undercoat. Animals showing excessive shedding at appropriate times of the year are not to be penalized.
On the head, the ears, and front legs, the hair is short and smooth. Coarse, longer guard hairs (longer than the undercoat) extend over the neck, withers and back. When aroused, this hair stands erect. The coat behind the shoulder blades is often lighter in color.
The skin is pliant, but not flabby or loose.
Faults: Long, curly, wavy, or broken coats.
Preferred color: a deep red ginger with pale buff markings over the shoulders and along the muzzle.
Acceptable colors: variations in color, grading from straw-colored through wheaten to pale yellow buff.
The preferred and acceptable colors usually include lighter shadings on the underside, chest and throat, sometimes being nearly white on the throat. Some white on the toes is common and not to be penalized. Dark sabling over the back, loins and tail is permissible. Dogs less than two years of age often have all-black muzzles, but this is not required.
The following color patterns are permitted, but not to be encouraged: black and tan, piebald spotting and black blanket back.
Disqualification: Solid white coat color. Albinism.
HEIGHT & WEIGHT
The average height measured at the withers, generally ranges from 17¾ to 19 5/8 inches (45 to 50 cm), but can vary according to build. Type and symmetry are more important than size.
Weight is dependent on the overall size and build of the individual, and varies from approximately 30 to 44 pounds (15 to 20 kg).
Females are generally lighter in build than dogs, but the sexes overlap broadly in both size and weight. At no time should the breed appear heavy bodied.
GAIT & MOVEMENT
Gait is low, free moving, effortless and smooth. There is a suggestion of flexibility in the back, as would be expected for a small sighthound capable of a double suspension gallop.
Serious Faults: High, choppy, or hackneyed gaits. Toeing in. Toeing out. Moving too close behind.
Unilateral or bilateral cryptorchid. Viciousness or extreme shyness. Solid white coat color. Albinism.
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