America has dingos!

Have you heard of Carolina Dogs? They are America’s dingos, a primitive breed that has survived as free-roaming animals in South Carolina and Georgia wildlands for thousands of years. Studies of their DNA suggest a link between Carolina Dogs and Australian dingos.

Carolina Dogs are believed to be the first dogs domesticated by Native Americans. Of course, through time and interbreeding, the distinct look of America’s original wayward dogs blended with the characteristics of canines that originated in other places, and the Carolina Dogs as a group were forgotten, save for the descriptions of native dogs by early European voyagers.

However, in the 1960s, a scientist named Dr. I Lehr Brisbin, who was studying the Savannah river basin, discovered a population of dingo-like dogs living wild and free in the swamplands. They had fishook tales and big, pointy ears. They hunted in packs and were skittish of humans.

I am amazed that any basically pure Carolina Dogs managed to live under the radar for much of the history of this nation. As humans continue to develop animals’ natural habitat, stories like this — discoveries of new or forgotten kinds of plants and animals — will surely become increasingly rare.

With this in mind, Brisbin established a captive breeding program to continue studying and try to preserve this primitive dog line. Apparently, Carolina Dogs adapt well to life with humans and this rare breed’s popularity is growing. Lozen, one of our pack’s best friends, is a Carolina Dog just seven generations removed from those in Brisbin’s studies. As you can see, she’s a fully domesticated beauty:

Without getting into the politics of dog breeding or the risks posed by breeds becoming too in vogue (i.e. the pit bull dilemma), I have to say that the story of the Carolina Dogs is pretty awesome. Just a tiny bit more than other kinds of dogs, Carolina Dogs represent a link to the shared history between humans and canines.

Could that be a Carolina Dog wearing a harness in the background of this John James Audobon print?

Esquimaux Dog by John James Audobon

I sure can’t imagine my miniature pinscher Scooby working and living alongside a Native American tribe, but I can see Lozen doing it. I can also see our mysterious mix Minnie doing it.

Could this blue-eyed babe have some Carolina in her?

Photo by Chris Mullins


About crystalwayward

I live with two formerly wayward dogs. I care deeply about the environment, and I think gardening is a revolutionary act.

Posted on December 11, 2011, in Awesome, Dogs, Minnie and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. What an interesting post. I didn’t know about Carolina Dogs. Lozen sure is beautiful!

  2. Love this post, especially learning more about Carolina dogs! I’m from SC myself and have encountered a few of these dogs over the years however I did not know all this cool stuff about them. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. What an interesting story. Thanks for hippin me to this!

  4. Wow, I had no idea there were dingo-related dogs in the US! Thanks for posting this.

  5. I’m glad you all think the story of the Carolina Dogs is cool, too! Thanks for reading!

  6. I’ll bet that Lozen likes life with Sam over hunting rats in the snake filled swamps.

  7. WOW! The 2nd picture of Lozan (laying upright) would look exactly like a dog I had if his ears were floppy! The owner of his mother wasn’t sure what breed the father was, this makes me wonder if he was a Dixie Dingo (I lived near Camp Le Jeune at the time).

  8. My dog, Frodo, just past away a couple months ago from cancer. Anyway, we never knew what kind of breed he was because we got him as a pup from a newspaper ad. But after seeing this page I think he may have been a Carolina dog.

  1. Pingback: Socialize your dog with group walks « Wayward Dogs

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