Also known as the Warrigal or Australian Native Dog, this feral breed has, in addition, a number of local names including Boolomo, Maliki, Mirigung and Noggum. The first one to be recorded at the London Zoo, in 1828. It is unfortunate that the name Dingo comes from the Australian Aboriginal term of contempt for imported European dogs. Their own name for their native dog was Warrigal, but in modern times the name Dingo has become too widely used to he abandoned, despite the fact that it is inappropriate. In Holland it is called the Australische Wilde Hond.


Most domesticated dogs that have to fend for themselves are forced to scratch a meagre living, usually scavenging near human settlements. The Dingo has been more fortunate, however. Once they started to stray from human control on this vast new land mass, they found themselves in a carnivore's paradise, with no advanced mammalian rivals to bother them and a wide variety of marsupial species which provided easy pickings for a fast, canine predator. Wallabies and wombats became their main source of food.

Later, when Europeans arrived and introduced rabbits, the food supply grew even richer. Wild Dingoes gorged on the rabbits, but then, when the rabbits themselves became a pest, sheep farmers started poisoning them on a major scale. Their disappearance encouraged the Dingoes to turn their attention to the farmers’ livestock, especially the lambs, and this in turn led to the persecution of the Dingoes. Despite this, the numbers of wild-living Dingo are still considerable. They are currently classified as vermin in Australia and it is illegal to keep one as a pet, although this rule is often broken. They can, however, be observed as exhibits in a number of zoos. The main threat to the breed is that it could eventually be swamped out by hybridization with feral dogs of recently imported European breeds. In recent years organizations such as the Australian Native Dog Foundation and the Dingo Study Foundation have been formed to ensure that this fascinating breed is better understood.

The importance of the Dingo is that it is, almost certainly, the oldest pure breed of dog in the world, having been left in isolation from other dogs for thousands of years. It differs in several respects from more modern breeds. Its teeth are more like those of the wolf, and the females only experience a single breeding season each year. Also, like wolves, it howls a great deal but barks very little.


One oddity of the Dingo is that, unlike wolves, and unlike many other types of feral dog, it rarely hunts in packs. It may sometimes hunt in pairs or in small family groups, but careful observations have revealed that in 73 per cent of cases the hunter is a solitary animal.


The Dingo is a short-haired dog with pricked ears and a long tail. (However, 1.5 per cent are born with short bobtails.) It is a medium-sized animal weighing 22-44 lb (10-20 kg) and with a maximum height of 21 in (53 cm). Any so-called "Dingo" that is larger than this is the result of a cross between a pure-bred animal and a European breed.

The most commonly observed colour is a "yellow-ginger" or tawny shade of brown, but there are several alternative colour forms, including one that is predominantly black and another that is almost white. Others show a black-and-tan or black-and-white bicolour pattern. One colour feature they all have in common, however, is pale feet and a white tip to the tail. A recent survey revealed that, of present-day wild feral Dingoes, 89 per cent are yellow-ginger, four per cent are black and tan, two per cent are white and the rest are white and a dark colour. The common yellow-ginger colour varies from light golden to deep red.

Gallery of Dingo