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Dingo, ancestor of all dog breeds - Wildlife Australia

Updated on October 5, 2014

The first Dingo to reach Australia

The mother of all dingoes was most probably a single pregnant female.

An intelligent animal, she trotted across the landbridge from Indonesia to Australia about 5,000 years ago and made a home for herself close to the people who inhabited the great Southern Land.

Her descendants are the last ancient living link between the wolf and the domestic pooch. Now they are threatened with extinction.

While the dingo may occupy a sacred place in the Dreamtime stories of indigenous Australians, much of the broader population still holds the view that it is a cunning creature, a cold-hearted hunter, merciless baby-snatcher.

This is a terrible unwarranted misconception.

Dingo, the first dog

Ancestor of all dog breeds

It was less than 15,000 years ago, near China, when someone tamed the first wolf, and 10,000 years later when the dog reached Australia. The Dingo is the ancestor of all dog breeds, the pure original dog before the intensive breeding by humans over the last 500 years.

But modern dogs have interbred and the pure dingo is becoming scarce. The modern breed called the Australian Cattle Dog owes much to dingo stock.

Today interbreeding domestic dogs with the Dingo is illegal. Much of Australian economy is dependent on cattle and sheep production and the Dingo is classified as vermin in his homeland.

Quick Dingo Facts

Australia's largest mammalian predator

Strongly territorial and highly intelligent

Do not bark, but howl

Are likely to be extinct within 20 years

Dingoes don't bark

Dingos seldom bark, instead they communicate with distinctive yelps, yodels and eerie howls.

What does a dingo look like?

The appearance of a real dingo - not cross breeds

Dingos are medium-sized dogs about the size of a small German Shepherd with short, gingery yellowish-tan fur that can sometimes vary from black to cream to brindle. It's most commonly ginger-colored with white points to the ears and tail.

They have very mobile ears and sharp light-coloured intense eyes that range from yellow to orange.

Mark Twain tells of the Dingo

" The oldest dog in the universe"

Mark Twain said of the dingo.....

"I also saw the wild Australian dog - the dingo. He was a beautiful creature, shapely, graceful, a little wolfish in some of his aspects, but with a most friendly eye and sociable disposition.

The dingo is not an importation he was present in great force when the whites first came to the continent. It may be that he is the oldest dog in the universe, his origin, his descent, the place where his ancestors first appeared are as unknown and as untraceable as the camel.

He is the most precious dog in the world for he does not bark, but in an evil hour he got to raiding sheep runs to appease his hunger and that seals his doom, he is hunted now just as if he were a wolf, he has been sentenced to extermination and the sentence will be carried out.....

Looking along the Dingo Fence

The Dingo Fence - Over 5000 miles of fence

When European settlers first arrived in Australia, the Dingo was tolerated, even welcomed, but that changed rapidly when sheep became an important part of the white economy.

Dingos were trapped, shot on sight, and poisoned.

In the 1880s, construction of the great Dingo Fence began. The Dingo Fence was designed to keep Dingos out of the relatively fertile south-east part of the continent (where they had been exterminated) and protect the sheep flocks of southern Queensland.

The Fence runs approximately 8500 kilometres, coast-to-coast from the Great Australian Bight to the east coast of Queensland through thousands of miles of arid country.

The Dingo and the Baby

The Tragedy of Lindy Chamberlain

In 1980, Lindy Chamberlain was found guilty of murdering her infant daughter.

She claimed a dingo had taken her baby from the tent in a camping spot in Uluru, central Australia. Her husband and fellow campers backed her claims, as did members of the Aboriginal community in the vicinity. International and local legal experts questioned whether she had been found guilty beyond reasonable doubt, and controversy raged. The result was two books, a film, interesting argument in the press and Lindy Chamberlain in jail.

Dingoes are Wild Animals

There have been three reported dingo attacks in 200 years, compared to about 14,000 reported domestic dog attacks in one year.

Tragedies can happen when humans come into close proximity with wild animals.

Dingoes are wild dogs, don't ever attempt to feed, or otherwise encourage, any wild animal.

A Cry in the Dark
A Cry in the Dark

The tragic and true story of Lindy Chamberlain, a woman who lost her baby in horrific circumstances, was paraded before an accusing nation for two painful years and finally jailed for a crime which had never happened.


A Tragedy

In 2001 two wild dingoes attacked and killed a nine year old boy at Fraser Island. There was an uproar in the media, graphic eyewitness accounts and little mention given to the dangers of approaching wild animals, any wild animals.

These attacks on humans were horrific and terrifying to the rest of the country, but the wave of dingo slaughter which followed the tragedy on Fraser Island was unwarranted.

Lindy Chamberlain is Pardoned

In 1986 a matinee jacket belonging to baby Azaria was found in a dingo's lair in arid country near Uluru. The jacket had been ripped by the teeth of a dingo and fragments of flesh which were still attached were those of a human infant.

Ms Chamberlain was pardoned in 1988.

An excellent resource on this topic is Evil Angels: The Case of Lindy Chamberlain

The Future of the Dingo

Extinction doesn't have to be inevitable!

Today Dingoes are under threat of extinction from one primary source.

In more settled coastal areas of Australia as well as the Outback, barriers between domestic dogs, both feral and urban, and the Dingo are being rapidly removed. Cross breeding is common and the pure Dingo gene pool is being swamped.

Already in the South-Eastern highlands about one third of the populations are cross-breeds or hybrids, and the extinction of the pure Dingo seems inevitable.

In 1993 the Dingo was recognised by the Australian National Kennel Council as an official dog breed and adopted as Australia's national breed.

Breeding with Domestic Dogs must be stopped

So what does the future hold for the Dingo?

Laurie Corbet, in The Dingo in Australia and Asia says ..

The Dingo has faced many battles for survival against man and nature, from fullscale eradication campaigns and enormous fences to unjustified victimisation and subversive genetic manipulations.

Although dingoes have won most of the battles, the cruel irony is that they are steadily losing the war, thanks to their evolutionary progeny, domestic dogs. In the end, their chances of continued survival in the wild will rest solely on the efforts of an informed public to stop contact between dingoes and domestic dogs, and to take pride in dingoes as native species.

Get your own Dingo!

Dingo Plushie
Dingo Plushie

Sitting Dingo Soft Plush Toy (40cm) - $ 25.60

We can't all go out and care for a wild dingo but here's the next best thing.

How about this large Sitting Plush Toy Dingo - the one and only wild Australian dog. Cheap to feed! To be honest, he doesn't eat anything at all.

His name is Ralph (although he doesn't say 'Ralph' when he barks - he doesn't bark at all). He sits at a huge 40cm in height - a quality gift of a native animal from Australia.

Add it to a dingo t-shirt for an extra special gift. Or just keep it for yourself

To Protect and Save the Dingo

To protect and save the dingo from extinction the situation for the dingo must be reversed.

  • The dingo must be recognised as Australia's top order predator
  • Australians must change the status of the dingo from pest to Native Fauna
  • Core habitat areas must be protected, and the gene pool must be conserved for the survival of the dingo.
  • 1080 baiting programs on dingoes must cease
  • Australians must stop the contact between domestic dogs and dingoes in all regions of Australia.

World Animal Day Walk - with Sampson, the Victorian Alpine Dingo

Some dingoes can be Pets

Sampson, the Victorian alpine dingo, and his owner, Sharon Rivett, took a four-kilometre walk around the city of Melbourne on October 4th for World Animal Day.

Not that it was all sunshine and tail wags. Sampson walked to raise awareness of the dingo as a threatened species in Victoria.

Currently fighting for their recognition as native animals - dingoes fall into the same category as exotic pests such as rabbits and foxes - Ms Rivett and her fellow members of the Dingo CARE Network fear that, unless moves are made to protect the dogs soon, Sampson may be one of the last chances we have to see a pure dingo in all his clever, nimble, bronzed glory.


Can I have a dingo as a pet in Australia?

If you live in New South Wales or Western Australia you can have a dingo as a 'pet'. In all of the other States and Territories a special licence is necessary.

Can I get a dingo in New South Wales or Western Australia and take it to another State?

You cannot move dingoes within Australia i.e. between States without the correct documentation and special licence provided by the government body in charge

Can I import a dingo as a pet to my country?

1. The export of dingoes is illegal.

2. Breeding domestic dogs with the Dingo is illegal.

However some cross-breeds have found their way into other countries, for example, USA. These cross-breeds are bred with other dogs and are often called Red Heelers or Australian Cattle Dogs.

Leave a Comment for the Dingo - Shake a paw! No need to bark ..

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    • BryanLSC profile image


      6 years ago

      Thanks to your lens now I know the Dingo is the First dog!

    • Afteretc profile image


      7 years ago

      wow! i learned something new. i didn't know that Red Heelers or Australian Cattle Dogs were part dingos! very informative lens. Dingos look so cute, but i'm animal lover so anything with fur steals my heart.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Wonderful work and informative lens!

      Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Aspen, my Yorkie, insists the Dingo is not her ancestor no matter how far back you's pretty stubborn about it, but I love this and the pictures...I'll keep trying to convince her after I finish leaving this comment:-)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Very interesting lens and beautiful photographs. The resemblemce to modern dogs is amazing. I'm sorry to hear about thier plight and hope thye can be protected!

    • SusannaDuffy profile imageAUTHOR

      Susanna Duffy 

      7 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      @Rhidawn: Lindy Chamberlain was screaming " A dingo took my baby!" as she chased the dog through the camping site. Unfortunately her anguished cries were used later on more than one television show.

    • tvyps profile image

      Teri Villars 

      7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      @Rhidawn: Funny, I thought the same thing.

    • tvyps profile image

      Teri Villars 

      7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Love it! I love wolves and these are close cousins. Remarkable animals! Blessed!

    • Rhidawn profile image


      7 years ago

      "A dingo ate your baybay" sorry I was takin back to that Seinfield episode lol...The dingo kinda looks like a fox. Great lens

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I hope that a way is found to ensure these beautiful animals do not become extinct. The story about the little boy is sad but as you said why was he not taught better and where were his parents. It is always easy to blame the animal as opposed to the real culprit...oblivious humans.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great photos and you certainly have put a lot of work into your lens however I think not all of your information is 100% accurate. saying that dingos are likely to be extinct in 20 years where did you get your information from? The are in such terrible large numbers in Outback South Australia and many landowners even in the Flinders Rangers are finding they are loosing stock. I know of some stations that have had to stop running sheep in certain sections of their stations due to the high numbers of dingos. If you read the Stock Journal you will find that they are on the increase. The dingo fence is not doing it's job at all. My husband just did a road trip to the North Eastern part of our State and saw two dingos in broad daylight the wrong side of the fence.

      Also I remember learning in school that the dingo was most likely brought across with the Aboriginals and was semi domesticated when it arrived.

    • flycatcherrr profile image


      7 years ago

      That dingo fence is remarkable - I didn't know about it.

    • Tagsforkids profile image


      7 years ago

      Interesting lens. Prior to this, my only knowledge of a Dingo was a reference in a Seinfeld TV show! Didn't realize it was based on an actual event! Learn something new every day.... :-)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I love the dingo lens. I own 2 english bulldogs, not exactly dingos, but I love to read about all the worlds animals! The dingo is such a pretty and smart animal. I hope he survives.

    • LisaMarieGabriel profile image

      Lisa Marie Gabriel 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      I hope that people have the sense to recognise the Dingo as natural fauna.Let's face it, they are not the most serious pests around.... Blessed today :) Hope you had a wonderful, warm and sunny Christmas :D

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      "Sentenced to extermination..." How very sad. Great information regarding the plight of the dingo. The dingo fence photo is amazing; I had no idea.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      If you are not familiar with dingo then it is very hard to tell its difference from a dog. So this lens is in deed very helpful. Great lens! Salute!

      Material Handling

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I remember the 2001 incident with the 9-year-old. I like dingos, a lot - but I wouldn't want to come across one on a visit to Australia. They don't have to go extinct! How come my favorite wild animals are all on that awful list?

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I really enjoyed reading about the Dingo .....thank you for all your hard work....

    • catbehaviors profile image


      7 years ago

      Poor dingoes... I hope they don't go extinct, especially since they are so misunderstood. Thank you for the informative and interesting lens!

    • sociopath-free profile image


      7 years ago

      I thought dogs were descended from wolves so this is news to me. Very informative.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Wow - great informative lense - my sons fav animal is the wolf and Dingos are close !!!

      I hope they don't become extinct - would be sad !!! Thanks for sharing !!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      very interesting and informative. the dingo reminds me of our coyote... which also has a not-so-positive reputation. Yet the dingo and coyote alike are quite beautiful.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      @SusannaDuffy: do you know if there is a special name for cross breed digoes?

    • BuddyBink profile image


      7 years ago

      I have always likened the dingo to the American coyote. Both are quite intelligent. It would be a shame to lose the dingo in Australia. Thanks for the information

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      7 years ago from Colorado

      Very interesting article on the dingo and its history, status, and precarious future. Appreciated the opportunity to learn more about this much-maligned creature. I would hate to see the dingo become extinct.

    • seeker2011 lm profile image

      seeker2011 lm 

      7 years ago

      A beautiful animal.

    • Shana rios Chavez profile image

      Shana rios Chavez 

      7 years ago

      my dog little bit could be a dingo lol

    • SusannaDuffy profile imageAUTHOR

      Susanna Duffy 

      7 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      @jimmyworldstar: They are wild animals! Dingoes are rarely pets but some cross=breed ones (if they have been sterilised) are allowed to registered people

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      The dingo does look like a cross between a German Shepherd and a fox. Those point ears and just general look of the face reminds me of a fox. Are pure blooded dingos available as pets outside Australia?

    • ViJuvenate profile image


      7 years ago

      I like this lens. I agree, Dingos have gotten a bad rap. Usually problems in any arena of animal life are brought on by initial meddling of humans. The first thing that always comes to my mind at the mention of dingos is that movie - and I didn't even see it. Only the commercials, "A dingo ate your baby!" Amazing how media can overtake reality.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      @waldenthreenet: true. Some wolves are on the brink of extinction

    • waldenthreenet profile image


      7 years ago

      Yep, DIngo and also the Dole in Asia, now endangered ! Certain wolves can be added. Thanks.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Since the disappearance of the thylacine, dingoes have become an important part of Australia's food chain in that they effectively replace them. Not only that, but they also keep the number of actual INVASIVE species down. Another important thing to note is that dingoes arrived of their own volition THOUSANDS of years ago, making them as native as the Aboriginal people - while cats, foxes, rabbits, sheep etc. were brought by white people. Who are the real pests?

    • tcorbs profile image


      7 years ago

      Everytime I hear the word dingo, I think of the movie quote "A dingo ate my baby" Great lens!

    • Zodiacimmortal profile image


      7 years ago from Yonkers, NY

      Awww they're so cute. One of those pics looks like its a fox.

    • sulcatamandy profile image


      7 years ago from Montana

      My dog has dingo in her blood lines. She is an amazing creature. She looks a little like Santa's little helper from the TV the Simpsons. Very nice lens :)

    • Franksterk profile image

      Frankie Kangas 

      7 years ago from California

      Back to leave a blessing. Bear hugs, Frankie

    • GonnaFly profile image


      7 years ago from Australia

      These are lovely creatures. We've met a few pet dingoes. This lens has been blessed and added to my animal alphabet lens.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I pray and hope that we keep the pure Dingo alive and well. They are a very special part of Australia just like the Kangaroo, Wallaby, Kookarbarra and the Magpie, even the old crow that nobody likes but we can respect. Please Respect our Dingo too! They have learnt the hard way to survive, kill what they need and not what they want, just like the fox. We kill not just what we need but what we want as well. If you study the Dingo, they are more civilised at survival skills than we are as humans. We will all learn a little more if we only learn to watch and learn from them. We must learn to Respect what we dont fully understand instead of just killing them out for the sake of it all.

    • imolaK profile image


      8 years ago

      Great lens about dingos , and very informative. Blessed.

    • Nowran profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks for giving us some interesting viewpoints on Australian wildlife

    • SidneyMorgan LM profile image

      SidneyMorgan LM 

      8 years ago

      I always read a great deal of negative things about Dingos and they seem very unfair and not very well researched. This lens on the other hand is the exact opposite. Great information and a great lens for a very misunderstood animal. And some of them can be quite cute too ...

    • Kylyssa profile image

      Kylyssa Shay 

      9 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

      Thank you for this wonderful lens on dingos!

    • Fat-Kate profile image


      9 years ago

      What a nice lens!

      I just created a lens on Fraser Island and I'm going to link to this one!

    • Demaw profile image


      9 years ago

      Hopefully the dingo will have a continued future. 5*

    • AnimalGuy profile image


      9 years ago

      Very nice lens! I am a big pet lover but I had no idea that dogs originated with the dingo, very interesting stuff.

    • draik profile image


      9 years ago

      Thanks for joining All About Animals Group.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Thank you for such an informative page. Getting the word out there that the Dingo is seriously endangered is so important and I commend you for your efforts. I truly hope something will be done before it is too late.

    • LetaRussell LM profile image

      LetaRussell LM 

      10 years ago

      Excellent lens, Susanna. We got to see some of the dingoes up close with Terri at the Australian Zoo and found out, then, how close they are to extinction. You've written an article that exposes the truth, educates the public, and honors them beautifully. I look forward to catching up on some of your other lenses, too.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      "Are likely to be extinct within 20 years"

      That is shocking. A great and informative lens, thanks for making it. 5 stars.

    • religions7 profile image


      10 years ago

      Interesting. I didn't know dingo's were so closely related to dogs. Their tale of extinction is similar to that of the polar bear: they too are interbreeding with close relatives.

    • naturegirl7s profile image

      Yvonne L B 

      10 years ago from Covington, LA

      I knew that Dingoes were hated by the ranchers, but I did not realize that they were so endangered. They must be saved. Welcome to the Naturally Native Squids group. Don't forget to add your lens link to the appropriate plexo and vote for it.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I have a Dingo and they are the most amazing animals ever, I hope humans are not stupid enough to make these wonderful dogs a thing of the past I know for as long as I live I will protect and fight for the dingo.

    • Charlino99 profile image

      Tonie Cook 

      10 years ago from USA

      This is a wonderful and informative site about Dingos. I've always thought them to be a beautiful dog, but never knew much about them. 5* and now a PetPal.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      It is such a shame that humans are the primary threat to so many animals. It is so sad when an animal becomes or comes close to extinction. Thank you for your information and for joining my Nature Lovers group :)


      Diana's Photography


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