Dog-dingo Hybrids

Mammalian Hybrids

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EUGENE M. MCCARTHY, PHD GENETICS

     
dingo hybrid A dog-dingo hybrid found in Victoria at Baw Baw National Park. Image: Wikimedia.

canis dingo A male dingo with pups

The dingo was formerly treated as a species in its own right, Canis dingo. But because it easily interbreeds with dogs it is now often treated as conspecific with dogs (e.g., in Duff and Lawson 2004). The same is true of wolves, so that in the minds of some biologists dingos, dogs and wolves are merely variants of the same species. And yet such taxonomic considerations do not change the fact that the dingo is a distinctive type of canid, which has resided in the Australasian region for thousands of years, and which, as such has conservation value.

However that may be, dogs and dingoes do hybridize extensively throughout most of Australia, so frequently that this interbreeding threatens the very continued existence of the dingo as an entity distinct from the ordinary dog. Indeed, according to the IUCN, hybrids exist in all dingo populations worldwide. Such hybrids have also been produced innumerable times in captivity. Dog-dingo hybrids are at least partially fertile in both sexes.

The IUCN, which rates the dingo as vulnerable, mainly due to this extensive hybridization with the domestic dog, states that, “estimating dingo abundance is difficult because the external phenotypic characters of many hybrids are indistinguishable from pure dingoes. For example, populations of ‘wild dogs’ in the south-eastern highlands of Australia have

been fairly abundant over the past 50 years. However, the proportion of pure dingoes, as based on skull morphometrics, has declined from about 49% in the 1960s (Newsome and Corbett 1985) to about 17% in the 1980s (Jones 1990) and the pure form may now be locally extinct (Corbett 2001). … In Australia, pure dingoes are common in northern, northwestern and central regions, rare in southern and north-eastern regions, and probably extinct in the south-eastern and south-western regions. …although populations of wild dogs [i.e., dingo, familiaris and their hybrids] remain abundant in Australia and other countries, the proportion of pure dingoes is declining through hybridization with domestic dogs.

Dingoes and dogs also co-occur and hybridize in Indonesia, New Guinea and southeast Asia.

Dogs, dingoes, wolves and golden jackals all have the same chromosome number (2n=78).

Despite the comments in the video above, Woodall et al. (1996) say that dog-dingo hybrids exist even on Fraser Island.

References: Ackermann 1898 (p. 53); Catling et al. 1991; Corbett 1974; Darwin 1883 (vol. 1, p. 23); Davidson 2004; Flower 1929a (p. 114); International Zoo Yearbook 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971; Eiffe 1909; Gray 1972; Jones (1990); Newsome and Corbett 1982, 1985; Newsome 1980; Tamura 1925; Woodall et al. 1996.

A list of dog crosses

The following is a list of reported dog crosses discussed on this site. Some of these crosses are much better documented than others (as indicated by the reliability arrow). Moreover, some are extremely disparate, and so must be taken with a large grain of salt. But all have been reported at least once.

reliability arrow

Table of contents >>

Bibliography >>

Internet citations >>

Biology Dictionary >>

By the same author: Handbook of Avian Hybrids of the World, Oxford University Press (2006).


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