Carolina Dog

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This article is about the wild dog. For the type of hot dog, see Carolina style.
Carolina Dog
Dakota, the Dixie Dingo (or Carolina Dog).jpg
Other names American Dingo[citation needed]
Dixie Dingo[citation needed]
North American Native Dog[citation needed]
Indian's Dog[citation needed]
Nicknames Ol' Yaller[citation needed]
Yeller Dog[citation needed]
Yellow Dog[citation needed]
Country of origin USA
Dog (Canis lupus familiaris)

The Carolina Dog or American dingo[citation needed] was originally a landrace or naturally selected type of dog which was discovered living as a wild dog or free roaming dog by Dr. I. Lehr Brisbin. Carolina Dogs are now bred and kept in captive collections or packs, and as pets, nicknamed "Yellow Dog" in the Southern U.S.A.[citation needed] A breed standard has been developed by the United Kennel Club that now specifies the appearance of these dogs.[1]

Carolina Dogs were discovered during the 1970s living in isolated stretches of longleaf pines and cypress swamps in the Southeastern United States.[2] Carolina Dogs are a medium sized dog, that comes in varying shades of red ginger, buff, fawn, black, black and tan or piebald[3] with or without small white markings on toes, chest, tail tip and muzzle. Frequently puppies have a melanistic mask that usually fades as the adult coat comes in.[4]


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 dingos.[5]



Dixie Dingo

Some ancient paintings and rock art of Native Americans depict dogs that have physical traits similar to those of Carolina Dogs.[citation needed] 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.[6][unreliable source?] The ears are large and erect and can be individually turned to the direction of the sound.[7] 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.[8] Along with this, DNA testing has pointed to a link to East Asia.[9]

Height: 17-24 inches (45–61 cm.) Weight: 30-65 pounds (15–20 kg.)


Carolina Dog / American Dingo

In the 1980s, most Carolina Dogs were moved to captivity for study.[citation needed]

Female dogs had three estrus cycles in quick succession, which settled into seasonal reproductive cycles when there was an abundance of puppies.[5] 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. They were 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.[10]

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 killed snakes using a whip-like motion, and preyed on small and medium-sized mammals such as raccoons.[11]

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 deer population at the time of the discovery of the Carolina dog.[citation needed]


Carolina Dogs are natural runners. They have excellent noses that help them hunt wild animals, when in the wild. When kept as pets, the breed requires moderate exercise and sufficient space. They need to be exposed to a lot of social activity from a young age. Once they are trained enough, they are said to make excellent family dogs.[12]

DNA testing[edit]

Carolina dog "Hunter" that participated in DNA testing[13]

It was proposed that Mitochondrial DNA testing might prove 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 was not conclusive, but it did spark interest into more extensive DNA testing.[5]

In 2013, a study looked at the mDNA haplotypes associated with samples of the Carolina dog. The study showed that 58% of the dogs carried universal haplotypes that could be found around the world (haplotypes A16, A18, A19, and B1), 5% carried haplotypes associated with Korea and Japan (A39), and 37% carried a unique haplotype that was not recorded before (A184) and that relates to the a5 mDNA sub-haplogroup that originated in East Asia.[14] As the dingo and the New Guinea singing dog belong to haplotype A29[15][16] that relates to the a2 sub-haplogroup,[17][18] there is no genetic relationship.

In the same year, a study of several dog breeds in the Americas — among them the Peruvian hairless, the Chihuahua and the Carolina dog indicated a migration from Asia.[19][20]

In 2015, a large-scale survey of autosomal, mitochondrial, and Y-chromosome diversity in 4,676 purebred dogs from 161 breeds and 549 village dogs from 38 countries was conducted. Testing for the degree of admixture with European dogs, the study found no yDNA haplotypes in indigenous North American dogs outside of the Arctic, however the mDNA of Carolina dogs contained between 10% and 35% pre-Columbian ancestry (mDNA haplotype A184) that clustered with East Asia.[21]

Breed recognition and domestication[edit]

Carolina Dogs can be registered with the American Rare Breed Association[22] and the United Kennel Club.[23] 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".[24] 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".[25]

It is assumed[who?] that dogs placed in "pariah" or "primitive" groups are of an older type than other modern dog breeds.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Carolina Dog". American Rare Breeds Association. Retrieved August 30, 2013. 
  2. ^ Handwerk, Brian. "Did Carolina Dogs Arrive With Ancient Americans?". Retrieved March 11, 2013. 
  3. ^ Appearance: The Carolina Dog Rescue and Conservation Project
  4. ^ Weidensaul, Scott (1999-03-01). "Tracking America’s First Dogs". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 2006-10-11. 
  5. ^ a b c Handwerk, Brian (2003-03-11). "Did Carolina Dogs Arrive With Ancient Americans?". National Geographic News. Retrieved 2006-10-11. 
  6. ^ Mlot, Christine. "Stalking the Ancient Dog". NetPets. Retrieved 2006-10-15. Broken link
  7. ^
  8. ^ Weidensaul, Scott (1999-03-01). "Tracking America’s First Dogs". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 2006-10-11. 
  9. ^ Ghose, Tia (2013-07-09). "American Dogs Come From Asia". LiveScience. Retrieved 2013-07-10. 
  10. ^ "Primitive Dogs Of The Southeast". University of Georgia. 2001-04-13. Archived from the original on 2007-06-14. Retrieved 2006-10-15. 
  11. ^ "History, Travel, Arts, Science, People, Places | Smithsonian". Retrieved 2014-07-28. 
  12. ^ Rittenhouse, Jane (1 January 2004). Carolina Dogs, The American Dingos, Perfect Dogs: Remnants from Ages Past (First ed.). Self-Published. ASIN B001VDC4GI. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ Van Asch, B.; Zhang, A.-b.; Oskarsson, M. C. R.; Klutsch, C. F. C.; Amorim, A.; Savolainen, P. (2013). "Pre-Columbian origins of Native American dog breeds, with only limited replacement by European dogs, confirmed by mtDNA analysis". Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 280 (1766): 20131142. doi:10.1098/rspb.2013.1142.  Table 1
  15. ^ Savolainen, P.; Leitner, T.; Wilton, A. N.; Matisoo-Smith, E.; Lundeberg, J. (2004). "A detailed picture of the origin of the Australian dingo, obtained from the study of mitochondrial DNA". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 101 (33): 12387. doi:10.1073/pnas.0401814101. 
  16. ^ Oskarsson, M. C. R.; Klutsch, C. F. C.; Boonyaprakob, U.; Wilton, A.; Tanabe, Y.; Savolainen, P. (2011). "Mitochondrial DNA data indicate an introduction through Mainland Southeast Asia for Australian dingoes and Polynesian domestic dogs". Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 279 (1730): 967. doi:10.1098/rspb.2011.1395. 
  17. ^ Pang, J.-F.; Kluetsch, C.; Zou, X.-J.; Zhang, A.-b.; Luo, L.-Y.; Angleby, H.; Ardalan, A.; Ekstrom, C.; Skollermo, A.; Lundeberg, J.; Matsumura, S.; Leitner, T.; Zhang, Y.-P.; Savolainen, P. (2009). "MtDNA Data Indicate a Single Origin for Dogs South of Yangtze River, Less Than 16,300 Years Ago, from Numerous Wolves". Molecular Biology and Evolution 26 (12): 2849. doi:10.1093/molbev/msp195. PMID 19723671. 
  18. ^ Duleba, Anna; Skonieczna, Katarzyna; Bogdanowicz, Wiesław; Malyarchuk, Boris; Grzybowski, Tomasz (2015). "Complete mitochondrial genome database and standardized classification system for Canis lupus familiaris". Forensic Science International: Genetics 19: 123. doi:10.1016/j.fsigen.2015.06.014. 
  19. ^ Hitt, Jack (15 July 2013). "D.N.A. Backs Lore on Pre-Columbian Dogs". N.Y. Times. Retrieved 15 July 2013. 
  20. ^
  21. ^ Shannon, Laura M.; Boyko, Ryan H.; Castelhano, Marta; Corey, Elizabeth; Hayward, Jessica J.; McLean, Corin; White, Michelle E.; Abi Said, Mounir; Anita, Baddley; Bondjengo, Nonokombe; Calero, Jorge; Galov, Ana; Hedimbi, Marius; Imam, Bulu; Khalap, Rajashree; Lally, Douglas; Masta, Andrew; Oliveira, Kyle C.; Pérez, Lucía; Randall, Julia; Tam, Nguyen Minh; Trujillo-Cornejo, Francisco J.; Valeriano, Carlos; Sutter, Nathan B.; Todhunter, Rory J.; Bustamante, Carlos D.; Boyko, Adam R. (2015). "Genetic structure in village dogs reveals a Central Asian domestication origin". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: 201516215. doi:10.1073/pnas.1516215112. 
  22. ^ "American Rare Breed Association". Archived from the original on 2006-10-13. Retrieved 2006-10-15. 
  23. ^ "United Kennel Club". Arienne Associates. 1996. Archived from the original on 2006-09-02. Retrieved 2006-10-15. 
  24. ^ "pariah - definition of pariah". TheFreeDictionary. Retrieved 2008-04-26. 
  25. ^ The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition. "primitive: Definition, Synonyms, More". Dictionary. Houghton Mifflin Company. Retrieved 2008-04-26. 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. 

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