The Fuegian dog (Spanish: perro yagán, perro fueguino), also known as the Yaghan dog, is an extinct domesticated fox. It was a domesticated form of the culpeo (Lycalopex culpaeus), unlike other domesticated canids – domestic dogs, domesticated from the gray wolf (Canis lupus), and the domesticated red fox, from the red fox (Vulpes vulpes).
There are very few remaining specimens of the Fuegian dog. These include one in the Museo Salesiano Maggiorino Borgatello in Chile, and another in the Fagnano Regional Museum in Tierra del Fuego.
Fuegian dogs had erect ears, sharp snout and a thick tail and were tawny-colored or entirely white. Surviving images show them to be a similar size to the wild culpeo, which weighs 5 to 13.5 kg (11 to 30 lb), or roughly the size of a Shetland Sheepdog. Gauchos called Fuegian dogs "maned dogs" because of their resemblance to the maned wolf. Lucas Bridges described the Fuegian dog as "a stunted cross between an Alsatian police dog and a wolf".
It was described by Captain Martial, who headed the 1883 scientific expedition to Cape Horn, as “ugly, with long tawny hair and a sharp snout, it looks quite like a fox".
Although the Fuegian dog's distribution corresponded with that of the Yaghan people, individual animals were not loyal to their human owners. Julius Popper pointed out the canid's lack of loyalty: "I never saw them, no matter how large their number, take an aggressive attitude or defend their masters when these were in danger".
Fuegian dogs were not used to hunt guanaco. However, they might have been useful for hunting otters. The dogs were also useful to humans in that they would gather around their owners to keep them warm. This was noted by Julius Popper: "The dogs placed themselves in a group around the small Onas, taking the shape of a kind of wrapping […] my opinion is that the Fuegian dogs are only useful to complete the defective garment of the Indian, or better, as the Ona’s heating furniture".
In 1919, when Silesian missionary Martin Gusinde visited the Yaghans, he noticed that their dogs were gone. The Fuegian dogs were exterminated because they "were dangerous to men and cattle”. Their fierce nature was also noted by Thomas Bridges in the 1880s, who wrote that they attacked his mission's goats.
- Petrigh, R. S., & Fugassa, M. H. (2013). Molecular identification of a Fuegian dog belonging to the Fagnano Regional Museum ethnographic collection, Tierra del Fuego. Quaternary international, 317, 14-18.
- R.S. Petrigh, M.H. Fugassa, Quaternary International 317 (2013), pp 14-18
- Bridges, L., (2008). Op. Cit. pp.97
- Martial, L., (2005). Mision al Cabo de Hornos, la expedición científica francesa en la Romanche Julio de 1882 a setiembre de 1883. Ushuaia: Zaguier & Urruty Publications . pp. 225.
- Popper, J., (1887). Expedición Popper. [Conferencia]. Instituto Geográfico Militar. 05.03.1887. Museo del Fin del Mundo, Biblioteca Virtual
- Martial, L., (2005). Mision al Cabo de Hornos, la expedición científica francesa en la Romanche Julio de 1882 a setiembre de 1883. Ushuaia: Zaguier & Urruty Publications . pp. 225
- Orquera, L. and Piana, E. (1999). La vida material y social de los Yámana. B. Aires: EUDEBA. pp 178-180