The Dingo or Warrigal is a wild dog most-likely descended from the Southern-East Asian Wolf, yet typically referred to as an Australian dog. The Dingo is still found throughout Southeast Asia as well as Australia, and was named in the language of the first inhabitants of Sydney after being brought to Australia about 3,500 years ago.
The Dingo is slightly smaller than northern wolves and has an athletic build. It stands between 17 and 25 inches high and weighs 22 to 53 pounds. It usually has a thick ginger-colored coat with white markings. Its coat can vary from the reddish to the yellowish end of orange, and can even sometimes be black with a lighter underbelly. The breed has a distinctive skull with a narrow muzzle and a domed head. It is known to climb trees, and preys a variety of animals, from insects, to rodents, to kangaroos. It can hunt alone or in packs. It breeds once yearly and typically lives anywhere from 3 to 7 years.
Dingoes are not typically domesticated due to the difficulty of doing so. It is possible to domesticate one if it is captured as a puppy. The breed does not bark, but it howls. Centuries ago, Aborigines used the Dingo as a companion, a hunting help-mate, and for warmth on colder nights. In some states, laws prevent keeping Dingoes as pets. If it is kept as a pet it needs plenty of exercise and a job to do.
The Dingo is loved by some and hated by others. When European settlers first came to Australia, the Dingo was loved; after sheep became an important part of the economy things changed drastically. Dingoes were trapped, shot, and poisoned because of their threat to herds of sheep. Eventually, in the 1880s the construction of the “Dingo Fence” began. This fence stretches 5,300 miles across Australia and was designed to keep Dingoes out of the southeast part of the continent.
Due to killing as well as interbreeding, the Dingo gene pool is in decline. The Dingo is protected within national parks and other reserves, yet in some areas they are still trapped and poisoned. The Dingo is not yet listed as endangered, yet it is dubbed “˜Vulnerable’ by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.