New Guinea Singing Dog

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Is the New Guinea Singing Dog right for you?

Species group:

Other name(s): Singer; NGSD

The basics:
The New Guinea Singing Dog (NGSD) is a primitive-acting, highly vocal dog with a disputed taxonomy. The first pair was brought from the highlands of Papua New Guinea to Sydney, Australia's Taronga Zoo in 1958, where they were displayed as a species of wild dog then called Canis hallstromi. While a number of pairs of these animals appear in zoo collections around the world to this day, doubts have grown about the existence of any wild species of NGSD. However, the discovery of a population of wild dogs in New Guinea in 2016 now raises the possibility that the NGSD represents an entirely new species of dog. These dogs have been named the "Highland Wild Dog (HWD)", and may be the wild ancestor of both the New Guinea Singing Dog, and the Australian Dingo.

A 2016 review published in Australian Mammalogy stated quite bluntly that there was no evidence that the NGSD represented any species or subspecies of wild animal. As a result, they are no longer entitled to their own scientific name. Many zoos had already stopped breeding them, and most conservation societies have turned their attention elsewhere.

For now, the NGSD might be best understood as a feral or domestic dog breed that has developed a unique character because of long isolation in the remote highland villages of New Guinea. Therefore, the future of the NGSD now rests with domestic dog fanciers who have an interest in preserving unique and rare breeds. The New Guinea Singing Dog Conservation Society is taking a leadership role in raising awareness of the breed, noting that, "...many NGSD have adapted well to living in the modern home as a pet, given proper training and socialization. This is quite a feat for a wild animal that until recently was a tamed but undomesticated companion only to Stone Age tribes."

By contrast, the dog once thought to be their closest relative, the Australian Dingo, was recently found to be a true separate species, Canis dingo. The science is still evolving, and it's always possible that new information will come to light which confirms or refutes the existence of the Singer as a wild animal.

Appearance / health:
The NGSD has a fox-like appearance and is a small-to-medium-sized dog. It has a wedge-shaped head, obliquely set triangular eyes, plush coat, and a brushy tail.

Singers are active dogs that require a lot of physical activity.

The New Guinea Singing Dog is a hardy breed and is not known to suffer any genetic health problems.

Behavior / temperament:
However they end up being classified, there's no doubt that New Guinea Singing Dogs exhibit a set of behaviors different from other dog species, subspecies, or breeds. These dogs can never be left off leash owing to their tendency to escape and explore new territories. Their flexible body structure allows them to escape from the narrowest gaps.

High amounts of socialization and training are required for this breed. Obedience training is difficult and owner cannot expect these dogs to respond the way other dogs do.

NGSDs are not noisy but are likely to "sing" when agitated or excited. Their unique vocalizations include howls, whine, yelp, barks, and even sounds similar to birdcalls.

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