New Guinea Singing Dog Conservation Society: The Official Website

New Guinea Singing Dog Conservation Society

The Official Website

All content copyright © 1998-2016 New Guinea Singing Dog Conservation Society, unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any material from any page of this website without written permission is strictly prohibited.
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Frequently Asked Questions About New Guinea Singing Dogs As Pets
(A Must-Read for Potential Owners)

Table of Contents:
Do New Guinea Singing Dogs make good pets?
What kind of person makes a good New Guinea Singing Dog owner?
Will New Guinea Singing Dogs get along with cats and other animals?
How do New Guinea Singing Dogs get along with other dogs?
How are New Guinea Singing Dogs with children?
What diet does a New Guinea Singing Dog require?
What is a New Guinea Singing Dog's activity level?
How much room does a New Guinea Singing Dog need?
What is "secure" fencing for a New Guinea Singing Dog?
Are New Guinea Singing Dogs easy to housetrain?
When are puppies available and how much do they cost?
Where are New Guinea Singing Dogs registered?
What health problems do New Guinea Singing Dogs have?
Where can I find out more?

1. Do New Guinea Singing Dogs make good pets?

NGSD are not domesticated dogs that have had their natural instincts dulled or their wild independent personalities modified by artificial selection. NGSD are not the dog for the casual owner. Keeping a NGSD is like living with a very tame, people-friendly coyote. A NGSD owner must be able to provide the secure environment it takes to keep NGSD and their potential prey safe. NGSD are not normally dominant or aggressive toward people, and tend instead to be shy and submissive. However, whether or not they are considered a "good" or appropriate pet depends on the owner and the environment.

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2. What kind of person makes a good New Guinea Singing Dog owner?

They must be willing to be just a good friend to the NGSD and not expect the dog to consider them lord and master. They must be patient and gentle. NGSD are very sensitive and a person pone to fits of temper or yelling will quickly ruin a NGSD's personality and make it shy. Most of all, they must have a burning desire to share their life with a mischievous wild spirit.

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3. Will New Guinea Singing Dogs get along with cats and other household pets?

NGSD are supreme predators. They consider any animal up to the size of a full-grown sheep prey. This includes unfamiliar small dogs. However, if introduced to the family cats as a puppy, a NGSD will learn to respect them as part of the family rather than prey. Strange cats that come into the yard will be considered "fair game." Introducing a new cat or kitten to a resident adult NGSD would probably be a problem. NGSD will always consider pet birds and small mammals prey so these should be kept out of reach of the NGSD.

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4. How do New Guinea Singing Dogs get along with other dogs?

NGSD can play and live with other dogs.
NGSD are not by nature pack animals. After sexual maturity they will consider any strange dog or any familiar dog of the same sex a rival for territory and mates, and they will be aggressive toward them. Young NGSD and those de-sexed before sexual maturity (between 6 and 9 months of age) are less dog-aggressive. However, even when being friendly NGSD can get into trouble because their mode of play is different from the average domestic dog’s. They do much less "play invitation" and tend to abruptly play-bite or jump on the other dog. If the receiver of this NGSD play attempt does not understand NGSD body language they may become defensive and growl. Then the NGSD thinks "I see. You want to fight instead of play. I can do that." and the trouble begins. All NGSD should go to puppy socialization classes so they can have happy experiences with many other dogs and their owners at a young age. As mentioned above, small dogs, especially furry ones like Maltese and Shih Tzu, may be considered prey and the NGSD may just grab them if given the chance. NGSD raised with family dogs, even toy ones, will accept them and live in peace as long as there is no mate competition. The male/female relationship works best with NGSD.

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5. How are New Guinea Singing Dogs with children?

The answer to this of course depends upon the child. Most NGSD like well-behaved polite children. They naturally gravitate toward them. A person who rescued an adult male neutered NGSD was concerned about the NGSD's potential response when their first child was born a year after adopting the NGSD. There was some worry how the NGSD would react to the "funny" sounds and smells of the baby as it would toward prey or consider the baby a rival. Instead, the NGSD immediately adopted the baby and took on the job of keeping the other family dogs away from it. This family now has two toddlers and the NGSD is extremely devoted to them. The parents took the time to carefully introduce them. As with other dogs, any introduction to children should be closely supervised.

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6. What diet does a New Guinea Singing Dog require?

Most NGSD do fine on a diet based on a high-quality meat-based dog food. Some NGSD owners feel their dogs keep on weight better if they are supplemented with extra meat, based on the hypothesis that since these are undomesticated dogs, they may need more of the nutrients found in uncooked meat. However, other people have kept their NGSD healthy and active for years on high-quality commercial kibble with treats given only in small quantities. In either case, high-fat foods should be avoided, as it should be with most dogs kept as pets.

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7. What is a New Guinea Singing Dog's activity level?

NGSD are very active as puppies up to about a year of age, and then would be considered medium active. Activity levels will vary depending on the owner's own lifestyle. Physically active owners have yet to find their NGSD lacking in stamina and advise prospective owners not to judge them by their small size; they will easily keep up with most humans. They are not hyper, just busy exploring and playing. Older NGSD are content to sleep on the couch (or the bed) much of the day. Outside, they have a strong desire to explore/hunt and will walk and run for miles. Like other dogs, they enjoy exercise and time spent with their people.

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8. How much room does a New Guinea Singing Dog need?

A resourceful NGSD finds that room to roam is not always horizontal.
NGSD have adapted well to everything from duplexes with a small patio to country living. Since NGSD should never be allowed to run off leash in an area without secure fencing, most do not have a free-running area bigger than an average back yard. If a NGSD must be confined in a pen for more than 50% of the time the pen should be at least 100 square feet. Some owners have built "second floors" and ramps to make the most of a given amount of pen space. Another possibility: take the NGSD on long daily walks; these can make up for living in small pens and provide opportunities for the dog's socialization and confidence-building in unfamiliar environments.

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9. What is "secure" fencing for a New Guinea Singing Dog?

Because they are adapted to living in high mountains and dense forests, NGSD are, like cats, by nature jumpers and climbers. Unlike cats they also are terrific diggers and chewers and will work very hard at escaping fences.

Fences lower than 6 feet have kept supervised NGSD confined for daily exercise, but only if an electric wire is installed at the top. If NGSD are to be left unsupervised, the fences must be at least 6 feet high (including gates) and have some barrier at the top to prevent climbing escapes and barriers at the bottom to prevent digging escapes. Young NGSD can also squeeze their entire bodies through any space wide enough to admit their heads. A fully enclosed top serves another purpose besides confining NGSD: it also keeps predators OUT. In other words, a secure pen for NGSD is contained on all 6 sides. For details on appropriate fencing, refer to Singer Security.

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NGSD climb and jump to whatever intrigues them.

10. Are New Guinea Singing Dogs easy to housetrain?

NGSD are about average at learning to eliminate outside or on a designated indoor area. Under three months of age they have little voluntary control over their bladders, but even at 6 weeks of age they will go through a dog door to have bowel movements. If the owner is alert, consistent and keeps the puppy on a routine for feeding and exercise, most NGSD puppies are fairly well house trained in about four weeks. Having a dog door out to a NGSD-proof secured area greatly facilitates housetraining. Intact adult NGSD, especially males, will "forget" their training during breeding season and mark indoors. They will also tend to want to mark new places (such as friend's homes and motel rooms) and should be supervised until they have become familiar with the area.

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11. When are puppies available and how much do they cost?

This 6-day-old pup is too young to leave her mother.
Like wild canids and the Basenji breed, NGSD have one breeding season a year. The NGSD breeding season starts in July, so most puppies are born in October/November. However, NGSD have a unique repeat estrus cycle if they do not get pregnant the first cycle; sometimes puppies are born in January/February. Members of the New Guinea Singing Dog Conservation Society, are the only persons outside of zoos to have pedigreed NGSD and cooperate in the over-all breeding plan. Because good NGSD homes are as rare as the dogs themselves, only two or three documented litters are currently being produced each year.
Because such a small breeding population (less than 100 world wide) could be quickly swamped by the progeny of one pair if all of the pups became breeding stock, most NGSD puppies are placed as pets on a neuter/spay agreement. This seems strange when part of the effort to save them from extinction is to increase the number of captive breeding specimens, but it is also important to maintain as much genetic diversity as possible while the population slowly expands. A given pair should contribute only two or three offspring to the breeding population in their lifetime. In addition, intact NGSD have very strong sex drives. Both sexes become highly agitated when isolated from potential mates and howl, mark, and become destructive in their attempts to reach a mate. If a NGSD is to be a house pet, both NGSD and owners will be much happier if he/she is de-sexed.
Most rare breeds sell for from $2,500 to $5,000 each when they are new to the USA. Many people (rare-breed puppy mills) produce as many puppies as possible and sell to anyone with the money in hand to capitalize on this. This would be disastrous for NGSD. So, although NGSD are truly the most ancient and rare type of dog today and may even be an endangered species, the New Guinea Singing Dog Conservation Society does not want NGSD to be used by those who breed rare animals only for profit. Our breeders (who agree to abide by a Code of Ethics) price their puppies about the same as an average pedigreed puppy in their area--hundreds of dollars each, not thousands.

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This San Diego Zoo pup is also too young to leave home.

12. Where are New Guinea Singing Dogs registered?

Most zoo NGSD and breeding stock belonging to NGSDCS members are listed with the NGSDCS stud book. This is provided so that pedigrees can be traced and the best breedings can be planned and other information about the specimen, such as health problems and reproductive behavior, can be recorded. The NGSDCS has established a registry service. NGSD without pedigrees can be registered if they pass an examination by experts, as can any pedigreed NGSD. Because many NGSD in the USA today have been produced by exotic animal dealers who keep no records of the origin of their stock or whom they are placed with, the NGSDCS wanted to provide a way for these undocumented NGSD to get onto a pedigree basis. Hopefully they can be part of the overall conservation breeding plan.

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13. What health problems do New Guinea Singing Dogs have?

Although the captive NGSD have been highly inbred from just a few founders, they are surprisingly hardy and healthy. They have no inherited eye or bone/joint problems. Recently three apparently healthy adult NGSD, owned by different people, reported their NGSD dying unexpectedly. These NGSD showed no symptoms prior to their sudden deaths, except one seemed a little "lethargic" for two weeks. No causes of death could be determined. The NGSDCS is working to gather health information from zoos that have had NGSD and will continue to investigate possible causes. In addition, one 12 week old puppy has been diagnosed with a severe heart defect and one adult male has had recurrent digestive problems. Although data gathering has just been started, and no generalization can be made about average life span, the records for longevity are 19 and 20 years for males that were kept in zoos most of their lives. Scratchley, a female ancestor of many of today's pedigreed NGSD, had her last litter at 12 years of age (sire was 17) and raised them with no problems. She is now (2001) 17 years and although her whole body is gray she is still active and alert and living in an outdoor pen in SC with an unheated dog house.

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14. Where can I find out more?

The New Guinea Singing Dog Conservation Society is the most complete and reliable source of NGSD information. The organization exists to study NGSD rather than to exploit them for financial gain or other questionable purposes. The members, dedicated to providing the most accurate information about NGSD, do not glamorize or "sanitize" NGSD. The members want every person thinking about getting a NGSD to understand exactly what NGSD are like, as otherwise there is always a bad outcome for both the people and the dog. Members include scientists who have been studying NGSD for years and several long-term owners of multiple NGSD, in addition to many owners of single NGSD pets. The NGSDCS also has an Internet discussion board, ngsd@yahoogroups.com (or manually type in "http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/ngsd/"), where people share their NGSD experiences.

All NGSD owners are encouraged to join the NGSDCS. Those owners that do not wish to join are welcome to participate in research by contributing information and cooperating in non-invasive studies on NGSD physiology, behavior and DNA.

The NGSDCS is a federal nonprofit Section 501(c)3 organization. Donations made to the NGSDCS are tax-deductible.

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This FAQ section copyright © 2001 New Guinea Singing Dog Conservation Society. All rights reserved. Revised: March 1, 2006; April 9, 2008; November 30, 2008.

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Home
Description
History
Research
Living With NGSD
Resources
Membership
Rescues
Zoos That Have NGSD

All content copyright © 1998-2016 New Guinea Singing Dog Conservation Society, unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any material from any page of this website without written permission is strictly prohibited.

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