New Guinea Singing Dog Conservation Society: The Official Website

New Guinea Singing Dog Conservation Society

The Official Website

All content copyright © 1998-2013 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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History of the New Guinea Singing Dog

First brought to the attention of the scientific community in the early 1950's, the New Guinea Singing Dog (NGSD) was initially described as a distinct species. It was named Canis hallstromi after Sir Edward Hallstrom. Hallstrom brought the first pair out of the Southern Highlands District of Papua New Guinea and to the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia in 1957. In 1969 the NGSD was reclassified as a subspecies of the dingo group, Canis familiaris dingo or Canis lupus dingo.

The NGSD's precise taxonomic status and phylogenetic relationships are under scientific controversy. Studies, especially DNA analysis, now suggest that NGSD almost certainly differ from modern dog breeds more than those breeds differ from each other. Further studies may eventually justify its separation from the Australian Dingo through the designation Canis familiaris hallstromi or Canis lupus hallstromi.

However they are classified, it is accepted that the NGSD is the most primitive "domestic" dog, brought to the island by humans at least 6,000 years ago. Kept pure due to isolation from other types of dogs until the 1950s, they are like a living fossil. Almost all of the NGSD in North America have descended from the original Taronga Zoo pair. Offspring of this founder pair were widely distributed to zoos in America and Europe.

The first NGSD arrived in the United States in 1956.
In 1976 an expedition from the Staatliche Museum Preussischer Kulturbestiz Berlin/ Museum fur Volkerkunde obtained five additional dogs in Irian Jaya. These were sent to the Domestic Animal Institute in Keil, Germany. A pair from this line went to the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, Kansas, in 1987. Although the male from this pair has failed to reproduce, the female, Olga, has produced several litters by a Taronga-line male. The offspring of this cross have demonstrated "hybrid vigor" and a reduction of monorchidism, which had appeared in the North American population.

Also in 1987, Sheryl Langan imported to Canada a male, Darkie. The Taronga Zoo indicated that Darkie was descended from a "wild-caught" female found in the breeding colony at the Baiyer River Sanctuary in Mt. Hagen, New Guinea. Ms. Langan also imported several Taronga females, all of whom failed to reproduce. In 1994, 14-year-old Darkie was transferred to Dr. I. Lehr Brisbin, Jr., at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, University of Georgia. Even at that advanced age, Darkie was successfully bred to Scratchley, a Dinkum (Taronga)/Olga cross female at Dr. Brisbin's Swamp Fox Sanctuary. This cross has hopefully preserved as much genetic variation as possible for the future of the breed. The entire captive NGSD population, estimated in 1995 to be approximately 300 animals, has thus descended from only eight wild-caught founders.

Efforts to capture additional wild dogs in the New Guinea Highlands have so far proved futile. However, during preliminary studies at a remote highland location of Papua, Robert Bino in 1993-1994 and James McIntyre in 1996 observed droppings and tracks and heard howls. Hope remains that the gene pool will be expanded when the resources become available to finance a thorough hunt for additional wild breeding stock.

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

All content copyright © 1998-2013 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.