Carolina Dog: Breed Characteristics

American Dingo, Dixie Dingos, Yaller Dogs, Southern aboriginal dog or whatever you want to call them, is considered perhaps the oldest dog breed in the United States. They fit a pattern shared by other ancient dog breeds such as the Pariah Dog of India and the Canaan Dog of Israel. They also behave a bit differently than other dog breeds or mongrels. For example, females will often bury their droppings in a way that leaves flower-shaped markings in the dirt.


The First Dog?

Scientists who wonder what the first dogs look liked before man began selective breeding think that the original dog had pointed ears, a tail that arched over the back like a fish hook and weighed about 30 to 50 pounds. This describes breeds like the Canaan Dog, the Pariah Dog, the New Guinea Singing Dog and the Carolina Dog. However, Carolina Dog DNA is not thought to have been used in the Dog Genome Project.

American writer Ernest Thompson Seton would immortalize the Yaller Dog in his short story Wully: The Story of a Yaller Dog, which was included in his book Wild Animals I Have Known (1903). Before that, European drawings of Native American in the South often showed yellow dogs wandering about. They even appear on some cave paintings made by Native Americans.

General Appearance

It’s often called the American Dingo for a good reason they do look like dingoes. They are lean, athletic animals with pointed ears, a pointed, wedge-shaped nose and a sandy-colored, short haired coat. The colors can vary a bit in shade, but generally they live up to their older nickname of ‘yaller dogs’. Their bellies and the underside of their necks are often white. They often have dark noses and muzzles.

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When they’re born, Carolina Dogs are often darker and have floppy ears. The coat starts to lighten and the ears begin to stand up by the time they are three months old. They tend to get their adult coat and ear shape by the time they are about 18 months old.

Are They A Separate Breed?

There only has been a recent push to try and make the Carolina Dog a separate dog breed. So far, they are not considered a dog breed by the American Kennel Club, although they are listed in many dog books as a separate breed. Since Mother Nature has been their breeder for an unknown amount of centuries, it is unsure whether they are a type rather than a separate breed.

Carolina Dogs were found living in their own in the Southern forests and swamps, but sometimes were also founding Native American encampments. According to the Carolina Dog Association, they still live in feral groups in the South, but are extremely wary of people, blend in very well with their surroundings and so are next to impossible to study.

Additional Refernces:

Wild Animals I Have Known. Ernest Thompson Seton. Various publishers; 1903.

PBS/Nature Documentary. “Dogs That Changed the World.” (2007)

Dog Breed Info. “Carolina Dog.”

The Carolina Dog Association. “The Carolina Dog.” http://www.carolinadogs.org/index.html

American Scientist.org. “Genetics and the Shape of Dogs.” http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/id.3724,y.2007,no.5,content.true,page.1,css.print/issue.aspx

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