The Canis lupus dingo is commonly recognized as an Australian dog. However,
it is thought to have originated in the northern areas of Thailand and Vietnam
between 5,000 and 6,000 years ago from wolves similar to the Canis lupus
pallipes and Canis lupus arabs. It was brought to Australia from China between
3,500 and 4,000 years ago.
The oldest verified dingo remains have been carbon dated at 3,450 years old.
There have been fossils similar to that of the dingo found in north-east
Thailand dating 5,500 years old, and in north Vietnam dating 5,000 years old.
The vast majority of dingoes are found in Australia and Thailand.
However, dingoes have also been found in Myanmar, Southeast China,
Laos, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Borneo, the Philippines and
New Guinea. They can be found in Australia from snow-covered
mountains in the east to hot dry deserts in central Australia to
tropical wetlands and forests in the north. They usually remain in
one area and rarely migrate. In Asia, wild dingoes are found mostly
in small patches of remaining forests. However, most dingoes in Asia
are found near villages where people often keep them as pets.
Dingoes can be found in the wild in packs as large as 15. The size of
the pack often corresponds to the size of prey they are after. However,
dingoes are much more often seen travelling alone. Usually when they
are found in packs, it is during mating season or when pursuing larger
prey such as kangaroos, wallabies, or sheep. They often make their dens
in rabbit holes or hollow logs.
Dingoes are usually a sandy, to reddish brown in color with their chest,
feet and tip of tail a creamy white color. They occasionally appear in
black with light markings. However, black dingoes are more common in
Asia. The eyes can vary in color from yellow over orange to brown. Dingoes
have long legs, long pointed muzzles, erect ears, and bushy tails.
Dingoes are the largest terrestrial predators in Australia. Australian
dingoes vary in weight from 21 to 43 pounds, measure from 34 to 36 inches
in body length, and stand from 18.5 to 26.5 inches at shoulder height.
Females are roughly 75 percent the size of males. Dingoes from northern
and northwestern Australia are larger than those from central and southern
Australia. Asian dingoes are slightly smaller than Australian. Asian dingoes
also behave less wild and are more often domesticated.
Dingoes usually hunt alone for small prey such as rabbits, rodents,
birds and lizards. However, they may also hunt in packs of up to 15
when hunting larger prey such as buffalo, kangaroos, wallabies or
sheep. They will also feed on fruits, plants, insects and carrion as
Breeding season is from March to April in Australia, and from August
to September in Asia. It is one of the few times that dingoes form packs.
Male dingoes become sexually mature anywhere between 1 and 3 years of age.
Females become sexually mature at 9 to 12 months of age, but don't usually
start breeding until about 2 years. The alpha female is the only one
of the pack to give birth and will kill the pups of any other females
in the pack. The alpha female will also suppress mating attempts by
other females. Gestation lasts for 61 to 69 days after which the
female gives birth to 1 to 10 pups. Other females of the pack will
help the mother nurture and raise her offspring. Both males and
females help with the pups by regurgitating food and water for
them. After 3 to 6 months, the pups become self-reliant.
Although the dingoes preying on kangaroos, rabbits, and rats can be a
benefit to cattle farmers, dingoes are still seen as a pest by sheep
farmers because they often attack the sheep. A famous 3,488 mile long
dingo fence was originally built in the 1880s, to keep dingoes out of
the southeast part of Australia and protect sheep of southern
Queensland. Though the fence has been fairly affective, dingoes can
still be found in a few parts of the southern states. Dingoes are
protected by law in Federal National Parks, World Heritage areas,
Aboriginal reserves, and the Australian Capital Territory.
Dingoes usually live for 7 or 8
years in the wild, and have lived up to 24 years in captivity. The most
common causes of death for dingoes is being killed by humans, crocodiles,
and dogs (both other dogs and dingoes). They are also subject to the
same diseases as domestic dogs are.
The population of dingoes
is very difficult to count because up to 90 percent of wild dogs in
Australia are crossbred with domestic dogs. Their population in Asia
is also unknown for similar reasons. Interbreeding with domestic dogs
could bring dingoes to extinction.