Canis lupus dingo
Deserts and grasslands of central Australia
Wild: Mostly small mammals; occasional kangaroos, cattle or sheep
Zoo: Dog food, bones, chunk meat
One to eight; usually four to five
Up to 15 years
Head and body length – 46.06 to 48.8 inches. Tail length – 11.8 to 12.9 inches. Shoulder height – about 19.68 inches. Weight – 22 to 44 pounds. The dingo is usually tawny yellow in color, but some individuals are white, black, brown, rust, or other shades. The feet and the tip of the tail are often white. The dingo can be distinguished from other forms of canines by its longer muzzle, more massive molariform teeth, and longer, more slender canine teeth. The oldest definitely known fossils of the dingo date from about 3,500 years ago, but other remains may be as old as 8,600 years. Humans arrived in Australia at least 30,000 years ago. The dingo evidently was brought in long afterward, but before true domestication had been achieved, and it was able to establish wild populations. There are also wild dog populations in New Guinea and Timor which are related to the dingo group. The dingo was once found throughout Australia in forests, mountainous areas and plains.
Did You Know?
A fence more than 6,000 miles long has been constructed in eastern Australia in an effort to keep dingoes off of sheep ranges. Scientists, however, claim that sheep predation has been greatly exaggerated.
Human persecution has caused a decline in dingo population, but another serious problem is hybridization with the domestic dog, which is spreading with human development.