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Wallaroo Station Animal Fact Sheet
NEW GUINEA SINGING DOG
Canis lupus halstromi

Range:
Central Highlands of New Guinea (Papua New Guinea and Irian Jaya New Guinea).

General appearance resembles the dingo, but smaller, with shorter legs and broader head. NGSDs have a short, double coat, are golden red or black and tan with white markings on the underside of the chin, the feet and tail tip. Some also have white on their face, chest and necks. Wide cheekbones, narrow muzzles, tulip (petal shaped) ears that curve forward and triangular, with obliquely set eyes. Their joints and spine are extremely flexible for a canine. Adapted to hunting in very steep, thickly vegetated terrain, they climb and jump like a cat, a trait that makes them a challenge to keep confined, they are extremely agile and graceful. When their eyes reflect in low light they glow bright green.

There is little information available about wild NGSDs; most of the information available is from captured animals. It is an ancient dog of uncertain origin. These dogs have existed approximately 5,000 years without hybridization to other breeds, and fossil remains prove they were in the company of primitive humans. Some people refer to them as the "Stone Age Dog." It is an extremely rare breed of dog, and its behavior, appearance and especially its unique vocalizations give the dog its name. The NGSD was recognized by the United Kennel Club in January 1996.

Although there have not been enough independent observations to confirm them, the NGSD also appears to have some behaviors that differ from that of wolves and dogs. They drop their ears forward and down, or out and down ("airplane ears"), in submission rather than folding them back against the head. The NGSD play invitation appears to be a "stalking" posture, performed either standing still or in motion, rather than the dog/wolf play bow (forequarters lowered and rump high) and tail wag. The entire body is lowered and an intense, staring gaze is directed toward the playmate being solicited. They also have an "open-mouth play bite" that has not been recorded for dogs or wolves, but is seen in coyotes, in which the mouth is opened wide and pressed over the neck or back of the playmate.

The NGSD has several unique vocalizations. The howl they are named for is similar to a wolf howl with overtones of whale song. When in a group, one animal starts and then others join on different pitches, each with its own unique voice. Some NGSD vocalizations resemble birdcalls. They also whine, yelp, bark (a short "woof" like that of a wolf) and scream (a drawn-out yelp). Although in general their vocalizations are similar to the Dingo and Basenji, the NGSD howl is unique. Sonograms show this vocalization to be very different from those made by any domestic dog, including the Basenji.

Wild NGSDs are shy and avoid humans unless captured as pups and human-raised.


Habitat: N/A (IUCN)
Diet: Opportunistic predator/scavengers feeding upon small to medium-sized marsupials, rodents, birds, cassowaries, animals left in traps
Status: The wild population is declining and threatened by habitat loss and hybridization with the domestic dog
Approximate Dimensions of Adult: Length: 17Inches at shoulder
Weight: 25 lbs.
Lifespan: n/a
Reproduction & Offspring: An annual reproductive cycle, with short-term recycling of estrus in females that fail to become pregnant. Records of captive females show that about 65% of NGSDs have repeat estrus cycles eight to 12 weeks later if not impregnated during their first annual estrus. Gestation averages 63 days. Average number of pups is four, but range from 1-6.

 

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