Frequently Asked Questions
Select the question you are interested in to see the answer.
- Do dingoes make good pets?
- constant rewards-based, or positive reinforcement, training (with other dogs)
- continuous social interaction with lots of people
- high fences (at least 6" colorbond, higher if see-through)
- concrete or wire mesh around the fence base-line
- constant forgiveness because they will dig up everything in your backyard
- lots of exercise - are you prepared to walk them 5km every day?
- if you go on holidays, who will look after your dingoes? Dingoes will be severely stressed in boarding kennels and strange places.
- you may not be able to move interstate, e.g. some states still engage in middle-ages mentality where dingoes are not allowed as companions.
- when you come home from work, don't rush out and get all excited. Say hello from inside and ignore them for ten or so minutes
- if they are waiting at the back door when you are about to go outside, make sure they are sitting. If they jump on you in excitement when you go out, turn your back on them and walk back inside.
- in the morning, say hello to them from inside the house and ignore them for a while. Go outside when you wish to, you have to call the shots.
- Can you own a dingo?
- What do dingoes eat?
- How long do dingoes live?
- Is it harder to train dingoes?
- start early, the day you get your dingo (approx. 6 - 8 weeks)
- don't feed your dingo the day before going to training
- one of my dingoes only responded to roast chicken
- another only responds to fresh raw beef
- try not to build a reliance on food, use a tug toy and make it fun. If the dog thinks you're a fun person and it's all happening with you, they're more likely to do what you want.
- never hit your dingo
- never use their name in a negative way. E.g. if they have been naughty and dug up your best plant, or start chasing the cat, use another name. You never want them to associate their name with anything bad.
- be consistent in your behaviour. Dingoes are excellent body language readers.
- Do dingoes bark?
- How long have dingoes been in Australia
- Were dingoes introduced by man?
- Are dingoes considered native?
- Are there any pure dingoes left?
- What federal protection do dingoes have?
Dingoes make good companions, not good pets. A better question to ask, is "Would I make a good owner?" Owning a dingo is a big responsibility, they are not a fashion accessory. It takes a very dedicated person willing to spend lots of time with them. Dingoes need:
If you want a dog to chuck in the backyard, a dingo is not for you. A dingo is a lifelong companion and can live for 20 years in captivity. Dingoes generally cannot be re-homed - a dingo is for life. A dingo is definitely not recommended if you have not owned dogs before.
Some other points to consider:
Dingoes also easily develop anxiety separation disorder. You will need to put some strategies in place to prevent this:
You can download a dingo carers handbook here.
Most states of Australia allow you to own dingoes, from complete deregulation in NSW through to permits in other states.
In NSW, dingoes are covered under the Companion Animals Act, 1998 and must be microchipped and registered with the local council. Although it contains some oudated information, the NSW Dept. of Primary Industries has put together an Information for Dingo Owners Sheet that may be of interest. Dingoes may not be owned in the far west of the state.
QLD and SA are still living in the dark ages and owning dingoes is not permitted.
For VIC, ACT, NT and WA check with your local dingo association or authorities. Permits may have conditions attached, such as requiring you to have fences of a certain height and membership of a recognised dingo association.
In the wild, dingoes have traditionally lived on kangaroo, wallaby, small animals, grubs, insects and some fruits/roots. Since the arrival of Europeans and the introduction of pest animals, dingoes have expanded their diet to include rabbit, fox, cat, pig and other feral animals.
Where dingo packs have been left undisturbed with stable pack structures, they generally stick to their trational diet, targeting livestock only when native animals are scarce.
Having survived on a low-fat for tens of thousands of years, dingoes have trouble metabolising fat, in the long term it can lead to diabetes. Therefore, in captivity a low fat diet is recommended - kangaroo meat, low fat dog biscuits and bones without fat (e.g. beef soup bones).
In the wild, maybe 4 or 5 years. Dingoes have a lot to contend with in the wild - bushfire, drought, snakes, 1080 poison, traps, guns, heartworm, cane toads, parvo virus, distemper. In captivity, a dingo can live up to 20 years.
Any dog can be hard to train. It is a matter of finding what motivates your dog and using that to your advantage. Dingoes only ever do things on their own terms - this always needs to be remembered. Dingoes are certainly trainable - one of mine won the basic and intermediate fun agility trials and came second in the advanced category - all on his first birthday. Some tricks I have found useful are:
It is rare, but yes, dingoes - just like wolves - can bark, although it could be described as being more of a snap. Sustained (repetitive) barking is highly unusual and almost unheard of. Dingoes generally cough, yap or howl.
There is no definitive answer to this. The oldest undisputed dingo fossil is approximately 3,500 years old. However, a fossil dated to 6,000 years has been found at ANU's south coast campus and others even older in South Australia. Unfortunately, due to site geological contamination, the dating of these South Australian fossils cannot be guaranteed and hence cannot be used in scientific papers. That's not to say the datings aren't accurate - we can't tell, so they can't be used from a scientific point of view.
It is also important to note that just because we don't know of older fossils doesn't mean they don't exist. Absence of proof is not proof of absence. For example, a white Caucasian skill with an 80% chance of dating back to the 1600s has recently been found at Taree, NSW. Although investigations are continuing, the possibility of white man being in NSW before the arrival of Captain James Cook is now plausible and being considered.
Latest mtDNA evidence suggests dingoes have been in Australia for a time frame between 4,600 and 18,300 years ago. Further mtDNA research is still being conducted which may even further extend this range.
A genome study published in 2014 investigated the AMY2B (amylase) gene in various dogs, wolves and dingoes. This gene was next to non-existent in wolves and dingoes but abundant in domestic dogs. Amylase is an enzyme produced by the pancreas to help digest carbohydrate. The AMY2B gene is considered by many as "critical to domestication in response to increased dietary starch"; this being as a result of dogs living with agricultural environment. Dingoes lacking or next to lacking this gene support dingoes living in a hunter/gatherer society removed from agriculture (11,000 to 16,000 years ago). The (near) lack of this gene also dismisses the theory of dingoes evolving from Asian lookalikes which have an abundance of AMY2B genes.
Rock paintings in a remote area of the NT have recently been found depicting dingoes. Although the actual dingoes have not been dated, the surrounding area has and has been dated to 28,800 years ago.
Many articles state dingoes were introduced 3,500 years ago by seafarers. There is no scientific evidence to support this. This "theory" was surmised on the basis of Australia not being connected to Asia 3,500 years ago. This date coincides with that of the oldest (undisputed) known fossil.
However, with the introduction of new mtDNA evidence greatly expanding the time frame to possibly 18,300 years or more, it is now considered more likely that dingoes walked naturally from Asia. These new dates correspond with the last ice age when natural land bridges formed. Some argue this could not be so because there has not been any evidence found of dingoes in Tasmania. However, the same can be said of koalas never having been in Tasmania, so this statement holds no merit.
Another possibility is that dingoes arrived on debris following a storm or tsunami. This theory is plausible considering a dog was found safe and alive three weeks after the tsunami in Fukushima, Japan, 2011.
It also possible that a combination of the above-mentioned possibilities occurred, even on multiple occaisions.
Finally, Aborigines of the Kundi-Djumindju tribe, coastal Kimberley area, are reported to have a corroboree "re-enacting the arrival of dingoes in Australia. They portray dingoes running excitedly up and down the deck of a boat, stopping to look towards the land and down at the water." - Corbett, L. "The Dingo" (1995), P.22. However, corroborees and dreamtime do not constitute scientific evidence and the "boat" may well have been Tsunami debri, or indeed other Aborigines/Torres Straight Islanders voyaging from other parts of Australia.
At the end of the day we'll never know the answer to this question. And does it really matter? By the time of European "settlement", the dingo was indeed very well established and living in harmony with the Australian people and environment.
Yes. The federal government regards the dingo as a native animal.
"The Threatened Species Scientific Committee (the Committee), which advises the Minister on threatened species matters, accepts the dingo as a native species." - Federal Dept. of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities - 17 December 2012.
People who still demonise the dingo try to make out the dingo is not native and is a recently introduced pest. However, legally the dingo is considered native wildlife.
Legalities aside, what makes an animal native is not such an easy question. For example, marsupial fossil remains have just been unearthed in China. Since these are the ancestors of our koalas, possums, kangaroos and wombats - all iconic Australian species - it implies these animals too at some stage migrated to what is currently Australia. So are they native?
There are many animals that inhabit the northern tropics of Australia that also inhabit the islands of and around New Guinea, for example tree kangaroos and cassowaries. Why is this? Either they were introduced from one to the other by man or they crossed naturally when land bridges existed. Yet claims of these animals not being native are not made.
One suggestion put forth in answering this question, what makes an animal native, suggests observing how species interact with each other. For example, if a bandicoot recognises a dingo as predator (which they do), the dingo would be considered native. On the other hand, bandicoots do not recognise cats as predators - accordingly cats are not considered native.
First, if it's not pure, it's not a dingo. Dingoes are now extinct across parts of Australia, including the central west of NSW and most of Victoria.
Dingoes still exist on Fraser Island, desert regions (e.g. Tanami, Simpson, Painted, Sturts Stony, Great Sandy) and in other locations including National Parks (Blue Mountains, Myall Lakes, Mount Kosciusko). Dingoes are protected in NSW and Victorian National Parks.
Dingoes can still be found in other areas, e.g. Queensland tropics, although due to persecution through shooting and baiting they are becoming rarer. There is a reliable DNA test developed by the University of NSW which can be used to determine the purity of dingo look-a-likes.
Stories that pure dingoes no longer exist form part of a propaganda campaign by those trying to demonise the dingo and make him extinct.
Some people argue dingo-domestic dog hybrids fulfill the same ecological function as would a dingo as top-order predator.
Unfortunately the Australian Government does not currently recognise the IUCN's listing of the dingo as a threatened species. However, it may be a federal offence to disturb dingoes where other threatened species exist.
"The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conseruation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) provides a
legal framework to protect and manage Matters of National Environmental Significance. These
matters include listed threatened species and ecological communities, among others.
Although the Dingo (Canis lupus dingo) is not a listed threatened species and is therefore not directly considered in the environmental approval processes under the EPBC Act, the Department is aware of the scientific evidence indicating the value of Dingoes as an apex predator in Australian ecosystems and their role in the suppression of introduced predators, especially the Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes).
Under the EPBC Act, a proponent must not take an action that will have, or is likely to have, a significant impact on a listed threatened species. lf the proposed cull is likely to have an indirect significant impact on a listed threatened species, say for example, the Greater Bilby, due to increased predation by the Red Fox caused by reduced Dingo abundance, the proponent must refer the action to the Department for consideration prior to commencing the action.
lf you receive any future information regarding a
potential breach of the EBPC Act, you should contact the compliance area of the Department directly via firstname.lastname@example.org"
Federal Dept. of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, 26/4/2013.
Note: Dingoes are a protected species in the state of Victoria and in the Northern Territory.