Sound of the rare New Guinea singing dog

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New Guinea Singing dog

New Guinea Singing dog. Photo: Patti McNeal on Wikipedia.

The New Guinea singing dog is very rare. Apparently there are only 250 in captivity and all of them have been bred from two or eight (the information is unclear) foundation dogs which were captured in the 1970s. It is not clear to the experts whether any singing dogs exist in the wild. Therefore the animal is extremely endangered and may be extinct in the wild.

That was the state of affairs until scientists spotted a pack of wild dogs that resembled the New Guinea singing dog in the Highlands of Papua Indonesia a few years ago. They first studied them during an expedition in 2016. They returned to the site in 2018 to collect blood samples from three of the dogs. The objective was to confirm whether these wild highland dogs were truly related to the famous singing dogs.

Rare New Guinea singing dog

Rare New Guinea singing dog. Screenshot.

It was found that they have a very similar genome sequence and are closely related to each other more so than to other canines. These wild dogs had a 70 percent genetic overlap with their captive cousins. The scientists believe that these wild dogs are the same dogs as the original New Guinea singing dogs but their genetic difference to those in captivity is down to severe inbreeding of the captive population i.e. the captive dogs are less genuine.

Note: Sometimes video don’t work. If that has happened I apologise but I have no control over this possibility.

The dogs in captivity are super inbred. Apparently they started with eight dogs which have been interbred for generations. They’ve lost genetic diversity.

Another name for the dog is the New Guinea Highland dog. It is native to the New Guinea Highlands on the island of New Guinea. It is related to the Australian dingo.

As you might expect, the “breed” (this is not strictly a breed but informally it appears to be but please read on) is famous for its unique ability to make a howling sound much like that of a wolf. The sound has been likened to that made by a whale.

In 2019 it was decided by the IUCN/SSC Canid Specialist Group that both the dingo and the New Guinea Singing dog up were not a species of dog to be assessed as to whether they are endangered or not but were simply feral dogs with the Latin scientific name of Canis familiaris. Apparently, therefore, they are not assessed by that organisation which assesses whether the world’s species are endangered or not namely the IUCN Red List.

My reading of the situation is that there is quite a bit of confusion over this “species” of dog (it might not be a distinct species). It is believed that they do not form packs because all the sightings were of dogs paired together or single dogs.

The howl starts off with a sharp increase at the start and very high frequencies at the end. The sound is different to that made by Australian dingos and differs too from that of grey wolves and coyotes.

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