This unusual animal was first discovered in the 1970s — a spitting image of an Australian dingo, except for its location.
Dr. I. Lehr Brisbin Jr., a Senior Research Ecologist at the University of Georgia’s Savannah River Ecology Lab, was working at the Savannah River Site when he noticed a white dog with brown markings wandering around.
At first, he assumed it was a normal, rural stray. But, later, he started seeing more of these same dogs roaming the woods, and many were caught in humane traps. That’s when he realized that these weren’t strays. They were wild. These were Carolina dogs, also known as “American dingoes”.
Bearing a striking resemblance to Australian dingoes, Carolina dogs are close relatives of dingoes, and in 2012, scientists linked their DNA with the same Asian ancestors of Australian dingoes.
During the study, the scientists found that Carolina dogs’ mitochondrial DNA carries mainly haplotypes (37%) that are unique and closest to East Asian dogs. They also shared DNA with Chinese non-breed dogs and/or Japanese breed dogs as well as non-specific European DNA but universal haplotypes.
This makes Carolina dogs truly primitive and they likely arrived in the Americas thousands of years ago alongside the migrating Native Americans.
Yet, despite being dogs, they are not fully domesticated and can hunt and fend for themselves in the longleaf pine forests and cypress swamps of the southeastern United States. They are a very rare breed, but they can be trained — and can make for very loyal and loving companions!