New Guinea Singing Dog/Dingos

(Canis hallstromi)



Singing dogs have a dense, rough coat that is golden red or black and tan with white markings. Wide cheekbones, a narrow muzzle, and petal-shaped ears give the dog’s face a distinctive, impish expression. Well adapted to hunting in steep areas with thick vegetation, the singing dog’s joints and spine are extremely flexible for a dog—they climb and jump like a cat!

Most of the singing dog’s vocalizations are similar to that of the wolf, dingo, and dog, but its howl is incredibly unique. When in a group, one singing dog starts singing and then others join in at different pitches, each with its own unique voice. Singers also whine, yelp, bark, and scream. Unlike any other dog species, singing dogs have a unique structure at the back of their mouth that may help them make some of their unusual sounds. Sonograms show the howl of a singing dog is similar to the song of the humpback whale.

Although their group numbers may be small, there are social rules and a dominant dog. Female singing dogs tend to be most confident and assertive, while males are more cautious and submissive. The singers also appear to have social or play behaviors that are different from that of wolves and dogs. They like to be tidy and neat, and they regularly groom themselves, much like a cat.

Little is known about singing dogs in the wild. When hunting, they probably do so alone. Meal leftovers show that singers prey on small mammals, small reptiles, and birds; they even try to hunt 3.5-foot-tall dwarf cassowaries! New Guinea singing dogs have a strong hunting drive and fearless nature, and they are highly curious. The dogs can get their entire body through any opening wide enough for their head.


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