Australian Dingo

Australian Dingo

The Australian dingo (Canis familiaris dingo, Canis familiaris, or Canis lupus dingo) is a dog native to Australia. It is a well-known medium-sized canine that possesses a lean, hard body adapted for agility, speed, and stamina.

The Australian dingo is believed to be closely related to the New Guinea singing dog. The Australian dingo’s habitat ranges across most of Australia, although they are absent in Tasmania and the southeast, and some areas in the southwest.

A dingo’s diet consists of various insects, seeds, and mammals up to the size of the large red kangaroo. Other preys include birds, fish, reptiles, frogs, and crabs.

Dingoes form a pack that usually consists of a mated pair and their offspring from the current year, although offspring from the previous year stay with their parents.

Scientific classification

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderCarnivora
FamilyCanidae 
GenusCanis
SpeciesC. lupus
SubspeciesC. l. dingo

Characteristics

Body

The widest part of an Australian dingo is its head, which is wedge-shaped and large in proportion to the body. Captive dingoes are heavier and longer than wild dingoes, as they have access to better veterinary care and food.

The average wild dingo male weighs 35 lb (15.8 kg) and the female 31 lb (14.1 kg), compared with the captive male 42 lb (18.9 kg) and the female 36 lb (16.2 kg).

The average wild dingo male length is 49 in (125 cm) and the female 48 in (122 cm), compared with the captive male 54 in (136 cm) and the female 52 in (133 cm).

The average wild dingo female stands at the shoulder height of 22 in (56 cm) and the male 23 in (59 cm), compared with the captive male 22 in (56 cm) and the female 21 in (56 cm).

Wild dingoes are known to display exposed ribs. Dingoes from northwestern and northern Australia are often larger than those in southern and central Australia.

Head

The skull of an Australian dingo is said to be more similar to that of the golden jackal than that of the coyote or wolf. Compared to the skull of a dog, the Australian dingo possesses longer carnassials teeth, longer muzzle, more slender and longer canine teeth, flatter cranium, larger sagittal crest, larger auditory bullae, and larger nuchal lines.

The Australian dingo skull is said to be different from the domestic dog by its longer rostrum, larger palatal width, wider sagittal crest, and shorter skull height.

The Australian dingo resembles two similar mesopredators, the coyote and the dhole. The eyes are almond-shaped (or triangular) and are dark to hazel in colour with dark rims. The ears stay erect on the skull.

Coat

The Australian dingo’s three main coat colours are described as being tan (or light ginger), tan and black, and creamy white. The ginger colour ranges from pale cream to deep rust and can be found in 74% of the total dingo population.

Small white markings are often seen on the chest, the feet, and the tip of the tail, with the absence of large white patches.

Some Australian dingoes do not exhibit white tips. The tan and black dingoes possess a black coat with a tan chest, muzzle, legs, belly, feet, and legs and can be found in 12% of Australian dingoes. Solid black can found in 1% of Australian dingoes and solid white 2%.

Lifespan

Dingoes in the wild live up to 3 to 5 years, but only a few live past 7 to 8 years. In captivity, Australian dingoes are known to live up to 14 to 16 years.

Distribution and habitat

Australian Dingo

The Australian dingo could be considered an ecospecies or ecotype that has adapted to Australia’s unique environment.

The Australian dingo’s present distribution covers a variety of habitats, including the alpine moorlands of the eastern highlands, the temperate regions of eastern Australia, the tropical forests and wetlands of Northern Australia, and the hot arid deserts of Central Australia.

Diet

Some research indicates that 80% of the Australian dingo’s diet consists of 13 species, and they include swamp wallaby, red kangaroo, seal, dusky rat, cattle, fish, common brushtail possum, magpie goose, penguin, agile wallaby, long-haired rat, common wombat, and European rabbit. The other 20% consists of large-sized mammal or animals.

Reproduction

Australian dingoes breed once annually, although it depends on the oestrous cycle of the females, which comes only in heat once per year, according to most sources. Female dingoes may come in heat twice a year, but only get pregnant once a year.

The Australian dingo’s mating season usually occurs between March – May (according to other sources between April – June). During this period, dingoes may actively defend their territories using dominance behaviour, vocalisation, barking, and growling.

Most females in the wild begin breeding at the age of two years.  A male becomes sexually mature between the ages of 1 – 3 years.

The exact start of breeding varies depending on social status, age, seasonal conditions, and geographic range. In captivity, the pre-estrus period tends to last 10 to 12 days, while the pre-estrus in the wild may last up to 60 days.

The gestation period lasts for 61 to 69 days, and the size of the litter can range from 1 – 10 (usually 5), with the ratio of male-born tending to be higher than that of females.

The alpha females usually kill the cubs of the subordinate female, which tends to reduce the population. Pups are usually born between May – August. Solitary or low-ranking dingoes can successfully mate and breed if the pack structure breaks up.

The pups begin to leave the den for the first time at the age of 3 weeks and leave it completely at 8 weeks. Dens are mostly underground in Australia.

Reports exist of dens in rock formations, abandoned rabbit burrows, under large spinifex, under boulders in dry creeks, wombat burrows, and augmented burrows of monitor lizards.

The pups stray around the den within a radius 2 mi (3 km). The pups learn through experience and observation. Young Australian dingoes usually become independent at the age of 3 to 6 months and may leave the den at the age of 10 months, when the next mating season begins.

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