The New Guinea Singing Dog is one of the rarest dog breeds in existence. Closely related to the Dingo, these dogs used to roam the wild, serenading the island with their unique howls. But today, only about 200 of these dogs remain, and they’re all in captivity.
Scientists believed that the New Guinea Singing Dog went extinct in the wild nearly 50 years ago. After all, the last sighting hadn’t been since the 1970s. In 2016, things changed though. Wild dogs with a similar appearance to this breed were found.
Rediscovering the New Guinea Singing Dog
An expedition came across 15 wild dogs in 2016. Scientists recognized them as “Highland Wild Dogs,” a breed only known for brief appearances in 1989 and 2012. These dogs were nearly identical to the extinct breed, with only minor physical differences. So, researchers gathered biological samples from these dogs for further information.
The scientists compared the DNA from these dogs to the DNA of 16 New Guinea Singing Dogs, 25 Dingoes, and over 1,000 dogs from various breeds. Sure enough, the Highland Wild Dogs had a near-identical genetic profile to the New Guinea Singing Dogs.
These dogs now have minor differences due to inbreeding. The New Guinea Singing Dogs have only been able to breed with a select group of their species for decades. This has resulted in them losing a lot of genetic diversity. So, the New Guinea Singing Dogs and the Highland Wild Dogs are essentially the same breed, just with 50 years of different lifestyles.
Saving the Species
Scientists hope that they can eventually breed some of the Highland Wild Dogs with the New Guinea Singing Dogs, likely by using sperm samples. This would help these unique dogs from disappearing for good. They might not be as domesticated as your furry friends, but they are beautiful creatures that have the most unique ways of communicating. They often make howls that sound like yodels and screams.
“New Guinea Singing Dogs are rare, they’re exotic. They have this beautiful harmonic vocalization that you don’t find anywhere else in nature, so losing that as a species is not a good thing. We don’t want to see this [animal] disappear,” said Elaine Ostrander, an investigator with National Institutes of Health.
Researchers hope that studying and saving this rare species will help them better understand what dogs were like before domestication. After all, the New Guinea Singing Dogs are distantly related to domesticated dogs with an East Asian origin, including Chow Chows, Akitas, and Shiba Inus.
With so many overpopulated breeds in the United States, it’s hard to believe that endangered dogs like the New Guinea Singing Dog exist. Breeding these dogs will hopefully help the wild population increase, and it won’t hurt the many domesticated dogs looking for a home. Dogs are beautiful creatures, so they deserve to stay on this planet no matter how much work it takes.