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Detailed Description of the New Guinea Singing Dog

GENERAL APPEARANCE – The NGSD is a small-to-medium-sized dog with a wedge-shaped head, prick ears, obliquely-set triangular eyes, plush coat, and a brushy tail. The NGSD is extremely agile and graceful.

CHARACTERISTICS – The NGSD’s most unique characteristic is its dramatic ability to vary the pitch of its howl and coordinate voices during chorus howls. They do not bark repetitively, but have a complex vocal behavior including yelps, whines, and single-note howls. NGSD’s are active, lively, and alert. They are constantly exploring everything in their environment, using all five senses, including taste. Their incredible structural flexibility allows them to pass their bodies through any opening wide enough to admit their head. Their hunting drive is very intense and may overwhelm any training when prey is detected. They use their acute sense of hearing in addition to sight and scent to locate prey. Although gentle and affectionate with people they know, they can be aloof with strangers. NGSD’s can be aggressive toward other dogs, especially of the same sex.


Body form of NGSD

HEAD – The head is wedge-shaped both from the top and side views. The stop is prominent and there is a shallow furrow running vertically from the stop to the occiput. In adults, the skin on the face and skull is free from wrinkles. The muzzle tapers from base to nose. The distance from the stop to nose is slightly shorter than the length of skull from occiput to stop. The bridge of the muzzle is level and roughly parallel to the top of the skull. Lips are close-fitting and the back corners turn up slightly, giving the impression of a “grin.”

TEETH – The teeth are large for the size of the dog and dentition is full. The teeth meet in a scissors or level bite.

EYES – The eyes are small, triangular, and obliquely set. The color may range from dark amber to very dark brown. Eye rims are dark-pigmented. The white portion of the eyeball often shows in the inner corners of the eyes, giving the dog a sly or mischievous expression.

NOSE – The nose is always solid black.

EARS – The ears are erect, small, triangular, and set wide apart on the head with the tips pointing slightly outward away from each other when the dog is relaxed. Their shape has a cupped base and resembles a tulip petal. When the dog is alert, the ears tilt forward at an angle of approximately 60 degrees to the top of the skull. Viewed from the side, the ears appear to be an extension of the curve of the back. 

NECK – The neck is long and slightly arched. The skin on the neck is pliable but does not form a prominent dewlap.

FOREQUARTERS – Angulation in the forequarters is moderate. The shoulder blades are well laid back. The shoulder blade and the upper arm are roughly equal in length. Elbows are close to the body.

FORELEGS – The forelegs are straight, and the pasterns fairly long and slightly sloped.

FEET – The feet are small, compact, and cat-like. The front feet may turn slightly outward.


Typical wedge shaped NGSD head

BODY– In proportion, the side profile of the body from point of shoulder to point of rump is about 20% longer than the height at the withers. The topline is level or lightly roached over the loin with the rump level with or slightly lower than the withers. Ribs are well sprung but not barrel-shaped. The brisket reaches to the elbows in mature animals. Tuck-up is moderate with a clearly defined waist at the flank. The body is extremely flexible and is well-muscled and hard.

HINDQUARTERS -The hocks are well let down and almost parallel to each other when viewed from the rear. Thighs are muscular and the stifle moderately angulated.

TAIL – The tail must reach at least to the hock. It is strong at the base and set on as a continuation of the topline. There is a thick brush on the underside that is either white or very light tan in color. A white tip is usually present. When the NGSD is alert, the tail is carried over the back in a gentle curve resembling a question mark. When the NGSD is stressed, the tail may be tucked under. During movement, it usually flows out behind.

COLOR – The soft undercoat may be of a lighter or darker color than the coarse outer coat. The following colors and patterns are known: Red – This color ranges from fawn to deep rust. Sable – Shades of red with dark brown or black tipping on the guard hairs. This tipping provides a subtle shaded effect and is not concentrated in small areas so as to make the dog appear mottled or blotchy. Black and tan – The black is a glossy jet-black and the tan markings range from fawn to deep rust. The tan markings may occur on the cheeks, the sides of the muzzle, the chest, the feet and legs, and around the vent.  White – White markings are often in the following areas: muzzle, face, neck (may extend onto the shoulders), belly, legs, feet, and tail tip. No known purebred NGSD has patches or spots of white on the main body. A black muzzle or mask may be present in red or sable dogs. This usually fades and turns grey with maturity.

HEIGHT AND WEIGHT – Height for mature dogs averages between 14 and 18 inches at the withers, and for bitches between 13 and 17 inches. Weight averages between 17 and 30 pounds. At all weights, the appearance is lean and muscular with substantial, but not heavy, bone.

GAIT – Movement is free and graceful, resembling that of a coyote. The dog almost appears to be floating above the ground with quick, flowing motions.


Alert NGSDs with tails curved


Young NGSD front legs can be (gently) pulled put to almost 90 degrees away from the body.


Gait of NGSD; note upright position of tail

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