Frequently Asked Questions
What is a New Guinea Singing Dog?
A New Guinea Singing Dog (NGSD) is an ancient domestic dog from the island of New Guinea. New Guinea is made up of two nations, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. The ancestors of NGSDs traveled on boats with their people to the island thousands of yards ago. Since their introduction with their human counterparts, NGSDs have lived both as village companions and have also adapted to live as free-roaming populations throughout the highland mountain ranges.
Are they dingoes? If not, what makes them different?
New Guinea Singing Dogs (NGSDs) and Australian dingoes are related. They are the living ancestor to all other dogs, being part of the “East Asian clade” of domestic dogs. More scientific literature is published every year on this topic but the current consensus of the majority of scientific information is that they are the earliest domestic dog.
What makes them special?
New Guinea Singing Dogs (NGSDs) have a unique form of vocalization, affectionately called “singing”. NGSDs will even harmonize with other NGSDs, other dogs, and loud sounds such as sirens or musical instruments. Along with Australian dingos, NGSDs are the only dogs living in a truly free-roaming state without the assistance of humans to support their survival. The only other domestic species to do this include pigs, horses, goats, pigeons, and some fish. They are a truly versatile dog, able to live in a free-roaming state, as a village dog, and as a house pet. While NGSDs also maintain the pre-modern characteristics of other ancient dogs, including an independent social temperament, and hunting instincts, they have made successful service dogs and some even compete in dog sports such as obedience and scent detection.
How is it a domestic dog?
Wolves separated from what we consider today to be a “domestic dog” approximately 20,000+ years ago. New Guinea Singing Dogs (NGSDs) appear in the genetic and archaeological record >10,000 years ago. Domestic dogs migrated, likely with the assistance of humans across Asia and into the Oceanic region. No animal has crossed, what is called, the Wallace line, an animal migration barrier, without the assistance of humans. This is another indicator that NGSDs migrated with humans. Physically and genetically a NGSD is not a wolf, nor a preceding ancestor to the wolf, yet they are genetically tied to all other domestic dogs. Behaviorally NGSDs are adaptive dogs that are successful in all niches including free-living, as a village dog, and as a modern housepet, capable of meeting the behavioral expectations of any ancient/primitive/premodern dog breed. Today NGSDs are bred as companion dogs living the lives of any other domestic dog, participating with their owners in normal domestic dog activities and some even compete in dog shows and sport competitions.
Are New Guinea Singing Dogs wild animals?
No. A wild animal is a member of a species that was never domesticated. This would include foxes, wolves, dholes, and other completely wild canids. A tame animal is an animal, born wild, that has been exposed to humans to the point where they show less aggression and fear towards those humans but are otherwise still a wild animal. This is usually a single generation or a handful of generations from the wild. New Guinea Singing Dogs are neither wild nor tamed animals. New Guinea Singing Dogs exist on the domestic dog family tree. They have lived for thousands of years with and in close proximity to humans prior to their arrival to New Guinea, as well as thousands of years with humans as village dogs in New Guinea, and finally for many generations as house pets in North America.
What are they like?
New Guinea Singing Dogs (NGSDs) are curious, intelligent, and affectionate dogs. A study published in 2021 found their temperaments and behavior to be very similar to Basenjis and other ancient/primitive/premodern dog breeds. They can dig, climb fences, and otherwise get into trouble if left unsupervised. Like any other ancient/primitive/premodern dog breed, they can be shy around strangers and predatory around small animals. Children should be respectful when interacting with them however aggression is rarely displayed by NGSDs as they prefer to flee when uncomfortable. NGSDs bond very closely with their owners. They like to be in close physical proximity, usually touching their owners or sleeping next to them.
Where do most of them live?
The population of New Guinea Singing Dogs (NGSDs) in New Guinea, is unknown. An official count has never been undertaken and any suggested numbers are pure speculation. Within North America, there are approximately 300-500 dogs living as house pets and in facilities throughout the United States and Canada. This number comes from the known number of animals under the purview of the USDA as well as known dogs within the owner community.
What do they eat?
New Guinea Singing Dogs (NGSDs) outside of New Guinea eat a regular domestic dog diet. Genetic studies show that they have the same number of starch digestion genes as modern dog breeds. However, NGSDs can develop pancreatitis and diabetes so high-fat diets should be avoided. All owners should consult with a veterinarian about diets that put their dogs at a higher risk for pancreatitis and other health concerns. New Guinea Singing Dogs in New Guinea eat a wide range of things including food and waste from locals and villagers, wild birds, small mammals, and even some plant/fruit matter.
Where can I learn more about them?
The New Guinea Singing Dog Conservation Society (NGSDCS) is always here to share the latest information about New Guinea Singing Dogs (NGSDs) in North America and abroad. In addition to our resources, Board members are available to consult with you about any questions you may have. Please reach out to us and we’ll happily schedule a call to answer all your questions.
How can I adopt one?
The New Guinea Singing Dog Conservation Society (NGSDCS) periodically breeds a litter of New Guinea Singing Dogs (NGSDs) to help maintain and improve the health and diversity within the North American population of dogs. We’re happy to add you to our potential placement list when we’re planning a litter. If you would like to be placed on that list, please contact us and we will reach out to you. If you would like to rescue a NGSD in need we would be happy to put you in contact with the New Guinea Singing Dog Club of America (NGSDCA) who is leading the efforts in rescuing NGSDs in need of a new home. They may also know of other breedings planned in the near future, so feel free to send puppy inquiries to them as well.
Are you the same organization as the New Guinea Singing Dog Club of America (NGSDCA)?
No. The New Guinea Singing Dog Club of America (NGSDCA) is the national breed club for New Guinea Singing Dogs (NGSDs). They operate to educate and support owners of New Guinea Singing Dogs in the United States, as well as being the liaison to national dog registries and breed organizations. They are also the primary organization focused on the rescue of NGSDs in need. While we work together to help NGSDs in need, we are two entirely separate organizations with unique missions and goals.
Are you the same organization as the New Guinea Highland Wild Dog Foundation (NGHWDF)?
No. The New Guinea Highland Wild Dog Foundation (NGHWDF) is an organization focused on the study of free-roaming dogs in New Guinea. While overlapping on the subject of New Guinea Singing Dogs (NGSDs), we are not working together in any capacity.
Do you work with scientists and researchers?
Yes frequently! The New Guinea Singing Dog Conservation Society (NGSDCS) has a long history of working with scientists and researchers inside and outside of New Guinea. Our founder was a Biologist and our current president is an Anthrozoologist. Our organization works with a number of scientists and researchers within the fields of biology, ecology, anthropology, anthrozoology, genetics, and veterinary sciences. If you’re a scientist or researcher interested in studying NGSDs, don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss further. Just some institutions we’re presently working with include Harvard University, Canisius University, and the University of Exeter. We’d love you to be part of your next research endeavor!