The dingo (Canis lupus dingo) is a wild dog found mainly in Australia and Southeast Asia. Though no larger than a medium sized dog (about 30lbs), dingoes are the largest land-going predator in Australia. Due to the dingo’s habit of preying on livestock animals, in the late 1800’s Australia built the 1,553 mile-long Dingo Fence to protect fertile grazing land in the Southeast part of the country.
Usually gold or red in color, dingoes live in underground dens and hunt alone for smaller prey such as rabbits, lizards and birds, or in packs when hunting larger animals. Hugely resourceful, dingoes will eat almost anything available to them including fruits and vegetables, fish and garbage left behind by humans. Dingoes can live almost anywhere, usually sleeping in underground dens or any other habitat that is available to them.
Though usually seen alone and not as closely-knit as wolves, dingoes do live in packs of 3 to 12 animals during the mating season. During this time the alpha male and female will breed and the remaining members of the pack will be responsible for helping to raise the cubs. The cubs will usually stay with the pack for their first year, after which they become independent and will not return to the pack until next year’s mating season.
Because of the close proximity of dingoes to many populated areas in Australia they often breed with domestic dogs, creating hybrid animals that may continue to live in the wild or may be domesticated where such practices are legal. Because of this, it is hard to estimate just how many pure dingoes are left. It is suggested that in some parts of Australia up to one third of the dingo population is made up of hybrid animals.
Though dingoes do pose threats to livestock, they are not usually dangerous to humans and often live in urban and suburban areas with little issue. Historically, dingoes have lived with native Aboriginal tribes and when frequently in contact with humans can be quite tame. They are even a tourist attraction in some parts of Australia.
- Dingoes have larger muzzles and larger teeth than most similarly-sized domestic dogs.
- Some Dingoes have lived up to 24 years in captivity.
Western Australia Dingo Association