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Comparing New Guinea Singing Dogs and Australian Dingoes
A trained eye can see visible differences between Alpine Dingoes and NGSD. It only seems logical to me that if a human can detect differences just by comparing them visually, then a geneticist should be able to ascertain differences genetically. Now then, if a geneticist can't tell the differences by looking under a microscope but a human can actually see differences, then what bloody good is comparing DNA samples anyway? If that's the case then it follows that if a person suspects that a dog might be an AUD/NGSD mix then he/she might be better off to get 2 or 3 expert opinions based on visual differences as compared to having a DNA test performed??
Now that's saying that there is no one who can perform a valid test.
As you might know, Dr. Alan Wilton passed away in 2011.
He was, in our estimation, a tremendously talented geneticist who loved Dingoes and NGSD.
Several people in the Singer world have said all along that Dr. Wilton was able to ascertain purity between domestic dogs and Singers/Dingoes, but that the genetic makeup of Dingoes and Singers is too close to call.
In 2009, I sent a couple of email back and forth with Dr. Wilton. We also sent him some samples.
In one of his emails he stated,
"The samples we have derived from the colony originally at Taronga Zoo in Sydney are almost indistinguishable from dingoes and are very different from domestic dogs at the many of the 23 genes we test."
In another email he stated,
"The NGSD and dingoes seem very closely related from our research and this has been confirmed by work yet to be published on a very large study of all domestic, wild dog and wolves. Our test uses 23 markers to do DNA fingerprinting of the kind used in forensics for identifying individuals."
My point here is that in neither case did he say that it was impossible to differentiate between them. He simple said that it was hard to do. The fact that he recognized that NGSD and AUD are so close genetically means in itself that he was able to ascertain differences.
Based on the emails he and I exchanged in 2009, it is my belief that Dr Wilton had the ability and the knowledge to separate AUD samples from NGSD samples and was, in fact able to test Singer purity both from domestic dogs as well as Australian Dingoes.
The fact that no one else has been able to perfect such a purity test only means that Dr Wilton had a unique, one-of-a-kind ability.
Donald D. EhrlichDecember, 2012
We've been doing a count of Singing Dogs in the United States. We have a little data to share with you. First I need to clarify some definitions.
Conservation Grade Singing Dogs-Conservation grade Singing Dogs are those specimens whose genetic makeup is such that they are being held as breeding stock needed to perpetuate Singing Dogs as a sub-species. Conservation Grade Singers are the actual lifeblood of all captive New Guinea Singing Dogs. All Companion Singers and Domesticated Singer lines spring from Conservation Grade Singers. Conservation Grade Singers are the foundation of all existing captive Singing Dogs and are the very essence of Singing Dog existence.
Companion Singing Dogs-Companion Singing Dogs are those Singers owned for the purpose of providing companionship for their owners. Companion Singing Dog genes are well represented in Singing Dog bloodlines and therefore do not qualify genetically as conservation grade animals.
Domesticated Singing Dogs-Domesticated Singing Dogs have been intentionally and selectively bred in order to enhance specific appearances, colors, social behaviors or traits. They are a dog breed onto themselves and are in no way to be confused with the sub-species New Guinea Singing Dog. Basically, they are an intentional mutation that has been selectively bred in order to produce specific characteristics desired by their human manipulators. Once selective breeding takes place, the animal(s) can no longer be considered an example of Canis lupus dingo variant and are, in fact, something other than true New Guinea Singing Dogs. Referring to them as New Guinea Singing Dogs or any other of the names associated with New Guinea Singing Dogs such as New Guinea Dingo or NGSD is incorrect, inappropriate and a misnomer and should not be used when referring to these genetically manipulated canines, The aim of domestication is to produce an animal that suits human needs and/or desires. Domesticated Singing Dogs are just the opposite of Conservation Grade Singing Dogs. Conservation Grade Singing Dogs are bred so as to diversify the genes. Domesticated Singing Dogs are bred to combine and intensify specific genes. Domesticated Singing Dogs cannot be used to perpetuate the sub-species. Quite the contrary.
Caution. In order to produce desired traits or characteristics, breeders of Domesticated Singing Dogs may crossbreed to other dog breeds. A similar situation exists where Wolves and domestic dogs are cross bred or Australian Dingoes are bred to domestic dog breeds.
As of August 2012, we're going to set a figure of +-200 natural Singing Dogs in the North American captive population. The 200 count includes old ones, puppies, young adults, mature adults, companion Singers and conservation Singers. It includes intact specimens as well as those that have been sterilized. It does not include domesticated Singing Dogs because technically domesticated Singers are not part of the sub-species New Guinea Singing Dog. Of the +-200, there might be as few as 70 that are intact and capable of being bred. Please understand that getting an accurate count is nearly impossible, so the 200 figure is at best an educated guess.
The first New Guinea Singing Dogs, also known as New Guinea Dingoes or New Guinea Highland Dogs, were imported to the United States by the San Diego Zoo in 1958/59.
They came from Taronga Park Zoo in Sydney, AU.
All the Taronga Zoo Singer records have been lost or destroyed, so the archival information contributed by the Taronga Zoo archivist has been minimal.
Taronga Zoo Archival Information
Taronga Zoo received the first dogs in March 1957 when a pair of New Guinea Wild Dogs ("Singing Dog") was brought back from New Guinea by Taronga Zoo Director Sir Edward Hallstrom.
Approximately 3 weeks after heir arrival the pair gave birth to 3 female puppies and 1 male puppy.
The species was initially called Canis hallstromi.
Over the next 30 years over 100 pups were born.
The original group became so inbred that Taronga decided there was a need to import "new blood' from Baiyer River Sanctuary (1 male) and a pair of dogs from Berlin.
Taronga has exported many "Singing Dogs" to zoological collections around the world, the first transfer being a female dog to San Diego Zoo, USA in January 1958.
Other zoos that received this sub-species (or race!) included Melbourne Zoo (1959), Adelaide Zoo (1959), Wellington Zoo, NZ, London Zoo, Honolulu Zoo, and Sedgwick Zoo in Kansas, U.S.A. (1980)
(Madang and his mate were imported by Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, Kansas, U.S.A.
His original mate died shortly after reaching Sedgwick County Zoo and he was later mated to Maddie who was a Dinkum/Olga product.)
In the 1990’s this Singing Dogs were reclassified as a “race” of Dingo and was given the scientific name Canis familiaris dingo.
It looks as though Taronga quit breeding circa 1987.
Here's an example of Singer genealogy that traces clear back to the original San Diego pair:
Jonah is the son of Jake who is the son of Jacob who was the son of Old Dingo who was the son of Papa whose father was one of the Singers dispersed by the San Diego Zoo in 1966.
Papa was born at the San Diego Zoo on 3/20/1966.
He and his litter mate, Moma, were shipped to Great Bend, KS Zoo.
They were then traded to Clay Center, KS Zoo and arrived at CCZ on 9/30/1966.
Papa and Moma had one litter together. A female by the name of Short Stuff was kept back by the Clay Center Zoo and when Moma died, Short Stuff was then bred to her father, Papa.
Old Dingo was a product of Papa & Short Stuff.
Old Dingo and Swamp Fox' Giluwe produced Jacob on 10/20/1991.
Jacob was unique in that one of his eyes was brown and the other one was blue.
Jacob was the only bi-eyed Singer in recorded Singer history.
Jacob was bred to Sierra to produce Jake on 12/28/2000.
Jake was sent to Janice Koler-Matznick in Oregon.
Matznick bred Jake to Kandu's Kikori in order to whelp Jonah who was born 11/5/2003.
Matznick sent Jonah back to Ehrlichs in Emporia, Kansas, U.S.A. where he remained unused until 2010.
In 2010 he was bred to Babyface who whelped six fine puppies.
The same year of 2010 Jonah was also bred to Melody, an Oakwold Kennel female.
Due to her age(old), Melody only produced two puppies.
All research conducted to date indicates that Babyface is a North American "founder".
A "founder" is a first member of a bloodline that has never before been introduced into the North American captive Singer population.
Babyface is, therefore, genetically valuable in our Singer conservation program.
Jonah, her mate, is a member of a "minority" bloodline.
A "minority" bloodline is a line that makes up only a tiny percentage of the overall, combined captive population.
Therefore, even though Jonah is not a "founder", he is the great-grandson of Old Dingo, who was a "founder" and there are only a handful of his bloodline in existence.
For these reasons, the offspring of Jonah and Babyface represent an extremely important "new" Singing Dog line.
It is an exciting bloodline in that it's probably the most diverse genetic breeding during the last 20 or more years.
To give you an idea of the precarious situation facing NGSD, there are only six members of this bloodline worldwide.
All of the "Old Dingo" bloodline(Jonah's great-grandfather) are accounted for and the likelihood of locating siblings to Babyface is slim to none.
Perpetuating this bloodline combination is extremely important to long term Singer conservation.
At some point in time we will offer puppies for placement in permanent homes to a few lucky people who will be asked to act as "genetic reservoirs" for Singer conservation.
The puppies placed with these folks will remain sexually intact and will be held in reserve for future conservation breeding.
Each puppy will be permanently identified and their records will be recorded in the NGSD Database that Judy and I maintain.
Some people will say that these upcoming Singer are valuable.
They will be genetically valuable.
They will not monetarily valuable.
We do not place financial values on our Singers.
They are not sold.
They are placed in homes and zoos and sanctuaries in order to perpetuate the sub-species so your children and their childrens' children will be able to enjoy seeing them alive, up front and personal.
Judy and I truly feel it is an honor to be a part of the Singer Conservation Effort. We consider our lives blessed to be able to help conserve these interesting and one-of-a-kind canines.
The New Guinea Singing Dog Conservation Society has a similar conservation program and although Judy and I are not affiliated with the Society, we look forward to collaboration in the future.