A CHRONOLOGICAL HISTORY OF NEW GUINEA SINGING DOGS
DONALD D. AND JUDY K. EHRLICH
1500’s-The Island of New Guinea was visited by Portuguese sailors.
1600’s-Dutch settlers and merchants began colonization of the Island of New Guinea.
1700’s-The British influence in New Guinea became apparent.
Status of Singing Dogs at that time: Widely dispersed throughout the Island.
Two separate types: Lowland Singers and Highland Singers.
So began the decline of the New Guinea Dingo population.
As soon as settlers started arriving with their domestic dogs, pure wild Singer numbers began to decrease and hybridization began. “To date, the only true enemy to Singing Dogs has been mankind.” (Donald D. Ehrlich 1994)
1897-The first New Guinea Singing Dog or, as some prefer to call them, New Guinea Highland Wild Dog, was removed from New Guinea for scientific study by Sir William MacGregor. Sir William shot and killed the dog on Mt. Scratchley at an elevation of 7,000 feet.
1897-1911-The single NGSD specimen lay dormant, unstudied.
1911-It was examined by two different people: C.W. DeVis & Wood Jones. The carcass was reassembled for study. The specimen was described as 11 & 1/2" in height at the shoulder. It was primarily black in colour. White markings trimmed the nape of the neck, throat, chest and tip of the tail.
1911-1928-The single specimen again lay dormant and unstudied.
1928-It was eventually studied by H.A. Longman.
1928-1954-It again lay dormant and unstudied. No other research either in a laboratory or in the wild was conducted.
1954-Ellis Troughton captured, albeit briefly, two Singers. Sadly the two escaped and killed some valued poultry whereupon the two dogs were given to the natives as reparation. It is said that the natives ate them.
1956-A pair was captured by Albert Speer and J.P. Sinclair.
1956-1957-The pair was studied(alive)by Sir Edward Hallstrom.
1957-This pair was sent to Taronga Park Zoo in Sydney, Australia where they were encouraged to reproduce.
1958-1959-The first pair of NGSD was sent from Taronga Park to San Diego Zoo.
1961-San Diego Zoo began dispersing Singers to other U.S. zoos.
1963-A Single female was captured by H. Clissold. Clissold sent the dog to Taronga Park Zoo.
1966-As a single example, a small zoo by the name of Clay Center Zoo in Clay Center, Kansas acquired a pair.
1966-Clay Center Zoo as well as several other zoos in the U.S. were trading and selling Singing Dogs to the public and to other zoos and exotic breeders. They were often referred to as New Guinea Dingoes or New Guinea Wild Dogs.
1967-Kathleen Kirchner then living in California, purchased a black and tan Singer from an exotics dealer in CA. The reason for the sale as given Kathleen by the dealer was that the B&T was an undesirable variant of the “New Guinea Wild Dog.” Kathleen enjoyed her Singer as a companion dog. When she left California she gave him to a man “up north” and lost track of him.
1972-1976 and later-Singer pioneers like the Jay Hosler family in California purchased Singers as pets and/or as breeding stock.
1976-Five NGSD were captured by a German expedition and sent to Kiel, Germany.
1980-A single male was imported to the U.S. from Taronga Park.
From circa 1980 through the 1990’s most Singing Dogs were held predominately by a very small number of dedicated individuals. They were showmen, conservators, and enthusiasts who loved their dogs like no other and had it not been for these few people’s efforts, there would be no Singers today.
There was a tiny population held by zoos, but for the most part, the population produced by the 1958-59 San Diego Zoo importation had died out and saved stock was either given to zoos by individuals who’d had the foresight to conserve them or in some cases a few zoos were encouraged to import new blood. The few pioneers who held and bred NGSD collections looked to Zoos for continued support and conservation and therefore entrusted NGSD to zoos for preservation.
1987-Two were imported to the U.S. from the German holdings. One was mortally injured by her cage mate leaving one available for breeding.
1987-Two pair from Taronga Park in Sydney, AU were by imported by Sheryl Langan to her ranch in Canada.
1989-The Old Dingo bloodline was discovered at Clay Center Zoo, Clay Center, Kansas. This Singer bloodline had been isolated from mainstream breeding for many, many years. The major significance of that finding was that it is the only U.S. bloodline uncovered to date that traces clear back to the original San Diego Zoo pair. The Old Dingo line was integrated into Don & Judy Ehrlich’s Singing Dog Preservation Breeding Program.
1990-A pair was imported from Taronga Park by Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, Kansas.
1993-Most U.S. Zoos began purging their Singer stock and generally sold them or gave them away to private owners and breeders. For the most part zoos were emptied of Singing Dogs. Preservation and conservation of NGSD was no longer a zoo interest or option. Singers were suddenly no longer considered a “Zoo Animal”..
Singers were thrust back out into the private sector.
1993-2006-NGSD had a laissez faire existence. Several persons continued the championing of the Singer cause. Public awareness increased. General interest began to blossom. Zoos began taking a harder look at this dog they once threw away. Singer interest was again on the move.
1995-Some limited research was carried on in New Guinea by Robert Bino.
1996-James K. McIntyre of Florida conducted a most interesting expedition to New Guinea in search of NGSD AKA Hallstrom’s Dog aka New Guinea Highland Dog. He was not able to snare any but did find numerous sign and interviewed Natives who had heard them, seen them, hunted and killed them and eaten them.
2006-Reports from the wilds of New Guinea were mixed. Some wild Singers were reported. Hope for a wild population was reignited.
2006-The Oakwold Kennel in Hickory Corners, MI had the largest collection of Singers yet assembled eclipsing even the Ehrlich collection in KS.
Most of the Oakwold Singers were rescues from all over America. A grand total of up to 38 Singing Dogs graced the kennel. Additionally, that huge group was allowed to run together daily for short periods of time in a supervised exercise program. Nothing of this nature had ever, nor has it ever, since been attempted and/or accomplished. Thankfully there exists video footage of that historic endeavor!
2006-There seemed to be a definite revival in Singer interest. Zoos were once again asking for NGSD for display. Individuals were finally discovering that Singing Dogs could become one-of-a-kind companions.
2007-Twelve NGSD were rehomed from Oakwold Kennel in Hickory Corners, MI
2008-The first two New Guinea Village Dogs identified as such were imported into the United States.
2008-Eighteen NGSD were rehomed from Oakwold Kennel in Hickory Corners, MI. This was the largest rescue of Hallstrom’s Dogs to date.
2008-NGSDCS verified “AS PURE” the Tsumi-Two Spot bloodline thus adding four more NGSD to the existing “pure” captive breeding program.
2009-We have been assured that there is, in fact, a DNA test now available for verifying Singer purity. Whereas Australian Dingo and New Guinea Singing Dog(domestically bred only)DNA are virtually the same, there exists a large database of samples for comparison and has been able to compare NGSD, Village Dogs, and Domestic Dogs with positive results. This is wonderful news. We had earlier thought that there would never be enough samples of NGSD, but by being able to compare NGSD samples to the existing AU Dingo database Dr. Alan Wilton has been able to develop a DNA test for verification of NGSD purity. Now we should be able make progress in identifying new pure members for the captive breeding program.
2009-Perhaps it is not too late for New Guinea Singing Dogs after all. Numerous zoos, large and small, privately owned and publicly owned are asking for Singer stock. Reintroduction into the wild is being discussed and planned. There is also a strong renewed interest by individuals who want Singers in their homes. There are several individuals as well as zoos that are spearheading outreach programs and human interaction education.
2010-In October of this year a 15 year cache of sixty some adult Singers as well as puppies was discovered at Willow Hill, PA at the residence of Mr. & Mrs. Randy Hammond.
All but 25 of the Singers were seized by the state of PA, and for whatever reason, Mr. Hammond was talked into giving up his ownership of the Hammond Singers.
Ownership was transferred to an individual by the name of Tom Wendt who was chosen as the recipient owner by a PA Dog Warden.
2011-Fall Breeding Season. Several litters of Singer puppies were raised up and marketed as pets. More puppies were produced this season than any other season in domestic population history.
2012- During February of 2012 the United Kennel Club dropped New Guinea Singing Dogs from their list of approved breeds. The reason given was that Singing Dogs are not currently considered to be a domestic breed.
Most references now classify them as Canis lupus dingo or Canis lupus hallstromi both of which are sub-species.
2012-On March 6th of this year Janice Koler-Matznick announced that Singing Dogs are not endangered. She said that there are plenty of them in the wild. This announcement came as a shock to those of us who have believed for many years in the theory that Singers are in short supply in the wild and who have kept Singers alive for over twenty years.
We are impatiently waiting for evidence of a wild Singer population that would justify use of the word "plenty."
There are no photographs, no verified sightings where the canine sighted was verified as a NGSD, no DNA sampling of any kind, no live NGSD trapped, no dead NGSD located. There is no evidence whatsoever to support Mrs. Matznick's statement.
2013-The trend nowadays seems to be to sell NGSD puppies as household pets. Almost all puppies produced in the U.S. in 2012 were designed for that purpose.
2013 marked the year for production of the first intentional cross between a Singing Dog and a cattle dog. As of November 2017, there has been no visible followup on any of those offspring.
James McIntyre Findings
McIntyre, together with a contingent of rapid survey personnel from the University of Papua New Guinea located a 15 +- specimen group of stray dogs living at an elevation of 4,500m near the Grasberg Mine/ Puncak Jaya in Papua Province, Papua New Guinea.
McIntyre took numerous photos of the canines for phenotypical study and gathered scat samples for DNA analysis.
As of this entry, DNA information is pending.
Another expedition is being planned.
April 11th, 2017…
November 2017- The newest research in the Singing Dog world points to several scientific research studies that states: Singing Dogs are domestic dogs gone feral, their origin is not New Guinea, but rather SE Asia, and finally, New Guinea Singing Dogs likely predated AU Dingoes or in other words, AUD likely evolved from Singing Dog that migrated from new Guinea to Australia. Interesting revelations. Meanwhile, field research continues in a somewhat stumbling manner. Lastly, I have begun referring to "our" Singing Dog population as "domestically bred" and Singers(or mixes) found in the wild as "wild bred" .