Springe zum Inhalt

Papuan Dogs – the first companions of man

C. About strains and breeds


The term „breed“ to my understanding is not appropriate for distinguishing primitive dogs.

By the village people no standards were set for their traditional dog populations as they now rule the distinction of acknowledged pedigree breeds. There existed more flexible and adjusted criteria in breeding. Generally, in primitive livestock including old cattle and sheep „breeds“ for instance, a larger variation in their phenotypical appearence and overall genetic disposition is found as compared with modern breeds which are officially defined and acknowledged by the pedigree criteria of breeders associations, kennel clubs etc. (ALDERSON 1978).

Before the power of colonial administration and the dramatic impact by our western civilization disrupted the tribal structure of New Guinea society, each of the ethnic units had a fairly homogeneous stock of domesticated animals - dogs and pigs. Their general conformity in the overall population was differenciated, though, by individual variability in certain qualities (morphological features like coat colouration, but possibly also behavioural characteristics). and by a fair tolerance on the side of the keepers/breeders. There are exceptions to be noted. The hunting dogs photographed by Barry Craig in the Idam Valley of the upper Sepik region (figs. 43, 44) display a remarkable homogenity in the pattern of fur colouration - which indicates a selection in breeding that has no significance other than the breeder's  choice preference and can be compared with modern breed manipulation.

The comparatively wide range of individual variability provides the means for dynamic adaptations in case the accustomed environmental conditions and objectives of husbandry undergo changes. Old domestic animals appear not only highly adapted – they equally remain further adaptable to eventual environmental changes.

In tribal society usually only one main strain was maintained within every ethnic unit. But there are examples in New Guinea for two distinct strains of dogs found in one village prior to the invasion of modern European breeds (cf. chapter E). We may assume that one of these ( and presumably the less frequent one) is a recent introduction from bordering areas (e.g. from the lowlands to the hill region).

Also in the much wider context of differentiation of dogs in the Old World, from south-eastern Asia to the Middle and Near East as far as Africa there is a marked conformity of (mostly village) dog appearance. In these so called pariah dogs, strains or individuals re-occur which resemble the most purely kept ancient dogs: varieties of the dingo or their closest relatives, the Papuan dogs (TRUMLER 1981, cf. chapter D). But it should be noted that this conformity is far less defined as compared with the standards set up for breeds by kennel clubs. I have already stressed above the natural variability in strains versus recognized breeds.

Altogether four main types of pariah dogs have been distinguished: besides the dingo-like appearance: a hepherd dog-like appeance, a collie–like appearance and a greyhound–like appearance (MENZEL and MENZEL 1960) For these ancient strains, but with only loose attachment to human settlements the term shensi dogs was introduced (HALTENORTH 1958); so named after their East African population.

One should observe a differentiation of grades in domestication when exploring the relationsship of any primitive dogs under traditional conditions: from the stage of loose attachment to a full and permanent (inter-) dependence of the dogs in a village community.

Papuan dogs are to be considered as the most ancient true domestic animals - as the oldest known and still continuously traditional companions of man (cf. the archaeological evidence in chapters D and E). The dingo became feral in pre-historic times to a much larger extent. On New Guinea only the highland strain found suitabe habitat to sustain feral living status: the wide secondary (= man-made) grasslands (not the forest!).

Veröffentlicht am Kategorien Gulf of Papua, Papuan Dogs, Rare breeds, Zoological ResearchSchlagwörter , , , ,

Über Thomas Schultze-Westrum

Dr. Thomas Georg Hans SCHULTZE-WESTRUM Author of Scientific and Popular Publications Producer and Director of Documentary Films and Videos Adviser in Nature Conservation and Preservation of Rural Cultures Initiator of Conservation Programmes German national. Born 1937 (Berlin). Classical education at the Benedictine monastery of Ettal in Upper Bavaria. Graduate of Munich University, with degrees in Zoology, Geology and Cultural Anthropology (Ethnology). Scholarship by “Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes”. Research (University of Munich, other scientific institutions) and publications on social and population physiology of marsupials and other vertebrate fauna of New Guinea and the Mediterranean Region, cultural anthropology, conservation and resource management on the village level, mainly in Greece and New Guinea. Author of the books “New Guinea” (Berne 1972) and “Biologie des Friedens” (Biology of Peace), Munich 1974. Dr. Schultze-Westrum has joined for several years the Commissions on Ecology and Environmental Planning of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). He is the founder of the working group (IUCN Commission on Ecology) “Conservation and Traditional Life Styles” 1979; the “ECOCULTURE” Movement 1981; the “Gesellschaft für die Erhaltung alter und gefährdeter Haustierrassen” GEH (Society for the Preservation of Old and Endangered Breeds of Domestic Animals) 1981; and the non-profit-making society “KALLIERGIA”, for traditional agriculture and village conservation in Greece, 1993. As a consultant he has worked for the EU, IUCN, OECD and WWF. As a film maker he has produced, directed and mostly also shot, for German television and international TV networks, 75 documentaries, mainly ecological portraits with emphasis upon the integration of local and traditionally living people into conservation projects. His first film (1974) was about alternative (sustainable) utilization of tropical rainforests in New Guinea, for ZDF. Never Dr. Schultze-Westrum has entered any of his films into an award winning competition, because he is more concerned about the effects of his TV work in actual conservation and public awareness. One of these real awards was the creation of the Marine National Park Alonnisos Northern Sporades in Greece as a result of his film “The Coast of the Monk Seals” in 1976/77 for ZDF (ratings 36 % - shown in 11 countries). His programme “Green Desert”, about traditional water management in the Sultanate of Oman was distributed by the Television Trust for the Environment TVE to 44, mainly Third World, countries. Another leading aspect of his film work was the production of environmental films for the people of the country where he was filming. So, he produced the first TV series of films on ecology, rural life styles and conservation for Greece (in the early 80’s, 14 programmes) and for the Sultanate of Oman (late 80’s, 12 films). His deep interest in ancient human traditions inspired him to produce “Omani Seafaring”, for Oman TV; “Im Kielwasser Sindbads” (In the Wake of Sindbad), for the series Terra X of ZDF; and “Insel der Magier” (Island of the Sorcerers: Waigeo) for ARTE TV. After retiring from TV film production at the end of 2002 he is returning to his earlier scientific work (abandoned in the early 70’s) about the social and population physiology of marsupials ( Petaurus breviceps papuanus and closely related species); village based conservation; the evolution of human communal behaviour and cultural diversity; and the evolution of art styles in the Papuan Gulf province of New Guinea. Since 1992 he is also involved in eco- and agrotourism programmes that are based on his earlier promotion of this alternative “soft” tourism through publications and films, in Greece and West Papua. His conservation activities are continuously focussed on Greece and New Guinea, since 1957 and 1959, respectively. Dr. Schultze-Westrum now is writing up his experiences of many years field work and he is keeping communications alive through his homepage, from the ancient village of Kazaviti on the island of Thassos in the northern Aegean Sea. The conservation and re-activation of outstanding traditional values of Kazaviti stand at the centre of a local museum and documentation centre to be set up in one or even two old Macedonian stone houses.