Papuan Dogs – the first companions of man

Published by: Thomas Schultze-Westrum

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Morphology :

  • The carnassial teeth are large, usually equal to or greater than 10% of their skull length (F16).
  • Vocal tract: The presence of a two-lobed uvula at the free border of the soft plate has been speculated to exist in NGSDs, on the basis of radiographic and ultrasound examination (FEINSTEIN et al. 2001; cf. comments in chapter H).
  • The coat shows some variation in hair texture which is referred to in F15 (second paragraph in the quotation). The coat is longer, more open and rather coarse in comparison with that of (phenotypically) pure lowland dogs (cf. figs. 8 – 23; 28 – 31).
  • The comparatively wide range of colouration and proportions of the New Guinea highland strain has been already referred to above; it was evident from the first generations of captive stock (SCHULTZ 199), but is less apparent in the US population of captive NGSDs nowaday, due to breed standards imposed by the Kennel Clubs and the NGSDCA (F17). It will be further discussed (cf. chapter E).

While going through the references for this summary my uneasy feeling grew even further that the material published by certain American authors was presented with an intention: to prove the wild status of the highland dogs. Other qualities like the apparent universality of primitive strains (that include the Papuan dogs), the endemic New Guinea dogs‘ overwhelming antiquity in their partnership with again a primitive stage of human (tribal) society, all this fascinating spectrum of social interrelations and cultural testimony of human evolution as well as that of these Papuan dogs – this immense wealth has been subdued or rather suppressed in favour of one single phrase: „wild status“… The multiple superiority of the „primitive“, here of the earliest stages of domestication as compared with the current scenario in modern (US) society’s dog breeds, seems to be a matter for which there exists little appreciation anymore – very regrettably.

These remarks relate also to the still surviving populations of pariah dogs in countries from Asia to Africa where they live at the periphery of the human realm. But none of these can show up with such a long impressive history in dealing with human beings as the Papuan dogs.

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This entry was posted on November 11, 2010 at 21:05 and is filed under Gulf of Papua, Papuan Dogs, Rare breeds, Zoological Research.

7 Responses to “Papuan Dogs – the first companions of man”

  1. Janice Koler-Matznick sagt:

    I just wanted to let people interested in primitive and aboriginal dogs know that there are now Facebook sites dedicated to them: ‎The INDog Project for the Indian village dogs, Village Dogs and Primitive Pariahs World Wide, and African aboriginal dogs. There is also a web site for the Primitive and Aboriginal Dog Society:

    Contrary to the statements made in the good Dr. Schultze-Westrum’s major contribution to the knowledge about Papuan dogs, the New Guinea singing dog has never been selected in captivity to any „breed“ standard. In fact, after an initial short false start with United Kennel Club, we started the NGSD Conservation Society with its own stud book and no more Singers were registered with UKC. As soon as we had genetic proof they are dingoes, we had them removed from the UKC which does not register AU dingoes. I wrote the standard (required by UKC) after surveying all owners of Singers and having them measure their specimens. All variation in the unavoidably inbred population was included in the written standard/description. The only selection that has gone on is against badly kinked tails as if continued or bred together this can result in problems in the spine. We facilitated the establishment of the NGSDCS Papua New Guinea, a recognized non-profit group in Papua, and have tried for a decade to get field work done on wild Singers, sending equipment, but so far due to lack of major funding not much has been accomplished there. We are still doing what we can but we are a tiny group.

  2. Thomas Schultze-Westrum sagt:

    Hi, many thanks indeed for your encouragement. I am still working on the assemly of papers and notes In the Name of Conservation,
    Keep in touch!

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