The Carolina Dog

November 24, 2021 2 min read

With a slim, athletic build and almost jackal-like appearance, The Carolina Dog is a dog most people have never seen before. The rare breed is the only dog native to North America, and it wasn’t formally recognized until the 1970s.

Appearance and Nicknames

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), a typical Carolina Dog has a fox-like nose and pointed ears. The dogs can range from 30 to 65 pounds and can measure up to 24 inches tall at the shoulder.

Their medium, slim build, and curled tail mean they can resemble Australian Dingoes or jackals. Because of this, they’re often called “American Dingo” or “Dixie Dingo.”

Rover.com explains that Carolina Dogs are some of the few breeds that have not been altered by people for appearance or work. Their coats range in color from tan, fawn, black, piebald to ginger. The United Kennel Club lists a pale ginger color with lighter accents across the shoulders and on the face as the most desirable.

According to gene testing, Carolina Dog’s genetic makeup puts them in the ‘hound’ category of dogs, and they are considered to be some of the earliest breeds. Dr.I. Lehr Brisbin, an ecologist at the University of Georgia formally identified these dogs in the 1970s. In an article on Rover.com, Brisbin explains the unusual placement of Carolina Dogs in the gene pool.

“If they were just dogs, their DNA patterns would be well distributed throughout the canine family tree. But they aren’t. They’re all at the base of the tree, where you would find very primitive dogs,” Brisbin said.

Because of their ‘original’ dog genes, Carolina Dogs are said to be the closest you can get to a historic dog.

Traits and DNA

Due to their extended time in the wild, Carolina Dogs are very suspicious of unfamiliar people. This makes them excellent guard dogs, and once they’ve accepted a person into their pack, they’re reliable with children.

Described as very intelligent and clean – Carolina Dog’s shorthaired coats make for minimal shedding.

According to Rover.com, the Carolina Dog also lacks many genetic health issues that are seen in more modern breeds such as heart and eye conditions.

Journey to the Limelight

According to the AKC, Carolina Dogs originally traveled across the Bering land bridge with early native humans. Since then, they’ve occupied North America for more than 14,000 years. Primarily found in Georgia and South Carolina, these dogs have been spotted across the United States.

Dr. Brisbin said he first took notice of these dogs while conducting research alongside a river. He thought it was a stray at first, and decided to stop by the local animal shelter to see if there were similar dogs there. The shelter had many Carolina Dogs (although they weren’t called that at the time) and Brisin discovered even more of them in the surrounding forests.

The Carolina Dog can now be registered with both the AKC and Rare Breed Registry, undoubtedly due to Brisbin’s modern interest in the dogs.

Dogs of any breed have an uncanny way of working themselves into your hearts. Carolina Dogs may be tough to acclimate, but their loyalty is worth it.



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