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The Carolina Dog aka: 
The Native American Dog

During the last thirty years, the capture and study of free-ranging dogs in remote areas of South Carolina and Georgia has revealed the existence of dogs of primitive appearance fitting the typical long-term pariah (i.e. primitive dog) morphotype. Their physical appearance suggests a dog created by and preserved through natural selection to survive in the remote lowland swamp and woodland areas of the southeastern United States. They closely resemble types of dogs first encountered by Europeans near Indian settlements in the region as is evidenced by paintings, drawings and written descriptions made by these early explorers and settlers.

These dogs have been brought into captivity and a breeding program established to preserve and study these unique canines. Several behavioral traits have been discovered that appear unique to these dogs, and many behaviors labeled as primitive are consistently manifested by domesticated specimens. Such behaviors include pack hierarchy, communal pup rearing, regurgitation for pups, and organized cooperative hunting.

An international breed club has been established to help promote and preserve these dogs. We now have Carolina Dogs in homes across the United States and Canada. They have received formal recognition from the United Kennel Club and the American Rare Breed Association, and have been the subject of articles in numerous magazines, journals, newspapers and periodicals.

Currently, the Carolina Dog Association is actively working to try and unravel the mysterious and fascinating history of these dogs. Several hypotheses are available for testing. They include:

1) These are remnant populations of the aboriginal dogs that have been hanging on against a continual onslaught of hybridization with wolves, coyotes, and occasional modem domestic dogs, here in North America for thousands of years. Although such foreign genetic material may have been introduced from time to time, natural selection has been sufficiently strong to keep fostering the behavioral/morphological/ecologicaI phenotype that survives in the wild. Thus Carolina Dogs from different areas could have different gnome compositions, but still exhibit the common phenotypic mold necessary for survival that has been fostered by the original genetic contribution of the aboriginal dogs.
2) These dogs might represent a parallel evolution of domestic dogs in North America with those domestic dogs originating in Europe, Africa and Asia. As it is widely held by many ethnologists and archaeozoologists that dog domestication took place in several locations at several points in history, we may have in the Carolina Dog a domestic dog that evolved in North America from crosses of the aboriginal dogs that came across the Bering Strait (with the Paleolithic hunter bands) with North American wolves and/or coyotes. This could be a type of dog domesticated solely from North American wild canids, developed free of Asian or European genetic composition up until the introduction of Eurasian domestics by European settlers. Many accounts of early explorers mention Indians capturing wolf cubs and raising them up.

3) These are populations of dogs of European (domestic) descent who have, over successive generations, and through the process of natural selection, reverted back to a primitive behavioral/morphological/ecologicaI phenotype. These dogs would be physically similar, or possibly identical to the aboriginal dogs present prior to European settlement, due to both being created through the pressures of natural selection. The Carolina Dog would represent domestication in reverse. This would be a situation where a completely domesticated animal would have turned its back on modem human society and fled to the wilds to evolve as a completely new type (breed) free of direct human intervention and/or supervision. Long dormant instincts would have reemerged in the wild to aid/allow their survival. Those domestic physical and behavioral traits not suited for survival in the wild would have been selected against and removed from the gene pool. This would represent a reemergence of the "original dog type" which first emerged over 12,000 years ago. Should this hypothesis prove true, we would have in our midst a dog unique in the world in that it would represent a case study of domestication/evolution in reverse, i.e., a return to the original dog type. No other breed of dog could/can make that claim.

The Carolina Dog Association is working to test these and possibly other hypotheses in an attempt to solve the mystery of the origins of the Carolina Dog. The Association is also currently looking into changing the breed name to the Native American Dog. Since dogs fitting the Carolina Dog morphotype have shown up in isolated areas all across the southeastern United States, a broader nomenclature might prove more appropriate.

Regardless of origin or name, the Carolina Dog Association is committed to the promotion and preservation of these unique canines. They represent an indigenous dog breed that Americans can truly claim as their own, as easily as the Australians lay claim to the Ding-o and the Israelis to the Canaan Dog.

The Carolina Dog Association is working closely with the United Kennel Club to become an official UKC-affiliated breed club, and is working with the American Kennel Club to begin the process of AKC formal recognition for the breed. The future appears bright for these wonderful little dogs, and interest is growing daily with requests for information coming in to the Association from all over the world.

CDCA: History of the Canaan Dog

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The Carolina Dog Association

Jane Gunnel, JD, President -- jane@gforcecable.com NEW E-MAIL ADDRESS
The College of Science and Mathematics at the University of South Carolina
803-215-6166 or 803-649-0045

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