Native to Papua New Guinea, the New Guinea Singing Dog (NGSD) was first discovered by explorers in the 1950s. They were living in mountain and swampy areas, surviving at high altitudes, of up to 4,700 metres. Four dogs were brought back to Sydney Zoo in the 1950s, with San Diego Zoo the first US owner of the breed in 1958.
“Singers”, as they are affectionately referred to, are characterised by their very memorable howl. This primitive breed is an ancient sub-species of the Dingo, usually presenting a red or black and tan coat, occasionally with white markings on their head or chest.
Is the New Guinea Singing Dog endangered?
The New Guinea Singing Dog was considered extinct in the wild for many years, until an ecotourist excitingly captured a picture of one in 2012.
James McIntyre travelled to the region and gathered samples of DNA for testing. The results compared the DNA to that of village dogs, domestic dogs and captive NGSDs, demonstrating that there was still a small population alive in the wild. In 2018 another team was able to confirm that a wild population does still exist.
As the captive population of New Guinea Singing Dogs is descended from the first 8 individuals taken from Papua New Guinea, their genetic diversity is low.
New Guinea Singing Dog: Temperament
This ancient breed is intelligent and independent. They do not show the same reliance on people as many domestic dogs might, which can make training a challenge. As they are closely related to wild dogs, they are not recommended as house pets.
When properly socialised, the New Guinea Singing Dog can learn to tolerate handling. They love exploring and need an active lifestyle. Some “Singers” are kept in pet homes in the United States, but it’s important to remember that they have a very high prey drive, and as such must be kept on-lead at all times when out.
New Guinea Singing Dog: Care
These dogs require a high-quality diet and lots of exercise. When kept as pets, it’s important to socialise them from a young age to ensure they are comfortable and familiar around people.
How long do New Guinea Singing Dogs live?
With the correct diet and care, New Guinea Singing Dogs have been known to live for as long as 15-20 years in captivity.
The UK’s New Guinea Singing Dog Kota died this year, aged 15 years-old. He had been under palliative care at the Exmoor Zoological Park in Devon since losing his partner Belle four weeks before.
Are there New Guinea Singing Dogs for sale in the UK?
Kota was the last New Guinea Singing Dog in the UK, and his death in March this year sadly marked the end of this breed in the country. It isn't possible to own a New Guinea Singing Dog in the UK as a pet, and they are not recognised by the UK Kennel Club.
Kota and Belle’s offspring are in the Czech Republic and Germany. The Exmoor Zoological Park has been in talks with the Singing Dog Conservation Society in the U.S., but at present no litters are planned until later this year.
What is the price of a New Guinea Singing Dog?
While it’s not possible to own one in the UK, there are cases of this breed being kept in pet homes in the United States. Prices can vary greatly, but NGSDs can cost anywhere from 2,500 to 5,000 dollars.
As "Singers" require more activity, stimulation and specialist care than most homes can offer, scientists will be focusing on increasing their numbers in the wild in the coming years.