The Dingo Debate

Paperback - August 2015 - AU $39.95

eBook - August 2015 - eRetailers Google Books Kobo

Explores the intriguing and relatively unknown story of Australia's most controversial animal, the dingo.

The Dingo Debate explores the intriguing and relatively unknown story of Australia’s most controversial animal – the dingo. Throughout its existence, the dingo has been shaped by its interactions with human societies. With this as a central theme, the book traces the story of the dingo from its beginnings as a semi-domesticated wild dog in South-east Asia, to its current status as a wild Australian native animal under threat of extinction. + Full description

It describes how dingoes made their way to Australia, their subsequent relationship with Indigenous Australians, their successful adaption to the Australian landscape and their constant battle against the agricultural industry. During these events, the dingo has demonstrated an unparalleled intelligence and adaptable nature seen in few species. The book concludes with a discussion of what the future of the dingo in Australia might look like, what we can learn from our past relationship with dingoes and how this can help to allow a peaceful co-existence.

The Dingo Debate reveals the real dingo beneath the popular stereotypes, providing an account of the dingo’s behaviour, ecology, impacts and management according to scientific and scholarly evidence rather than hearsay. This book will appeal to anyone with an interest in Australian natural history, wild canids, and the relationship between humans and carnivores.

- Short description


"The editor and five additional experts have done a masterful job of bringing together facts, prejudices and folklore about the quintessentially Australian immigrant, the dingo"
Joel Heinen, Biological Conservation 193 (2016), pp 133

"...Smith and his five expert co-authors tackle this [complex issue] with assurance in this comprehensive, well-argued, nicely illustrated book."
Peter Menkhorst, Australian Book Review, October 2015, pp 64

"Given the tensions around the conservation and management of dingoes in Australia, it's often hard to find a balanced discussion on the carnivore. Nevertheless, that's exactly what's on offer here. The Dingo Debate is a fantastic summary of all the available science on dingoes, spanning evolutionary biology through to ecology... Significantly, it is so well written that non-academics are sure to gain plenty from reading."
William Geary, Wild Melbourne blog, 15/10/2015


Paperback | August 2015 | $ 39.95
ISBN: 9781486300297 | 336 pages | 245 x 170 mm
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Colour plates, Illustrations, Photographs

ePDF | ISBN: 9781486300303
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
August 2015 | Available from eRetailers

ePUB | ISBN: 9781486300310
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
August 2015 | Available from eRetailers


  • A comprehensive and up-to-date background on the origin and history of the dingo
  • The role that humans have had in 'shaping' the dingo
  • The relationship between dingoes and indigenous Australians
  • Detailed analysis of human-wildlife conflicts and the role persecution may play in influencing dingo phenotypes
  • Non-ecological behaviours such as cognition, including examples of cognitive processes once thought limited to 'intelligent' species such as primates
  • A discussion of dingoes in a global context, including comparisons to other old and new world canids including domestic dogs


1 Characteristics of the Australian dingo (Canis dingo Meyer, 1793)
2 Biology and behaviour of the dingo
3 The origin and ancestry of the dingo
4 The role of dingoes in Indigenous Australian lifestyle, culture, and spirituality
5 Dingo-human conflict: Attacks on livestock
6 Dingo-human conflict: Attacks on humans
7 Chasing the yellow dog's tail: The science of studying dingoes
8 An ecological view of the dingo
9 Dingo intelligence: A dingo’s brain is sharper than its teeth
10 The personality, behaviour and suitability of dingoes as companion animals
11 The role of private sanctuaries in dingo conservation and the management of dingoes in captivity
12 Forging a new future for the Australian dingo

View the full table of contents.


Dr Bradley Smith is a Research Fellow in Human and Animal Psychology. He has spent the last decade conducting experimental and observational studies of dingoes in both captive and wild settings, and investigating the dingo’s controversial past. He currently serves as director of the Australian Dingo Foundation and scientific advisor for one of Australia’s largest dingo sanctuaries.

With contributions by Rob Appleby, Chris Johnson, Damian Morrant, Peter Savolainen and Lyn Watson.