Australian Journal of Zoology Australian Journal of Zoology Society
Evolutionary, molecular and comparative zoology

The Identity of the Dingo III.* The Incidence of Dingoes, Dogs and Hybrids and their Coat Colours in Remote and Settled Regions of Australia

AE Newsome and LK Corbett

Australian Journal of Zoology 33(3) 363 - 375
Published: 1985


Dingoes Canis familiaris dingo, dogs C.J: familiaris, and their hybrids were classified on skull morphology as the following percentages in remote, inland Australia: 97.5,O.1 and 2.4; and in settled south-eastern Australia as 55.3, 10.8 and 33.92%. Canonical analyses of 1184 skulls from the former area and 407 from the latter indicate that mixed populations can be expected wherever close human settlement exists and wild canids remain, but that hybrids are rare in remote regions. The skulls were collected variously between 1966 and 1979; 15 equations were used to allow for differential damage to skulls. The levels of hybridization indicated by the skulls were confirmed by coat colours. The accepted colours for dingoes, (ginger, black-and-tan, and all white) were in the following percentages in inland Australia: 88.6, 3.8 and 1.9; in south-eastern Australia they were 45.9, 19.1 and 0.2%. Broken colorations, ginger with white, black or bluish patches, all black, brown or bluish, black and white, and brindle stripes, were also more numerous in the latter region (34 8%) than in the former (5.7%). Many of these variations arose in cross-breeding experiments with ginger dingoes and variously coloured domestic dogs. Historical reports recorded black dingoes but did not mention tan coloration. That may have been an oversight; if not, it may be a further indication of cross-breeding. The incidence of coat colours was not significantly different in classified dingoes, dogs and hybrids in south-eastern Australia, but ginger coats were less common in classified dogs. Those taxa and the various colorations were not more numerous near farmland than elsewhere in the forests there. A new, basic calibrating equation incorporating the length rather than the volume of auditory bulla is presented. The equation corrects also for mis-measurement of one skull variable in some of the calibrating series of dingoes. Corrigenda are presented. They do not change the general conclusions of the earlier Parts I and II of this series, but wild dingoes raised from pups in captivity did not develop foreshortened snouts as indicated earlier. The possibility remains that some may have developed wider maxillae than wild dingoes.

© CSIRO 1985

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