Lil Bow Wow Never Sounded So Good

Is there any stranger hound than the New Guinea Singing Dog?


If the dog portraits in this week's City Pages seem a little too darling to be endured, you may appreciate the opportunity to learn a little more about a beast that would not be caught dead in a sweater, the New Guinea Singing Dog. This smallish canine, with its reddish coat, angular face, and short legs, looks rather like a fox. It is storied to be able to climb trees. It was first found in the remote highlands of New Guinea in late 1950s, and has endured a checkered fate since then.

Depending on whom you believe, the NGSD could be an undomesticated and distinct species--a kind of evolutionarily isolated proto-dog. Or the breed could be a cousin to the Australian dingo, which has been compromised in the last century or so through interbreeding with other domestic dogs. Competing dog scientists (by which I mean humans, not dogs who can operate Bunsen burners) dismiss the NGSD as being indistinguishable from the ownerless "pariah dogs" that are not uncommon throughout Southeast Asia. (Picture Canaan dogs or Basenjis circling a trash heap in Calcutta.)

One thing is beyond dispute: The "song" and vocalizations of the NGSD sound wild in every sense of the word. A little chilling, too. To hear them for yourself, and to learn more than you ever thought you'd want to know about the New Guinea Singing Dog, visit Andrew Luck-Baker's story on the BBC's Radio 4 here.  (Look for the piece in the right-hand column.)

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