Memoirs of the Queensland Museum – Nature 63

The provenance of diagnostic specimens of the 'New Guinea Singing Dog'

Dwyer, P.D. & Minnegal, M.

Published online: 20 January 2022


Dwyer, P. D. & Minnegal, M. 2022. The provenance of diagnostic specimens of the ‘New Guinea Singing Dog’. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum – Nature 63: 27 – 39.


21 July 2021

Published online

20 January 2022

Peer reviewed




New Guinea Singing Dog, Hallstrom’s dog, New Ireland dog, dingo, village dogs, wild dogs


The New Guinea Singing Dog (NGSD) has been diagnosed as a distinct taxon on the basis of (1) two live animals, thought to be wild dogs, either free-living or captive, at the times when they were obtained by Europeans, (2) cranial material from 26 dogs, captive-bred descendants of the original pair, and (3) a single skull reportedly from a free-living wild dog. The NGSD is currently regarded as a behaviourally, morphologically and genetically distinct wild dog found at scattered high-altitude locations on mainland New Guinea, isolated from places where people live and, hence, largely isolated from village dogs associated with those people. We examined historical records to show that few, if any, of the founding members from the captive population of NGSDs, or dogs that served to diagnose Canis hallstromi Troughton, 1957, were, in fact, wild dogs or recent descendants of wild dogs. The continuing insistence that high altitude, wild-living NGSDs are a discrete population of dogs is incorrect. Rather, we recommend additional studies of village-living dogs across the span of altitudes and contend that these would yield much information about what was once a pan-New Guinean population of an unusual, and archaic, form of domestic dog.

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