Dingoes (Canis dingo) are recognised as not descended from dogs or wolves.
In March 2014 an international team of scientists, including a conservation biologist Dr Mike Letnic from University of New South Wales in Sydney, established a detailed physical description of the pure-breed dingoes. The description contained 69 forensic specimens predating 1900’s; before domestic dogs came in contact with dingoes.
The detailed description, published in the Journal of Zoology revealed many of our perception of their physical attribute were untrue.
Yellow dingoes are not the only pure breed.
“Common folklore is that pure dingoes are only yellow in colour, like most of the ones on Fraser Island,” Mike says. “But this is simply not true. We found that dingoes can be tan, dark, black and tan, white, or can have the sable coloration typical of German shepherd dogs.”
Due to the outdated information on dingoes, yellow pure-breed dingoes may have been culled for loss of livestock under the false pretence. However when protection laws were placed to protect dingoes the not yellow dingoes, were assumes not pure-breed, were not protected.
Mike says that the biodiversity in Australia will be affected by false assumptions about dingoes’ purity. “Dingoes play an important role in maintaining the integrity of our ecosystems,” Mike says. “It’s not just the foxes and cats that change ecosystems; it’s the kangaroos too and dingoes help to keep those numbers in check.”