The rarest dog breed in the world was presumed extinct in the wild, but has recently been heard in the highlands of New Guinea.
For nearly fifty years the New Guinea singing dog, which is thought to have arrived in New Guinea 3,500 years ago, has not been seen in the wild. A new study suggests that a pack of wild dogs living near a gold mine in the highlands of New Guinea has identical genetic make-up to this ancient breed.
This breed’s unique song has been described as a “wolf howl with overtones of whale song”. It can still be heard in zoos, as 250 of these dogs still live in captivity around the world. Scientists say that the discovery of these wild dogs may be able to save the breed.
Due to years of inbreeding in captivity, singing dogs may have trouble reproducing. Scientists have concluded that breeding the captive dogs with the wild dogs may reintroduce genetic diversity and preserve the population.
The New Guinea singing dog is closely related to the Australian dingo, but their howl is much more musical. A zookeeper in Indianapolis has said that “Opera singers love these dogs because they can hit all those really high notes.”
Locals in New Guinea have said that they have heard the singing dogs for years, but no one could confirm their existence until recently.
James McIntyre, a zoologist, took a research team to the highlands in Papua, New Guinea, near Grasberg Mine to collect fecal samples from highland wild dogs. They also managed to trap and take blood samples from three of them. According to the team, the dogs look, act, and sound very similar to the New Guinea singing dogs.
After comparing the DNA of the three highland dogs to 25 dingoes, 16 captive New Guinea singing dogs, and more than 1,000 dogs from 161 different breeds, scientists have reported that the wild dogs have nearly identical genetic profiles to the singing dogs.