Dogs, wolves and dingoes

According to retired anthropologist Pat Shipman from Penn State University, dingoes and their closely related New Guinea singing dogs, are not dogs. They are not wolves either, but fall into their own class.

Domestic dogs arrived in Australia in 1788 with the first ships of convicts. The dingoes were already there for at least 4000 or more years prior to that. Genetically and behaviorally, they are more like wolves with their inability to digest starches and their inability to bond with humans. Dogs on the other hand have no difficulty digesting starches and do bond with people.  

Dingoes can survive in the Australian outback where domestic dogs that are feral have a difficult time or cannot survive.

What makes it difficult to separate the lines between wolves, dogs and dingoes is that genetically they can hybridize and have fertile offspring unlike horses and donkeys who typically produce infertile mules.

Shipman feels that a dingo is a wolf on its way to becoming a dog but never made it.

Dingo – free photo dreamstime

2 thoughts on “Dogs, wolves and dingoes

  1. Sue, what is your opinion about that last statement (that Dingoes are wolves on their way to becoming dogs)? I think I recall that in your book, God’s Creatures, you state your belief that dogs have not evolved from wolves as many assume they have. Understandings of evolution seem to be evolving, so to speak. My thinking has been changing as I have learned more and read authors such as Francis Collins. (By the way, wolves are now being introduced back into Colorado (in the mountains). And this post caught my eye because my dog is half Australian Cattle Dog, so thought to be part Dingo. 🙂


    • Dear Cathy, As I research I feel that God created a basic dog, basic wolf etc. and that in the case of dogs, man bred the different breeds. I also realize that God did not create things to be static. So over time a species can change, as Darwin saw, but not become a different species. So a dog will not morph into a wolf etc. I also feel that we will not (in our lifetime) fully understand the genetic workings of God. I have taken courses in genetics and it is so complex that you cannot wrap your mind around it completely. One gene in itself is made of many components.


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