The unique Singing dog of New Guinea

Narrated from: Dog Breeds

Only a mountain has lived long enough to listen objectively to the howl of a wolf.
Aldo Leopold

Few people are unmoved by the deep harmony of the howling song of the wolf. Whether they incite fear or awe, wolves howling on the night of a full moon never fail to catch one’s heart – and imagination.

However, it turns out that there are howlers much more talented even than the wolves – talented enough to be nick-named “singers”.

The New Guinea Singing dog is one of the rarest species of wild dogs – and in recent years, one of the most unique pets.

The howl

Singing dogs got their name because of their unique howling. Not everyone will appreciate it – especially in a busy neighborhood – but the modulation is incredible. Singing dogs have an unsurpassed ability to vary the pitch of their howl. Many opera singers have expressed genuine interest in the unique vocal abilities of these dogs.

In some respects the howl resembles a melodic siren – in fact, Singing dogs kept in zoos are known to “respond” when they hear the noise of a siren. The modulation of the Singing dogs is unique in the canine world. They also use a wide variety of yelps and whines to communicate with their species.

However, perhaps one of the most amazing things that you will ever hear is the “chorus” singing – for Singing dogs, just as wolves, often join their howls in an intricate harmony.

The Singing dog in brief

The New Guinea Singing dog is considered to be one of the oldest dog species in the world. In appearance it is similar to the Australian dingo, though a lot smaller – in fact, it is believed that the Singing dog and the dingo share a common ancestry. Singers are considered short-legged and broad-headed, at least in dog standards, and reach up to 10-14 kilos in weight.

In the wild, Singing dogs live in the mountains at altitudes reaching 2 500 – 4 700 meters. Surprisingly little is known about their habits, since Singing dogs are one of the rarest and most elusive animals in the world. There is a theory that Singers prefer to move alone or in pairs, but temporary packs can be formed from time to time.

Singing dogs are considered very smart – they have often been labeled as “preternaturally canny”. The wild dogs are extremely shy towards humans, and their meal of choice usually consists of small birds, rodents, and even fruits.

Unique traits

Apart from the howl, the Singing dog is unique in several other ways.

For one thing, Singers could well be dancers as well, if ever they got the idea. These dogs have amazingly flexible bodies – in fact, they are able to wriggle through any hole large enough for their heads!

A unique behavior trait is the head-toss. The neck is swept to one side, with the head rotated at a 90° angle, and then it is snapped quickly to the starting position. It is believed that with this gesture Singing dogs want to get your attention, to beg for food or to show their frustration.

Also, Singing dogs are quite unique in their sexual lives – for instance, the females are able to stimulate the males with a specific sequence of loud, high-pitched yelps – this “invitation” will affect many domestic dogs as well!


Singing dogs make fine pets, though sometimes they are hard to manage. When first discovered, they were extremely popular in the lowlands of New Guinea – the locals considered them very shy and gentle. Singer dogs easily get attached to their adoptive families, but can be unfriendly towards strangers.

The “wild dog” part should not frighten you – Singers rarely bite, and their wildness is shown in their ability to flee. In fact, Singer dogs are considered notorious escape artists, with an ability to climb and jump with cat-like grace.

Nowadays, there are organizations focused on preserving these unique animals, and purebred specimens can be adopted via them. Adopted Singers are known to be loving pets; however, their prey drive towards small animals, and their high-pitched voices can be a problem – especially for the neighbors!


As things stand, the unique Singing dog may as well be extinct. The last confirmed sighting of a Singer in the wild dates back to the 1970s, though many people claim to have heard their songs in the mountains.

There are two main problems in preserving Singing dogs.

Although at first Singing dogs were recognized as a unique species, later on they were reclassified several times, being listed as variants of the dingo or the domestic dog. As result, most zoos seized on breeding these dogs, and nowadays there is a small purebred population left.

The major problem is that Singing dogs cross-breed easily with most domestic or wild dogs. As a result, their unique gene pool gets “watered down”. Nowadays, the friendly village dogs living in New Guinea have less and less in common with their Singing ancestors.

Attempts are being made to restore the captive population, but to this date the results are uncertain.

However, there is hope that the unique Singing dogs are still out there, in the wild outskirts of New Guinea, shielded by their shyness – and their melodious songs still echo through the mountain ridges! this

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