The Most Rare Dog in the World

Assortment of dogs at Spanish shelter.
Assortment of dogs at Spanish shelter. (Image: IvonneW/iStock/Getty Images)

There are hundreds of dog breeds in the world today. The list includes a number of rare and unusual breeds, such as the Azawakh, the kooikerhondje and the logatto Romagnolo. One of the rarest breeds in the world may be sited roaming the mountainous terrain in Papua New Guinea. This breed is known as the New Guinea singing dog. A few of these dogs have become domesticated pets living among the New Guinea tribes and within a handful of households around the world.

A Brief History

Fossil discoveries reveal that the New Guinea singing dog has resided in its native homeland of New Guinea for more than 6,000 years. It was not until the 1950s when the first pair of these dogs was removed from New Guinea and brought to the Taronga Park Zoo in Sydney, Australia, where the female subsequently gave birth to a litter of pups. The zoo sent some of the future offspring to other zoos, including the San Diego Zoo in California. Most of the New Guinea singing dogs in captivity share the ancestry of the first wild specimens taken out of New Guinea. The breed is rarely ever sited in the wilds of its native land due to its secluded lifestyle and elusive nature. Factors that include habitat destruction have rendered the New Guinea singing dog as critically endangered and slipping precariously close to genetic extinction.

Physical Appearance

The New Guinea singing dog is on the small side, standing at a height of 13 to 16.5 inches tall at its shoulders and weighing 17 to 25 pounds. He has pointy ears that stand erect, and his reflective eyes shine a brilliant green when viewed in low light. He is covered with a short double coat that may be any shade of red from tawny to sable with white markings on the face, throat, chest, abdomen, paws and tail tip. The overall look is similar to that of a fox. One characteristic feature of the New Guinea singing dog is one that is found only in wild dogs, including wolves, and that is the unusually large size of the upper first molar tooth. The New Guinea singing dog’s gait is agile and smooth.

Temperament and Behavior

New Guinea singing dogs who have been produced in captivity retain many of their wild traits, but with early and proper training and socialization, they are capable of adapting to life as a household pet. They are skilled and fearless hunters with a strong prey drive, and they are aggressive and tenacious fighters with other dogs, making them a poor choice for a pet in families with other household pets. As skilled climbers and devoted diggers, they are escape artists that can be a challenge to contain. Their stubborn and independent nature makes training another challenge. This is not a pet for an inexperienced dog handler. Once a New Guinea singing dog has bonded to his family, he can be affectionate and playful. Toward strangers, he remains wary. New Guinea singing dogs groom themselves in a similar manner to that of a cat; they are neat.

Canine Chorale

The New Guinea singing dog is so named for his range of musical sounds made possible with the unusually shaped structure in his throat. His vocalizations include a unique howl, yodeling, yelping and whining. When one member of the canine group starts to sing his melodic strains, the remaining members of the pack follow suit and chime in with their eerie harmony. If you welcome a New Guinea singing dog into your household, prepare to be serenaded regularly, especially when your canine companion sings for his supper.

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