Dingo

Family: Canidae

Scientific names: Canis lupus dingo (Australian dingo)

Dingoes in the Environment

There is much debate about the history of dingoes in Australia; however they are believed to have been introduced to the country about 4000 years. Dingo populations have become established across all of mainland Australia and now play a key functional component of natural ecosystems. Dingoes typically have a red, ginger or sandy coat with some white markings, however black and tan dingoes are also found throughout the Territory.

Unlike domestic dogs, Dingoes form complex hierarchies which may consist of up to 12 adults. Pack members typically operate solitary territories within a larger home range defended by all pack members.

Breeding occurs seasonally throughout the Northern Territory, with only dominant pairs typically producing offspring. Dingoes and domestic dogs readily hybridise, and today, the term ‘wild dog’ is used collectively to describe Dingoes, feral dogs and their hybrids.

Feeding

Dingoes are the top terrestrial predator on mainland Australia today. Dingoes prey on a range of food items, including mammals, birds and reptiles. Dingoes are believed to also prey on introduced species such as rabbits, and may significantly reduce fox and feral cat populations within their territories. Dingoes also prey on livestock at times, which can cause considerable conflict with pastoralists.

Threats

The Dingo is common throughout the majority of the Australian mainland and the Northern Territory is believed to be home to some of Australia’s purest dingo populations. However, unless action is taken to manage domestic dogs effectively in towns and communities, the long term conservation of pure-bred Dingoes will be jeopardised due to hybridisation amongst wild dogs and Dingoes. Dingoes also face considerable persecution as a result of preying on livestock.

Interactions With People

In areas occupied by humans, dingoes take advantage of reliable food and water supplies and are often attracted to dwellings by their natural curiosity. Unfortunately, dingoes living near urban areas are susceptible to hybridising with domestic dogs, further weakening the species’ natural characteristics and behaviour. Contact with domestic dogs also facilitates in the transmission of disease and parasites such as Sarcoptic mange and Canine distemper. Dingoes are occasionally considered a nuisance in urban areas where they may prey on domestic animals and pets. Dingoes can also cause problems around tourist areas if they are fed or encouraged by visitors. During breeding season dingoes can also cause noise disturbance from vocalising and fighting. The Parks and Wildlife Service actively manage dingoes throughout the Northern Territory and may respond to dingo control requests from pastoralists experiencing stock attacks in order to minimise conflict and damage.

What You Can Do

If you have problems with Dingoes in your area there are a number of things that you can try to reduce these problems:

  • Never treat a Dingo like a domestic dog, these animals are wild and may display unpredictable behaviour or aggression.
  • Never feed wildlife – this will attract Dingoes to humans.
  • Build dog proof perimeter fences, aviaries, fowl yards and other small pet cages.
  • Restrict movement of your dog and/or cat, especially during the night.

When visiting Dingo habitat remember to always adhere to the following precautions:

  • Always read and obey warning signs.
  • Supervise small children at all times.
  • Never dump food waste or rubbish, as this may attract dingoes to the area.
  • Never interfere with, feed or harass Dingoes, as they can inflict serious damage when provoked.
  • Always take particular care at night and during breeding season when dingoes are most active.
  • Avoid travelling with pets and ensure dogs are kept securely confined, as they may attract dingoes to the area.
  • Never dump unwanted dogs in the bush.

If you have a problem with dingoes in your area, you should contact Parks and Wildlife staff on the details below.

Darwin 0401 115 702 or 8995 5008

Katherine 0407 958 405 or 8973 8888

Dingoes are a protected species in the Northern Territory. For this reason, it is important that members of the public do not interfere with these animals without an appropriate permit.