The Carolina dog is a medium-size breed known for its tall and pointed ears, long snout, and lithe frame. They are also known as “American dingoes” or “Dixie dingoes” because they resemble the famous Australian dingo. But rather than being from the land down under, this breed is actually descended from wild dogs found in the United States, but with a gentle nature that makes it an ideal family pet.
GROUP: Hound (per AKC)
HEIGHT: 18 to 20 inches
WEIGHT: 30 to 55 pounds
COAT: Short, dense
COAT COLOR: Tan, yellow, black, red, or a combination of these colors
LIFE SPAN: 12-15 years
TEMPERAMENT: Loyal, adaptable, gentle, reserved, adventurous, playful
ORIGIN: United States
Characteristics of the Carolina Dog
The Carolina dog may just be the epitome of a man’s best friend: loyal, playful, protective, and always up for an adventure. A relatively new breed to domestication, Carolina dogs are known for being extremely devoted companions to the humans they bond with. They have a strong pack mentality, so being close to their family unit is a must for these athletic, energetic pets.
|Tendency to Bark||Low|
|Amount of Shedding||High|
History of the Carolina Dog
The Carolina dog is thought to have come to the U.S. by means of passage through the Bering Strait when merchants came from Asia to North America. Through the years, individual dogs escaped, becoming feral and gradually migrating towards the southeastern U.S. Today, the breed has become known as the Carolina dog.
Descendants of these dogs that started life in the far north reaches of the North American continent can still be found living wild in Georgia and South Carolina, typically among pine forests or near swamps.
Their DNA contains traits from the very base of the canine family tree, meaning the Carolina dog is a very primitive breed and may resemble the type and appearance of some of the earliest canines. Remains of Carolina dogs have even been found in ancient Native American burial sites, suggesting that these dogs were kept as pets during these long-ago times.
The breed was rediscovered in the 1970s by Dr. I. Lehr Brisbin, who gave them the name “Carolina dog." Since 1996 they have been a registered breed by the UKC, or United Kennel Club. They are not officially recognized by the AKC as of yet. However, in 2017 they were listed in the AKC’s Foundation Stock Service, which is an indicator that the breed is working towards official recognition.
Carolina Dog Care
If you are looking into adopting a Carolina dog, give serious thought as to how much time you will be with your pup. An isolated Carolina dog is a sad one. Dogs that are left alone for long periods may struggle with boredom or stress, which often manifests itself in destructive or disruptive behaviors and separation anxiety.
Despite their athletic appearance, this breed is not known for having excessively high energy. However, they most definitely require regular exercise and are best suited for a home with a yard to play in and room to run. Daily walks are a must to keep your Carolina dog healthy and happy. Set aside about an hour a day to exercise your Carolina pup.
These dogs are known for being clean and actually wash as much cats do. The Carolina dog, however, sheds a lot, particularly during seasonal changes. In colder months, these dogs will grow in a thicker, warmer coat. When warmer weather rolls around, they’ll shed this. As a result, this breed is typically not a great choice for allergy-sensitive people. Because of shedding and coat changes, be sure to regularly bathe and brush this breed.
Carolina dogs are also very intelligent, and may sometimes have a stubborn streak. However, they also have a willingness to please, meaning they respond well to training with positive reinforcement. Because of their agile frame and high intelligence, Carolina dogs often excel at competitive agility sports and hunting.
Common Health Problems
Carolina dogs are quite healthy and are not prone to having any particular diseases or health problems. It has been found that some are sensitive to ivermectin (used for treating mites and intestinal parasites), however, so talk with your veterinarian before giving them this type of medication.
Diet and Nutrition
The Carolina dog’s diet should closely resemble what they would eat in the wild. Giving them high-quality or homemade food would be best. If overfed, these dogs can struggle with obesity. Therefore, be sure not to overfeed them or give them too many treats.
Ask your veterinarian for specific food requirements for your dog and its lifestyle. Each may be different depending on weight, size, and age.
Where to Adopt or Buy a Carolina Dog
Though the Carolina dog makes a wonderful companion, it is not a dog for everyone. Be sure you can give them the time, attention, and exercise they need. Remember that these dogs need to be with their packs—which means you—most of the time. Be sure to talk with breeders or others who have Carolina dogs to get a feel for what it is really like to live with one.
The good news is that this breed may be more common in your area than you realize. If you are searching for a Carolina dog, be sure to always check your local adoption and rescue agencies. Some may not even realize that they have Carolina dogs since many are mistaken for mutts or unknown mixes. If you are searching for accurately identified Carolina dogs or strong Carolina dog mixes, be sure to check out the clubs, breeders, and rescues listed below.
The Saving Carolina Dogs Rescue and Adoption Network lists all Carolina dogs they are working with that need rescuing from shelters. Pups have loving foster families and are available in different areas across the U.S. If there are no Carolina dogs listed near you, be sure to contact and research your local rescues. If you choose to find a dog through a breeder, expect to pay between $800 to $2,000 for a Carolina puppy.
Loyal attachment to adults and children alike
Clean and almost cat-like in grooming habits
Excellent watchdog, but without aggressive tendencies
Does not do well in isolation or when separated from pack
Strong prey drive, challenging for households with smaller animals
Carolina Dog Overview
More Dog Breeds and Further Research
As you contemplate getting a dog, be sure to put careful research into the breed you select. With careful research, whatever pup you chose will no doubt be your next best friend. You might also be interested in learning more about these similar breeds:
Does the Carolina dog need to live outside?
No. Though descended from wild dogs, this breed needs to live indoors and should not be left outside. Not only will this be harsh on your pup when it comes to climate, but remember that these dogs are very attached to their pack. Leaving them outside could make them isolated and depressed.
What does it mean that the Carolina dog has an intense pack mentality?
Because of their wild origins, these dogs have an intense pack mentality. This not only lends itself toward other dogs but to humans as well. As a result, these pets don't do well with a solitary life. Though Carolina dogs are independent, they do not handle isolation well. Remember that you are his or her pack now, and a pack sticks together.
Are Carolina dogs aggressive?
This breed has a suspicious nature when confronted with unfamiliar faces, making it an excellent guard dog. Despite this fact, these pups are not known to bark often. They are protective, but not aggressive—which adds to their appeal as a family pet. While they are not overly affectionate, they are extremely loyal and playful.
Are Carolina dogs good with kids?
The Carolina dog is wary of strangers and is naturally shy, but once they bond with their human they are very loyal. Many people say that they make wonderful, loving, devoted friends. They love large family units and play very well with kids and other pets, especially if introduced at a young age.