Rez dogs: Navajo Dogs.

Kayenta Navajo dog (LINK)

I’ve been Googling rez dogs to see what is going on. After all, my previous two posts were really discussing the state of affairs 20-30 years ago. Sadly, things have degenerated a bit. An elderly man recently got killed by a feral dog pack.  I watched a 45 minute video about stray dogs on Navajo.

It made me start thinking. I did not read the following somewhere, I am extrapolating from clues. The first clue is that some years ago the Navajo/Hopi land dispute was settled and a number of Navajos found themselves living on what was Hopi land. So, they had to move. Most of them moved into subdivisions. The video looks like it was filmed around Window Rock in a deary subdivision with no plants anywhere around.

Navajos have always been dog lovers and every home had a little pack, especially if they herded sheep. Before the land settlement, many Navajos living on the Rez lived in small family units which were widely separated by open land. Many fewer people live that way, now.  When people moved into subdivisions, of course they brought their dogs. Something about subdivision living was easier on the dogs. They lived in tight quarters. Now a subdivision with a hundred houses takes up less space than one hogan surrounded by open space.

Few, if any of the environmental pressures on dogs living out in the country, like coyotes, wandering off, cactus assaults, extreme weather and variable food sources now applied. The size of the country pack could be limited by the food sources, plus many pups did not make it to adulthood because they made mistakes and got into trouble, so only clever dogs who figured out how to deal with the environment made it.

In the subdivision, life was easy for dogs at first, but some of the forces governing dogs in the country were no longer in play and so almost all the pups born from random matings survived. Before many years had passed, the dogs were overrunning the subdivision. A lot of the results of the random breeding were not keepers, they weren’t culled, but turned loose. Most of the subdivision culls (or what should have been culls) survived, with no selection going on over who  they bred to. So they started self selecting so to speak. The more aggressive dogs had an advantage over the gentle dogs because they were not under human control.

The dog population absolutely exploded according to this AP article.

On the vast Navajo Nation, wildlife and animal control manager Kevin Gleason estimates there are four to five dogs for each of the more than 89,000 households — or as many as 445,000 dogs, most of which roam unchecked, killing livestock and biting people with alarming regularity.
“They kill everything,” Gleason said in a recent interview. “Cats, dogs, cattle, sheep, horses. We’ve also had people severely injured by them. We’ve had people with horrendous bites. We just had a case … where a man lost 37 sheep to a pack of dogs.
“We have that going on all the time. Our officers respond to more than 25 bite cases a month, and 25 livestock damage cases a month.”

While I strongly dispute those numbers of strays!!!- The rest of the article is interesting reading too.

Attempts to diminish the problem with round-ups by animal control officers, weekly spay and neuter clinics in Gallup, and ongoing efforts by small group of volunteers to ship a few healthy puppies and dogs to shelters in Albuquerque and Colorado have had virtually no impact.
“You look at the Sundance area where that gentleman was killed, we went in and removed 79 dogs after that and it looked like we never touched it,” Gleason said.
Dogs roam the sides of highways, restaurant, gas station and store parking lots and just about anywhere else they might find food. Their carcasses in various stages of decomposition litter spots along the sides of the main roads and interstates.

This is a nightmare state of affairs. According to the video, there are squads that go out and catch subdivision strays and feral dogs and euthanize them in huge numbers. There is one rescue agency in St, Johns called Blackhat Rescue. (I collected a couple of shelter dog photos at their site). It is hard to tell which dog is owned, because they all run loose. There aren’t too many fenced yards.  They form packs and roam for food. They are turning into critters that compete for the garbage, and can attack anything that moves. All their pack instincts are still intact, though they lack efficiency and discrimination.

The way of living has changed,, but traditional views of dogs are still the most common ones. Neutering a dog is a shocking idea to many Navajo, and the mobile neutering units have not made a dent in either the belief system or the actual neutering. The unit in the video was whining and critical – and then they left.

Why wasn’t there a major dog population problem in years past? When traditions were intact, many if not most tribes, except Navajoes,  killed bad dogs and ate the culled dogs. Now the idea is revolting, but that is our conditioning, not a Universal Truth. Some tribes, maybe many of them had special dog eating ceremonies. A Siouxish person I know told me about the Lakota ceremony. The ritual dog eating gave them a time and place to reiterate the meaning of dogs, and on what makes a good dog and which dogs you cull when young and which adult dogs you cull.

The dog eating tradition was alive and well in Mexican lands, when the Spaniards came. According to the doggy anthropologists like Derr and Schwartz, once they ate it, they loved it and actually preferred it to the point they reduced the dog population quite a bit. That is what everyone who eats dog meat says. “It tastes good”. I think of all the meat from the dead dogs from shelters, and I wish they could at least make it into cat food, or lion food or something. I believe that if you breed dogs, you have to cull poor temperament and lack of soundness. If you can’t take responsibility for what goes out into the world, and make them the best dogs you can, you shouldn’t breed dogs.

The situation is so bad on Navajo land, I think they have recently decided to take drastic measures. I think the measures are warranted. With just the sheer number of feral dogs, it would be impossible to home them all if they went to every state in the union. Plus a lot of them should have been culls in the first place.

My Suggestion:

Once the dog population is reduced drastically, I would wish for Navajos to decide on a Navajo landrace type dog like this one, perhaps, and or the ancient type in the top photo.

Navajo sheep dog of an ancient type (LINK)
Doing this would be worth it. Using landrace breeding styles, the type will be maintained, but there would be little to no inbreeding. The little sweetie just above is a type I have seen in many Navajo dogs that tend sheep.
He is truly a Navajo “Shepherd” Dog type that can be traced back to the Basket Maker dog mummies before there were sheep to shepherd.

My wildest speculation is that the classic type in the top photo was the type the Athabaskan tribes brought with them as hunting and hauling dogs. They basically fit the Xolo’s Itzquintle types (The hairy version of the Xolo, which is far more ancient than the hairless mutation). It is impossible to tell how many European dog genes are in play, but both dogs are true to the landrace types.

I found this lovely picture on

It is really nostalgic for me to see this,this photo could be from the 50’s when my family lived in Window Rock, but note the little dog like the one above. We have a real landrace dog type here. So far I have only searched shelters for photos of the classic hunting dog, but I’ll look for more of these, too.


Rez Dog Rescue provider

Rez dogs are just mutts and probably of Anglo breeding.I don't understand your point- resurecting the old style rez dogs from the mutts that have taken over? No one want to be breeding these guys in this day and age!!!!


    Kate Williams

    NO one? Not true. The AKC is drowning in its own closed registry. Registrations have declined every year for the last 23 years. The dogs themselves are often unsound and have genetic problems caused by incest.

    Likewise shelter dogs have declined steeply in the same time period, to the point where they send each other dogs to fill their inventories. All rescued dogs are neutered. What has happened is the demand for dogs now exceeds the supply. Thousands are imported from Mexico alone from puppy farms down there. So what do people do, who do not want an AKC dog? They can go to a pet store that has mutts or they can buy a local puppy out of the newspaper or signs at intersections.

    It is obvious to me, that the need for intelligent dog breeding is growing. So what is intelligent dog breeding? Certainly NOT breeding from closed registries- that era is almost over. Intelligent dog breeding is breeding for more heterogeneity, for instance, crosses between malamutes or huskies, with shepherds tends to produce a lot more wolfy-looking dog than any of the separate breeds. These types are rampant on the Rez’s around the nation- just take a look at nearby shelters! (which I do, almost weekly) So what if it has European ancestry? It reverts to the Indian type easily when outcrossed. Malamutes have been shown to have New World ancestry and I think Huskies have at least Asian ancestry (not Euro) too, not to mention the Inuit dogs which are a landrace type that looks like a breed type.

    Genes tend to come and go, yet the basic type stay pretty much the same.


Pearl Maven

Hi RezDog person.You are right- mostly. I do not advocate breeding dogs, I just advocate looking at shelter dogs in a new way. They may have Anglo dog genetics, but the old rez types just absorbed them and went on being who they are. The old types were never wiped out, so they are still there phenotypically if not genotypically. I was impressed at the great yellow dogs and even a few off color, but wolfy types to be seen at just one Rescue. Black Hat Rescue in St Johns."Wolfy" does not mean "wolfdog or wolf hybrid, in my vocabulary, It just means a dog with something wolfy about it, emphasis on dog.



Personally I would ask myself whether the claimed problems are really true, such things get exaggerated very fast (had that with an Italian population where there was no evidence for the claimed instances), and why it came to the claimed instances and with what dogs. Usually feral dogs are the direct opposite of aggressive. Also I would agree with seeing the practice of spaying and neutering as appauling. Because lets face it, if you spay and neuter all these strays, mutts and the like what you do is basically eleminating the healthy lines and only breed with the unhealthy ones in many registries. Seriously it is not that difficult to keep dogs from breeding when you own them, I have my fourth now and I always managed it, so did my family and it was never difficult, especially since all of our she-dogs where picky and even in heat didn’t just take every dog there was.
Also I wonder whether free-rangers and ferals aren’t necessary for dog survival after all. If things were different in the world of dog-breeding I might think differently but clearly its not. If humans can’t get it done than natural selection has to. Even dingoes can be used as sheep dogs, so a few generations of natural selection will probably not make feral dogs unsuitable as companions and working dogs. Also ferals of long lines usually tend to be more social and have sufficient parental care, something that is lost in many modern day lines, not only among males (which is bad enough) but also among females. In addition Feral populations would be good indications as to what traits can be considered healthy and which not.


    Kate Williams

    I agree with much that you have said. SO many of the AKC breeds are so inbred as to have only one or two genetically individual animals in a population of a thousand. I am thinking of the Icelandic Sheepdog, but as population genetics studies are done on more breeds, it will be possible to rate the genetic health of a breed by how many genetically complete individuals there are in the population.

    The newly feral dogs on the Navaho Rez are aggressive and have not had the proper ‘training’ to be in a pack working together to eat. Instead, they gang up and kill all the sheep in a pen without eating any of them. I saw several examples of this. Also the guy who died probably died of exposure, not dogs, but the dogs did nibble on him after he died.

    I too think something like a feral population is needed, but where could it exist in this day? So my Idea is to start with a bunch of dogs that LOOK like the old dogwolf types. I have found that ones that have shepherd and husky or shepherd and malamute look so wolfy in the first generation. Then outcross to the correct type every generation. Let many dogs have one litter before neutering and neuter late rather than early. I have been watching a couple such breed experiments in recent years, and I had a try at it in the 1970-1990s and loved those dogs the best of any in my life with dogs.

    It takes little breeding know how to breed the right type to the right type- if the only requirement is the standard wolfy/dingolike type and outcrossing. Once there is enough heterogeneity, many of the purebred issues should resolve themselves by getting buried deep in the genetic code, rather than trying to breed them out. Every time something “bad” gets “bred out”, then so do many other factors we can’t know about ahead of time. So it is better to breed our own village dogs, pariah, dingos, whatever we want to call them.

    I do plan on doing a review of a couple of breeders already doing something like this.



      Damn it, the site crashed and no I have to write it all over again. :/

      Do you have any idea when you are going to blog about those breeders?

      In general genetic flaws can be “bred out,” but I doubt the range of ability modern dog-breeding has in that regard. Natural selection can do that without a doubt, but selective dog breeding…
      Among working lines yes, depends on the work, but not show lines as it seems.

      Also dingoes, Pariahs and village dogs are known for not being the results of selective breeding, they have that in their history of course but a huge part of their history is shaped by natural selection. If the Australian wild dogs are anything to go by the basic body type seems to prevail albeit some fanciful coloring is possible:

      Of course in Australia dogs are top order predators so perhaps fanciful coloring is not selected against down there.

      Perhaps the whole western notion of dog-keeping is inherently flawed. I mean how many dogs actually were contained so often during history. Weren’t most free-rangers?

      And there is the problem I think when regarding feral dogs. A lack of understanding and the lack of information.
      As far as I know what you describe is actually normal behavior for canine predators. The man was dead and therefore possibly no longer human for them and what they did with the sheep is simple surplus killing, as is documented for wolves and coyotes as well and is caused by insufficient anti-predator behavior of the prey, basically running in front of them all the time and therefore trigger predatory behavior time and again. This has nothing to do with aggression.
      My question is rather why those feral dogs got to the sheep in the first place. I mean if their presence is known why weren’t the sheep sufficiently protected? And even if they were not there, the Navajo Nation still is in the distribution area of coyotes and cougars, shouldn’t LSGDs and/or shepherds be standard for them?

      Anyway I guess there would be enough places for feral dogs but they would face two main obstacles I think:
      1) The belief that no matter how many time passes a domestic animal can never become a wild independent one, despite all the evidence to the contrary (I think this line of “reason” also leads to the fact that all sorts of degeneration is excused and breeders are even proud that they pass on the genes when their dogs can’t do it anymore (e.g. with British Bulldogs or Neapolitan Mastiffs)
      2) The intense dislike/hatred of feral animals in many parts of the environmental movements, for them a feral is always wrong and no matter what it does its always wrong. E.g. a wolf killing a deer is right and can never be detrimental but if a feral dog does it (which are usually portrayed as inherently poorer hunters) it is always wrong.

      I remember a thesis paper I think who stated that quite well:
      “The big losers in our restoration plans are feral animals, who have
      become “misfits.” They no longer receive the protection afforded
      domesticated animals, and yet they are not accepted by us as a natural
      element of the landscape in which they were born and are therefore
      native. Although we elsewhere blur distinctions, we are still, in respect to
      feral animals, governed by our traditional separation of the natural world
      into two mutually exclusive categories: the pastoral-cultivated vs. the
      wild. Now that wilderness has become precious to us, feral animals are
      treated with contempt because they remind us of our exploitative
      practices and they ruin our illusion that we have recreated a wild
      landscape. Deep ecologists have argued that the development of
      agriculture initiated a regrettable separation of humans from “nature”
      and that domesticated animals can therefore never be accepted as a part
      of “wilderness.” See for example, the arguments presented by Dave
      Foreman in Confessions of an Eco-Warrior (Foreman). Most
      environmentalists agree with J. Baird Callicott’s derisive comment that
      farm animals “have been bred to docility, tractability, stupidity and
      dependency.” They could not, he believes, exist in a wild state. If
      abandoned, they could not cope with freedom and would “hang around
      farm outbuildings waiting forlornly to be sheltered and fed. … Most
      would starve.” (Callicott; Warren; and Mighetto). It is curious that
      environmentalists (many of whom are willing to enjoy the products of
      the environmentally damaging and bio-uniform meat and wool
      industries) frequently define our obligations to animal species on the
      basis of assumptions about whether an animal would or would not take
      pleasure in being free of our control. At the same time that we yearn to
      soar with eagles, we confine chickens in crowded, windowless buildings
      and then despise them for not being free. A thoughtful discussion of the
      attitudes of environmentalists toward domesticated animals is provided
      by Karen Davis in her article “Thinking Like a Chicken.” In our modern
      reversal of attitudes toward the natural world, we disparage the pastoral
      species for their presumed dependence and weakness (once a source of
      comfort to us), and we cherish the wild species which, until quite
      recently, we killed because they were “misfits” and “could not be
      controlled or domesticated.” Many people think that sheep are stupid, lazy and clumsy, and therefore deserving of contempt and even abuse.
      Note that, in the first passage quoted above, bison are characterized by
      the same modifiers; their killers justify the slaughter by the same
      untenable logic: if we believe that animals are stupid, we are justified in
      killing them.
      And yet, the sheep abandoned on Santa Cruz Island have proved
      Callicott wrong. They have demonstrated an impressive capacity to
      survive in a harsh environment, even though their ancestors were
      “ruined” by millennia of human husbandry, and they deserve our respect
      if we are sincere in our professions of regard for natural processes. Mass
      shootings demonstrate no respect.”


Kate Williams

I was so pleased to see your long and thoughtful comment this AM. I love those photos, esp as I had not seen the black and white coats on dingos before. Black and white is also described in pre-conquest dogs such as the museum specimen believed to be perhaps 7k year old from a nearby area. It is also found in the dogs of one of the breeding experiments I wish to review. Not that either of the two most foremost (through their online presence, anyway) breeders have been very scientific in their approached, to the point they can write authoritatively about what is in their stock or in one case, how inbred it is. I will mention their names though so you can look them up: Kim LaFlamme and his ‘American Indian dogs’, and Karen Markel and her ‘Native American Indian dogs’. Markel is also using the name Indian Shepherd Dogs and got the name registered, which I do not like on principle nor in particular. The dogs are a hybrid between her NAID stock and a Belgium Tevuren.

IMeanwhile give me some time to read your post thoroughly. I used this blog to figure out what the dog issues that move me to write are. I have now obtained another blog at where I started with only the little guys, the deer Chihuahuas where I argue that they have had an unbroken presence in the SW since the pre-history of the area. But I recently expanded to Itzquintles and Dingos and other feral dogs, though not much of the reorganization has happened yet. I may even have made the site non-pubic until I get the contents to match the new name, better.

Perhaps you would allow me to make this reply a post over there? Or, do you have your own dog blog? If so, I would like to read it as I like your readings and writing!



    Were you referring to this blog?
    I found it while googling the word itzquintle 😉

    I don’t have a blog, I post some stuff in my journal and gallery in deviantart, but for an actual blog, I wouldn’t have the time I think.
    Actually I have one entry that will definitely interest you I think:
    What DNA shows us about dog origins:
    Hopefully the link to the actual scientific article still works.

    Good to hear that you liked my comment, because to be honest I had also gotten hateful answers for comments like that. The last time I asked someone why the livestock, goats in that case, where not protected (the gates were left open in one case) despite being in the area of the same predators and possibly wolves, I got quite a lot of haitspeech, especially stuff ala ‘you know nothing’. But apparently I had a better hand this time.

    And don’t worry take your time with responses.

    What does “7k year old” mean?

    Well even if the breeders aren’t scientists, they should at least record their work I think. That is the problem in many parts of dog-breeding I think. Missing records and the like.

    As it so happens I actually heard of the ‘American Indian dogs’ and ‘Native American Indian dogs’ before and was already skeptical back then. The last time I remember there was this “wisdom from the elders” talk and I wondered what wisdom and the like. I mean it is not the first time someone claimed to recreate or safe something just to fail or/and simply make money. And personally I do not believe in the myth that something is of more value simply because it comes from Native Americans. So I am skeptical as well.

    You can use my posts if you like. Of course always with the note that I am not an expert and only happened to research some stuff, ok a lot of stuff, because of my article on dingoes. But still not expert.
    Actually speaking of them I found a few other pictures you will certainly like:

    In addition as far as I know the name dingo just as its equivalent wild dog is not as clear cut in Australia as it seems. In scientific literature I found the usage for dingo meaning the ‘pure’ dingo as well as dingoes and ‘dingo-hybrids.’ Among laypeople dingo can even mean any sort of wild living dog in Australia.
    Brad Purcell seems to have observed right:
    “Dingoes are trapped between the stature of being: 1) an infamous pest animal; 2) a spiritual totemic creature; and 3) a potential keystone species and tool to reverse some impacts of European colonisation on Australian fauna and flora. These three points encapsulate the controversial existence of dingoes. If the dingoes in question are causing problems, then they are referred to as wild dogs and have to be controlled (the politically correct way to say killed or culled) under Australian legislation. Alternatively if the wild dogs or dingoes in question are useful or hail from an iconic stature, then they are referred to as dingoes and afforded a level of protection by legislation and the public.”

    Color patterns and shapes like the ones I showed you are usually regarded as signs of mixing with ‘domestic dogs’, I personally prefer to say other dog-lines since dingoes are dogs as well as both biology and DNA clearly demonstrates.
    And while DNA tests and a canonical variation equation were used to identify ‘pure’ dingoes the canonical variation equation (which is based on skull measurements) and are still considered reliable today as it seems, the equation was already critiqued in 1990 because it failed for the population of the Victorian Eastern Highlands and recently the genetic test came into question as well:
    “On 4 June 2009, the ABC science show Catalyst reported results from or study in the Blue Mountains on national television. Within eight days I received an email from a dingo breeder that stated the following:
    ‘Here at our sanctuary, where we have … bred only from DNA tested “pure” dingoes, we have had quite a few pups born with heavy white spotting – up to ¾ white collar, long white socks, white tail and even some large splashes over the midline. I admit that we select against these … and … cull soon after birth.’
    How many dingo breeders select against colour varieties that appear to be hybrids? More importantly, if other colour varieties were selected for breeding, what colours would result? Are dingoes really only tan with four white paws and a white tail tip or is this only how humans breed them? ”
    Brad Purcell, Dingo

    This reminds me of what a cynologist wrote here in Germany decades ago. Among his breeding experiments “silver dingoes” occurred. However I do not know what exactly that meant because he didn’t publish any pictures.
    So in either way, either the genetic test is flawed or the data on what coat colors ‘pure’ dingoes have.
    Quite interesting.
    Albeit I go with what Josef Reichholf said: Purity is for breeders and apparently not good for the animals involved.
    And from an evolutionary point of view differences are only important if they are necessary for survival and I think in environmentalism that is a good way to think.


      Kate Williams

      Hi Andre
      I want to tell you how much I enjoyed reading your journal post. I saw discussions of the article, so thanks for the link.

      What I really hope to do in my blog is promote the old phenotypes, whether their genes are identical or not. Until the DNA is done thoroughly on far more dogs then it is now, it is not possible to know whether any indigenous types persist genetically, or only by phenotype.

      It does seem that even genotypes change over the ages (except in a closed registry with too few breed members) but in general the dingo type dog persists almost the world over. The coats may vary in color, length, and texture, but the basic dingo body type is somewhat distinct from the wolf, though not very much so. This is the kind of dog Mark Derr calls the “dogwolf” In North America, this type comes/came in 3 normal sizes, Those averaging wolf size, coyote size, and fox size. By far, most dogs had prick ears before the European conquest of the Americas. The Euro-dogs almost always had dropped ears. The coats of the American dogwolves varied in length, color and patterns. Most plains dogs seemed to be agouti or silver, but every other color did appear. More southern dogs had short hair. Every odd mutation known in the old world made its appearance in the new world too, bob tails, short legs, short faces, for instance. In addition the new world had its own mutation, not found in the Old World (despite the article you cited saying it did) the hairless gene was peculiar to the New World and has persisted through time from its inception 3-4kya. (3-4 thousand years ago). there is the living proof that at least one gene has survived the Conquest, and that is enough to make me interested in the day when it can be determined if there are more.

      In the meanwhile there is no reason not to point out the many dogs in shelters that look like the old style dogs. They are usually called husky/shepherd crosses (and maybe they are) but the fact is they look like the old time dogwolves of the Plains Indians.

      I am getting ready to write this up in a post on the newly refurbished blog. The whole point of my blog, in a way, is to recommend an easy outcross program to breed dogs back to the basic dingo dogwolf type while increasing their heterogeneity every generation. Those dropped ears or alternate coat colors will always be in there, but generally, the dingo type tends to have mostly dominant genes expressed in the phenotype. I do believe an unspecialized dogwolf could add a tremendous amount of heterogeneity to any breed if used as an outcross, and it will only take a few generations to bred back to type.



        Mmh, what old phenotypes are you talking about?
        Because even bulldog-like dogs occur in Mesoamerican pre-European art, albeit I doubt they were dogs of the commoners, since brachycephalic dogs overheat very fast.

        A newly refurbished blog, the one you talked about?

        The problem with DNA analyses I think is among show lines their incredible reduced genetic diversity in many lines, I think it is comparable to the mass destruction of wolf-lines. Which of course begs the question how reliable current DNA-analyses are especially considered that most “breeds” are not even 300 years old.

        I do remember that supposedly some dog populations were sympatric with wolves. Also I read some interesting stuff in Bibikov’s book regarding wolf-dogs. I would have to check that in time.

        Well I guess the “dingo type” persisting is not surprising since it is the basic canine form and that one seems to be a good model. However, if you are referring to color, then I would personally be more careful since most of these “dingo-types” live in areas where interbreeding with wolves are impossible, so the prevalence of ginger could be due to founder effects since in the north it is rather unusual, just like black-and-tan. However at least in Australia it could be that the color-distributions were different in the past.

        And distinct from what wolf? The species gray wolf (even if you exclude dogs) is quite variable. So what form of the gray wolf are you comparing them with?

        And who is Mark Derr?

        “Euro-Dogs” or Anglo-Saxon and Iberian dogs? 😉

        A wide range of colors is not surprising for the plains dogs, based on the fox-farm experiment this seems to be common for tame canines, but I am not aware that something similar has been done with wolves, I only heard personally statements regarding barking, tail- and earshapes. Coppinger once compared the fox-farm experiment with the tame wolves of Klinghammer’s park and said that dogs could not have come from tame wolves due to the missing changes observed in the foxes and also that dogs must have come along somewhere else since skull-sizes did not change among the dogs. However I think that comparison was flawed for two reasons:
        1) Change in coat color, tail position and ear shape would not appear in archaeological records, or at least be very very unlikely. So they could have appeared much earlier than changes in skull-size.
        2) He did not say anything on whether the wolves in the park where bred for tameness like the foxes were, all he said that they got tamed. And simply taming is different than breeding for tameness.

        What are you referring to when you say short faces? Short faces as in let’s say Rottweilers or short faces as in Pekinese?

        I am personally not a fan of hairless dogs since it looks as though this is within the category of what we call “Qualzucht” over here. This word refers to breeding and traits that reduce the quality of life and this hairlessness belongs to it, since it not only makes dogs more vulnerable, it cannot exist on its own and it reduces the number of teeth and living offspring as far as I know.

        ” I do believe an unspecialized dogwolf could add a tremendous amount of heterogeneity to any breed if used as an outcross, and it will only take a few generations to bred back to type.”

        Ok, I think you would have to explain that to me. 😀


      Kate Williams

      Hi Andre
      I really did like your comment on deviant art. I think your ideas on the subject are far better than average.

      I have gotten much more into the subject of American landraces and the persistence of the phenotype of the “common dog” of the Americas. I even changed the name of the blog to “Native American Dogs” And I do not mean a Breed, but a landrace dog.



        I am not sure whether “landrace” fits since this terms refers to a local variety. Perhaps “type” is better and “landrace” you could use for local varieties.

        I also remember that a whole ago I acquired the copy of a book on the role of the dog in the cultures of the Plains people. It also mentioned the Native American Indian dog and I can tell you the author was not a fan of the breeder. 😀


mike Rogers

did you ever find the old Navajo style of herding/hunting dog?


    Caitlin Williams

    Hi Mike! I have not researched this topic recently.

    The Navajo herding dogs were always quite diverse looking in my early experience in the 1950’s when I lived in Window Rock. This was the last of the old days and everyone with a hogan had dogs and sheep. The dogs tended be brown, to have thick hair and floppy ears. They looked vaguely like small Border Collies except for coat color and size. Beyond that I never saw a real “landrace” type. I also do not know how complicated the dog’s relationship was with the sheep. It was pretty laid back with little direction needed. I think the dogs were companions more than skilled herders. Back in the 50’s it was not unknown for very young children, barely school age, to take the sheep out, alone but for the dog(s). Then, in the mid-fifties, the govt’s of the US (and the Navajo Nation) did a huge round up because of overgrazing “excess” horses and cattle mostly, but the sheep were affected too. The old lifestyle took a big hit.

    Then decades later, when the Navajo had to move off of Hopi land, another huge curtailment happened and now, the hogan, sheep and dog(s) lifestyle is rare. The side effect was many dogs moved into subdivisions and multiplied rapidly breeding with anything and everything including a lot of so-called purebred types.

    I hope that there is a prevailing dog consciousness that will rise, and allow pride in recreating a Navajo landrace type and pride in controlling the continued indiscriminate breeding of subdivision dogs. Right now the “locus of control” of one’s dogs is far too external, carried out by uniformed workers. I hope it shifts to becoming a project to tease out an old type dog with careful and conscious out breeding – while not following the eugenic inbreeding model of the AKC to “create” a purebred dog.

    Are you doing any recent research on the situation that brought you to this website?


      mike Rogers

      kinda. I’ve been doing a lot of research on the early Leopard curs and Catahoulas trying to tie the two together along with another breed called the Carea Pasture Leonés. A breed brought over by the Spaniards in the 1400’s, but goes back even further than that. When the Spaniards moved along the coast of Florida, Louisiana, Texas and Mexico into far south america, they brought this sheep dog breed along with the Spanish mastiff to guard and heard sheep and live stock. I believe these two breeds (the leones and mastiff) make up a lot of the early leopard spotted breeds. The Carea Leonés are merle in color and also black. I believe the Australian Shepherd is derived from the Leones. As the spanish moved fro south to north in Mexico they took along these dogs. They traded with the Hopi, Navajo and other Indian tribes. While they continued to move north into and toward California I believe more of these sheep dogs were traded with the native Americans. Spanish mines can be found through out parts of south Texas as they searched for silver and gold. I again think these breeds where with the Spaniards. I do no that Native American dogs go way further back than when the Spaniards arrived in the 1400’s, but I’m not sure if there were merle colored dogs when I know the Spaniards brought this color over. I have put an ad in the Navajo Times looking for the old style Navajo herding/hunting sheep dog. I know these dogs had to not only guard and guide the sheep, but I bet the Native Americans used them to catch and tree game for food. I’ve had several hits on native rez dogs, but they are not old enough stock. One gentleman said he remembers his granddad having this type of dogs in the 70’s but doesn’t know where to find them anymore. I’m thinking about taking a trip to the reservation when the bring the sheep in and see what kind of dogs they are using. I really enjoyed your writing. Keep it up and keep an eye open for one of those old time Native American sheep dogs…



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