The American Indian
of R. Kim La Flamme
Dog Kennels (June 1988)
History and Origin
The ancestors of the American Indian Dog have so far been traced
back to 30,000 years ago during the ice age in North American.
Among the Old Crow people, ancestors of the American Indians,
Archeologists have found artifacts and bones of the domesticated
dogs. The American Indian Dogs have also been found, studied
and documented by early Spanish explorers, the Lewis and Clark
Expedition, early naturalists, settlers, trappers, and legends
and stories from Indians themselves.
There are three types of native American Dogs.
(1) The large wolf type, mainly from the Northern Artic area,
bred for pulling sleds. These are the Malamute, Huskies, Samoyeds
and Eskimo Dogs.
(2) The medium sized coyote like, these were the most common
and are almost extinct. (These are the dogs we will be talking
about, the American Indian Dogs).
(3) Then there are the smaller Indian Dogs, the Tahl-tan Bear
Dog of Canada. Chihuahua of Mexico and the Mexican hairless.
The 1902 Encyclopedia Britanica describes the medium sized American
Indian Dog,, as being very coyote like, it was the most common
Indian Dog. The largest population was found among the North
American Plains Indian, but they stretched from the sub-artic
through Canada, parts of the United States, Peru, and even some
in South American. Based on personal observations by MAXMILLION
and Catlan between 1780 and 1830, just from the Comanche in
the South and the Blackfoot in the North, "there were at least
two hundred thousand American Indian Dogs and most native Indian
families had about 10 to 30 dogs per family." It is believed
that one of the reasons they almost became extinct is because
they looked so coyote like that the settles and soldiers felt
threatened by them as they did the Indians themselves.
Once the white man had arrived and from the first major battle
at Pequot Fort, Massachusetts in 1637 to the massacre of the
Sioux band at Wounded Knee, South Dakota in 1890, almost nothing
remained of Native Indian Culture, including their dogs. Even
after the tribal groups were moved to reservations, the white
soldiers and settlers continued to destroy the Indian Dogs.
Some of the remaining dogs had to be eaten by their starving
masters as they were forced from one desolate reservation to
the next. Others returned to a feral state to be absorbed back
into their wild coyote cousins, this is the reason it is believed
by some that there is such a difference in coyotes, even to
this day, from one part of the country to the other.
The white man could not understand the Native American ways.
They could not comprehend nature's balance and how to live with
the land. The soldiers and settlers almost destroyed all the
Native Americans and their dogs.
Now these humble little native dogs are finally being recognized
for the versatile loyal dogs from the thousands of years of
selective breeding given to them by the Native American people.
The Native Americans had great respect for nature and all living
things. One of the animals they respected most was the coyote.
L They believed that the coyote, or God's Dog as they called
them, was the first being on earth and would also be the last.
They believed they were here to teach and help man learn survival
and the secrets of humility, instincts and nature's balance.
These tribes thought so much of their dogs that they used to
tie out their bitches in heat to be bred by God's Dog. This
helped to maintain their survival instincts, pack loyalty, and
all around intelligence of their dogs.
The Native Americans used their dogs for just about every aspect
of their culture and survival. They guarded their ponies and
village from rival raiding parties., tracked and hunted game,
herded their ponies, herded buffalo around for the kill, packed
meat back to camp, pulled the travois when moving their villages,
babysitting and entertaining children, keeping their masters
warm at night during harsh winters, wool for weaving, also diving
under water to bring up fish and herding fish into their nets.
Not only were they eaten in times of famine, they were also
sacrificed during special spiritual ceremonies, or the ultimate
honor, to be buried with a high shaman or chief.
The Indian did a lot of selective breeding to create a breed
of dog that was so versatile, from guarding and herding to tracking
Fortunately there are a few of these little Buffalo Song Dogs
with us again today. It is very important to allow this, our
only native American Dog, to establish it's role in helping
man learn nature's delicate balance.
Description and Personality:
The American Indian Dog is inquisitive, very intelligent, alert,
very devoted and slightly aloof at first introduction. They
are watchful and always very attentive even when not under command.
In their relationship with people, they are humble, observant,
very instinctive and cautious with strangers. They do not show
viciousness, but they are protective and courageous with instinctive
With those they know well (or just instinctively) they are very
amiable to command, affectionate and possessive. They take well
to traveling and adjust well to any environment. They are a
very hardy and faithful dog with stamina and willingness to
learn. They can become shy if not taken out among people at
an early age. Being territorially conscious, they are very loyal
companions and family watchdogs.
They are very communicative, almost talking in their high-pitched
voices and very expressive in their body language. They are
always smiling, bending an ear, or cocking their head to listen.
Their coloring is natural. All colors (other than solid black
or white) have a natural shading or merging. No splotchy, spotted
or heavy lines separating light or dark colors. They are very
catlike in the way they keep themselves clean. They can spend
much of the time indoors although they prefer the outdoors.
Along with plenty of exercise they can come in at night and
find their corner quietly until the next morning, when you are
ready to put them out. They are very sensitive, but can take
firm training very naturally.
They bark very little and have sort of a high-pitched voice
when communicating. They make very loyal companions, as their
minds are always working. They are not aggressive towards people
and make wonderful playmates. They are gentle with children
and love to play games.