Song Dog Kennels
Home of SONG DOG KENNELS -- Sole copyrighted Registry for the AMERICAN INDIAN DOGS 

The American Indian Dog

Canine Concepts

Courtesy of R. Kim La Flamme
Song 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 and hunting.

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 humility.

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. 


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