There is currently no evidence demonstrating the existence of a feral dog population. If they exist, they are a new species. Cows go feral, donkeys go feral, horses, cats and pigs go feral. Dogs do not. A feral animal has a history of domestication, but has subsequently reverted to its wild form and is living – and reproducing - independently of humans. Dogs are human-symbionts. Some dogs live in people’s homes, yards and even beds. Yet other dogs, particularly primitive pariah breeds, may live in the outskirts of town and have little personal relationships with humans. These are not ‘feral’ dogs; they are dogs.
Dingoes (Canis dingo) can, and do, interbreed with domestic dogs (C. familiaris). Many species of large canid can hybridise. Gray wolves (C. lupus), eastern wolves (C. lycaon), coyotes (C. latrans), golden jackals (C. aureus), Ethiopian wolves (C. simensis), and domestic dogs can all hybridize with each other. Hybridisation is triggered when human persecution disrupts the wild canid’s social structure or significantly reduces their population size. When predator-control stops, these species naturally reform separate populations.
A dingo is any member of the genus Canis that is reproducing in the wild of Australia, independently of humans. There are no feral dogs, only homeless, lost and roaming dogs. Let us make Australia a kinder place for both, by leaving dingoes alone and providing the care our best friends deserve.
By Arian Wallach