dingo (dĭngˈgō) [key], wild dog ( Canis lupus dingo ) of Australia, believed to have been introduced thousands of years ago from SE Asia by the aboriginal settlers of that continent; currently regarded as a subspecies of the gray wolf. The only large carnivorous mammal found in Australia by the first European colonists, it stands about 24 in. (61 cm) high at the shoulder and has large, erect ears, a wolflike head, and rather long legs. It is usually yellowish red in color, with white markings on the underside, feet, and tip of tail. The dingo mates once a year and has a litter of up to eight pups. In the wild state it howls rather than barks, is nocturnal in its hunting habits, and usually travels in small groups. Although most often its quarry is small animals, the dingo's predation on livestock has caused serious economic loss in some areas of the continent. It has often been kept as a pet by the aborigines and used by them in hunting. The dingo is classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Carnivora, family Canidae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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