A new study has found that there is no coat colour that helps distinguish a dingo from a wild dog, or dingo-dog hybrids.
The study published in the Journal of Zoology, found that only 53 per cent of dingoes have a ginger coat colour. With around 11 per cent being black and tan and 14 percent brindle.
It was previously believed that purebred dingoes were ginger in colour and that any other colour variation indicated that the dingoes were a domestic dog hybrid.
Dr Kylie Cairns, co-author of the study said dingoes are much more variable than we think and that seeing an animal with an odd coat colour doesn't immediately mean that it's a hybrid.
“Using coat colour to decide what animals should be culled is not a very good idea,” she said.
The study tested the genetic makeup of 1325 wild canids and found about a quarter of the samples were dingoes with no evidence of domestic dog ancestry.
“The widely held idea is that a dingo is ginger animal with white socks and a white tail tip,” senior author of the paper, Michael Letnic said. “But a key finding of this work is that coat colour should not be used to assess ancestry in dingoes.”
The findings can have an impact on efforts by farming groups to suppress wild dog populations. Especially as widespread culling may be killing off purebred or mostly dingo stock
The Victorian government was last year called upon to take responsibility for the alleged mismanagement of the Victorian Dingo population, which continued to be subjected to toxic poison and recreational hunting practices.
The secretary of The Association for Conservation of Australian Dingoes Incorporated (AFCAD), Dr Ernest Healy, previously told NITV News:
“As a top predator, the dingo provides stability through the different layers of the ecosystem from top to bottom. The consensus from the top scientists in the country is that they are crucial to ecological balance, resilience, and stability."
Dr Cairns has previously said that overwhelmingly, wild-living canids (mammals of the dog family) in Australia are pure or high-purity dingoes. There is also zero evidence that domestic dogs have the instincts and behaviours to successfully establish in the wild in Australia.