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Do Dingoes Make Good Pets? Everything You Need to Know

Jordin Horn

Dingoes are the elusive wild dog breed that calls Australia home. They have a bad rap, especially due to the Lindy Chamberlain incident in the 1980s when a Dingo went into a tent of a sleeping baby and took it away. There have also been other reports of Dingoes acting aggressively towards humans. However, this is not the norm and happens quite rarely.

Dingoes look a lot like domesticated dogs, so some may wonder if they make good pets. In general, we don’t recommend keeping a Dingo as a pet. We are going to look into the complexities of owning a wild dog, and why you may not want to. Plus, we’ll cover where it is and isn’t legal to bring one of these animals into your home.

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The Dingo/Dog Relation

Dingoes are wild dogs, not domesticated dogs. That is the difference between them. It’s thought that Dingoes descended from domesticated South East Asian dogs brought to Australia around 5,000 years ago. Today, their classification is confusing. In some places, they are classified under Canis familiaris, and other times Canis lupus, so it’s not appropriate to call them dogs or wolves; they are just Dingoes.

a dingo in the wild
Image Credit: Paquita Fadden, PIxabay

Dingo Temperament: Why Are Dingoes Considered Dangerous?

As previously mentioned, Dingoes are not domesticated dogs, they are wild dogs. They do not behave as our pet dogs do. While attacks are rare, they do happen. From 2002 to 2012, just under 100 cases of dingo attacks were recorded, usually involving small children. Once a Dingo attacks, it can inflict terrible wounds, as its bite force can reach up to 1,500 pounds. Dingoes can be easily startled by the unpredictability of children. This is why it’s so important to watch your children very closely in the bush in Australia, where Dingoes can be found.

In most cases, like many wild animals, Dingoes will either observe you from a distance or run away, unsure of whether you will cause them harm. Dingoes usually only attack when they feel threatened, like if a member of their pack is being attacked or if a mother Dingo’s puppies are in danger. When given the choice of fight or flight, though, they usually choose flight.

Is It Legal to Own a Dingo?

In the states of New South Wales and Western Australia, it is legal to own a Dingo without a permit. If you live in Victoria or the Northern Territory, you are going to have to acquire some sort of permit allowing you to keep the Dingo as a pet. However, if you live in Tasmania, Queensland, or South Australia, it is illegal to keep a Dingo as a pet.

In the few cases that it’s legal to own a Dingo, the Dingo must be taken from the litter before 6 weeks of age. After that, it must go through rigorous training to keep it out of trouble and get it as domesticated as possible.

If you’re outside of Australia, you’ll most likely need to visit a zoo to see a Dingo in the flesh.

a dingo standing outdoor
Image Credit: Sciffler, Pixabay

Training a Dingo

Training a Dingo is possible with lots of patience and hard work. A Dingo has thousands of years of history bonding with other members of its pack, so it will be a challenge to get your Dingo to bond with you instead. This also means that once your Dingo bonds with you, it’s very important that you spend as much time with your animal as possible. Dingoes have that pack mindset deeply ingrained in them, so they may go somewhat off the rails if left alone for too long.

You can train a Dingo much like you train another dog to follow commands, however, you must have the prerequisite of a strong bond before training. That’s because Dingoes are extremely independent and do not listen to other people well when they have their own ideas. Training a Dingo requires this foundation of a strong relationship as well as persistence, patience, and lots of praise.

Related Read: Do Kangaroos Make Great Pets? What You Need to Know!

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Our Verdict

We do not endorse keeping a Dingo as a pet. It’s controversial, first of all, and the nature of domesticating a semi-domesticated wild animal can have unpredictable implications. It’s a lot of work to constantly be with your Dingo, make sure it’s trained correctly, and keep it adequately exercised. If you have a Dingo as a pet, these best-care practices are not optional. Otherwise, you may be endangering your own life or the lives of people around you. Not only that, the Dingo needs these things in order to thrive.

Just because something is possible, doesn’t mean it should be done. Keep Dingoes out in the wild, where they won’t bother you if you don’t bother them.

Looking for more unusual pet options? Take a look at our articles on the platypus and sloth!


Featured Image Credit: raelyn203, Pixabay

Jordin Horn

Jordin Horn is a freelance writer who has covered many topics, including home improvement, gardening, pets, CBD, and parenting. Over the years, she has moved around so much that there's been no time to settle down and own a pet. However, as an animal lover, she dotes on and cuddles any pet she happens upon! She grew up with and dearly loved an American Eskimo Spitz named Maggie and a Pomeranian/Beagle mix named Gabby. She calls Colorado home, but has also recently resided in China, Iowa, and Puerto Rico Jordin does not like to settle for the "easy answer" when it comes to living life with your pet. She loves to research the best methods and products out there and cut through the jargon so you can see plainly what something is or how something is done.