Taxonomic status of the Australian dingo -The case for Canis dingo Meyer, 1793 CQU.pdf (1.79 MB)
Download file

Taxonomic status of the Australian dingo: The case for Canis dingo Meyer, 1793

Download (1.79 MB)
journal contribution
posted on 2022-12-15, 02:25 authored by Bradley SmithBradley Smith, KM Cairns, JW Adams, TM Newsome, M Fillios, EC Déaux, WCH Parr, M Letnic, LM van Eeden, RG Appleby
The taxonomic status and systematic nomenclature of the Australian dingo remain contentious, resulting in decades of inconsistent applications in the scientific literature and in policy. Prompted by a recent publication calling for dingoes to be considered taxonomically as domestic dogs (Jackson et al. 2017, Zootaxa 4317, 201-224), we review the issues of the taxonomy applied to canids, and summarise the main differences between dingoes and other canids. We conclude that (1) the Australian dingo is a geographically isolated (allopatric) species from all other Canis, and is genetically, phenotypically, ecologically, and behaviourally distinct; and (2) the dingo appears largely devoid of many of the signs of domestication, including surviving largely as a wild animal in Australia for millennia. The case of defining dingo taxonomy provides a quintessential example of the disagreements between species concepts (e.g., biological, phylogenetic, ecological, morphological). Applying the biological species concept sensu stricto to the dingo as suggested by Jackson et al. (2017) and consistently across the Canidae would lead to an aggregation of all Canis populations, implying for example that dogs and wolves are the same species. Such an aggregation would have substantial implications for taxonomic clarity, biological research, and wildlife conservation. Any changes to the current nomen of the dingo (currently Canis dingo Meyer, 1793), must therefore offer a strong, evidence-based argument in favour of it being recognised as a subspecies of Canis lupus Linnaeus, 1758, or as Canis familiaris Linnaeus, 1758, and a successful application to the International Commission for Zoological Nomenclature - neither of which can be adequately supported. Although there are many species concepts, the sum of the evidence presented in this paper affirms the classification of the dingo as a distinct taxon, namely Canis dingo. Copyright © 2019 Magnolia Press.






Start Page


End Page


Number of Pages







Magnolia Press, NZ

Additional Rights

CC BY 3.0

Peer Reviewed

  • Yes

Open Access

  • Yes

Acceptance Date


External Author Affiliations

Biosphere Environmental Consultants, Qld; Australian Dingo Foundation; University of Technology Sydney; University of the Sunshine Coast; Deakin University; KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden; Flinders University; Griffith University; The University of Sydney; Université de Neuchâtel, Switzerland; University of New South Wales; Monash University; University of New England

Author Research Institute

  • Appleton Institute

Era Eligible

  • Yes