All About the Carolina Dogs

Learn more about this breed that has a strong hunting instinct.
By: PawCulture Editors
Carolina Dog

About This Breed

The Carolina Dog, or American Dingo, is a rare dog breed first discovered roaming free in South Carolina by Dr. I. Lehr Brisbin. Experts believe the Carolina Dog may be closely related to the first dogs which roamed North America with Native Americans. In fact, some of the ancient art of Native Americans depict dogs with similar physical traits to the Carolina Dog.

Physical Characteristics

The Carolina Dog is a medium-sized dog breed with a general appearance of a small jackal or wolf combined with some sighthound features. According to the United Kennel Club (UKC) standard, the dog typically has a medium-length straight back with tucked-up loin and distinctive tail that curls at the end like a fish hook. The Carolina dog also has large, upright ears.


The preferred color, according to the UKC standard, is deep red ginger with pale buff markings over the shoulders and along the muzzle. However, other variations in color are also considered acceptable, including grading from straw-colored through wheaten to pale yellow buff. Carolina Dogs can also be found in black and tan, piebald spotting and black blanket back.


The Carolina Dog’s coat is affected by the seasons—noticeably heavier in the winter than in the warmer months. His hair is short and smooth on the head, ears, and front legs, with course longer guard hairs over the neck, withers and back.

Personality and Temperament




Carolina Dogs typically perform well in obedience and agility training, frisbee competitions and other physical activities. They also bond well with their human “pack.” Carolina Dogs tend to get along well with other pets, especially if they are raised together early in the same home. 


According to, Carolina Dogs may not have as much as a drive to “be free,” but do have a strong hunting instinct and should therefore not be allowed to roam free in an unfenced yard. Due to his origins, the breed can be shy and suspicious, especially around strangers. Around familiar people the dog can be affectionate in his own way, but is also quiet, reserved and somewhat aloof.



The Carolina Dog fares the best in a loving home with an active family.


Despite being a highly active dog breed, the Carolina Dog is not a high strung dog breed. Keep it happy and healthy with daily walks, games in the yard as well as the occasional camping or hiking trip.


The Carolina Dog is considered to be a generally healthy dog breed.

History and Background

Due to the Carolina Dog’s physical resemblance to dogs first encountered by Europeans near Native American settlements, the dog breed is believed by most experts to be a descendant to ancient dogs which may crossed the Bering land mass 8,000 to 11,000 years ago. This is further evidenced by the fact that preliminary mitochondrial DNA testing performed by the University of South Carolina’s College of Science and Mathematics shows a possible strong genetic link between Carolina Dogs and other primitive breeds like the Australian Dingo.

Dr. I. Lehr Brisbin Jr., a Senior Research Ecologist at the University of Georgia’s Savannah River Ecology Lab, is given credit for the modern discovery and creation of the Carolina Dog. He first came across a Carolina Dog while working at the Savannah River site in the 1970s. Later entire dog packs were located in isolated stretches of longleaf pines and cypress swamps in South Carolina and Georgia.

Although there are still free-ranging Carolina Dogs in these regions, various breeding programs over the last several decades have made it possible for people to also have a Carolina Dog as a pet.