Florida Declares New Guinea Singing Dogs as Exotic Animals

Lori Ennis
by Lori Ennis
New Guinea Singing Dogs are known for their famous “melodious” howls. But in Florida, this breed has been branded as exotic, which means owners must obtain licenses to own one.

Florida state wildlife managers have officially classified New Guinea Singing Dogs as exotic animals, which now require a license if owners want to keep them. Rob Klepper, spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, says that this state regulation now falls in line with federal regulations regarding the breed.

Ron Magill from the Zoo Miami believes the commission is looking to make sure that the dogs (which are not recognized by the American Kennel Club as a breed because of their hybrid dingo/domestic dog DNA) do not become the next exotic commodity in South Florida. He says that South Florida is a hotbed for exotic pets, which often become wild animals that end up being dangerous for native habitats and animals.

There are two New Guinea Singing Dogs at the Zoo Miami, but otherwise, few are found in North America, despite still being bred as pets. Janice Koler-Matznick, President of the New Guinea Singing Dog Conservation Society, says that the number in the United States has more than doubled in the last five years, though she believes potential owners are not fully aware of the risks. She says these dogs aren’t easily domesticated, so don’t expect an obedient housepet.

Zoologists debate the classification as wild when it comes to the dogs. It is believed they evolved from a New Guinea line of dingos. When New Guinea split from Australia, the breed evolved into smaller dogs that hunted in the rainforests. Some believe they weren’t ever really wild to begin with, and are just a feral domestic dog species.

Regardless, Magill says they have wild instincts and are not the best pets. And while famous for their haunting howl, this unique trait doesn’t make them an appropriate family pet (or a popular neighbor!).

Lori Ennis
Lori Ennis

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