By William J. Carpenter

Written in memory of Casey-JoI (Border Collie circa 1988 – August 25th, 2003)

August 25th, 2003 was a tragic day at Moraine Point, NWT (61° 36.2′ N & 115° 38.00′ W) on the west shore of Great Slave Lake where my ex-wife and I resided at the time. During her 6th attempt to chase black bears off our property since August 20th, and although assisted by 4 of our Canadian Eskimo DogsII, Casey was killed by a bear. I was also attacked and bitten on the right upper arm by the same bear, with my life likely saved by the aggressive and fierce reaction of my dogs that immediately attacked the bear while he was upon me, thus giving me a chance to escape. Before I go into the details let me provide a little background.

I have been involved with Moraine Point and area for nearly 23 years as it is the location of my lodge and I have always fully recognized that it was in the heart of black bear country. The near by Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation (FFMC) fish packing plant that had operated every summer was a prime attraction for bears. Not only was it a constant source of fish scent as an attraction for bears, but it was in the past a summer food source for my dogs. Also on a regular basis culled (unmarketable) fish were taken from the FFMC plant to the far side of Moraine Bay and dumped just offshore. The food source had fed many of the resident bears for several generations and even several wolves for all the 23 summers that I have spent at Moraine Point Lodge located only 2 km from the plant. I have always taken the approach that as we are in their territory we need to keep a tidy clean camp so that we do not attract the bears. However if we did see a bear, I have focused on deterring the bears or chasing the bears off by way of all acceptable means including bear banger guns, various noise makers, throwing rocks and the use of dogs that have been at our lodge. I have never viewed the bears as a serious problem at Moraine Point although our former business partners John and Cristine Bayly may disagree as a bear during one summer back in the early 1980’s did swipe or bite at Cristine while she was in a tent.

Over the many summers that I had spent at Moraine Point the bears were more of a problem to the FFMC and fishermen or perhaps their level of tolerance for the bears had been lower than mine. I personally did not agreed with the solutions at the fish plant as often the fishermen or the FFMC plant employees seem to have focused entirely on killing all bears. In fact one summer approximately 12 bears were shot including 2 cubs that were left hanging in the trees after they were killed. Over the years I have personally deterred numerous bears from remaining in the proximity of our lodge and until last year I never had to destroy a problem bear. Casey and at least one Eskimo Dog were always with us in recent years and in 1996 Casey was fitted with a set of bells she wore around her neck so we would know her whereabouts. To the amusement of many, she even wore them in Yellowknife. On September 1st, 2002 my wife (at the time) and I moved permanently to Moraine Point and shortly after our arrival we did encounter one bear that persisted in try to acquire food from our dogs and in spite of numerous attempts over several days at chasing him off, he finally crossed the magic line and attacked and slightly injured a tied up dog. It this point I took corrective measures and killed the bear and reported the kill to the Hay River office of Resources Wildlife and Economic Development (RWED). Upon examination the dead bear was found to be middle aged; but had a recent bullet wound to the abdomen resulting in a herniated and infected area under the skin. It was likely the same bear that was shot at the FFMC plant some weeks earlier with a 30-30 caliber rifle.

In general I have personally taken the approach that it was still quite fine to occasionally see bears or any other wildlife for that matter provided that they were not of danger to me or any of my guests or friends. After all we have been pleased to see moose, caribou, bison, wolverine, wolves, foxes, martin so why not bears.

The summer, 2003 was different, as for a start the FFMC plant due to economic reasons did not open. Yet amazingly we saw no bears until August 20th. We had expected to see bears much earlier but concluded perhaps falsely that they were successful in acquiring food on their own after the closure of the fish plant.

Bear 1-2003 as I numbered our first sighting, showed up on the shoreline in front of the lodge early in the morning of August 20th and it was headed for the dogs that were tied on the beach. None of the dogs were loose and Casey was in the house. The bear was approaching the dogs just as I opened the front door to yell at him. Before I yelled he had reacted to the noisy dogs, which by then were causing quite a fuss and he turned to go back in the direction he came from. I ran down and released 4 of the dogs that were buddies to Casey and called her to have them all chase after the bear as has been our routine to deter any intruding bear. True to form, the task was undertaken with the same eagerness and excitement and led by Casey off they went in full pursuitIII of the bear.

Bear sighting 2-2003 occurred on the morning of August 21st just prior to our planned departure to Yellowknife. This bear (whether it was the same bear as 1-2003 I do not know) was at our compost barrels but also chased off by Casey and her 4 Eskimo Dog companions. While away for 2 days the dogs (a total of 14 Eskimo Dogs and Casey) were all tied along the beach on a chain that had movement on end cables to allow each dog to have access to the lake water). Casey was happily and safely located between Kurugrook and Whiskers two of her favorite dogs.

Bear sighting 3-2003 occurred upon our return to Moraine Point late on Saturday afternoon August 23rd but it was over at the old FFMC plant where the pilot had to land the airplane due to rough water in front of our home. This bear appeared as a tall, long legged thin bear that was up on the wooden dock pacing back and forth as if wanting to reach out to us as he stretched his neck out over the water. The pilot taxied the plane back and forth waiting for the bear to leave, then after several minutes the bear then went down to our docking site on the shore and came out into the water a couple of feetIV The pilot shut off the engine and we shouted loudly at the bear and banged the side of the aircraft to make additional noise. In short order the bear moved off allowing us to dock the plane. He was last seen going into the bush right on the trail that led to our place. After unloading we left our gear and supplies in a building at the plant and noisily walked home being sure to watch for the bear. Although we did not see any bears, we saw 7 piles of bear droppings on the 2 km trail home. Upon arrival at the house we saw very fresh bear droppings right adjacent to the house and the garbage burning barrel was knocked over with all the burned cans spread out.

Without incident we returned to the fish plant with our Honda Trike and wagon for our supplies taking with us Casey and the 4 dogs plus we carried a bear banger. These 5 dogs remained loose around our house after we returned.

That evening just after supper, we heard the other dogs on the beach raising a fuss and noted a bear on the shore just beyond the furthest tied dogs. This being bear sighting 4-2003 was dealt with in the same usual manner in that I carried a bear banger, took Casey and the 4 loose dogs down and within moments they too saw the bear and gave chase sending the bear into the bush and uphill away from the lodge.

The next day Sunday August 24th, bear sighting 5-2003 occurred just outside of the small cabin about 100 ft from the main lodge. With out any need for assistance or encouragement the dogs, being Casey, Kurugrook, Spirit, Whiskers and Edéhzhíe again chased off the bear with no further sightings that day.

All the dogs except Casey spend the night loose outside. In the morning August 25th at approximately 8 AM Casey was eager to go out and I let her out but noticed that the other dogs were not present. I observed that Casey roamed around the yard with her hackles up and was keenly interested in something. Shortly after I saw that the others dogs were all returning very excited having just come in from the forest. Casey immediately joined her companions and within minutes they ran off with Casey at the lead and we heard her loud barkingV off in the forest as she does when she encounters an animal of any kind.

I was about to put on boots to follow them when something very noticeable occurred. Casey’s barking ended and suddenly from off in the forest I heard the long drawn out stress call of the 4 Eskimo Dogs all giving off their low deep pitched “woof – woof – woof”. A few minutes later just as I got outside all 4 Eskimo Dogs eagerly greeted me but no Casey, which at first appeared normal as she is often first after a bear and last to return. However after a few minutes and with no Casey in sight and with no distant barking or sounds of her bells at all, I thought perhaps something was wrong. I also saw that Kurugrook has a sizeable bleeding gash across his forehead just above his eyes. I did not know exactly quite what direction or route to take to look for her but as I entered the lower land behind one of the old buildings it was clear that the dogs wanted to go in one particular direction and not any other. I kept saying lets find Casey. Foolishly, as hindsight now tells me, I was on my way without a rifle but was carrying only the bear banger with 6 shots and one projectile unit that serves as an option to send off a unit that explodes at a distance with a very loud bang.

Unusual about this trip with the dogs was also that Spirit (who is subordinate to his father Kurugrook) was eagerly leading the way (something Kurugrook never allowed him to do) and he was most definite about his route which was with a pronounced right turn off the main path going up Cranberry Hill as we call the trail I was on. The other dogs followed him as I did and he then stopped and waited not just for them, but as soon as I was near he turned this time to the right and went uphill striking off on a new but definite route and stopped and waited again. By this time the dogs were all with hackles up and acting very alert stopping and smelling ahead and looking up the hill. Spirit led us on a bit further through a small clearing and then into denser forest and suddenly there it was bear sighting 6-2003. Some 45 feet ahead of me in the forest and far too close was a black bear. The dogs were immediately giving their stress “woof – woof- woof” and were running at the bear that was standing over dear Casey who was obviously dead and being eaten.

Hind sight again is wonderful and I now know that I should have quickly retreated and gone home for my rifle, but I did not. Instead, almost in anger at seeing the bear eating my daughter’s dog, I raised the bear banger, inserted the one projectile unit and fired the gun wanting to scare off the bear from Casey. I saw the projectile land in front of the bear exactly where I aimed but to my amazement and shock the projectile was a dud and went off with a low “poof” and a bit of smoke instead of the extremely loud bang or boom that was suppose to occur. Within a split second the bear charged me running full speed the 45 feet and it was not a bluff. With full knowledge from all I have readVI and heard that we are not suppose to run from a bear attack, I don’t think I would have had time to run far (prosthetic knee and all) even if I wanted to, for in less than a heartbeat the bear was at me, up on his hind legs and had his jaws clenched onto my right upper arm at the triceps area. This was not a bluff but certainly was a provoked bear protecting a food cache. I knew I was in big trouble and with the bear’s head within a foot of mine as he held onto my arm I think I quickly punched him in the nose with my left fist (left handed punches were always my best defense since a kid), and I yelled at him as loud as I could. Or maybe I yelled first and then punched, but in either case the entire scene caused a reaction from the dogs too, and the next thing I realized was that 2 of the four dogs were fiercely attacking the bear from below and suddenly I was free. With the dogs now between me and the bear I immediately looked for a retreat route and I recall the odd decision I was making and that was to select a route with thick bush and trees for protection in case he attacked again, or to go for the easiest but unprotected route. With the bear having moved back over Casey again, I quickly retreated by the easier route. I called the dogs and headed back home realizing I had a sore upper arm from the bear bite. In a few minutes I was at the house and met by my ex-wife who was very concerned as she heard the story of Casey’s death and my brush with the bear.

I checked my arm and saw that it was not a serious wound. The top of the triceps had two upper canine teeth marks and on the underside there was a single but deeper abrasion from a lower canine tooth. We applied a topical antibiotic ointment to the area. The oddity was that there was only one lower canine mark and having dealt with carnivore bites at my veterinary clinic over the years I was expecting to see 4 canine tooth marks. We next proceeded with plans to return to the site with our guns to kill the bear. I first phoned the RWED office in Hay River and reported the incident to Al Helmer the Resource Management Officer and advised that I was going to shoot the bear.

My ex-wife had our 20 gauge shotgun loaded with 3 shells that were the lead slugs instead of birdshot and I was with the 300 Winchester Magnum rifle and we headed back to the area accompanied by the 4 Eskimo Dogs. The plan was to each be in position to see the bear when we approached the area and to have one of us take the easiest shot while the other acted as a backup. As we carefully worked our way back, following the retreat route that I had earlier used, we carefully noted where we were in proximity to the kill site and the dogs grew more excited as we approached. However as they were well in front of us I knew we would have some warning, but it may call for quick action if the bear came out to meet us.

As expected the bear was found at the site and in fact briefly rushed out a few feet to challenge one of the dogs. All 4 dogs had actually formed a bit of a semi circle around the bear but as all were between us and the bear it was a matter of taking careful aim at the bear without risking a dog as all were constantly moving but occasionally stopping. The moment came and I aimed at the shoulder area and fired my rifle. The bear was hit, ran about 10 feet and fell whereupon I shot it again. The dogs immediately let out their woofing sound and each ran in and out from the downed bear. We discovered that the bear had already buried Casey with moss and other vegetation. The dogs came over to sniff her showing great interest with Kurugrook even pawing at her foot as he often did to get her to react to his playing. Whiskers showed the most reaction and repeatedly came and smelled Casey and then would go to directly back to the bear letting out a long and unusual scolding type noise as a cross between her distress “woof’ and an angry short “howl”. She repeated this behavior often with her brother Edéhzhíe joining in too. We briefly looked around the area and left to get the Honda Trike and wagon to take back Casey’s remains.

When back at the house I phoned to the RWED Hay River number and was immediately asked by the woman on the phone if we got the bear. I replied yes and she expressed her concern that we had so much trouble and had lost a dog during the incident. After taking a short break we made plans to retrieve Casey and again returned to the site with the dogs and carrying our firearms. Upon arrival at the site, Whiskers was very vocal again, so I took the bells of Casey’s neck and called over Whiskers as the dog that perhaps would be as courageous and eager to deter bears as Casey had been and put the collar with bells on her neck.

We arrived back with Casey’s remains and decided to bury her in front of the house at an area that she often lay in the sun. It was a sad afternoon and although I am not a person who personifies my dogs, and while I do treat them as “work” animals, there did seem to be some sort of awareness by the 4 Eskimo Dogs that something was not right. We dug a grave in the glacial till that made up the under burden beneath a thin layer of black humus. As if to watch and supervise the digging event Casey’s head hung slightly out of the box, and the other dogs simply lay about on the grass as we completed the task. Before closing the grave, I clipped a snip of hair from the 4 dogs and from their heads and I placed all of it with Casey. What occurred for the rest of the day was a great deal of mourning and a re-examination of the entire event. The dogs seldom left the grave area and as we went into evening, over 5 hours later, Spirit (the dog, which in such a pronounced manner led me back to where the bear had killed Casey) was the only dog remaining. He was still sleeping next to the area when morning came, and was ignoring the other dogs.

August 26th, 2003, the day went well and we partially returned to doing normal work. After supper I decided to pump water and with two dogs. Whiskers and Edéhzhíe accompanying me I went to the pump located at the shore of the lake in front of the house. When I saw that the tank was full, I shut off the pump and returned to the house. Five minutes late I was looking out the parlor window having a coffee when suddenly I heard the bells of Whiskers and saw her and Edéhzhíe running down to the lake shore by the water pump all excited. It was bear sighting 7-2003, and I knew that there was more than one bear in the vicinity of my camp. The bear was heading towards the beach where the other dogs were tied up. I ran and got my rifle and as I fired a quick shot over the bear the 2 dogs quickly moved in close to the bear and turned it back in the direction it had come from. As it was retreating and being chased by the dogs I fired another warning shot which proved to be a real stimulus for the dogs and they chased him even harder for a few more dozen yards. With the dogs and carrying the gun I made my way down the shoreline for a very short distance to see if the bear was still around. However as it was near dark I did not linger long and returned back to the house, with the two dogs very excited and worked up over the chase.

August 28th, 2003, after a full day of no bears I decided to retrieve the bear carcass out of the bush as it was near our trail and likely would attract other hungry bears or predators. With the Edéhzhíe, Whiskers and Spirit as the dogs, I took the Honda Trike and wagon plus chains and cables to haul the bear out of the dense forest. I carried a gun for protection. Without incident I hauled the bear out and placed it out in the open at the end of the gravel point just opposite our house and visible across our own cove. The bear served as fall dining for the insects, ravens, gulls and later eagles. Throughout the coming winter it may feed the occasional weasel, wolverine or wolf and by spring it will have played its role in fertilizing the shore or nearby water.

From August 20th to August 26th, 2003 there were 7 bear sightings at Moraine Point which proved to be more than one bear. Using dogs as the main focus of a bear deterrent program did cost the life of one dog. She was “Casey” a very active 14 year old Border Collie who with several of our Canadian Eskimo dogs was always there to lead the chase and attack any intruding black bear. The same bear (# 6- 2003) also bit me on the right upper arm and I attribute the lack of no additional injuries to the fierce response of some of my dogs who attacked the bear while it was biting me.

With the closure of the Moraine Bay FFMC plant in the summer of 2003, there was a potential black bear problem as several generations of bears have grown up, effectively being well fed bears from the regular disposal of culled fish that were dumped on or near the shoreline on the opposite side of the bay from the plant. These bears may not have learned to be active hunters or predators and with this food source ending, they may pose a danger for the next few years until they disperse or are eliminated by natural or other means. In spite of the loss of one of my dogs, I still conclude that having several loose Inuit dogs around the yard is likely the most workable bear deterrent program for our location.

Happy hunting in doggy heaven Casey, Lara and I will miss you.

I Casey-Jo was originally my daughter’s dog but as with many parents I inherited the family dog for my keeping when Lara headed off to university in 1990. She was known to many who visited my Bowspringer Kennels & Veterinary Clinic in Yellowknife as the yard dog who greeted all in a friendly manner. Casey was also well known for her natural herding instincts as she would help round up any Eskimo Dog puppies that I let loose in our Yellowknife yard and it was during one of those times in 1999 that she first met a little pup who was strong and bold. My Inuit friends who saw him told me to name him Kurugrook which means “strong little man”

II The oldest of these 4 dogs was Kurugrook born in 1999 in Yellowknife but much of his life has been at Moraine Point. His son “Spirit” was born in Yellowknife in 2002 but raised since the age of 3 months at Moraine Point. The other 2 dogs were sister and brother “Whiskers” and “Edéhzhíe” born on the first day of fall 2002 at Moraine Point.

III The eager pursuit was all part of a game that Casey played as the old matriarch dog who had directed the behavior of all our recently raised 7 dogs over the last few summers. Her game was to chase squirrels with the assistance of the then puppies that as they grew older continued to have a subordinate yet protective behavior to this dear old girl and were eager to give chase in support of her interests. This often was with any small mammal such as foxes and squirrels but occasionally with Boreal Bison who ventured into our side of the point and the same behavior occurred fortunately with black bears. It all served as good warning to us that some animal was in the vicinity and we therefore were alerted. In the spring of 2001 Casey and Kurugrook chased off one spring bear freshly out of hibernation 3 or 4 times before it learned to stay away.

IV This was fairly typical behavior for Moraine Bay bears who often ventured out into the water on the far side of the bay to meet the boat dumping culled fish.

V The Eskimo Dogs do not bark as do other domestic breeds of dogs, but rather are very vocal with a high pitched whine or howl,. When under extreme stress, or danger however they do sound a pronounced alarm in the way of a slow drawn out “woof – woof – woof” all in a low deep pitch.

VI It was only the night before that I was reading out the bear section in “Survival Secrets” (Brian Emdin, 2002, Spotted Cow Press Ltd), which said “In bear country you are more likely to be struck by lightning than attached by a bear.”

I’m very late sharing these. Below you will find links to download the latest PADS journals (in English).  These journals include some great articles on the color genetics of spitz-type dogs as well as information on the Norwegian Lundehund and an article on the Traditional Dog Breeding Of The Nanai People.

PADS Journal #34 | PADS Journal #35 | PADS Journal #36

For more information on the Primitive and Aboriginal Dogs Society (PADS), please visit the PADS website at

I’m happy to share with all of you a new project we’ve launched: The Trail Dog Forum.

The trail dog forum is meant to be a place where people who enjoy spending time out on the trails with their dogs can connect and share. It’s a place to discuss your favorite hiking spots, training issues, the best hiking gear for you and your dog, or to just share your latest adventures.

I’d like to have launched the forum with more content, but my time is limited. So I’m asking all of you to help grow the community into something special. Doesn’t matter what type of dog you have, any breed/mix is welcome. Hell, you don’t even have to have a dog!

So, if you dig hiking, mushing, joring, camping, hunting, etc. with your dog, check it out and join! And help us grow it into something special!

“The Concept Of An Aboriginal Dog Breed”
By Vladimir Beregovoy [ ]


There was a time, when aboriginal dogs were the only dogs available. All of today’s popular dog breeds have been derived, at one time or another, from ancient aboriginal dogs. Then, they have been improved by deliberate selection and crossbreeding to achieve the desired combination of characters of appearance and behavior. Through long histories of life in confinement, good care, and trainability for obedience, they became more or less helpless, if left on their own. They are sometimes called man made breeds or cultured breeds. Many other animal breeds were also obtained by selective breeding and keeping under conditions of good care in a strictly controlled environment and they also declined in fitness and became more dependent on food and protection provided by people. The modern concept of a breed is based mainly on knowledge accumulated during work with this kind of breeds. Dogs, which do not fit any known breed listed in the catalogs of cynological clubs, remain “invisible” to the public and most often are not considered as breeds at all. On the other hand, if the major kennel clubs adopt an aboriginal breed, it also becomes changed and converted into another cultured pedigree breed. Thus, each of such transactions does not help the preservation of most of the remaining ancient unchanged breeds in the world, which aboriginal breeds are.

The aboriginal breed and subspecies in zoology
Aboriginal dogs are natural breeds, which have never been developed by any planned genetic manipulation, deliberate selective breeding and intentional crossing of one breed with another. Old travelers, when they found them with people in far away countries, commented about the benefits, intelligence and serviceability of the local dogs to native people. At the same time, they used unflattering epithets calling them “mongrels”, “poorly bred Collies”, “mangy beasts”, “ugly dogs”, etc. Generally, travelers, whose eye was trained on European purebreds, considered aboriginal dogs just local mongrels and it was not too far from the truth. However, those were peculiar mongrels, which now we prefer to call aboriginal breeds, though some dog lovers and experts are reluctant to apply the term “breed”, when discussing aboriginal dogs.

Aboriginal have drawn the interest of professional biologists only recently, because of raised public concern about the preservation of nature and national heritage. There are surprisingly few serious scientific studies on aboriginal dogs per se. In fact, they are very much like wild animals, because nobody can claim authorship over any particular type of aboriginal dog. The most that we could do is to discover and describe them like we discover and describe wild species and races. Geographers and ethnographers discovered aboriginal dogs and left a few more or less sketchy descriptions, from which we now are trying to collect knowledge about their origins and historical past. Now, many of the aboriginal dogs are extinct or have become seriously threatened with extinction and an increasing number of enthusiasts are eager to get involved in their rescue by importing them from their native countries and taking good care of them, popularizing and keeping pedigree records with the hope of the AKC, FCI, national kennel clubs, etc recognizing them. Usually, there is no lacking of interest to try a new “unspoiled” breed. The question is: to what end? Do we need to spoil aboriginal dogs, too? Before getting seriously involved in projects of rescue and preservation of aboriginal breeds it is necessary to understand how and why they are different from cultured breeds and take a closer look at the very concept of aboriginal breed. The real preservation of aboriginal breeds can be only the preservation of them as aboriginal breeds together with their environment and work for people.

One of the most striking traits of all aboriginal dogs is their naturalness. Actually, they are more similar to subspecies of wild animals, described by zoologists, than to classic breeds (cultured breeds) of domesticated animals. Indeed, each population of a peculiar type of aboriginal dog has its own unique geographic range of distribution and it is always associated with a certain ethnic group. Because they are domesticated animals and associated with people, they may be safely called, therefore, ethno-geographic breeds. At the same time, like wild animals, each of such ethno-geographic breeds is a product of slow evolution under conditions of life and work for people. It has been subject to natural selection and selection by people in favor of better working qualities. Selection by people has been very subtle, sometimes; it is called “unconscious” selection, which may be considered rather like another form of natural selection, than what we call selection based on modern knowledge of animal husbandry, animal science and genetics. This is because aboriginal dogs live and work for people under conditions of nearly unlimited freedom, are never, or rarely, confined, are irregularly fed (sometimes not fed for weeks), mate freely and sometimes raise their puppies without the assistance of people. They live with humans rather like symbiotic animals than like animals captured, forced, “enslaved” or spoiled by domestication. Of course, the aboriginal dogs obtain their own benefits from sharing their lives with people, such as protection from wild predators, sometimes from the weather and food shortage. The latter is particularly obvious, where people and dogs live in extremely harsh climates, such as in the polar north or in deserts, where both people and dogs became literally interdependent for survival. However, everyone, people and dogs, had to work to obtain their daily bread. For example, a bad working dog would most likely not be treated very well, would possibly left unfed and most likely not bred; and it would be left to die in time of famine or it would be killed for its pelt to make mittens. Although dogs never or rarely lived confined and mated freely, puppies of favorite bitches or puppies sired by the best working males, if the sire was known, were spared more often to be raised as a replacement for adult dogs growing older. This kind of selective mortality worked rather by eliminating the least fit, than by preserving a few of the best dogs. Cyclic fluctuations of productivity in nature, game density and all kind of natural calamities affected both dogs and their owners. Natural selection never stopped.

Another similarity of aboriginal dogs to subspecies of wild animals is in the fact that aboriginal breeds are the oldest unchanged breeds in the world. Indeed, according to fossil and archeological evidence dogs of the Laika or sled dog type have been around people since Neolithic times. Excavated saluki type skeletons were dated to 2,500 years BC and so was the Australian Dingo. Powerful livestock guarding dogs are very old as well.

Similarity between aboriginal dogs and wild animals extends even further, if we take a closer look at their behavior, when they are working for people. Among dog trainers, aboriginal dogs are well known by their independent character. They often call them hard heads, stubborn and even stupid. This is because aboriginal dogs easily get bored, when taught to do circus type tricks or other behavior unnatural to them and so are tame wolves. This is what happens when wolves are trained to do similar unnatural things. Nobody calls a wolf stupid… However, in their native environment, aboriginal dogs show great intelligence, performing amazingly complex tasks and they do it all by themselves. They quickly learn what and how something should be done without much teaching, training and directing by people. They all work naturally. To start working, the aboriginal dog does not need a “stick and carrot” training system. The very work is the reward to them. To start working, an aboriginal dog puppy needs to be raised in the right environment. At a certain age, every puppy easily picks up the idea what to do and how to do it. Thus, aboriginal sight hounds, called Tazy, Saluki, Afghan, Bakhmul and Taigan learn to hunt by themselves, when they are taken into an environment where fast running animals occur. In fact they are born, live and grow up in such an environment near their owner’s tent or yurta. A hunting Laika puppy starts finding squirrels and barking under a tree with squirrel or grouse from the age of several months, if allowed to run free in the woods and the same puppy will switch to higher value game, when it matures without much encouragement. A good Laika knows what should be hunted and how. Sled dogs start pulling from the age of four months, being harnessed with older dogs or helping women or children to pull small sleds with firewood; aboriginal sled dogs are excellent hunting dogs and are used to hunt big marine mammals. Livestock guarding dog puppies start working in concert with older dogs, taking part in the protection of the herd by running free with older dogs and under conditions of being raised with the herd. To all these dogs, their work is a natural part of their everyday life. This behavior is very different from the behavior of “willing to please”, quickly learning how to sit, come up, and roll over and other similar things by cultured breeds. The aboriginal dog is doing work beneficial to people, but it acts like a wild animal, because it is preprogrammed genetically. The whole chain of action at work of an aboriginal dog is strikingly similar to the chain of action of wolves, which are also preprogrammed to live and hunt in a pack. However, with dogs, human masters and other domesticated animals became either a part of their pack or a vital element in their life and environment. To them, livestock is no longer game, but a part of their protected territory. To a hunting dog, the game shot or caught also belongs to the master. He will feed the dog in later on. Now, I will illustrate conceptual difference between an aboriginal breed and a cultured breed based on the observations of people with experience of dog behavior.

This is the Basenji, one of wildest aboriginal breeds and the Cocker Spaniel, one of most admired cultured breeds. Coren (1994), a dog trainer, compared the behavior of 79 breeds and evaluated their intelligence by comparing a dog’s capability to learn and obey the commands of the trainer. In his book, “The Intelligence of Dogs: Canine Consciousness and Capabilities” he wrote that the Cocker Spaniel was among the most intelligent of dogs, but on his list the Bsenji was 78th among 79 breeds he tested. This book was among the best sellers of that time and it was even discussed in morning TV program in the USA. The poor Basenji was publicly humiliated! However, by coincidence, there was a serious scientific study done almost 30 years before Coren’s book was published, in which Scott and Fuller (1965) compared the behavior of the Basenji and the Cocker Spaniel in experiments designed for obedience and problem solving. The authors also used the Sheltie, the Fox Terrier and the Beagle in their research project on the genetics and the social behavior of dogs. Among these five breeds, only the Basenji was a truly primitive aboriginal breed. In experiments, involving voice, such as to stay quiet on the scales, restraining the dog’s activity by being put on the leash, obedience, being inactive and remaining on a platform at a distance from the trainer, the Cocker Spaniel was the easiest to train. Basenjis were the hardest to train. The other three breeds tested fell in between the two. In goal orientation tests nine-week-old puppies were trained to run and solve problems to reach the goal. In this and other problem solving experiments of different difficulty, the Basenji turned out to be the most intelligent of all five breeds and the Cocker Spaniel was the last. This became particularly obvious in experiments, where flexibility of feet and toes and the dog’s inventiveness were required. Thus, the aboriginal “wild type” breed showed its merit, where independent thinking, motivation and initiative were needed. Remarkably, the man-made breed, the Cocker Spaniel, was most successful in passive obedience tests. In fact, here we deal with two different concepts of breed. Both the cultured breed and the natural breed (wild type) are very good dogs, but they had been made by different forces and for different purposes. The Basenji is more like a wild subspecies of Canis familiaris and the Cocker Spaniel is a cultured breed of Canis familiaris.

Here is my favorite definition of subspecies offered by Mayr (1963): A subspecies is an aggregate of local populations of a species, inhabiting a geographic subdivision of the range of the species, and differing taxonomically from other populations of the species. The word taxonomically means that a population is uniquely different enough to be recognized by scientists as a subspecies and given a unique scientific name in Latin. Add to this definition a human comparison, belonging to an ethnic group, and you will get a good definition of an aboriginal breed. In fact, attempts at describing aboriginal breeds as subspecies of Canis familiaris were done repeatedly, but this did not get much support among zoologists simply because Canis familiaris is a domesticated animal and its varieties do not belong to traditional subject of interest to taxonomists. Actually, each aboriginal breed is best characterized by its capability to do specific work, its appearance and by its unique geographic range together with its place in the culture of a certain ethnic group (or closely related groups), with which it lives. Its coat color is quite variable individually, including one particularly striking phenotype with white spots, a trait developed under domestication and living under human protection. Both ideas of subspecies and aboriginal breed are applied to real populations with a real geographic range and their recognition as entities with a name are supported by conventional wisdom and practicality. This makes them an important and very conspicuous part of biological diversity. The conventional definition of breed is weakly supported by hard science, because the idea of a breed (here again comes the similarity to the subspecies of wild animals) is always something vague and usually it is nothing more than what we agree upon collectively. Definition of breed by Merriam Webster Dictionary: “Breed is a group of animals or plants presumably related by descent from common ancestors and visibly similar in most characters”, also emphasizes the appearance, although traits of productivity and function are not less important.

Here is a definition of ‘breed’ put together by a well noted American geneticist Jay L. Lush, (1994): “Animals that, through selection and breeding, have come to resemble one another and pass those traits uniformly to their offspring. Aboriginal dogs, living in a certain region and used for the same purpose are quite well covered by this definition, because they have came to resemble one another through the process of selection and they pass their traits to their offspring. Calling aboriginal dogs of a certain ethnic group and geographic region breeds is very common in scientific and popular literature. The arguments sometimes are going on about which principle to choose, geographic or ethnic (national). Separation of them would always be artificial. This is what was done in the former Soviet Union, where four known today hunting Laika breeds had been designated. Although the words “to resemble one another” mean chiefly the appearance, in agricultural species the productivity traits of animals may be not less or even more important than traits of their appearance and it is equally true for aboriginal breeds.

Creative breeders of agricultural animals may develop and keep their own unique breeds. Therefore, here is a more liberal definition of breed: “A breed is a group of domestic animals, termed as such by the common consent of the breeders, … a term which arose among breeders of livestock, created one might say, for their own use, and no one is warranted in assigning to this word a scientific definition and in calling the breeders wrong when they deviate from the formulated definition. It is their word and the breeder’s common usage is what we must accept as the correct definition” Lush, 1994)

In the free world, any breeder or group of breeders of dogs, or other animals, can try their hand at the art of breeding and the future of any of their newly developed breeds would depend on their acceptance and usefulness to their users. However, aboriginal breeds are very different. Essentially, they are naturally occurring geographical variants of the domesticated dog (Canis familiaris), equivalent to a subspecies in zoology. Each of them is unique and came into existence by evolutionary process. Aboriginal breeds are natural monuments of nature and culture, because they have proven their usefulness and passed the test of time. Their most important conceptual difference from the constantly changing and newly emerging man made, or cultured breeds, is in the fact that they have been developed by the ability to perform a specific function. Their appearance is of secondary importance and it is always expressive of the function.

Cultured breeds
Aboriginal breeds are the predecessors of all man-made breeds. The ability to hunt certain game and in a certain way was very important to hunters of past centuries. Those dogs still resembled very much their ancestral aboriginal breeds; they were hardy and tough dogs, because they were bred by hunters for other hunters. Although dogs of different breeds had different names and purposes, crossing different breeds was common and mixes resulted from interbreeding were still named rather by their purpose and performance than by their appearance, such as scent hounds, sight hounds or bird pointing dogs, regardless of admixtures of other breeds in them. Every dog was valued for its ability to hunt the right way and this kind of genetic “alchemy” continued in dog breeding as long as dogs were bred for performance in field. However, radical changes took place in late 19th century, when dogs were bred pure with pedigree records and used for show contests. Dog shows renewed the popularity of hunting breeds, which had declined in numbers during the previous period, due to the loss of land available for hunting and the growth of urban populations in Europe. Now, more city dwellers became breeders of dogs, including hunting dogs, which became ornamental rather than hunting breeds. They sold puppies for profit to dog show enthusiasts and as pets. Because the breeders were most often not hunters, the appearance of the dog became more important and the original purpose of the breed. To the show fancy, all those hunting or guarding instincts became atavistic traits of the past and not taken seriously any more. It is interesting that even now some show fans and even some judges seriously believe that as long as the conformation is good, the functional qualities are also automatically present in the dog. Therefore, it is believed that show winning lines would be very good field performers, if given the chance. This is unlikely, because first, many traits highly valued at shows actually do not have any functional meaning for hunting and second, there are anatomical traits, which are misinterpreted by show judges, if they are not hunters themselves. This is why many hunting breeds became split into two groups, one for show and one for hunting.

However, the problem with show breeds does not end here. Using a few show winning males as sires and breeding dogs with maximal similarity to the ideal described in a breed standard leads to a loss of genetic heterozygosis in the population. Persistant inbreeding sooner or later results in the fixation of deleterious alleles and the appearance of genetic anomalies in the offspring with increasing frequency, such as missing teeth, wrong bite, and obsessive compulsive disorder and other nervous disorders, reproductive anomalies, hereditary blindness, epilepsy, hip dysplasia, etc. Interestingly enough, we already have several breeds that were derived from aboriginal stock during relatively recent times and transformed into popular pedigree show dogs. Each of them suffers hereditary ailments and the older the breed’s history as a show dog, the more it genetically deteriorated. Here is a list of such breeds: the Finnish Spitz, the Samoyed, the Siberian Husky, the Alaskan Malamute, the Karelian Bear and the Basenji. Each of them has a list of hereditary health problems. Several other breeds with only aboriginal ancestors, but bred to a standard, such as the West Siberian Laika, the East Siberian Laika, the Central Asian Ovcharka, and the Caucasian Ovcharka, remain in a better shape, because they were all meant to be used for field work, not just for show. Nevertheless, they too underwent various changes away from the ancestral aboriginal type dogs. All kennel bred aboriginal breed dogs follow the same pattern of changes: they become bigger and heavier, voracious eaters, prone to obesity and slower at work. These changes become particularly noticeable after the age of about 5 years. Their aboriginal ancestral populations still survive and comparisons permit us to observe and investigate the differences. The differences between kennel bred show lines and their ancestral aboriginal populations can become quite noticeable very soon even without clear knowledge by their breeders.

There is a book based on investigations into hereditary health problems of purebred dogs: “Medical and Genetic Aspects of Purebred Dogs”, Ross.D. Clark, J. D. Steiner and H. David. Haynes, editors, 1983. This is a book of 576 pages about hereditary problems of AKC and FCI recognized breeds. Can you imagine how much the authors of this book would write on this subject, if they were to study aboriginal dogs uncontaminated by interbreeding with cultured breeds? Perhaps, they would find not very much, because among aboriginal dogs, mutations like these are wiped out by natural selection. Probably recessive alleles with deleterious effect on the phenotype occur among them at frequencies similar to those found in wild species. I remind readers that in not so remote past up to 90% of the Collie population were carriers of hereditary blindness. Discussion and bibliography on this subject can be found in Beregovoy and Moore Porter (2001) and Derr (1997).

Degenerative selection The very life style of dog owners and the reasons why they breed or keep dogs are major parts of that environment, which is reshaping every dog breed in the long run, even contrary to the good intentions of dog owners to breed better dogs. This is a result of unconscious selection under conditions of passive life in kennels, inside homes or restricted physically by other means. The life of dogs in commercial kennels is particularly detrimental to an aboriginal dog breed, which is a discriminating, faithful, energetic, independent and capable field performer – all qualities not needed in a commercial style kennel. Indeed, the favorite dog of a show breeder, especially of a mass breeder, is a dog convenient for feeding, breeding, petting and, of course, for showing. Such a dog should be content with being locked up in the kennel for many long days without freedom to run and interact with the outside world. Kennel training became a routine requirement even for many family dogs. The dogs have to learn all kinds of things not to do: not to express craving for personal attention or for freedom by barking or trying to escape. In short, good kennel dogs should be dogs that are the least demanding for physical and mental activity and less responsive to all kinds of environmental stimuli. Their character should be closer to a pig or a rabbit than to a dog, “man’s best friend’. Moreover, the most convenient potential show winner, regardless of the original purpose of the breed, should allow an unfamiliar person to lead it away and to inspect it by touching without protest. The dog should stay calm for many hours of boring time when being transported and waiting at the show event. All these qualities are conducive to a natural indifference and sluggishness in the dog. Under these conditions, the high energy, full-of-fire dog is a disadvantage. Inventive ‘escape masters’ are the most likely category that a commercial breeder or an average backyard breeder, living in a friendly neighborhood, would want to get rid off first. Dogs with a long history of selection to be “good kennel dogs” do not need any innate desire or skill to find their home, because they would never be tested on the matter, being condemned to stay in kennels and never meant to be field performing dogs. They live life and are bred like rabbits and they are change accordingly. Some may argue that they take their dogs to different organized activity events specifically designed to keep the dogs and their owners busy, such as agility, weight pulling, lure coursing or water retrieving, schutzhund and obedience contests. All these are better then nothing, but with an aboriginal breed, this cannot replace real hunting, pulling sleds or protecting livestock one day after another. All these city dog activities are like a drop in the bucket and they are moreover different activities, which require a different dog. To an aboriginal breed, work is a part of life; to a cultured breed, work is a periodic active entertainment.

Another degenerative form of selection contrary to the traits of most biologically perfect dogs is linked with the basic biological function of reproduction, from mating to giving birth to puppies. Some breeders treat their dogs as if they were agricultural productive animals or even ornamental plants. Females with more then one estrus per year and producing larger litters have a natural selective advantage and this is good for making a profit from selling puppies. Females that do not accept males without prolonged courting and foreplay are at a disadvantage, especially if they had been flown or given a ride far away for mating with a choice sire. All naturally designed forms of behavior, such as courting, fighting, sometimes exhausting chasing have an adaptive purpose of preventing the unfit males from reproduction. Breeders prefer females readily mating with any male. Males, selected among show winners are “precious” potential sires and are usually being helped to mate by constraining the female, which otherwise would reject it, sensing its biological inferiority. The dogs must mate, especially, if one of them was shipped away just for mating with a choice dog.

When puppies are about to be born, all product oriented junk literature about dogs tells you: “Call your vet!” A good aboriginal dog female is a good mother and it does not need any assistance, except a place protected from bad weather, timely provided food and a bowl with water. Mother knows best and it is better to allows nature to take its course. Do not call your vet, but if the dog cannot breed the natural way, do not breed it at all. Even feeding kibble dry dog food, if continued for generations, will change our dogs genetically. Commercially produced dog food, does not exercise jaws and muscles, makes teeth dirty and overloads dog’s digestive system with all kind of ballast. It makes eating, digesting and defecating almost like in a herbivore, with plenty of excrement. In the long run, it may trigger certain adaptive changes in the dogs. Feed it natural foods!

Commercial dog breeders prefer younger females for breeding. Many hereditary health problems start showing up with age, especially, when the dog is over three – four years old. Commercial breeders do not like taking chances with breeding older dogs. Thus, deleterious mutations with effect on phenotype at an older age are avoided. This is why we have so many show dog breeds, which are not very smart, spontaneous unprovoked biters, not developing a bond with the master or a natural attachment to the place where they live, and get lost once allowed off leash, especially if left for some time unsupervised, etc. We have armies of dog behavior therapists, dog trainers, animal psychologists and veterinarians. Our cultured breed dogs keep them busy. With aboriginal dogs, these specialists would loose their earnings simply because they are all healthy physically and mentally. Natïve breeders of aboriginal dogs simply kill all abnormal individuals.

Preservation of heterozygosis of aboriginal breeds Finally, there is another important feature of aboriginal breeds, which is still poorly investigated. Every aboriginal breed in its own environment should have a high level of heterozygosis, similar to wild animal species. Much of the variation is of a polygenic nature. The high heterozygosis in aboriginal population can be expected a priori, because of the known wide range of phenotypical variation in their populations and because stabilizing natural selection favors heterozygous organisms. This is how balanced polymorphism is maintained in populations of wild animals. This is how a natural population absorbs, like a sponge, alleles from other aboriginal populations. This happens when dogs come in a direct contact as a result of transhumance. Hybrid vigor has a selective advantage, especially if newly obtained alleles are beneficial ones, and this is why aboriginal populations are always somewhat mongrelized. Despite the fact that certain types of aboriginal dogs prevail locally, under conditions of uncontrolled breeding or frequent genetic exchange between populations of adjacent and even far away regions, they are open to new possibilities, occurring naturally. Variation caused by contacts between dogs during seasonal migration (transhumance) is very old and well described by Cruz (2007) in livestock and herding dogs of Portugal. This kind of variation existed long before the recent influx of imported dogs and should not worry anyone. Trading caravans, regional fairs, hunting parties far away from home, war parties and the very nomadic way of life of aboriginal dog owners with their livestock have helped to maintain the general similarity of dogs of the same purpose over large territories, despite some local differences among dogs that have survived over long periods of time. Variation caused by mixing aboriginal dogs of similar purpose is not a problem, because they all can do the same job and their ability to survive does not diminish. Examples of this kind of mixing are in Kyrgyzstan between Taigan and Tazy, in Afghanistan between Afghan Hounds and Saluki, in Azerbaijan between shorthair and longhair Caucasian Mountain Dogs, in Siberia between hunting Laika types belonging to neighboring ethnic groups, between different types of contiguous populations of northern sled dogs, etc. It would be entirely different, if aboriginal breeds were mixed with imported cultural breeds. Even a small admixture of cultured breeds would be wiped out by natural selection. However, mass interbreeding, when imported breed dogs even outnumber aboriginal ones, is a death sentence for the aboriginal breed. Although aboriginal breeds came into existence at the hands of native dog breeders, purging alien genes from it would be difficult without some knowledge of animal science, genetics and good understanding of the breed. Because preservation of an aboriginal breed means preservation of a population, not just a few appealing looking dogs picked up by tourists, it should always be a collective effort by truly concerned breeders.

Saving aboriginal breeds from extinction
The avoidance of unconscious negative selection is very important for a long-term breeding program of any aboriginal breed and it is a challenging task. For example, if a well-informed dog lover imports a pair of aboriginal dogs from their native land, he would certainly take good care of them. He would do his best to find a good home for the puppies. However, the natural selection stops here. Now, it is up to the diligence of the breeder how not to destroy the dog’s fitness and its working ability, which fascinated him in the first place. This work ought to be well organized and the breeding must be selectively aimed primarily at working performance, traits of endurance and physical vigor. The dogs must be kept and evaluated under conditions as natural as possible. Keep them busy, hunting, pulling sleds, herding or guarding, according to the respective breed’s profession, and ensure diverse interactions with other dogs and the rest of the environment. This helps to know the dogs and find out the best dogs for breeding. Indeed, how will you find out if your dog is smart and capable of work, if you keep it locked up all the time? Many of us would give up the idea of having such a dog, because not everyone has the time and conditions to keep it the right way. To succeed, the breeder of aboriginal dogs should focus on their better performance.

At present, there are a few enthusiasts, who are trying to breed better dogs by using performance in the field as the sole criterion of the breed. This means selecting for a certain function, instead of a certain appearance.

In the USA, coyote hunters in central and western prairie states are developing the Coyote Hound for at least 100 years (Eliason, 2007). One may ask why develop another kind of a sight hound, when we already have several excellent sight hound breeds for hunting all kinds of game? The problem is none of them satisfies a coyote hunter. Under existing conditions in American prairie and western states, Greyhounds do not endure hot weather and can even die of overheating, if sent on a hot day after some quarry. Besides, they can break their legs on the rugged terrain. Scottish Deer Hounds have enough guts to fight a coyote, but they are not fast enough to catch it. Borzois can run fast, but they are not maneuverable enough, when the coyote starts weaving under barbed wire fence and shrubs; besides, they do too not like hot weather. A good Coyote Hound must be fast, maneuverable, bold and aggressive, strong and skillful for catching such a strong and fast predator as the coyote is. Coyote hunting enthusiasts are crossing all kinds of sighthounds and even non-sighthound dogs to add the necessary qualities to their major mixed breed origin stock. Trial and error continues, anything goes, which helps further to improve the breed functionally. Is it a breed? Yes, this is the breed, which is the best at catching and killing coyotes. Its appearance does not matter much, but in the functional part, they all are very good and similar anatomically. Their appearance is variable; but this is unimportant for their function; some dogs have a wiry coat and have a beard, like the Scottish Deer Hound, and some are smooth; some have one ear upright and the other hanging and any coat color is accepted. Their functional anatomy and vigor are perfected to the limit, but some less important traits of the appearance, such as ears or coat color, are allowed to vary. Owners and users of the Coyote Hound think that their dogs are beautiful, but to the traditional “purist» dog breeder, this is hard to accept. The coyote hunters see beauty in their dogs’ performance. The Coyote Sight Hound is truly a unique dog breed with one single and most important trait, they can catch and kill coyote better then any other existing purebred.

Another example is the Alaskan Husky. What kind of a breed is it? The Alaskan Husky is a dog breed, which can pull sleds very fast and very far. Function comes first. What do the dogs look like? Very much like the northern Spitz (or Siberian sled dog). Any coat color is acceptable; some dogs have not perfectly prick ears or asymmetric ears, but because of the function and the northern environment, the classic sled dog appearance prevails. Genetically, this breed is in a constant flux, because its enthusiasts cross again and again, trying to improve function. All kinds of breeds have been added to the breeding stock: aboriginal North American sled dogs similar to the Canadian Eskimo Dog, the Alaskan Malamute and the Siberian Husky. Since the Gold Rush era sighthounds were added for speed, scenthounds for endurance, Irish Setters for hyper temperament, and more recently the German Shorthaired Pointer, the German Shepherd Dog and, sometimes, wolf. All this was recombined and reselected to improve one function, which is always the same, running very fast and for very long. The appearance is subordinate to the function. Perhaps under pressure of natural selection and life in the north, at a glance the Alaskan Husky is a northern sled dog. Alaskan Huskies may not look beautiful enough to some, but they win races.

These two examples deserve the serious attention of zoologists and geneticists. Some dog experts decisively refuse to recognize these two breeds, but in fact, these dogs are as much breeds as any other pedigreed breed, but they are based on a different concept of breed. In these two cases, appearance is subordinate to working ability and dogs of each of the two breeds are quite uniform anatomically and behaviorally. Perhaps, this is how all aboriginal breeds started in prehistoric time, when their ancestors initially looked like the Dingo or other generalist aboriginal dogs?

Selection for performing a certain job began from the time when the wolf was first domesticated. Perhaps the job of the first dogs was just being a pet and occasionally food. This is that ecological niche, which was occupied by the Australian Dingo before it became discovered by Europeans. Being selected over millennia for different functions and adapting to different geographic environments, they diverged, producing Laika, Saluki, livestock guarding dogs and other types of aboriginal breeds. Their further fate would depend on the fate of entire ecological systems, from where they came to us. Breeding for preservation is not the same as breeding for improvement. Even if we know what any particular aboriginal bred should be able to do and how it should look, breeding it in “captivity” can help only as a temporary measure; if continued for many generations; it will change the breed for the worse, because of degenerative selection.

Some aboriginal breeds are highly variable morphologically and are even polytypical, which means they have more then one type in one population or several close sub-breeds. Understandably, their natural diversity cannot be preserved by breeding to a traditional breed standard that reduces variation as much as possible. The standard of an aboriginal breed must be more liberal, descriptive and include more than one type found in the home country of the breed. A. Sedefchev and S. Sedefchev (2007) already put it to work with the Karakachan Dog. The best dogs suitable for breeding should not be show champions, but rather best rated dogs. Entire dog show and trials of aboriginal breeds should be redesigned to emphasize field behavior and physical performance.

The preservation of maximal heterozygosis within breeding stock could be achieved beneficially by running several parallel lines with periodic subsequent crossbreeding. Breeders of productive agricultural animals commonly use this method.

Using and breeding aboriginal dogs for performing a different job that is new to them would change them, especially if they were selected for greater trainability. This would change them by making them more responsive to trainer’s commands, but this may come at the expense of their ability to work independently in their native countries.

Owners of cultured breeds will continue breeding and taking their dogs to shows and many do not mind to picking up some of the aboriginal breeds to keep and breed them for the same purpose. Some strains derived out of aboriginal breeds, after a number of generations, will be selectively modified for a different use, or even transformed into a different breed under a different name. Adding a healthy and vigorous genes of aboriginal “wild type” breeds to ailing genetically cultured breeds can be a benefit. However, this activity is irrelevant to our goal of preserving indigenous ancient aboriginal breeds.

Preserving aboriginal breeds should be a part of a broader nature conservation project, involving landscapes, vegetation and wild animals, such as hares, antelopes, jackals, foxes, wolves, coyotes, bears, etc. Of course, people with their traditional ways of land use with their livestock and dogs would be a vital part of such projects. Effective conservation cannot be achieved unless the people who live and rely on these lands are an integral part of the conservation process. Nature Conservancy and various charitable funds and associations should support such projects and aboriginal dog lovers would benefit by saving the truly “wild type” core populations of aboriginal breeds. At this conference, we had an opportunity to hear about interesting studies and developments in the history, variation and preservation of the Tazy in Central Asia and in Kazakhstan. The breed is certainly on the way to recovery (K. N. Plakhov and A. S. Plakhova, 2005). The authors have done tremendous work to save the breed in the country and have accumulated very interesting knowledge of the breed’s history and existing variation. However, their recent idea of developing a separate breed, the Kazakh Tazy, is potentially dangerous to the very idea of preserving this breed as an aboriginal one. It would simply be transformed into another cultured breed with all the subsequent changes, such as a reduction of variability and isolation from its still surviving really aboriginal populations. Very interesting results from scientific in-depth studies on the aboriginal breeds of Portugal were presented by Cruz (2007). An example of progress in the preservation of the Karakachan Dog was made by A. Sedefchev and S. Sedefchev (2007) in Bulgaria. The Sedefchevs, did not fly to Almaty, as they planned, but they sent their article recently. They conduct an exciting project for preserving three of the oldest animal breeds still surviving in Europe: the Karakachan Dog, the Karakachan sheep and the indigenous breed of horse; and this work is a part of an integral project of nature preservation, including wolves and bears. Such efforts can serve as an example to others how to obtain financial support and tackle such difficult and complex problems.

Breeders, actively using aboriginal dogs for work and for sports are exactly those people, who must seriously contribute in their preservation for future generations. Nevertheless, saving aboriginal dogs in their countries of origin is the most reliable way of securing the survival of these unique remarkable dogs. Strains of aboriginal breeds in possession of dog owners far away from countries of their origin would need periodic genetic exchange with core populations of the “wild type”, just as the ancient Greek giant Antaeus needed to touch mother Earth to regain his strength.

Beregovoy, V. and J. Moore Porter. 2001. Primitive Breeds – Perfect Dogs. Hoflin Publishing. 424 pp.
Coren, S. 1994. The Intelligence of Dogs. A Guide to the Thoughts, Emotions, and Inner Lives of Our
Canine Companions. Bantam Books. New York, Toronto, London, Sydney, Auckland. 271 pp.
Cruz, C. 2007. Livestock guarding dogs from Portugal. A review of current knowledge. In this pubicaton.
Derr, M. 1997. Dog’s Bes Friend. Annals of Dog Human Relationships. Henry Holt and Company, New
York, 380 pp.
Eliason, E. 2007. In this publication.


This is a video of West Siberian Laika (вест сибериан лайка) “Ike” treeing a Bobcat. Initially I thought it was a young Mountain Lion but upon further inspection after the video stopped I realized it was a medium sized female Bobcat. This is the first Bobcat Ike has treed. Very proud of him! 🙂