Early Dogs and Endemic South American Canids of the Spanish Main




Stahl, Peter W.

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Journal of Anthropological Research


Although common and widespread today throughout the neotropical lowlands, the domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris) may have been a relatively recent introduction into certain areas. Numerous early documents, however, implicate the precolumbian presence of tamed endemic South American canids, at least in lowland areas of northern South America and the adjacent Caribbean. These early and limited descriptions of small dogs that did not bark were eventually dismissed in the scholarly literature as simply domesticated dogs that were trained not to bark. A review of the earliest documentation of indigenous canids in the Spanish Main, and subsequent accounts of tamed endemic canids in various parts of the continent, suggests that native foxes or forest dogs could have been tamed. Varied sources written at different times and from different areas of lowland South America also mention interbreeding of endemic canids with domesticated dogs. The control of tamed endemic canids by indigenous populations could also have factored into the late appearance of the domestic dog, particularly in portions of the Amazon Basin.



Domestic dog, Fox, Bush dog, South America, Caribbean, Amazon Basin, Domestication, Taming


Stahl, Peter W. (2013). Early Dogs and Endemic South American Canids of the Spanish Main. Journal of Anthropological Research, 69(4), 515-533.