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The Dingo Debate explores the intriguing and relatively unknown story of Australia’s most controversial animal – the dingo. Throughout its existence, the dingo has been shaped by its interactions with human societies. With this as a central theme, the book traces the story of the dingo from its beginnings as a semi-domesticated wild dog in South-east Asia, to its current status as a wild Australian native animal under threat of extinction.


It describes how dingoes made their way to Australia, their subsequent relationship with Indigenous Australians, their successful adaption to the Australian landscape and their constant battle against the agricultural industry. During these events, the dingo has demonstrated an unparalleled intelligence and adaptable nature seen in few species. The book concludes with a discussion of what the future of the dingo in Australia might look like, what we can learn from our past relationship with dingoes and how this can help to allow a peaceful co-existence.


The Dingo Debate reveals the real dingo beneath the popular stereotypes, providing an account of the dingo’s behaviour, ecology, impacts and management according to scientific and scholarly evidence rather than hearsay. This book will appeal to anyone with an interest in Australian natural history, wild canids, and the relationship between humans and carnivores.




  • A comprehensive and up-to-date background on the origin and history of the dingo

  • The role that humans have had in 'shaping' the dingo

  • The relationship between dingoes and indigenous Australians

  • Detailed analysis of human-wildlife conflicts and the role persecution may play in influencing dingo phenotypes

  • Non-ecological behaviours such as cognition, including examples of cognitive processes once thought limited to 'intelligent' species such as primates

  • A discussion of dingoes in a global context, including comparisons to other old and new world canids including domestic dogs




  1. Characteristics of the Australian dingo (Canis dingo Meyer, 1793)

  2. Biology and behaviour of the dingo

  3. The origin and ancestry of the dingo

  4. The role of dingoes in Indigenous Australian lifestyle, culture, and spirituality

  5. Dingo-human conflict: Attacks on livestock

  6. Dingo-human conflict: Attacks on humans 

  7. Chasing the yellow dog's tail: The science of studying dingoes 

  8. An ecological view of the dingo

  9. Dingo intelligence: A dingo’s brain is sharper than its teeth 

  10. The personality, behaviour and suitability of dingoes as companion animals 

  11. The role of private sanctuaries in dingo conservation and the management of dingoes in captivity

  12. Forging a new future for the Australian dingo





  • Academics in behaviour and ecology research

  • Cognitive researchers

  • Geneticists needing to understand the history of domestic dogs

  • Those researching human-wildlife interactions/conflicts, and how traditional societies lived with dogs

  • Dingo owners and enthusiasts

  • Dingo organisations

  • Those interested in the natural history of Australia.




Bradley Smith, with contributions by Rob Appleby, Chris Johnson, Damian Morrant, Peter Savolainen and Lyn Watson.

The Dingo Debate: Origins, Behaviour, Conservation

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Edited by: Bradley Smith

336 pages; 245mm x 170mm

Publisher: CSIRO Publishing

Paperback, released August 2015

ISBN: 9781486300297

RRP: $ 39.95


Available from the CSIRO website and other online book stores in paperback or ebook.

Reviews of 'The Dingo Debate' 


Click here to view the review by Peter Menkorst in the Australian Book Review Magazine (October issue) or  download full pdf here


Click here to view the review by William Geary in 'Wild Melbourne'


Click here to download the pdf of the review by Bill Condie in Cosmos Magazine (October 2015 issue)


* For more reviews go to the publishers website or the Media page.




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