​​​Frequently Asked Questions



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Frequently Asked Questions

​About the Foundation

Q.  ​​​How do I become a member of the NGHWDF?
​A.  ​The Foundation does not have a general membership.  All are welcome to participate in 3C Discovery in some way, though we may offer a membership in the future.

​Q.  ​​How do I or my organization partner with the NGHWDF?

​A.  ​Visit our CONTACT page and complete the interest form.

​Q.  There are already NGSD groups.  Why add another and do you seek to replace those groups?

​A.  NO - We do not wish to replace or displace anyone.  Our goal is unity.  Currently, there is no single facilitating organization or centralized research effort in regard to the research, management and breeding of the HWD and NGSD.  These efforts are in the hands of largely layperson community groups and individuals.  While some of the groups are 501c non-profits and a number of the individuals are of expert status, they remain fractured and independent.  With the discovery of the HWD, the research to be accomplished is almost overwhelming to contemplate.  It will also be some of the most important work of this century.   As the pioneering, leading researchers and founders of the NGHWDF, James McIntyre and his friend and mentor, Dr. I Lehr Brisbin, felt it imperative and long overdue to create an organization with the resources and alliances to unite the scientific community, zoological community, interest groups and enthusiasts alike in a mutual, coordinated effort. 

To this lofty aspiration, hey developed and evolved the foundation's core concept of "Science First", supported by the 3C Principle:  Cooperation, Collaboration and Creativity.  The foundation seeks only to be a facilitator, giving equal access to resources and knowledge in the spirit of transparency and 3C Discovery in order to enable exponential growth.  The more we can cooperate and collaberate creatively, the more we can achieve. 

While "Science First" and "3C Principle" may sound like nothing more than catchy slogans, they truly are the core values and beliefs of not only the founders, but everyone involved to date.  The scientific community in particular cannot be hindered by having to cope redundantly with multiple groups or individuals having different agendas, and each unaware of what the other group is pursuing.  The NGHWDF is not only well under way in regards to research, but has laid the foundation for a global platform to benefit all.  We simply feel that a fractious, separated community does not best serve the science, conservation or species. 

We truly hope that the many talented groups and individuals with interest in the HWD, NGSD, Australian Dingo, and primitive canids would see the value in this and join us in this endeavor.  All are welcome and we are very eager for their contribution. 

​Q.  What qualifications do I need to occupy certain positions in the NGHWDF?

​A.  ​Qualifications will vary by position.  Generally, Department level positions are for scientists, PhDs, and executive level professionals.  Committee Chair positions typically require bachelor's or master's degree level education and expertise or equivalent, while subcommittee positions are available to anyone willing to embrace our core value of Science First and work in 3C effort with other team members.  Please visit our ENGAGE page for information on the type of positions available and the requirements for each.

​Q.  How much monetary compensation (salary) do NGHWDF Board Executives receive?

​A.  ​Board executives serve on a voluntary basis and are not compensated.

Q.  Do I get paid for working for the NGHWDF at Department, Committee or Sub-Committee level?

​A.  ​Currently, we do not offer any paid positions anywhere within the organization.  As we grow, we may offer compensated positions and paid contractor work.  There will also be provision for reimbursement and research funding.

​Q.  How do I apply for a NGHWDF grant?

​A.  ​Grants and related application criteria will be posted on our website as they become available.

​Q.  How do I apply for a scholarship or internship from the NGHWDF?

​A.  ​Scholarship and internship opportunities will be announced on our website as they become available.

Q.   I noticed the NGHWDF Website includes alot of pictures of Australian Dingoes, which could be misleading.  Why is this and do you plan to correct it?

A.  ​Good eye!  While it's true we feature  photos of Australian Dingoes in an artistic capacity throughout the site, pages that specifically discuss HWDs, NGSDs or locations feature accurate photos depicting the animal or locale in question.
​​​new guinea highland wild dog foundation, inc

​About HWDs

Q.  How many HWDs are there in the wild?

​A.  ​Know one knows for sure.  Future expeditions will be needed to conduct census surveys to learn about populations and virtually everything else about the HWD.  It may take many years to acquire all the answers.

​Q.  ​Is the HWD endangered or threatened?

​A.  ​We won't know that until we're able to conduct a census, which could take several expeditions over the coming years.  However, we should take a proactive stance in conservation as the dogs only live at high altitude, meaning there is only so much territory and resource to go around, and human encroachment is always a concern, even on New Guinea.

​Q.  Aren't HWDs and NGSDs the same thing?

​A.  ​We don't know that for sure.  It is not yet known what effect decades of captive breeding in a small gene pool has had on the NGSD.  We have already observed some phenotypical and morphological differences in the HWD as compared to the NGSD, and the current thinking speculates that the NGSD will wind up being a subspecies of the HWD, but that's JUST speculation.  Only DNA and genetic studies will be able to say for certain.  So for now, we're distinguishing between the two with the separate nomenclatures (names).   Early test results, to be released soon, have shown separation and variations in regard to ancestry content, but it's not yet clear what these results mean in a larger context. 

​Q.  How do I apply to receive an HWD?

​A.  ​AZA accredited facitlites may contact us at zooportal@nghwdf.org to discuss candidacy for becoming a host to HWDs brought from the wild, along with their future offspring.  Only AZA accredited zoos will be permitted to receive and hold HWD, preferably at locations already hosting NGSDs to allow for comparative studies and to facilitate admixture breeding programs.  Private individuals and facilities will not be eligible to receive or house HWDs at this time or the foreseeable future.

Q.   Why are you precluding private owners or facilities from receiving HWDs?

A.  AZA facilites, i.e. zoos, are the best prepared to cope with the regulatory and export issues that could arise.  In addition, they already have programs and resources in place to expedite study.  Last, they give the HWD the best exposure and allow for the most access for both researchers and the public.  

​Q.  I though that an HWD had been photographed in 2012 and that there were stories about villagers seeing HWDs in remote areas?  If that's true, why are you claiming you re-discovered them for the first time in more than 50 years?

​A.  ​Great question!  While it's true that Tom Hewitt, Director of Adventure Alternative Borneo, photographed a canid resembling a HWD in a remote area while leading an ecotrek, there was no way to be sure it was in fact an HWD.  The same is true for anecdotal reports.  Throughout the entire island of New Guinea there are populations of Village Dogs.  Village Dogs are the hunting and utilitarian dogs that live and scavenge around human habitations or travel with the nomadic peoples.  Village Dogs not only wind up in some very remote regions, but many are nearly identical to HWDs, especially if viewed at a distance, which was one of the issues with Tom Hewitt's  photo and many of the reported sightings.  (Note:  The legitimacy of the photo is not in question, only the legitimacy of the dog as a pure HWD is in question.  Even with confirmation that HWDs are present in their natural range, no one can be sure if the photo showed an HWD or Village Dog.)  To learn more about the photo, visit  THE HEWITT PHOTO   page.

Despite anecdotal reports and intriguing photos, many still believed the HWD to be extinct.  It was suspected that the dogs being reported or sighted were Village Dogs that resembled HWDs, but that pure HWDs no longer existed.  That's why everyone is so excited about the 2016 discovery, especially now that we have preliminary DNA results that confirm the find.

​Q.  How do you know the dogs found during the 2016 expedition are "real" HWDs?

​A.  ​During the expedition, fecal samples were collected at the sites where the team had confirmed the presence of the target species via field observation, sign and spore, and trail camera images.  Those samples were submitted to UC Davis and Cornell Universities for genetic testing along with buccal swab samples taken from Village Dogs.  The initial tests revealed the A29 Haplotype as being consistently present in the HWD samples tested, which is consistent with NGSD and  Australian Dingo, while the Village Dogs yielded a different Haplotype altogether.  This evidence confirmed that the canids in question were in fact HWDs, separate and distinct from the Village Dogs.

However, we expect future testing will reveal that some Village Dogs also carry the A29 Haplotype, in some cases, nearly exclusively, as a result of HWDs dispersing or visiting downslope villages and interbreeding with Village Dogs.

​Q.  If HWDs may be impacting Village Dog populations, wouldn't Village Dogs then effect/contaminate HWD populations, as well?

​A.  ​We may find that to be the case in some circumstances.  However, it's not likely to be the norm.  Village Dogs are not likely to leave the resources readily available to them in human settlements to travel upslope to high altitudes, through extremely difficult terrain, only to confront HWDs with well established territories, social structures, mates, pups and other resources they'd be likely to defend.  Further, it's ​speculated that the HWDs possess a high altitude adaptation; Village Dogs would likely struggle at the altitudes where HWDs live.  As to why HWDs would travel downslope to visit with Village Dogs; once again, we can only speculate.  Perhaps, like wolves, some animals disperse from social groups to seek breeding opportunities.  It could be that HWDs have a wide travel pattern and are opportunistically breeding with Village Dogs they encounter while hunting or otherwise traveling.  Maybe HWDs are drawn downslope out of pure curiosity.  Or if male HWDs are in fact fertile year round, possibly they're responding to Village Dogs females in estrus outside the normal breeding season while the female HWDs are in latency (outside the seasonal estrus period).  We can't yet know for sure.  We're eager and excited to hear what others think and theorize.

​Q.  It sounds like HWDs live in packs.  Is that true?

​A.  ​At the expedition site, HWDs were observed and photographed in small groups and as individuals.  They appeared to have "territories" where certain social groups were observed regularly, with little or no overlap of social groups at different locations.  However, it must be cautioned that the sample size is too small, the study method too static and the data too limited to make certain declarations about the social order, construct or habits of the HWD.  If indeed the HWDs live communally, those structures will be defined as "social groups" vs. "packs". 

Experts that have reviewed the photos have noted that it ​appears ​at least some of the dogs located and surveyed at the expedition site may live in small social groups of mostly females led by an adult male.  Females with pups ​appeared ​to be caring for them mostly independently.  However, it was very difficult to make clear, concise observations or conclusions based on still images from trail cams, especially where gender was not always apparent.   The reality remains that this is pure speculation and there is much study to be done before anything is known for certain.  In fact, the expedition raised more questions than it answered!

​Q.  Why is the HWD so important?  Why is this discovery such a big deal?

​A.  ​The short answer is that the HWD is the canid equivalent of Bigfoot (metaphorically speaking).  It's the canid missing link species that will help determine not only the origins and evolutionary path of dogs, but will answer many questions in regard to how humans evolved and the impact that coevolution had on both canids and humans.  Revealing the secrets  carried within the HWD DNA and genome may change the way we view not only canid evolution, but our own.

​Q.  If the HWD and NGSD are so similar and possibly the same animal, why couldn't you just study NGSD DNA?

A.  ​Good point.  ​NGSD genetic samples have been studied for a number of years now.  However, because no one could be certain what impact captive breeding within a very limited gene pool had on the NGSD and how true it had remained to it's original form, the results were always in question.  Preliminary results of DNA comparisons are already revealing differences between the HWDs sampled and NGSD samples.  Conclusions regarding relationship between NGSDs, HWDs and Australian Dingoes (AUDs) as well as taxonomy classification and phylogeny are forthcoming.

​Q.  I heard that the HWDs were discovered near the Grasberg Gold Mine.  Wouldn't that mean they were habituated or domesticated?

​A.  ​Habituated, yes, somewhat, domesticated, no.  While it's true that the HWDs were located living in the ​periphery of the Grasberg Mine area, they are not dependent on humans for food or other resources.   Though they are known to scavenge food left behind by workers, they still hunt their usual prey species (as evidenced by kill sites located by McIntyre and other field researchers).  They remain shy and wary of  people and are no less "wild" than a bear or wolf that ventures near human settlements to scavenge food at dump sites.  (This is known as biological economy or conservation of energy.)  It's also important to understand just how remote the Grasberg mine area actually ​IS.​  Located at elevation (4500 m, or nearly 15,000 ft) on Puncak Jaya, the area is isolated, austere and rugged.  Mine workers do not live at the mine site, but travel to the site daily to work, and the region is not permantly inhabited by humans.

More importantly, the mine, in concert with PT Freeport Indonesia, maintains a vigorous environmental monitoring program as well as very secure worksite in and around the mine.  The environmental safeguards they have in place combined with a secure site has in fact created a sanctuary for the HWD.   PTFI has been and will remain a generous host and partner in regard to ongoing research at that study site.

​Q.  I have heard that HWDs are actually dingoes.  Is this true?

​A.  ​Probably.  Again, we must await further genetic testing in order to define the taxonomy and phylogeny.

Q.  Will HWDs be regulated?

​A.  ​Yes.  The NGHWDF will coordinate with the AZA and other stakeholders to develop a captive management plan and all HWDs will be required to be in the Active Registry managed by the NGHWDF.

About NGSDs

Q.  Will NGSDs now be called HWDs?

​A.  ​No.  It has not yet been verified through genetic analysis if they are an identical species or not.  Early test results have revealed differences, but it is not yet known how significant those differences are in regard to overarching taxonomy or phylogeny.

​Q.  How many NGSDs are there in captivity?

​A.  ​No one knows for sure, but it's estimated that there are 200-300 in captivity.  Bear in mind, too, that the ​reproductive or breeding ​section of that population would be even smaller, perhaps including as few as 100-150 animals when you exclude animals that are beyond breeding age, have some trait or defect that would eliminate them as a breeding candidate, or animals that have already been bred the maximum number of times. 

​Q.  Where can I get an NGSD?

​A.  ​There are a small number of breeders throughout the US and occasionally rescue dogs become available.  As the NGHWDF populates the Active Registry, we will list those breeders participating in the registry program that wish to advertise upcoming litters on our website (with their permission).   In the meantime, you can check with the different online groups such as the NGSDCS, perform an internet search for NGSD pups or inquire on the NGHWDF Den Site Forum.  As with any breed, it is the responsibility of the purchaser or adopter to verify you are acquiring your animal from a reputable source.  Once the NGHWDF Active Registry is established, you'll have that assurance.

​Q.  Are NGSDs regulated?  Do I need a permit or special license?

​A.  ​In May of 2016, USDA/APHIS issued a ruling defining the NGSD as "exotic", which imposed some regulatory requirements on owners and keepers.  Keepers of the Bond, a non-profit primitive breed advocacy group, has compiled and submitted a report and documentation asking the USDA to reverse it's position.  An answer is still forthcoming.  However, some states, counties or municipalities may have laws in place that impact ownership - California is one such state having regulations and prohibitions regarding ownership of NGSDs.  Check with local, county and state authorities.

​Q.  What if I want to get or adopt an NGSD before the USDA/APHIS issues it's ruling?

​A.  ​All primitive breed owners should be prepared to meet regulatory requirements not only in regard to the pending USDA decision, but with the knowledge that regulatory requirements could develop anywhere at any time.

​Q.  Will the discovery of HWDs impact me as an NGSD owner?

​A.  ​No, not at this time.  The NGSD conservation pool represents a captive breeding experiment on par with the Balyaev Russian Fox Study that must be preserved. The NGHWDF will maintain a separation between NGSDs and HWDs and will also be a strong advocate on behalf of NGSD private ownership.

​Q.  I see the NGHWDF will be responsible for captive management and husbandry plans for HWDs and NGSDs in the future.  How will the captive management plans impact me as a private NGSD owner?

​A.  ​The NGHWDF supports private ownership of NGSDs and any management plans will be designed to address basic husbandry policies and "best practices" to ensure the adequate, humane keeping of NGSDs with minimal impact to private owners and facilities.  Most private owners and facilities already meet or exceed any protocols the NGHWDF would recommend, and NGSD owners will be welcome and encouraged to participate in the development of NGSD captive management and husbandry plans. 

Because the majority of the NGSD conservation reserve is in private homes and facilities, and because that conservation reserve population represents a captive breeding experiment 50 years in the making, any captive management plans will be designed to protect both dogs and private owners.

Q.  I heard that NGSDs are actually dingoes.  Is this true?

​A.  ​Probably.  We must await further genetic testing to determine actual taxonomy and phylogeny.

​Q.  Do NGSDs make good pets?  Are they hard to keep?   What is needed to have an NGSD?

​A.  ​Most owners report that NGSDs are easier to keep and manage than domestic dogs.  However, being a primitive breed, they do have special needs in regard to containment and socialization, especially during the critical growth period that occurs between 6 weeks - 4 mos.  HIgh quality kibble or raw diet is a must.  NGSDs have the highest prey drey of any primitive canid and therefore do not do well with cats, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, or other small animals, and some NGSDs have been reported to go after livestock.  Potential owners or adopters should also be aware that some veterinarians construe the NGSD as an exotic species and will not treat them.  To learn more about the NGSD, please visit our NGSD page.​

​About the Registry and Breeding

​Q.  What's the difference between the Active and Legacy Registry? 

​A.  ​The Active Registry will be for all NGSDs and HWDs, living and deceased, who's owner or managing facility has submitted a DNA sample, beginning in 2017.  The Legacy Registry will be for all NGSDs and HWDs, living or deceased, that do not have a DNA sample on file.  The Legacy Registry will be based on records and studbooks to date, as well as anecdotal information.

​Q.  Will I somehow be forced to submit a DNA sample for my NGSD to the Active Registry?

​A.  ​Absolutely not.  However....there has been no official registry for the NGSD, with exception to a brief period that they were included in ARBA and the UKC.  The NGHWDF has already done extensive work towards establishing an effective registry and is postured to be the sole authority for same until integration with the AKC, UKC and ARBA can be established, at which point the NGHWDF Registry will work in partnership with those organizations.  It should also be understood that at some point the NGHWDF will begin breeding HWDs with select NGSDs, and in order to be considered for admixture breeding, NGSDs will be required to be part of the Active Registry. 

​Q.  Will HWDs be registered?

​A.  ​Yes.   All HWDs will be registered and have DNA profiles/samples on file with the Active Registry.

​Q.  What if I cannot afford to pay for DNA testing for my NGSD?  Or if I do not want those results made public or given to the scientific community to be used for research and testing?

​A.  ​First, let's address the cost.  The NGHWDF will extrapolate the genetic results needed for the Active Registry from the research conducted at Cornell University (and other genetic study sites, such as UC Davis).  The NGHWDF will negotiate a fee schedule with these agencies to produce the necessary results and we will then fund the testing at no cost to owners via grants, etc. 

The NGHWDF has also established a coding system to protect owner privacy.  Any contact required, such as for breeding pair matchmaking or if researchers were to discover something in a dog's sample of which the owner must be made aware, will be handled  privately by a limited number of NGHWDF personnel. 

As for not wanting to share samples with the scientific community....As a NGSD owner, you have the privilege of owning and experiencing the rarest and oldest canid in existence.  We feel that privilege comes with a certain degree of responsibility.  The responsibility to promote and further understand the breed.  We would hope that most owners would be more than happy to contribute to a greater understanding of NGSDs, HWDs, and Australian Dingoes, as well as canid and human evolution.  As long as there are no privacy concerns, and if the owner is operating and breeding under the right principles and motivations, we cannot understand why someone would be opposed to making this contribution, especially if it's at no cost to them.

​Q.  So as long as my NGSD is in the Active Registry, I can breed it to any other registered NGSD?

​A.  ​Not exactly.  The registry exists not only to track the pedigrees and history of the HWD and NGSD, but to facilitate best match breeding pairs based on genetics.  As an owner, you may be given a choice of breeding partners, or choose to abstain or have your animal altered, however you will be asked to breed your NGSD to the best match assigned by the data analysis.  The NGHWDF is in the planning stages to help facilitate transport and cost of a managed breeding program, to include AI solutions.

​Q.  You have mentioned breeding HWDs with NGSDs.  How will that work?

A.  ​Very.  Carefully.  As stated previously, the captive NGSD conservation reserve represents a captive breeding experiment some 50 years plus in the making.  We do not want to simply set out with the goal to infuse as much wild HWD genetics into the captive population as fast possible in a revitalization attempt.  No - that would be misguided and reckless.  Instead, we will use the Registry to identify best match HWD-NGSD breeding pairs to create a "midpoint" or subset group of admixture animals (HWD/NGSD crosses) which will be carefully tracked and studied to see what effect admixture breeding has and how it contrasts to pure HWD or NGSD breeding results over time.

The unique situation we have in regard to our captive NGSD conservation reserve makes for a rare opportunity.  In the 1950s, Russian scientist Dmitri Balyaev hypothesized that selecting for friendliness towards humans in foxes would lead to the development of traits associated with domesticity.  Morphological and phenotypical traits such as neotinized faces (infant or child like), floppy ears, curly tails, piebald coat coloration, etc.  He set about breeding only those foxes with an affinity towards humans, and very soon the traits he predicted appeared.  Behavioral traits accompanied the physical changes.  The foxes had a decreased startle response, were less aggressive, less easily aroused, and less reactive - all traits associated with canid domestication.   They also sought out and enjoyed contact with humans.  The now famous, one of a kind study continues today, almost 20 years after Balyaev's death, and has even led to a domestic fox line that can be kept as house pets. 

While NGSD breeders didn't necessarily set out to breed animals with an affinity towards humans, one has to wonder if some breeders unconciously selected to breed animals that were more tractable, easier to handle and manage, and hence perceived or presented a better option as better breeding stock.  Today the primary concern for breeders is to strive for as much genetic diversity as can be achieved.  So while NGSD breeders didn't set out to create a certain result or breed a more domestic version of the HWD/NGSD, it could have occurred.  (Note:  NGSDs have not experienced the same morphological changes as was observed in the Balyaev experiment.  Their appearance and behavior has remained mostly consistent as far as anyone knows.)  We also don't know what effect breeding from such a small foundation stock/small gene pool has had on NGSDs.  Early DNA results tell us that something has happened to create a distinction between HWDs and NGSDs, but it's very preliminary information and more testing is needed to determine just how wide and important the gap actually is and what it represents.

Regardless, captive NGSD breeding has inadvertently created a situation very similar to the one that Balyaev created by intent and design.  I think all can see and would agree that it's imperative we move cautiously and thoughtfully as we introduce HWD genetics into this very unique circumstance. 

​About Science and Research

Q.  What testing has occurred to date?

A.  ​Release of the UC Davis and Cornell genetics testing results is pending.

​Q.  As a scientist, how do I get access to HWD samples  (and testing/results to date) now or in the future?

​A.  ​A formal database platform and sample repository is in development.  Until that is complete, submit requests by contacting us at genetics@nghwdf.org.

​Q.  Will there be a scientific publication as a result of the expedition?

​A.  ​Yes, a paper will be published in the next several months (by summer of 2017). 

​Q.  ​Taxonomy and Phylogeny the same thing?  If not, what's the difference?

​A.  Really good question.  Taxonomy and Phylogeny are different methods of stating relationships between organisms.  They're similar in purpose and intent, but take different approaches.  Taxonomy groups and classifies animals based on similarities in physical traits and characteristics, whereas Phylogeny focuses on evolutionary relationships.  Taxonomy classification began before DNA analysis was available and scientists could only compare similarities in organisms to develop relationships.  Once DNA analysis became available and we had clearer definition as to how animals were related through evolution, the taxonomy structure no longer worked as well and Phylogeny/Phylogenetic Trees became a more useful tool.   For example, in Taxonomy, birds and reptiles are in completely separate classifications with no clear relationship.  With Phylogeny, birds and reptiles are related as we now understand the evolutionary path as some dinosaurs evolved into birds or reptiles, making them related through evolution.

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