Melanesian Village Dog

Melanesian Village Dog

Dogs accompanied humans on some of their most fantastic voyages across the Pacific, spreading throughout the islands of Southeast Asia and Oceania. These dogs served as companions, guards, and food animals. Their descendents, mixed with more recent European (dog) arrivals, live on today in islands dotting the Pacific, where they live amongst people, beaches, and palm trees.

Illustration courtesy of the American Kennel Club

Quick Facts


Height

Male: 14-19in

Female: 13-18in

Weight

Male: 25-45lb

Female: 19-39lb

Fun Fact

Though you might expect Melanesian village dogs to be genetically similar to New Guinea Singing Dogs, they generally have more ancestry in common with mainland village dogs than they do the NGSD. This suggests that the NGSD may have become an isolated population prior to the introduction of more recent dog migrations into Melanesia.

About this Breed

Melanesian village dogs descend from some of the most intrepid canine explorers. These dogs have traveled with humans on boats and canoes to some of the most remote places on earth, braving weekslong journeys with their humans.

Over five thousand years ago the first wave of dogs spread as far as Papua New Guinea and then Australia, becoming the ancestors to the New Guinea Singing Dog and the dingo. The dogs that remained in the islands of Southeast Asia from then likely contributed to some of the current Southeast Asian and Oceania island village dog, though there have been several successive waves of dog migrations through island Southeast Asia and eventually further and further into Oceania.

The dogs currently alive in island Southeast Asia, such as Borneo, Bali, and Papua New Guinea, show the impacts of these successive waves of migrations from mainland Southeast Asia. They harbor very high genetic diversity (as opposed to the dingo and New Guinea Singing Dog, which are some of the least diverse dog populations on earth). On some islands, such as Bali, the dogs also show a strong impact of recent European dog migration to the islands, with dogs brought by colonizers in the last 200 years mixing with the local dogs. Other islands, such as Borneo, show almost no European dog ancestry.

Dogs spread to Oceania with early Melanesians, and the dogs throughout Oceania, even in Polynesia, are most closely related to Indonesian and Melanesian dogs, not Taiwanese or Philippine dogs (where Polynesians originated). Combined with archaeological evidence showing early dog spread, this suggests that dogs colonized Polynesia multiple times, potentially service a role in trade as well as companionship, guarding, and as food.

Dogs in Oceania now also show some evidence of recent interbreeding with European dogs. This is stronger in some areas (Tahiti in French Polynesia for example) than in others (most outlying islands). These dogs have adapted to very different environments than most dogs and are therefore thought to be very useful in studying local adaptation in dogs. Studies are ongoing!

Melanesian Village Dogs on Embark

Explore some Embark dogs that share Melanesian Village Dog ancestry.

  • Lovo

    Lovo

    Purebred

    Dexter

    Dexter

    Purebred

    LaLa

    LaLa

    Purebred

    Widget

    Widget

    Purebred

  • Westley

    Westley

    Purebred

    Dizzy

    Dizzy

    Purebred

    Jazz

    Jazz

    Purebred

    Sen

    Sen

    Purebred

  • Lola

    Lola

    Purebred

    Koru

    Koru

    Purebred

    Joji

    Joji

    Purebred

    Ollie

    Ollie

    Purebred

Favorite Names

For Males

  1. Winston
  2. Bernie
  3. Dexter
  4. Jack
  5. Joji
  6. Koru
  7. Barney
  8. Nikolai
  9. Ollie
  10. Westley

For Females

  1. Copper
  2. Dizzy
  3. Fluffy
  4. Gabby
  5. Hillary
  6. Jazz
  7. Koti
  8. LaLa
  9. Liberty
  10. Lola

Common Locations

  1. Guam
  2. Northern Division, Fiji
  3. Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands
  4. California, United States
  5. Washington, United States
  6. Western Division, Fiji
  7. Palau
  8. Maine, United States
  9. Missouri, United States
  10. Hawaii, United States

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