Official U.K.C. Breed Standard
Copyright 1996, United Kennel Club, Inc.
When the first primitive humans crossed the Bering landbridge into North America from
Asia, they were accompanied by a primitive form of dogs that resulted from the
domestication of southwest Asian wolves in the region of Iraq a few thousand years earlier.
These small, nondescript dogs moved quickly with their human companions down through
the western part of North America. Skeletal remains and mummified bodies of these dogs
have been found along with the artifacts of the Basket Maker culture of the primitive
Southwest Indians. From here, these primitive dogs moved into the eastern United States.
Archeological investigations have documented ceremonial burials of these dogs, indicating
their presence as companions of the Indians of the southeastern forested woodlands of that
region, long before the arrival of the white man on this continent.
Recently, studies of the free-ranging dogs of certain regions of South Carolina and Georgia
have disclosed the continuing existence of small primitive dogs, whose appearance, as well
as behavior and general ecology, suggest a close ancestry with, and possible descent from
those first primitive dogs.
Called the"Carolina Dog," these animals most closely resemble the Dingo of Australia,
which may indeed be among their closest living relatives. The striking resemblance between
these dogs and the Dingo, half a world apart, is likely due to the way in which both animals
have filled a free-living, or "pariah" niche on the fringe of human civilization and culture.
The Carolina Dog was recognized by the United Kennel Club on January 1, 1995.
The Carolina Dog is a dog of medium build, possessing the general appearance of a small
jackal or wolf in combination with many features of a small Sighthound. The distinctive
features of the breed are those that confer survival advantages under free-living conditions in
the tall grass savannah and bottomland swamp forest habitats of the southeastern United
States. The dog typically has a medium-length straight back, with a distinctive waist which
sets off a deep brisket from a highly tucked-up loin. The tail is distinctive in both its
fish-hook-like configuration and its variable carriage, depending on mood.
The large, upright ears and long, graceful neck are also distinctive and suggest the
appearance of a small, versatile and resourceful predator, well adapted to surviving on its
own in a natural habitat. In ideal conditions, a Carolina Dog should appear thin and tight. It is
not inappropriate, for example, for the ribs to show slightly as in a well-conditioned racing
sighthound. Individuals that are greatly overweight should be severely penalized. The dog is
to be shown in a natural condition, with little or no evidence of grooming or scissoring.
Whiskers are not to be removed.
A generally shy and suspicious nature is characteristic, but excessive fear and any
resistance to examination is not desirable. No individual should be expected to be friendly
and outgoing, nor to enjoy physical contact with strangers.
Very serious fault: Outward aggression.
Head and Skull
The skull is strong and impressive. It is broad between the ears and moderately rounded,
and has ample muscle. There is a distinct furrow extending down between the eyes. The
forehead is slightly rounded. There is a distinct occiput. The stop is slight, but distinct.
Younger dogs often show a distinctive, fine wrinkling on the forehead, giving a frown effect.
Viewed from above, the head forms a wide triangle, with the tapering of the muzzle
accentuated by the highly-developed jaw muscles. The skull tapers to a strong, distinctively
pointed muzzle. The length of the muzzle is approximately equal to the length of the cranial
portion of the skull. The jaws are powerful, clean and deep. The tight-fitting lips are black.
TEETH - A full complement of white, well-developed, even teeth meet in a scissors or level
Serious faults: Undershot bite. Overshot bite.
EYES - The almond-shaped eyes are dark brown in color. They are set obliquely. Eye rims
are black and unbroken. Overall expression is one of softness and intelligence, but highly
NOSE - The nose is black and has large, well-opened nostrils.
Minor faults: Liver-colored nose. Dudley nose. Butterfly nose.
EARS - The ears are distinctive and expressive, and versatile in carriage. They are slightly
rounded at the tip, and fine in texture. The ideal ear is shaped like an equilateral triangle,
although the base may be slightly shorter than the ascending edges. They are carried erect
when alerted, but can be folded carried back along the neck. The ears are set well on top of
the head, slightly pointing forward. Ear placement is more important than size, but it is an
essential that they be forward-pointed and set on top of the head.
A characteristic position is for one ear to be firmly pricked, and the other to rotate sensitively
to pick up sounds.
Semi-prick ears and drop ears are permitted, but are to be penalized according to the
degree of deviation from a full, upright configuration.
The neck is notable in its strength and development. It is strongly crested, fitting well into the
shoulders, thus accentuating the crest to give the head a lofty carriage. The neck is graceful
and swanlike, yet muscular and well arched, providing the animal with a means of making
rapid and effective downward stabbing movements with the head when hunting in tall grass.
Serious faults: Short neck. Throaty neck.
The long shoulders are laid back.
FORELEGS The forelegs are straight. The forearms have good length, moderate bone and
distinctive musculature. The moderately straight, flexible pasterns are of good length.
The chest cavity is well sprung, and is deep, with plenty of lung and heart room.
The chest is narrow-to-medium in width. The deep brisket reaches to the elbows in mature
specimens. The deep brisket ends in a definite waist with a well-defined tuckup.
The back is strong and straight. It may be moderately long, but must have no suggestion of
slackness. There is a slight rise over the loin.
The hindquarters are strong, powerful and muscular. They are set under the body. They are
well angulated and exhibit tremendous drive and agility, enabling the dog to turn quickly
while moving forward. The hindquarters are parallel when in full gait.
HIND LEGS - The thighs are thick, strong and well muscled, almost as in a well-conditioned
racing sighthound. Rear dewclaws are desirable, but their absence is not to be penalized.
While standing, the forefeet may be slightly turned out, but equally so. The moderately small
feet are compact, never splayed. The toes are well arched. The pads are hard. The nails are
Like the ears, the tail is a most expressive and characteristic feature of this breed. It is set
on as a continuation of the spine. It has a moderate brush, but is most heavily haired on the
underside, which is always light colored or at least paler than the upper surface, which may
show some dark sabling.
When the dog is alert, the tail is held in a characteristic "fish hook" carriage, usually at about
a 45-degree angle from the horizontal. When the dog is gaiting at a trot, the tail is usually
carried in a downward "pump handle" configuration. At other times, especially when the dog
is being approached by a stranger, the tail may be held low or tucked between the rear legs,
but it must never be slack or loose in its hang.
Serious faults: Any tail which twists, curls, or is held unduly forward over the back.
Coat and Skin
This is a distinguishing feature of the breed. Its appearance is affected by the seasons. The
winter coat is distinctly heavier than the summer coat. In the cooler months, there should be a
wealth of undercoat. Animals showing excessive shedding at appropriate times of the year
are not to be penalized.
On the head, the ears, and front legs, the hair is short and smooth. Coarse, longer guard
hairs (longer than the undercoat) extend over the neck, withers and back. When aroused,
this hair stands erect. The coat behind the shoulder blades is often lighter in color.
The skin is pliant, but not flabby or loose.
Faults: Long, curly, wavy, or broken coats.
Preferred color: a deep red ginger with pale buff markings over the shoulders and along the
Acceptable colors: variations in color, grading from straw-colored through wheaten to pale
The preferred and acceptable colors usually include lighter colors on the underside, chest
and throat, sometimes being nearly white on the throat. Some white on the toes is common
and not to be penalized. Dark sabling over the back, loins and tail is permissible. Dogs less
than two years of age often have all-black muzzles, but this is not required.
The following color patterns are permitted, but not to be encouraged: black and tan, piebald
spotting, and black blanket back.
Disqualification: Solid white coat color. Albinism.
Height and Weight
The average height, measured at the withers, generally ranges from 17¾ to 19 5/8 inches
(45 to 50 cm), but can vary according to build. Type and symmetry are more important than
Weight is dependent on the overall size and build of the individual, and varies from
approximately 30 to 44 pounds (15 to 20 kg).
Bitches are generally lighter in build than dogs, but the sexes overlap broadly in both size
and weight. At no time should the breed appear heavy bodied.
Gait and Movement
Gait is low, free moving, effortless and smooth. There is a suggestion of flexibility in the
back, as would be expected for a small sighthound capable of a double suspension gallop.
Serious faults: High, choppy, or hackneyed gaits. Toeing in. Toeing out. Moving too close
Unilateral or bilateral cryptorchid. Viciousness or extreme shyness. Solid white coat color.