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
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 bite.
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 cautious.
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
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
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 strong.
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
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 muzzle.
Acceptable colors: variations in color, grading from straw-colored through wheaten
to pale yellow buff.
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 size.
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
Serious faults: High, choppy, or hackneyed gaits. Toeing in. Toeing out. Moving too
Unilateral or bilateral cryptorchid. Viciousness or extreme shyness. Solid white coat