A significant part of the information about the dogs of the Native American people available today is owed to Kim La Flamme. Through his over 50 years of effort gathering knowledge, conclusions regarding the life of dogs and humans, the distribution and the breeding practices can be made. The following part will give a short overview about the different types of primitive dogs in America and their distribution.
Supposedly human-dog relationship west of the Atlantic dates back over 15’000 years. However, first written documents appear after the official discovery of the Americas. On his search for the seven cities of Cibola, the spanisch discoverer Francisco Coronado explored the new world. What he found was not gold, but bison, Indians and the Plains Indian Dog.
According to the records of European explorers and adventurers, most dogs lived in the prairies of North America. The first documents about dogs that accompanied humans describe these as a mixture between a wolf and a fox. This seems reasonable, considering that back then the Europeans did not know the coyote. Other descriptions of wild dogs in different parts of the continent point towards coyotes. Even back then, people suggested that the dogs of the Native Americans were descendants of these wild dogs. Also today, Kim La Flamme is convinced that the American Indian Dog traces back to the coyote and does not originate from the grey wolf.
Research has proven that the old dogs of the Native Americans differed in respective to their geographical occurrence. Dogs from the north were rather large with a thick coat, whereas dogs in the south were rather small with less wool. Part of the Native American tradition was to meet other tribes and exchange material and non-material goods as well as to celebrate traditional ceremonies. Dogs too were part of the trading. The early breeders understood how to trade and breed animals in a way that the genetic diversity was raised and preferred characteristics promoted. Through this practice the different primitive dog types from the different geographical regions were passed on from tribe to tribe and combined. While locally the respective dog types remained, a mixture of all the different types emerged centrally in the plains: the Plains Indian Dog. The Plains Indian Dog is a combination of all the other different types because the tribes located centrally in the plains had the possibility to trade dogs with the tribes of all four cardinal directions. Therefore the Plains Indian Dog contained all other types of primitive dogs. Because of using their dogs daily to work with and the thereof resulting selection for breeding, a dynamics driven through trade from plains to peripheral areas evolved. This created dogs that were healthy, versatile and diverse.