The following part creates an overview on the geographical origins of the different primitive dog types of North America, what their characteristics were and how they were used. It also should show the breeding principles of the Native Americans: The Plains Indian Dog from the centrally located prairies is a combination of all the different types of old dogs from the cardinal directions. The division of the geographical areas and the information is based on historical findings, information passed on by elders through the word of mouth, documents of early explorers and Kim La Flamme’s research and the finding sites of his and other dogs. It remains unclear, why no dogs or archaeological evidence were found in the San Francisco bay area. Besides the types discussed here three more types were found: the hairless, the pug nosed and the wool dogs. These were not used as working dogs in pre-Columbian times and Kim La Flamme did not use them for his founding lines. The image does not pursue completeness nor has the claim for absolute precision, more likely it intends to help interested people deepen their understanding about the American Indian Dog. Through mimicking the breeding processes from the past, Kim La Flamme is today still attempting to preserve the Plains Indian Dog and the different old types for future generations.
More information on dogs, finding sites and the breeding program can be found at Kim La Flamme’s website.
Plains Indian Dog
The modern American Indian Dog of today matches the Plains Indian Dog of the past. Through trade and breeding, this type of original dog was to be found on the entire continent but was most frequent in the plains. The Indians of the prairies were well known as the dog breeders. They traded dogs with tribes from all the four cardinal directions and combined the different regional types to a balanced mix that was able to perform multiple tasks. This ‘recipe’ included the Common Indian Dogs from the southeast, the Village Indian Dogs from the north, the Tahltan Indian Dogs from the northwest and the Pueblo Indian Dogs from the southwest plus the Hare Indian Dogs from the northeast. Also, the Plains Indian Dogs were traded back to complete the circle.
Compared to the other old types, the Plains Indian Dog was of medium size and weight (approx. 16 to 23 kg or 35 to 50 lbs). Different colors and patterns occurred and ranged from solid white to solid black with different shadings and nuances. The coat length varied from short and thin to rather long with thick wool. The color of the eyes could be blue, yellow or grey. Their ears were large and the tail was straight and carried in a slight curve. Depending on the colors and shadings of the coat, the pattern of their markings on masked faces had color running down the nose and under the eyes with dots above the eyes.
These dogs were used in many different ways: They pulled sleds and travois and carried backpacks to transport food, wood, clothes and other things of need. They hunted on sight, scent and sound for birds, fish, small and big game, bears and even corralled buffalo for the kill. They served as watch dogs, baby sitters, kept their masters worm in cold nights.
Common und Village Indian Dog
The Common and Village Indian Dog are very similar. Look and character have few differences. Both are about the same size and comparable in weight. The most prominent differences consider the coat and distribution: Compared to the Village Indian Dog the Common Indian Dog has shorter hair. Archaeological research has shown that these dogs were spread from South America all the way to Alaska, while the Village Indian Dogs were mainly found in the North. Both types have slightly longer legs compared to the Plains Indian Dog. Of all the six different types of primitive dogs, the Common and Village Indian Dogs were the largest. Their shoulder height was up to 6 cm (2”) greater than that of the Plains Indian Dogs. They also were greater in weight, but never heavier than 25 kg (55 lbs). Because of their great distribution, chances to still find one of these dogs today are greater than to find one of the other types.
Not too long ago, Kim La Flamme managed to find two of the Village Indian Dogs and implemented them into the breeding program. Both were used to pull sleds over long distances. Many of these dogs have now been registered with the Alaskan Husky registry, which does not make it easier to find more of these lines nowadays. Also, Kim La Flamme used these old types to bring back the Plains Indian Dog. Today, he still tries to maintain the Common and Village Indian Dog lines in his breeding program and to pass them on into following generations.
Tahltan Bear Dog and Pueblo Indian Dog
The Tahltan Bear Dogs have been mostly found in the northwest pacific region of Canada, where they have been bred by the Tahltan Indians. Surprisingly these rather small, shorthaired dogs were also found in southwestern America, where they were known as the Pueblo Indian Dogs. Research has shown that Native Americans from those regions far apart had many cultural similarities. They spoke the same language and shared many traditions. It has been found, that the Tahltan, Navajo and Apache Indians travelled long distances to barter and trade and to share cultural goods. Within the scope of their travels and gatherings, they also exchanged their dogs.
The Tahltan and Pueblo Indian Dogs were the smallest type, measuring up to 6 cm (2”) less at their shoulder then the Plains Indian Dogs. They were sturdy, tough and rather barky with a weight between 11 and 16 kg (25 to 35 lbs). Their characteristics came in very handy when hunting and tracking with sight and scent, even fishing or climbing trees and herding.
Also the Tahltan and Pueblo Indian Dog was used by the Plains Indians and therefore contributed to the Plains Indian Dog. Kim La Flamme found some of these dogs and used them for his breeding program. Today he still has dogs that are very close to these types of primitive dogs.
Hare Indian Dog
The Hare Indian Dog occurred mainly in the north eastern parts of the continent. But, just like all other types of primitive dogs, they could also be found in other parts of the country. The Hare Indian Dog measured between 43 and 49 cm (17 to 19”) at the shoulder. Its distinctive feature was the slightly longer coat, the bushy tail and the longer hair on their legs. Despite their frizzy look, they were lightly built, strong and agile, with a collie like character. It has been suggested, that these dogs originated from the old Viking dogs. Because this type seldom barked, the Hare Indians used them for checking traps, to hunt and for herding. Just like the Tahltan Bear Dogs they were also able to climb trees to hunt birds and other game for their masters. Typical was also their friendly personality and playfulness. Also towards strangers they were very trusting. Early explorers explained the Hare Indian Dog as “being very fond of being caressed and rubbed its back against you like a cat and loved everyone it met”.
Today the highly friendly and frizzy looking Hare Indian Dogs are still represented in Kim La Flamme’s breeding program. All these traits helped him years ago to identify dogs for his founding lines. The most modern American Indian Dogs have taken on this trustfulness of the Hare Indian Dogs, to the delight of many owners.