How to Train a Carolina Dog

Carolina Dogs are generally shy and suspicious in nature, but once a dog accepts a human into its pack, those behaviors disappear toward that human. A sighthound of medium build, they have the general appearance of a jackal or wolf.

Carolina dogs are descended from the canines that accompanied the Paleo-Indians who traveled from Asia to North America over the Bering land bridge. Today, they can still be found living wild near the Georgia-South Carolina border, but have also been seen as far north as Ohio and Pennsylvania and as far west as Arizona; rural areas are the common denominator. The typical Carolina dog has pointed ears, a fox-like snout and a tail that curves like a fishhook when it is raised. They look similar to Australian Dingoes but, taxonomically, they fall under canis familiaris. Hesitant with strangers, they will sound the alarm when unaware of who’s at the door, but once they see their people, they are ecstatic. Carolina Dogs have an extreme pack mentality, as this was a necessity for survival in the wild.


When humans migrated across the Bering land bridge from Asia into North America, they brought with them a primitive form of dog that were domesticated from Asian wolves thousands of years earlier. Skeletal and mummified remains of these dogs have been discovered alongside other artifacts belonging to the Native Americans of the Southwest and from there, they moved further into Central and South America and over to what’s currently the eastern United States. Archaeologists discovered similar canine remains in ceremonial burials in the southeastern forests, denoting their companionship with Native Americans long before Europeans arrived.

Recent studies of free-ranging dogs of the Southeast and Southwest suggest a close ancestry and possible descent from these primitive companions based on appearance, behavior, and ecology. These free-ranging dogs were named Carolina Dogs by Dr. I. Lehr Brisbin, who initially made contact with the breed in the Southeast.

Quick Facts




Life Expectancy:

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In general, Carolina Dogs enjoy good health. Recent studies have shown that some are ivermectin sensitive, so discuss this with your veterinarian before administering any antiparasitic medications. Working with a responsible breeder, prospective owners can gain the education they need to learn about specific health concerns within the breed. Good breeders utilize health screenings and genetic testing to reduce the likelihood of disease in their puppies.


Minimal grooming is needed for Carolina Dogs. They tend to keep themselves clean much like a cat; however, occasional bathing may be necessary. These dogs do not require any special grooming techniques other than brushing and nail trimming. Coat length is short to medium, though, some dogs in the northern regions have developed a longer hair length. Coat density is effected seasonally, generally heavier in the cooler months and lighter in the warmer months. In cooler months, there should be a very pronounced undercoat. Short and smooth hair is found on the head, ears and front legs. Coarse, long guard hairs are on the neck, withers and back. When aroused, these hairs stand erect.


Like any other dog, the Carolina Dog requires exercise. These are not high-energy dogs, but should have some form of daily exercise. Options for exercise include play time in the backyard, preferably fenced, or being taken for walks several times a day. Exercise can also come in the form of indoor activities, like hide-and-seek, chasing a ball rolled along the floor, or learning new tricks. Certain outdoor activities like swimming, hiking, retrieving balls or flying discs can provide a good outlet for expending energy. Training for dog sports like agility, obedience and rally can also be a great way to give your dog exercise.


Carolina Dogs are very easily trained, eager to please, and may or may not respond to treat training. They excel in competitive activities and hunting small game.


The Carolina Dog should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.