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‘As Pack Animals’
The Indian Dog by John Witthoft

From Indian Prehistory of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg PA, 1965, pages 18-19

The American Indian dog resembled small wolves or Australian dingos and were no larger than a coyote. They were related to Asian wolves, and, in Mexico, were bred into the hairless eating dog. These dogs did not bark, but howled like wolves.

The use of these dogs, which are no extinct, were as follows:

1. Scavenging around camp

2. Eating in times of dearth

3. Sounding the intruder alarm with their howl

4. Hauling packs, mostly on the open expanses of the great plains

The Indian dog was not a hunting dog, nor were any Indians known to have developed methods of hunting in concert with dogs until after the introduction of hunting breeds and methods by European invaders.

The people with the greatest population of dogs at the time of contact were the Hurons of Lake Ontario, who kept large numbers of these dogs as their primary source of meat, as they had hunted out the deer population and lived in densely populated communities. Hurons were also cannibals and ate at least one French explorer, who did not seem to understand why he had been invited to dinner. By eating human excrement, piles of fish bones [a large part of their diet*] and other scraps, dogs kept camps clean and also served as walking napkins. Yes, one of the dining habits of the Huron was to eat meat with his hands and wipe the grease from his hands on a passing dog, who would then go about licking off the grease…

T.E. Mails illustrated the largest Indians dogs used by the Arikara Indians for hauling goods in his book Mystic Warriors of the Plains.

In Mexico the settled folk such as the Mixtecs and Aztecs bred specializes hairless eating dogs, now known as **Chihuahua, which were also used as living heaters and disease leaches for the ill. Pots were commonly made with dog motifs, as were wheeled toys, which is ironic, for although the natives new of the wheel they had no beasts suitable for drawing carts or wagons until Europeans introduced old world livestock. This was ultimately due to the Younger Dryas Event, in which 70% of megafauna was wiped out in North America 11,000 years ago. Nomads in Northern Mexico where known as “Sons of the Dog” presumably based on their use of dogs at portage animals. Surviving firsthand accounts of the Spanish invaders from the Aztec perspective focus not on the horse as monstrous but on the massive armored war dogs with their slathering jaws.


*Excavated dog manure at pre-Columbian sites is made up primarily of partly-digested fish bones.


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Stillbirth of a Nation: Caucasian Slavery in Plantation America: Part One

Add Comment
BobMay 9, 2018 6:53 AM UTC

James Bowery has posited that part of European Man's individualistic bent is to be laid at the feet of the co-evolution that he and dog underwent. The man/dog pairing liberated man to an extent from his human co-hunters. The New York Review of Books has an good article on this thesis. (Spoiler alert: Bad guys are Republicans, white men, Christians, Trump. Good guys are pure-breed wolves, natives, Democrats, women.)
GooseMay 8, 2018 7:46 PM UTC

For a photo of what Great Plains Indians' hauling pack dogs looked like search "Edward S. Curtis Assiniboine Hunter 1927"
Tony CoxMay 8, 2018 9:15 AM UTC

I’ve always wondered what kind of dogs these “Indian dogs” were, and the most information I could glean was that they weren’t coyotes, but something else.

On a side note, the Goshute tribe which currently resides in Northeastern Nevada, are looked down upon by other tribes and still called “Dog Eaters” as a slur to this day.