Plains Indian Dogs

The Plains Indians were always known as the “Dog Breeders” and “Horse Breeders.” During the ‘Dog Days’ before horses arrived in the pre-Columbian times, the Plains groups had over three hundred thousand dogs. They traded their Dogs with all the Nations all around them, combining all the types in all Four Directions. By combining all the slightly different types together gave them the perfect balanced combination and variables needed to create and maintain the all around mix to do anything needed of them. By breeding together in the proper recipe or ‘selective breeding crosses’ using the smaller, quite hunting and herding type Hare Indian Dogs from the northeastern areas and the barking bird and bear hunters and herders from the northwestern Tahltan Indians. Plus the larger Common from the southeastern and larger Village Indian Dogs from the North. Adding the smaller pueblo Dogs from the southwest, created an in between balanced Dog with just the right qualities to be the perfect Dog for any work required of them. They were then traded back for new bloodlines to all the surrounding Nations once again.

Notice coat color and pattern
still seen in the
modern Plains American Indian Dog

The Plains Dogs (or now called American Indian Dogs) were and are a medium sized Dog used chiefly for beasts of burden; pulling sleds, toboggans, travois and packs transporting food, wood, clothing and household goods. They were also used for hunting (sight, sound and scent) birds, small game, deer, bear and corralling buffalo for the kill. They served as watch dogs, baby sitters, keeping their masters worm at night and as food for ritual purposes and during famine times.

Example of the old ‘lead’ color, compared
to the modern blue of the
American Indian Dogs and blue roan horse

Old herding abilities of the old Plains Dogs, still here
in the modern American Indian Dogs

Size of the Plains Dogs were right in between the other types (breeds) - about 2” shorter than the taller Indian Dogs and about 2” smaller than the larger Indian Dogs; 19” to 21” at the shoulders. The weight was around 35 to 50 lbs (even the very large Malamutes in the very far north in pre-Columbian times were never larger than 75lbs) – Sable coats came in all colors from creamy silver white, golden reds, browns and tans, Blue and silvers (lead), silver grays, silver fawns and black sables. Coat lengths ranged from a shorter to medium and longer thicker coats. They had very large erect ears and light yellow , gray and blue eyes.

Plains Dog ready to have travois hooked up
and packed, for moving camp

Notice same size and sable markings, compared
to modern American Indian Dogs

Notice similarities of guarding, the sable brown color, etc .
from old to modern.

Notice old conformation, size and large erect ears of the old to
modern American Indian Dogs

The pattern of their markings on masked faces had color running down the nose and under the eyes with dots above the eyes called “four eyes”. They have longer hair around the neck called a ruff, (depending on coat length) with longer britches on their rear and a full tail held down or out, but never up unless showing dominance.

Typical sable color pattern of the Old Plains Dogs” (notice Northern influence)

Ghost Dancer”, (Old color referred to as ‘Lead’) silver/fawn, sable

They were found mainly through out the Plains areas, but as they were constantly traded to other nations they were also found from the top of Alaska to the tip of south America scattered amongst the other types.

Shoshone” - a Chocolate/cream –
(notice the "4 eyes")

“ Rogue” – (Old Dark Lead color) –
Best stud dog sire for this generation

“Santana” – Brown/silver sable –
Notice large erect ears of the Plains dogs

“Rogues Red Rider” – Golden Red sable –
(stud dog breeder)

“Sabi” – Blond silver/cream sable –
notice refined long muzzle

We still maintain the different types within our modern breeding program that were known to be bred with each other thousands of years ago and together they are known as the American Indian Dogs. This keeps the variables intact for when an out cross is needed to bring them back to the “Old Balanced Ways” of the Elders, that where known to be great natural geneticists, especially compared to modern inbred, blue blood, “fast fix” the heck with the future, AKC type back yard breeders. ….. . This selective breeding process along with the proper controlled breeding will hopefully keep the American Indian Dogs for future generations to appreciate and enjoy them the way they were.


Click on the links below to see articles and photos of both the
old and new American Indian Dogs.

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