A Breed or Not a Breed?

We start with a confession. We don’t know if the dog referred to toward the end of the post is a breed or not. In the spirit of of education, we forge ahead, but first, a story.

Once upon a time a very long time ago, dogs were very loquacious. This is to say they were enthusiastic talkers who told everyone everything they knew.

Read: They were blabbermouths.

There weren’t as many dogs back then as there are now, but nearly everyone owned a few dogs to take hunting. Flying Hawk, however, a man of the Caddo Nation of Oklahoma, didn’t have a dog because he hated having someone around he couldn’t trust to keep his mouth shut. Nevertheless, Flying Hawk, a good hunter in his own right, knew that a dog would help him hunt better and bag more meat for his family.

One day, a friend offered Flying Hawk a choice of a puppy from a new litter. Reasoning that he could teach the dog not to talk so much, Flying Hawk selected a puppy, took him home, and spent several hours every day teaching it not to be a tattle-tale like other dogs. In time, the pup grew big enough to be taught to hunt, and Flying Hawk began taking it out to track rabbits.

Each and every time that Flying Hawk caught game, however, his dog would sneak back to the Caddo village on Reed River and blab details to everyone. Afterwards, the dog surreptitiously came back to Flying Hawk and acted as if he’d been hunting with Flying Hawk the whole time. The dog’s deception was soon discovered, and Flying Hawk would scold the dog. Reprimanding the dog worked for a time, but eventually, the dog went back to his old ways.

When the dog was big enough to hunt in the high country of the Ouachita Mountains, Flying Hawk packed a supply of food, loaded his horses with provisions, and with the dog in tow, started out on the three day journey to the mountains. Upon arrival, they made camp, and over a campfire, Flying Hawk warned the dog that though they were far away from the village, if he dared sneak back ahead of him and told everyone about the hunt, he would pull out the dog’s tongue.

They hunted for several days, and as soon as the horses were packed with all the meat they could carry, Flying Hawk and his dog broke camp and started home.

On the first day of their journey,  the dog vanished. Flying Hawk looked for his dog for hours, but getting nowhere, returned to the campsite on the chance the dog was there. He wasn’t. After another day of looking, Flying Hawk gave up and headed home.

It hadn’t occurred to Flying Hawk that the dog had returned to his old jabbermouth ways, but as he he approached home, he spotted his dog sitting under a tree, spinning tall tales about all the dangerous animals that he, the dog, had tracked for Flying Hawk.

Flying Hawk was livid. He shouted at the dog at how he had been warned, then grabbed the dog, snatched out his tongue, and pulled it out as far as he could.

And this is why ever since then, dogs have had long tongues.

We love canine folk stories and hazard a guess that in Flying Hawk’s story, his dog may have been an American Indian Dog. We’re not describing a dog that was owned by a native American, we’re referring to a dog that some regard as an actual breed. Native American Indian Dogs (or NAIDs) were considered extinct a while back, but in the 1990s, someone sought to recreate them – and sources have varied ever since on whether the NAID is a breed as we know the word.

In 2016, an article was published on the AKC’s website regarding a dog named, “Seraphina.”

The piece written by Penny Leigh started out this way: “Rare breeds not yet recognized by AKC can be eligible to enroll in AKC Canine Partners and compete in AKC events. That is the case with Seraphina (formally known as Song Dog Bright Angel UD GO) who is an American Indian Dog. Seraphina & owner Sheila Crombie of Monument, CO, recently earned the advanced-level U tility Dog (UD) title in AKC Obedience.”

Later in the same article: “When AKC started the Canine Partners Program, she began competing in AKC events as well. She is listed as an All-American Dog by AKC. But I think the title “All American” is fitting because the American Indian Dog is descended from a breed that has its origins in this country.”

That American Indian Dogs existed was verified by the writings of Lewis and Clark as they traveled across the American continent. The idea to reproduce these dogs was developed by Russell “Kim” LaFlamme who remembered playing with such dogs owned by his granddad who was part Blackfoot Indian. LaFlamme claimed that the dogs he used in his breeding program were out of authentic American Indian Dogs descended from original bloodlines he acquired from a Canadian tribe over forty years ago.

Critics charge that LaFlamme really started his breeding program in the 1980s with German Shepherd Dogs, Siberian Huskies, Australian Kelpies, Dingoes, Border Collies, wolf hybrids, and maybe even coyotes. That said, we note that all the sources we checked are in agreement that whatever the dogs are, there is uniformity: They resemble shepherd-like wolves. They are said to be extremely intelligent, and with an experienced owner/trainer, highly trainable.

We found claims that American Indian Dogs were invited to show at the first rare breed show in Beverly Hills, that they were invited to participate in the First Rare breed show on the White House lawn, that the dogs have been featured in movies and TV programs such as Braveheart, The Today Show, Animal Planet’s “Dogs 101,” and the History Channel’s show on”Gladiators,” as well as assorted magazines and articles including Dog Fancy. 

Certainly there are breeds not dissimilar to the NAID in that their history includes reconstitution. On the other hand, can an extinct breed ever be truly resurrected, and not just have its phenotype imitated?  We look forward to your comments.

We were unable to find a photo of these dogs for which we could secure permission, but we encourage you to click here to get a general idea of what an internet search brings up.

Image of a Silhouette of an American Indian with his dog bhibrida/Adobe Stock Photo

American Indian Dog, Russell “Kim” LaFlamme, Native American Indian Dog,

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