Breed Standard

The Carolina Dog

 Hound Group

The goals and purposes of this breed standard include: to furnish guidelines for breeders who wish to maintain the quality of their breed and to improve it; to advance this breed to a state of similarity throughout the world; and to act as a guide for judges.

Breeders and judges have the responsibility to avoid any conditions or exaggerations that are detrimental to the health, welfare, essence and soundness of this breed, and must take the responsibility to see that these are not perpetuated.

Any departure from the following should be considered a fault, and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and upon the dog’s ability to perform its traditional work, and/or survive in the free-ranging state.


When the first primitive humans crossed the Bering land bridge into North America from Asia, they were accompanied by a primitive form of dogs that resulted from the domestication of southwest Asian wolves in the region of Iraq a few thousand years earlier.

These small, nondescript dogs moved quickly with their human companions down through the western part of North America. Skeletal remains and mummified bodies of these dogs have been found along with the artifacts of the Basket Maker culture of the primitive Southwest Indians. From here, these primitive dogs moved into South and Central America and the eastern United States. Archeological investigations have documented ceremonial burials of these dogs, indicating their presence as companions of the Native Americans of the southeastern forested woodlands of that region, long before the arrival of Europeans on this continent.

Recently, studies of the free-ranging dogs of certain regions of a number of states from the Southeast through the desert Southwest have disclosed the continuing existence of small primitive dogs, whose appearance, as well as behavior and general ecology, suggest a close ancestry with, and possible descent from those first primitive dogs.

Called the “Carolina Dog,” these animals most closely resemble the Dingo of Australia, which may indeed be among their closest living relatives. The striking resemblance between these dogs and the Dingo, half a world apart, is likely due to the way in which both animals have filled a free-living, or “pariah” niche on the fringe of human civilization and culture.

The Carolina Dog was accepted by the AKC as a Foundation Stock Service Breed in 2017.

 General Appearance

Possessing the general appearance of a jackal or wolf, in combination with many features of a sighthound, the Carolina Dog is of medium build.  Distinctive features of the breed are those that confer survival advantages under free-living conditions in tall grassland savannahs and bottomland swamp forest habitats of the south, southeastern, and southwestern United States.

Ears are usually upright and medium to large in size.  The long, graceful neck is also distinctive, and gives the breed the appearance of a versatile and resourceful predator, well adapted to surviving on its own in its natural habitat.  Ideally, Carolina Dogs should appear thin and tight.   As in a well-conditioned sighthound, it is appropriate for the ribs to show slightly.  Greatly overweight individuals should be penalized according to degree.

Carolina Dogs should be exhibited in a natural condition, with no evidence of grooming or scissoring.  Whiskers should be intact, and not removed.


A generally shy and suspicious nature is characteristic, but excessive fear and any resistance to examination is not desirable. No individual should be expected to be friendly and outgoing, or to enjoy physical contact with strangers.

Very Serious Fault: Outward aggression toward humans.


From above, the head forms a triangle, the tapering of the muzzle being accentuated by highly-developed jaw muscles, with the skull tapering to a strong, pointed muzzle.  A slight, but distinct, stop.  Fine wrinkling, giving a frown effect of the forehead may be seen in younger dogs.


Strong and impressive, the skull is broad between the ears and moderately rounded, with ample muscle.  A distinctive furrow extending between the eyes may be present.  A slightly rounded forehead, prominent occiput is present.


The length of the muzzle is approximately equal to the length of the cranial portion of the skull. The jaws are powerful, clean and deep. The tight-fitting lips are black.


A full complement of white, well-developed, even teeth meet in a scissors or level bite.

Serious Faults: Undershot bite. Overshot bite.


The tongue may be fully pink, blue-black spotted, or fully black.


The almond-shaped eyes are usually brown in color, but can range in color to yellow, and occasionally blue. They are set obliquely. Eye rims are black and unbroken. Overall expression is one of softness and intelligence, but highly cautious.


The nose is black darkly pigmented or varying shades of liver, harmonizing with coat color and has large, well opened nostrils.


Mobile and expressive ears are usually slightly rounded at the tip, and are fine in texture.  Most ears are shaped like an equilateral triangle, though the base may be shorter than the ascending edges.  Usually carried erect at alert, but may be folded and carried back along the neck.  Set well on top of the head, the ears should be pointing forward slightly.  Placement of the ear is more important than size.  However, it is essential that they be forward-pointed and set on top of the head.

A characteristic position is for one ear to be firmly pricked, and the other to rotate sensitively to pick up sounds.

Semi-prick ears and drop ears are permitted, but are to be penalized according to the degree of deviation from a full, upright configuration.


Strongly crested, fitting well into the shoulders, the neck is notable in its strength and development, accentuating the crest to give the head lofty carriage.  Graceful and swanlike, muscular and well arched, the neck provides the animal with the ability to make rapid and effective downward stabbing movements with the head when hunting in tall grass.

Serious Faults: Short neck. Throaty neck.


The long shoulders are laid back.


The forelegs are straight. The forearms have good length, moderate bone and strong musculature. The moderately straight, flexible pasterns are of good length.


The chest is narrow to medium in width and is deep, with plenty of lung and heart room. The brisket reaches to the elbows in mature specimens. There is a definite waist with a well-defined tuck-up.

The back is strong and straight. It may be moderately long, but must have no suggestion of slackness. There is a slight rise over the loin.


Strong, powerful, and muscular hindquarters are set under the body.  Well angulated they exhibit tremendous drive and agility, to provide the dog with quick turning ability while moving forward.  In full gait, hindquarters are parallel.


As in a well-conditioned racing sighthound the thighs are thick, strong, and well-muscled..  Rear dewclaws may be present.


Moderately small feet are compact and never splayed.  Well arched toes with hard pads and strong nails.  Forefeet may be slightly turned out, but equally so, while standing.


Like the ears, the tail is very expressive and a characteristic feature of this breed.  Set on as a continuation of the spine, it generally has a moderate brush, most heavily haired on the underside, where it is usually light colored or lighter than the upper surface, which may have some dark sabling, or in some cases, such as black dogs, may be the same color on both the upper and lower side.

At alert, the tail is held in a characteristic “fish hook” carriage, generally at about a 45 degree angle from the horizontal.  The tail is generally carried in a downward “pump handle” configuration while gaiting at the trot.  At times, especially when approached by a stranger, the tail may be held low or tucked between the rear legs, but must never be slack or loose in its hang.

Serious Faults: Any tail which twists to either side, makes a full curl, or is held unduly forward over the back.


Characteristics of coat and skin are affected by the seasons. The winter coat is usually distinctly heavier than the summer coat. In the cooler months, there can be a wealth of undercoat. Animals showing excessive shedding at appropriate times of the year are not to be penalized.

On the head, the ears, and front legs, the hair is usually short and smooth. Coarse, longer guard hairs (longer than the undercoat) extend over the neck, withers and back. When aroused, this hair stands erect. The coat behind the shoulder blades is often lighter in color in ginger-colored dogs.

The skin is pliant, but not flabby or loose.

Faults: Excessively long, curly, wavy, or broken coats.


Carolina Dogs come in several colors, a variety of red, yellow, pale yellow, shades of tawny, white, buff, black, and black and tan.

Markings usually include lighter shadings to white on the underside, chest and throat.  White on the toes is common and not to be penalized.  Dark sable over the back, loins and tail is permissible.  Dogs less than two years of age may have darker muzzles, but are not required to.

Color patterns permitted and equally desired are:  black and tan, piebald spotted, and black blanket back. Black and tan can have white points and tri-colors may appear in piebald.

Disqualification:   Albinism.


The average height measured at the withers, generally ranges from 17¾ to 24 inches (45 to 61 cm), but can vary according to build. Type and symmetry are more important than size.

Weight is dependent on the overall size and build of the individual, and varies from approximately 30 to 55 pounds (15 to 25 kg).

The sexes overlap broadly in both size and weight, but females are generally lighter in build than dogs.  At no time, should either appear heavy bodied.


A low, free moving, effortless and smooth gait, suggesting flexibility in the back, as expected for a sighthound capable of a double suspension gallop.

Serious Faults:  Hackneyed, high, or choppy gait.  Toeing in.  Toeing Out.  Moving too close behind.


(A dog with a Disqualification must not be considered for placement in a conformation event, and must be reported to AKC)

Unilateral or bilateral crypt-orchid.
Viciousness or extreme shyness.