Galapagos Species Database

The Galapagos Species Database shares the information about the species from our Natural History Collections.

Canis lupus familiaris Linnaeus, 1758

Perro, Perro doméstico, Canino., Domestic dog

The dog is a carnivorous/omnivorous predator mammal of the Canidae family that has been domesticated from the wolf (Canis lupus). Nearly 800 breeds of dog are recognized. Like most mammalian predators, the dog has strong muscles and a well developed cardiovascular system that give them both endurance and speed. They have an highly developed senses of smell and hearingand teeth that are adapted to hold and tear prey. Size, body form, strength, endurance, and fur coat depend on breed. There is little sexual dimorphism, however, males tend to be larger and more muscular. This species has coexisted with humans about 14,000 years, as companions and service animals. They have been trained for service (guide dogs), guarding, hunting, racing, and shepharding. Dogs are social animals with a well-established dominance hierarchy. Their average lifespan is 15 years.











Taxon category: Species with Infraspecific Taxa

Two Syn. Canis familiaris, Linnaeus 1758 and Canis familiarus domesticus, Linnaeus 1758

Taxon origin: Introduced - established


Preference for an altitude zone in Galapagos: Coastal zonera - humid zone

Habitat preferences: Dogs can adapt to a wide variety of habitat types as long there is food and water. They can exist at any elevation and are extremely hot and cold tolerant. In Galapagos they are found from sea-level in habitats ranging from rocky lava fields to wetlands with dense vegetation, to highlands.

Feeding type: Polyphagous

Dogs are omnivores with a preference for a meat diet. Feral populations can have a significant impact on native wildlife, particularly on islands, due to their hunting and foraging behavior

Feeding preferences: Birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians.

Trophic role: Carnivorous

Persistence mechanisms: C. lupus familiaris is a social species that can adapt to hostile environments, as long as food and water are available. They can survive in most climates, altitudes, and terrains. They tend to form social groups (packs) where they hunt, breed, raise and care for their pups communally.

Reproduction mode: Exclusively sexual

Reproductive biology: Domestic dogs reach sexual maturity between six and twelve months of age and remain reproductively active for most of their lives. The female dogs have semiannual estrous cycles with gestation lasting ~65 days. Females can mate with multiple males leading to litters of mixed paternity. Gestation lasts ~65 days. Litter size is highly variable (average=6 puppies; max ~12) and depends on the breed.

Distribution origin: China

Distribution classification: Nearctic

Natural enemies: Globally, dogs can be attacked by wolves, coyotes, big cats and hyenas; none of which occur in the Galapagos.

Associated species in Galapagos: Humans

Economic Use: The economic value of C. lupus familiaris is hard to quantify as they fulfill many roles in human societies. Types of roles include: companion dogs, hunting dogs, therapy dogs, guide dogs, search and rescue dogs, shepherd dogs, sled dogs, artists dogs, guard dogs, police dogs, and war dogs. The cost of individual dogs can easily reach thousands of dollars which is why many people are engaged in raising, training, and selling these animals.

Disease vector: The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes 53 zoonotic diseases associated with domestic dogs. The most frequent of these are: rabies, brucellosis, toxoplasmosis, leptospirosis, tularemia, dermatomicosis amibiasis, coccidiosis, tuberculosis, leishmaniasis, trypanosomiasis, dipilidiasis, toxocariasis, giardiasis, and sarcoptic mange. The following are of particular concern: leishmaniasis, rabies, brucellosis, leptospirosis, toxoplasmosis, dirofiliariasis. Pathogens transmitted dog bites include Capnocytophaga canimorsus and Pasteurella multocida; these reside in the oral cavity of healthy dogs. There are reports that dogs are reservoirs of group A streptococcus and Staphylococcus aureus also and these can be transmitted. Infectious agents involved in zoonoses include bacteria (Bartonella henselae, Borrelia burgdorferi, Brucella spp, Campylobacter jejuni, Chlamydia psittaci, Ehrlichia canis, Leptospira spp, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella enteritidis), viruses (Flavivirus, Hantavirus, Orthopoxvirus, Rhabdovirus), parasites (Cryptosporidium spp, Giardia lamblia, Isospora belli, Taenia, Toxocara canis, Toxoplasma gondii, Trichinella spiralis.), and fungi (Cryptococcus neoformans, Histoplasma, Microsporum canis, Trichophyton mentagrophytes).


Mode of introduction: Intentional

Introduction Pathway: Intentional

Subpathway: Pet/aquarium/terrarium species

Introduced status: Naturalized

Invasive status: Invasive

Invasion risk score: Moderate risk

Impact in Galapagos: Fossil evidence suggests that dogs were one of the causes of extinction of land iguanas on Santiago Island in 1900. Between 1976 and 1983 dogs were the main predators of land iguanas on Santa Cruz (Conway Bay) and Isabela (Cartago Bay) and tortoises at Cerro Azul volcano on Isabela Island. They also attacked the Galapagos fur seals, sea lions, tortoises and turtles, boobies, pelicans and penguins. Currently, stray dogs are a problem for wildlife that live near populated areas and there are frequent reports of dog attacks on land and sea birds, lizards, geckos, sea lions and marine iguanas.

Impact elsewhere: Feral dogs prey on native and introduced fauna and suppress populations of other predators such as foxes. In New Zealand they have attacked native kiwis, parrots and seabirds populations and in Australia they take larger mammals such as kangaroos and wallabies. Feral dogs causes losses of domestic livestock such as poultry, cows, goats, pigs, and rabbits. Their role as vectors of parasites and diseases and the impact on native fauna has been little studied but is potentially large.

Control History in Galapagos: Feral dogs have been controlled with the application of the poison sodium fluoroacetate delivered through bait and water stations. Trapping and hunting with firearms, however have been tried but not found to be effective.

Control methods elsewhere: The most common method used to control populations of wild dogs is with poisoned bait. The use of traps and direct removal with firearms have had only limited success.

Known Pest elsewhere: Feral dogs are found almost everywhere in the world. They can interbred with wolves and coyotes resulting fertile hybrids. Its impact is greater on islands.

Prevention options: Currently it occurs in Galapagos as pets, but in the past feral populations was eradicated. There is always a risk that pets can be lost, abandoned, or escapes and become feral. All dogs used as hunters in park areas are sterilized.

Year of first record: 1850


Map of specimen collection localities or observation records for this species in our collections database.

Distribution: The domestic dog was originally brought to the Galapagos as companion and to assist with hunting. Domestic dogs are are still present in populated areas of Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Isabela and Florena Islands. Feral populations that existed in the park areas on Isabela and Santa Cruz up until 198


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