Wild dogs

A wild dog is classified as a category 3 pest animal under Queensland's Biosecurity Act 2014. It is the responsibility of the landowner to manage wild dogs on their land.

What is a wild dog?

'Wild dog' is a term that describes any dog living in a wild state. This includes dingoes, dingo hybrids or a domestic dog that has been abandoned and forced to live in a wild state. The latter is extremely rare. Wild dogs on the Gold Coast:

  • are found in a variety of coat colours, including tan, tan and white, sable, brindle, black and tan, and a combination of these colours
  • are around 50% dingo and 50% domestic dog, according to DNA tests
  • are generally between 14 and 20 kilograms in weight
  • are found in packs of between 3 and 12, however this differs throughout the seasons due to factors such as pairing up in breeding time and living as a family group after whelping
  • have one defined breeding season, around April to June each year – pups are born about 63 days after conception and litters generally include up to 6 pups.

Wild dogs do not bark – they howl to attract pack members and repel intruders from their territory.

Favoured habitat

Wild dogs can travel over 10 kilometres in a night and are found in rural and rural–urban fringes. They require a large area in which to hunt and food availability dictates how many can inhabit an area.

The areas they are found in are usually large parcels of untouched land where they can roam freely without fear of disturbance. These are normally close to farms and acreage, where the dogs are often sighted chasing or attacking stock animals.

Wild dogs are generally fearful of humans. They will not approach a person unless encouraged with food or protecting themselves or their pack. Do not approach or feed wild dogs, as they can lose their fear of humans and can be dangerous.

Wild dog management

Wild dogs pose a serious threat to native wildlife and domestic animals. Landowners can remedy a wild dog problem on their property by using one or more of the following methods:

Baiting wild dogs with 1080 is an approved method of controlling them, however due to restrictions this is not a method that can be used throughout much of the Gold Coast.

Shooting is a valid method for control of wild dogs, however, it is a very opportunistic method and cannot be relied upon to control the population as a whole. It can only be carried out by those who have a licence to discharge firearms and is subject to minimum property sizes.

Exclusion fencing can be costly, but it is the only reliable method to ensure the animals are not entering the property. The fencing should be at least 1.5 metres high and dug into the ground at least 150 millimetres to prevent wild dogs from digging under. The most commonly used mesh size is 75 millimetres square – the mesh may need to be smaller if there is a need to exclude foxes also. It may be more cost effective to ‘dog-proof’ a section of the property to house at-risk animals, such as juvenile horses and cattle, and small animals, such as sheep, goats and chickens.

Trapping is an effective approach to capture wild dogs, however a high level of skill is required. Traps must conform to accepted animal welfare practices and be approved by the RSPCA.

Soft-catch, rubber-jawed traps are designed to firmly hold captured wild dogs and practically eliminate trap-induced and self-induced injury. This method is not recommended for urban or rural–urban areas due to the chance of catching other animals. Adult wild dogs are rarely captured in cage-type traps, but a correctly set cage trap could capture juvenile wild dogs.

What you can do

  • Never feed or attempt to befriend wild dogs. Wild dogs that lose their fear of humans are a hazard.
  • At night keep your pets inside. A wild dog will attack domestic dogs and any other pet or native animal if the opportunity arises.
  • It is uncommon for a wild dog to attack an adult, however, take extreme care if you are approached by one.
  • Tell your children to stay away from wild dogs and to remain still and not run away if they are threatened by one.
  • If a wild dog approaches a horse with rider, the rider should calmly walk the horse away from the dog.

Report a sighting

To report sightings of wild dogs, click on the following button and scroll down to 'Pest animals' to complete our online form.

Report a problem – Animals