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Breed Standards of the American Indian Dog


The American Indian Dog has been traced back to 30,000 years in North & South America. Mainly the many groups of Plains Indians in the United States developed the dogs. It was very important to their entire culture. For thousands of years, Native Americans used these dogs for hunting, tracking, guarding and herding. They were also used as pack animals, and would pull the family’s travois as they moved or migrated. They would keep their owners warm at night, and provide wool for weaving and trading. A thinking breed, these dogs are very instinctual and territorially conscious. This creates an intense bonding, shown in pack loyalty to their family. They are never vicious, but always alert and tend to be cautious with strangers. They are excellent home and family watchdogs, capable of adjusting to any environment. Working versatility is one of the breed’s exceptional qualities.

The American Indian dog is a working herding type, medium sized and lightly built, with a natural looking muzzle, and longish pricked ears. Their bushy tail is carried down with a slight curve. The most important objective in preserving this ancient breed is maintaining and improving its natural balance, primitive instincts, and versatile working abilities, for which it was originally developed. This truly beautiful, naturally balanced, all-American dog was close to extinction only a few years ago. Now, thanks to all the years of research and selective breeding, hopefully, they can regain their proper place in our society to teach man to stay in touch with his natural instincts and the beauty around him.

HEAD: In proportion to the body. The muzzle is wedge-shaped and moderately long to provide balance to the longish pricked ears. The stop is gentle, providing a flowing curve from the plane to the muzzle to the top of the skull. The skull is slightly domed between the ears.

EYES: Medium sized and almond shaped.

COLOR: Pale Yellow or Pale Blue with the occasional amber, with the lighter color preferred. The eyes have an intelligent faraway look. Eyelids: close fitting and black.

EARS: Moderately long and wide set. They tilt slightly forward on the head, and are firmly pricked. Triangular in shape and well furred. There is a slight dome on the skull between the ears. The ears are very mobile.

NOSE: Medium sized, black in color, with the liver color accepted on certain colors.

LIPS: Thin and black. The lips fit closely over the teeth showing no excess flesh.

TEETH: Scissor bite only. Full and sound dentition required.

NECK: Medium length and strong. A good-sized ruff is present, but should not detract from the clean, trim appearance.

BODY: Back straight and slightly longer then tall. Loins are strong with a good distance between last rib and hip. Chest is deep, but not broad. Good tuck-up.

FOREQUARTERS: Forelegs slightly turned out and finely boned. Good musculature with closely set withers and good lay back of shoulders. The front pastern slopes slightly when viewed from the side.

HINDQUARTERS: Rear legs are long, & very angular, almost to the point of being sickle hocked, and well muscled. The back slopes slightly into the croup. Hocks well defined and parallel. Rear dewclaws should not be evident in Indian Dogs, but should be removed if present.

FEET: Small and cat like. Rounded with thick pads. Toes are close and well arched. Nails are short and thick.

TAIL: Long and reaching to the hock. Carried down with slight curve. May be held up when showing dominance, or straight out when running, but never curled forward past the perpendicular.

COAT: Medium length and shiny. Short thick plush undercoat with long guard hairs that stand off from body. Hair is longer on the chest, ruff, shoulders, back of legs, and tail.

COLOR & MARKINGS: Black, blue, white, golden red, gray, red & tan, tan, chocolate, cream, fawn, and silver. All colors have a sable shading with darker tipped guard hairs. All colors blend gently together, with very little spotting or defined line between colors. The tail has a dark scent marking (spot) ¾ up from tip. Some white on the chest, feet, caller and tip of the tail is accepted.

SIZE: Height: Dogs 19” to 21” Bitches 18” to 20” - Weight: Dogs 30lb.s to 45lb.s Bitches 25lb.s to 40lb.s

GAIT: Effortless flowing movement. Covers distances quickly and easily. Ability to change gaits with flowing ease, built for speed, endurance and agility. Can turn quickly or spring straight up in the air instantly. Cat like agility.


Natural appearance & balance 15

Hindquarters 10
Forequarters 10
Alertness & movement 10
Feet & legs 10
Back 10
Body 10
Head 15
Coat 5
Tail 5

FAULTS: Any deviation from the above standard should be faulted to the degree it varies from the ideal. Any deviation detracting from the overall natural balance of the dog and/or its working ability should be severely faulted.

Approved 4/7/78 Revised 1/1/91


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Black Elk