UKC shares historic update for Field Dog Stud Book (FDSB) eligible breeds. See News section for full details.

I Accept

United Kennel Club (UKC) is an international dog registry celebrating bonds, rewarding ability, and preserving the value of a pedigree. We use cookies to capture information such as IP addresses and tailor the website to our clients' needs. We also use this information to target and measure promotional material. Please see our Privacy Policy for more information.

Skip to main content
Facebook Instagram Subscribe to E-news YouTube

Carolina Dog

Sighthound & Pariah Dog 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 dogs ability to perform its traditional work, and/or survive in the free-ranging state.


Several lines of evidence confirm that when the first humans crossed the Bering land bridge into North America from Asia, they were accompanied by primitive dogs that could have resulted from the beginnings of the original domestication of middle eastern wolves thousands of years earlier.

In the 1970s, Dr. I.Lehr Brisbin noted and trapped free-ranging dogs in some of the natural habitats of the southeastern United States and they were named Carolina Dogs. It was hypothesized that these dogs could be descendants of the canines that originally crossed the Bering Land Bridge. Additional studies support this hypothesis although additional ancestry and genetic studies are needed to reach a fully definitive conclusion about their origins. These free-ranging dogs noted by Dr. Brisbin had the general appearance of most middle eastern pariah dogs, and both their behavior and general ecology were consistent with a derivation from such free-ranging dogs. Pariah dogs, also known as village dogs, exist all over the world living on the fringe of human civilization. They commonly have upright ears, pointed snouts, lean bodies and fish- hook tails. The distinctive characteristics of the Carolina Dog breed are those that confer survival advantages under free-ranging conditions in the remaining remote areas of tall grasslands, bottomland swamps, deserts, and forest habitats of the southern United States.

The Carolina Dog was recognized by the United Kennel Club on January 1, 1995.

General Appearance

The Carolina Dog is generally a medium-sized dog, light to medium boned, possessing the general appearance of a small jackal or of a medium-sized sighthound. The body is rectangular, exhibiting a medium length, straight back. The waist is distinctive and sets off a deep brisket from a highly tucked-up loin. The tail is distinctive in its fish-hook shape at the end. Tail carriage is variable depending on mood. The tail often has a white tip.

The medium to large, usually upright ears and long, graceful neck are distinctive features, and suggest the appearance of a medium-sized versatile, and resourceful predator of small game. In ideal conditions, a Carolina Dog should appear thin and tight. It is not inappropriate, for example, for the ribs to show slightly as in a well-conditioned racing sighthound. Individuals that are greatly overweight or which have a thick stocky build should be penalized. The dog is to be shown in a natural condition, with little or no evidence of grooming or scissoring. Whiskers are not to be removed.


A generally shy and suspicious nature is characteristic of this breed, but excessive fear and 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.


Viewed from above, the head forms a triangle, tapering to a strong, pointed muzzle accentuated by the highly developed jaw muscles. The stop is slight, but distinct. Younger dogs often show fine wrinkling on the forehead, giving a frown effect.


The skull is refined and consistent with that of a sighthound. It is never blocky or thick. The skull gives the dog the appearance of a jackal or sighthound. It is broad and may be slightly rounded between the ears and has ample muscle with an overall wedge shape. There is usually a distinct furrow extending down between the eyes. The forehead is slightly rounded. There is a prominent occiput.


The length of the muzzle is approximately equal to the length of the cranial portion of the skull. It is elongated, pointed, and well developed, free from throatiness. 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 is fully pink, blue-black spotted, or fully black.


The almond-shaped eyes are brown, amber, or yellow in color. They are set at a slight angle so that the outer edge of the eye is usually higher than the inner edge of the eye. Eye rims are black and unbroken and give the impression of eyeliner. Overall expression is one of softness and intelligence, but highly cautious.
Fault: Eyes any color other than brown, amber, or yellow.
Disqualifying Fault: Blue eyes.


The nose is robust, black and has large, and well opened nostrils in dogs of almost all coat colors. Some of the lighter-colored dogs may have the pigment of the nose vary seasonally. Such fading of the nose color, especially with age is not desirable, but should not be penalized.
Minor Faults: Butterfly nose.


The ears are mobile and expressive. They are slightly rounded at the tip, and fine in texture. The ears are somewhat refined and triangular with a wide base. As the ears ascend, they taper elegantly, and they are carried upright when the dog is alert but can be rotated backwards to be carried along the back of the head and neck. The ears are offset slightly on the head, and lean slightly forward and outward, unlike shepherds and other breeds whose ears stand essentially straight up and down. It is preferable that they be pointed slightly forward and set correctly on the head. Such ears may be considered hooded.

A characteristic position is often for one ear to be firmly pricked and the other to rotate sensitively, listening to the surrounding environment.

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

Ears should be erect. Semi-prick ears and natural ears occasionally occur in the breed but are not preferred Particularly with light-eyed dogs, elongated or hooded ears help shade the eyes from exposure to full sun. Dogs with semi-prick (upright base but folded over in any manner) ears should be penalized to the degree of deviation.
Disqualification: Ears which fold over and occlude part, or all of the opening of the ear canal.


The neck is notable in its strength and development. It is strongly crested, fitting well into the shoulders, thus accentuating the crest to give the head a lofty carriage. The neck is graceful and swanlike, yet muscular and well arched, providing the animal with a means of making rapid and effective downward stabbing movements with the head when hunting in tall grass.

Serious Faults: Short neck. Throaty neck.


Shoulders are long and laid back with a definitive prosternum. The return places the elbow just under the front edge of the shoulder blade.


The forelegs are straight and often closer together than in many breeds. The forelegs have good length, with a long upper arm and are moderately straight. The flexible pasterns have a 15 to 20-degree angle.


The rectangular body is medium in length and sleek, and consistent with a sighthound. There is a definite waist with a well-defined tuck-up. The back is strong, straight, and horizontal, and there should be no suggestion of slackness. There may be a slight rise over the loin.
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.
Fault: Wide or broad chested.


The hindquarters are strong, powerful, and muscular. The upper thigh muscles are thick and strong, almost as in a well-conditioned racing sighthound.


The hind legs are set squarely or directly under the dog with the hock joint set slightly behind the ischium. The upper thigh and lower thigh are equal, making them well angulated for speed with agility, enabling the dog to turn quickly while moving forward. Rear pasterns are longer than those of the forelegs.
Rear dewclaws may be present and may be doubled.


While standing, the forefeet may be slightly turned out, but equally so. The moderately small feet are compact, never splayed. The toes are well arched. The pads are hard. The nails are strong.


Like the ears, the tail is a most expressive and characteristic feature of this breed. The tail is set horizontally as a continuation of the spine but may have a slight lift at the tail base. In addition, toward its end the ideal tail is shaped like a fishhook, meaning that approximately the last third of the tail bends back over itself toward the direction of the dogs head. The tail should never completely curl over the back of the dog, as to touch the dogs back.

When the dog is alert, the fishhook tail is often held at about a 45-degree angle above the horizontal. When the dog is gaiting, the tail may be carried in a downward configuration displaying the fishhook. At other times, especially when the dog is being approached by a stranger, the tail may be held low or tucked between the rear legs. When the tail is tucked, some of the fishhook curvature may diminish; however, the tail should not but it must never be slack or loose in its hang, as the tail, when foraging or on alert, should be able to be hoisted and waived vigorously in the tall weedy cover.

The tail may have a moderate brush or plume that is more heavily haired on the underside. The underside is usually lighter-colored or at least paler than the upper tail surface, which may show some dark sable colored hair. Note, black dogs are unlikely to have paler coloring on the underside of the tail.

Serious Faults: A straight tail
Fault: Any tail which twists, makes a full curl, or is held unduly forward over the back. Tail without fishhook at the end.


The length of the close-lying coat may be affected by the seasons. The winter coat and those of dogs living in colder climates may be distinctively heavier than the summer coat

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. Guard hairs may be slightly darker giving the appearance of a ridge. The coat behind the shoulder blades is often lighter in color (angle wings) in ginger-colored and some of the black and tan dogs.
Faults: Curly, wavy, or broken coats.


The most common color is various shades of ginger. The ginger coat may vary in color ranging form a reddish ginger to a lighter straw-color to a pale-yellow, or buff and at times may vary on different areas of the body.

For example, the back of the neck, withers, and trunk may often be of a darker shade of ginger than the flanks and other more ventral parts of the body below them. The ginger coat usually has pale buff markings over/behind the shoulders (angel wings) and usually includes lighter shadings on the underside, chest, throat, and sometimes being nearly white on the throat. The muzzle may have pale buff or white along the sides and underneath the lower jaw.

Some white on the toes and feet is common and is not to be penalized. Some dark sabling over the back, loins and tail in a ginger dog is permissible. Dogs less than two years of age may have dark muzzles, but this is not required.

In addition to ginger coats, the following coats/patterns are permitted: solid black, with or without minor white marking; black and tan (may have buff or red accents), and piebald. Ticking is permitted only on white socks and feet. Ticking is not permitted throughout the body of the dog. A few gray hairs from age or injury may be allowed, especially on the muzzle.
Disqualifications: Solid white coat color. Albinism. White collar. White eye patches. Merle, roan, mottling, dappling, blue/grey, brown/silver and/or diluted coat colors. Ticking (other than what is permitted on white socks).

Height & Weight

The average height measured at the withers, generally ranges from 18-24 inches but can vary according to sex and 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 35 to 50 pounds.

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

Overfed dogs may exceed this range and are to be penalized. The dog should have an appearance of a medium sized sighthound. At no time should the breed appear heavy bodied or having a thick, stocky build; an obvious waist tuck should be evident. Females are generally lighter in build than dogs, but the sexes overlap broadly in both size and weight. At no time should the breed appear heavy bodied. At all times, the dog should have the appearance of a sighthound.
Major Fault: Heavy, stocky build, oversized and not appearing to possess elegance, lightness, and agility of a sighthound.

Gait & Movement

Gait is long, low, free moving, effortless and smooth. There is a suggestion of flexibility in the back, as would be expected for a medium-sized sighthound capable of a double suspension gallop. The dog should appear athletic.

Serious Faults: High, choppy, or hackneyed gaits. 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 UKC.)
Unilateral or bilateral cryptorchid.
Viciousness or extreme shyness.
Solid white coat color.
Blue eyes.
Ears which fold over and occlude part, or all of the opening of the ear canal.
White collar.
White eye patches.
Merle, roan, mottling, dappling, blue/grey, brown/silver and/or diluted coat colors.
Ticking (other than what is permitted on white socks).

UKC Breed Standards: Carolina Dog

Looking for a Dog?

Find a dog that will fit your family.

Note: The breeders on this list are not endorsed by UKC.

Official UKC Breed Standard

Revised January 1, 2023

©Copyright 2023, United Kennel Club