Dogs are among the most popular pets, and it would be hard to imagine that they are not welcome in some areas. It may surprise many dog lovers that their furry friends cannot set foot in Antarctica. Not that many dogs would love the icy climate of this continent anyway.
You may be curious as to why there are no dogs in Antarctica. You are in the right place if you want to know about the canine ban at the South Pole. Stick on to learn more about this topic.
History Of Dogs In Antarctica
Antarctica is the southernmost and least populated continent on earth. Its earliest exploration started in the early 19th century as interest in the continent grew. Dogs are not native to Antarctica: the first batch of canines reached the landmass in 1899 aboard the Southern Cross when it docked in Cape Adare.
Dogs were crucial in the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, working as sled dogs to transport the explorers and their supplies. Huskies were the breed of choice as they are tolerant to icy conditions. While dogs were slower than vehicles, their lightness made them ideal for polar travel.
The sled dogs take credit for helping Roald Amundsen, a key Antarctic explorer, reach the South Pole. The breed of choice was the West Greenland huskies, which had the power to pull the supplies over the punishing terrain. The canines also provided companionship to the explorers.
Role Of Dogs After The Heroic Age Of Exploration
Due to its rugged terrain, vehicles and other forms of advanced transportation took a long time to reach Antarctica. Sled dogs continued to play a significant role as transport modes.
When advanced movement technology finally reached the Antarctic zone, dogs became more of pets to offer companionship to explorers and researchers.
Snowmobiles took over from the canines and proved to be more efficient. They were faster and required less maintenance. During their time in the Land of Penguins, the primary meal of dogs was seal meat when salmon was unavailable. Dog owners had to hunt seals for food, especially when supplies ran low.
Closing The Chapter On Dogs In Antarctica
As mentioned earlier, dogs became obsolete in Antarctica with the adoption of more reliable transportation means. The last chapter of dogs in the continent came in the 1980s, courtesy of the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty.
The treaty, signed in 1991 in Madrid, sought to preserve Antarctica’s natural ecosystem and banned introducing non-native species to the continent. It called for the removal of all dogs by 1994.
Why Were Dogs Banned From Antarctica?
The following are some reasons that led to the ban on canines in the southernmost continent.
Risk Of Diseases
The main reason for the ban on non-native species, especially dogs, was the risk of diseases. The primary concern was canine distemper, a viral disease that can spread from dogs to other mammals. Canine distemper can affect aquatic mammals such as walruses, seals, and sea lions.
A point of reference was the high mortality of Siberian seals in Lake Baikal around 1987-88 from canine distemper. Such a situation would spell doom to the native species in Antarctica, as it could lead to their extinction.
The Feeding Behavior Of Dogs
There was a fear that dogs could break out from their shelters and disrupt the native wildlife due to their feeding behavior. Dogs used to eat seal meat; an escape would lead them to prey on seals and other animals in the vicinity.
Moreover, they could outcompete other hunters for food, leading to starvation. A population increase of feral dogs would put some native species at risk of extinction. This was a possibility considering that there is a high chance that the canines would be the apex predators on land, competing with leopard seals.
Frequently Asked Questions?
Can Dogs Survive in Antarctica?
Antarctica is one of the coldest regions on earth, and few dog breeds can survive low temperatures. Snowdogs from the northern hemisphere, such as huskies, can survive in Antarctica due to their double-layered coats. Such dogs were significant during the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, acting as sled dogs for transportation.
Despite the huskies being suitable for the Antarctic conditions, many died during the quest due to hunger, diseases, and exhaustion. Presently, the Land of Penguins has no dogs following an existing ban.
Which Dog Breed is Native to Antarctica?
No dog breed is native to Antarctica, most probably due to the continent’s location and climate. As dogs are non-native species, they are prohibited in Antarctica, following a treaty signed in 1991 that upholds the conservation of the southernmost continent. The last canines left Antarctica in 1994.
Can I Get a Permit to Bring My Dog to Antarctica?
When traveling to Antarctica, you should leave your doggo and other non-native pets, including felines and poultry. The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty banned the introduction of foreign species to the continent due to their ecological effect.
Why Are There No Dogs in Antarctica?
You won’t spot a canine in Antarctica due to a treaty prohibiting the introduction of species that are not native to the continent. Dogs are not originally from Antarctica, though they have been around for almost a century. The ban on canines was due to their potential disturbance of the continent’s ecology. They could spread diseases or prey on the native animals risking extinction.
While dogs are man’s best friend and are loved worldwide, some places do not welcome their presence. Antarctica is one such place that prohibits canines.
Though sled dogs were essential in the Antarctic Exploration as a mode of transport, the ban was enacted to prevent them from spreading diseases to Antarctic animals like seals and walruses. Moreover, feral dogs posed a risk to the animals, courtesy of their feeding habits.
To appreciate the role of Sled dogs in exploring the Land of Penguins, various monuments have been put up in Australia, New Zealand, and England.