Another incredible and real creature was the Fuegian or Yagán “dog”. It was a small fox-sized “dog”, which is now extinct but, and this is the only case in the whole world, this “dog” resulted from the domesticaton of the culpeo; a type of South American fox (Pseudalopex culpaeus).
All other dogs around the world descend from domesticated wolves dating back several thousand years ago, the Fuegian case is different, they descend not from wolves but from foxes.
Lucas Bridges described them as “a very stunted cross between an Alsatian police dog and a wolf”.
In the words of French Captain Marital who headed the 1883 scientific expedition to Cape Horn, it was “ugly, with long tawny hair and a sharp snout, it looks quite like the fox […] mainly when hunting otters is where this dog is very useful to its master”.
They were big dogs, and weighed up to 35kg (77 lb).
Stuffed Fuegian dog. At the Museo Mayorino Borgatello, Punta Arenas, Chile.
Julius Popper –infamous for his massacres of Selk’nam people (at that time known as Ona), said that it had upright ears and thick tail, looking quite like the fox, although its color is sometimes totally white”.
He pointed out its lack of loyalty to men “I never saw them, no matter how large their number, take an aggressive attitude or defend their masters when these were in danger”.
He also noted that they were useless to hunt guanaco. Yet, he thought that he had found their usefulness:
the dogs placed themselves in a group around the small Onas, taking the shape of a kind of wrapping […] my opinion is that the fuegian dogs are only useful to complete the defective garment of the Indian, or better, as the Ona’s heating furniture.
When Salesian father Gusinde began visiting the Yagans in 1919 their dogs had disappeared, they had been exterminated because they “were dangerous to men and cattle”.
Their fierce nature had also been noticed by Reverend Thomas Bridges in the 1880s, who wrote that they attacked his Mission’s goats.
 Bridges, L., (2008). Op. Cit. pp.97.
 Martial, L., (2005). Mision al Cabo de Hornos, la expedición científica francesa en la Romanche Julio de 1882 a setiembre de 1883. Ushuaia: Zaguier & Urruty Publications . pp. 225.
 Emperaire, J., and Oyarzún, L., (2002). Los nomades del mar. Santiago: Lom Ediciones. pp. 195
 Popper, J., (1887). Expedición Popper. [Conferencia]. Instituto Geográfico Militar. 05.03.1887. Museo del Fin del Mundo, Biblioteca Virtual.
 Orquera, L. and Piana, E. (1999). La vida material y social de los Yámana. B. Aires: EUDEBA. pp 178-180.
 El diario de Camilongo. Online.
Copyright 2009 by Austin Whittall ©