5 Little-known Caribbean Dog Breeds

The Caribbean islands are an archipelago in the Caribbean Sea. Other than being a popular vacation spot, the islands are also the native place of many popular dog breeds.

Here are 5 little-known Caribbean dog breeds:

Caribbean dog breeds

5 Caribbean Dog Breeds

1. Havanese

Havanese dog

The national dog of Cuba is the Havanese. It descended from the Blanquito de la Habana (meaning ‘little white dog of Havana’), an extinct bichon dog.

The Havanese are bichon dogs too. Bichon dogs are toy dog breeds that were bred as companions to aristocrats. The Blanquito was extensively cross-bred with other bichon dogs, resulting in the modern-day Havanese.

They are also known as ‘Havana Silk Dogs’ due to their shiny coat. Havanese dogs have an average height of 9 inches and weigh 7 to 14 pounds. Their long, silky coat is their most defining feature. Havanese dogs are available in a large variety of colors.

They are small in stature but quite sturdy. They have droopy ears that fold over themselves and a tail that flops over on its back. Typical of small dogs, the Havanese has a long lifespan of 12 to 14 years.

They are very curious by nature and love companionship. Their social nature makes them good family pets. The Havanese do not like isolation and do not do well when cooped up alone in an apartment all day.

They tend to become very attached to their owners and are extremely loyal. It is a very energetic and lively breed, but its exercise requirements can be met in a house or backyard. It does not need vigorous exercise to stay healthy.

They have a very noticeable springy gait that distinguishes them from other bichon dogs. The bichon are believed to have originated from Tenerife in the Canary Islands. They quickly became the favorites of the nobility when they arrived in Cuba.

When Cubans fled the Cuban revolution and arrived in the United States, some of them brought along their Havanese dogs. They caught the interest of the American dog breeders who were charmed by this exotic dog breed.

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In 1996, the American Kennel Club officially identified the Havanese as a distinct dog breed. It has been gaining in popularity ever since and is now the 25th most popular dog breed in America.

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2. Gran Mastín de Borínquen

Gran Mastín de Borínquen, or the Puerto Rican Mastiff, is a very rare dog breed native to Puerto Rico. It is the only dog breed native to Puerto Rico. Island dogs were bred with Spanish mastiffs, resulting in the Gran Mastín de Borínquen.

They were adopted by the Spanish nobility as guard dogs, hunting companions and fighting dogs. Like most working dogs, Puerto Rican Mastiffs are highly intelligent and have great stamina.

They are very loyal and form a deep bond with their owners. Extremely protective and fearless, they are known to go to great lengths to protect their family and property. They are very affectionate towards children and tend to act as their guardians.

Puerto Rican mastiffs can be stubborn and need good training at an early age to make good family pets. They need strong leadership and are not recommended for first-time pet owners.

They have high energy levels and require a good deal of outdoor activity. Being a very active dog breed, they aren’t suited for apartment living or spending long hours indoors. Active families with big backyards make good homes for Puerto Rican mastiffs.

They haven’t been recognized by any national or international kennel club, but the Sociedad Cynológica Caribeña has identified it as a rare Caribbean dog breed.

3. Pitsky

Pitsky dog

Also known as the Domini, the Pitsky is a cross between a Pit Bull and a husky. One of the most expensive dog breeds in the world, the Pitsky has contributed to the boom in tourism in the Dominican Republic, as people seeking this breed visit the island.

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Their vivid blue eyes and exquisite coats have many admirers, making them one of the most sought-after crossbreeds in the world.

Like all crossbreeds, one cannot be sure of the size, appearance or color of the dog. It could have the characteristics of either parent. Similarly, the temperament can also vary depending on the nature of the parents.

It has been observed that Pitsky dogs love company and do not do well in isolation. They make good family pets and love being around children. While they weren’t bred to be guard dogs, they still have a strong protective instinct towards their family.

Pitskies need a lot of training. No matter what their temperament is, they need obedience training from a young age. Both Pit Bulls and huskies can be stubborn and independent, so Pitskies will definitely need firm training to make good family pets.

They are intelligent and respond well to positive enforcement. With consistency and encouragement, your Pitsky will progress easily and quickly.

They have a lot of energy and need tons of outdoor activity to stay engaged. If you like hiking, running or jogging, they can keep you company in these outdoor activities. Pitskies make great companions for active families.

4. Potcake

Caribbean potcake dog

No list of Caribbean dog breeds is complete without mentioning the Potcake dogs. Potcake dogs are a mixed breed found across the Caribbean islands. Even though they are a mixed breed, they have a small gene pool.

They share a lot of common characteristics like a short, smooth coat and perky or folded ears. Their appearance is quite terrier-like and terriers are believed to be one of their ancestors.

Potcake dogs are named for their usual food source, which was a leftover pea and rice stew. This practice gave them their name and made them omnivores. They are extremely hardy and can survive on a diet of human food too.

Potcake dogs make loyal, loving companions to human beings and respond well to training. It takes a little effort to help them adjust to life as a pet since they are largely street dogs, but they fit in quite well after a short transition period.

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The Caribbean islands are saturated with Potcake dogs, making their existence quite a problem as the local population is not able to support them. They rely on tourism, which has dwindled during the pandemic.

There have been efforts to save them like the Potcake project, which aims to connect them with potential owners.

5. Chihuahua

Chihuahua dog

Chihuahuas are named after a city in Mexico. They are one of the most popular dog breeds in Puerto Rico. One of the smallest dog breeds in the world, they are only 6 inches to 10 inches tall and weigh 4 pounds to 6 pounds.

They have a strong Spanish connection and are famous across South and Central America. Chihuahuas have become a national symbol in Mexico.

They need a lot of training and people have reported that it is quite difficult to housebreak them. It is not recommended to house them with families that have children, as they get scared very easily.

They might be tiny in size but they have big personalities. They need a lot of attention and often get jealous of other pets in the house. They do not need a lot of activity to stay healthy, they often tire themselves out just by following people around.

Short, slow walks are enough to keep them healthy. Chihuahuas are typically well suited for apartment living.

Chihuahuas do not do well in cold weather and will need special care. They like being lapdogs and need to spend a lot of time with their owner. They can have a terrier-like attitude and are often eager to please their owners.

Chihuahuas are intelligent and playful, but owners need to take care not to overexert them. If your Chihuahua is panting excessively and hardly keeping up with you, you need to pick it up and let it rest while you take it home.