5 Semi-Wild Dogs From Around the World

Nathan Rupert, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Nathan Rupert, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Many dogs are the products of decades of selective breeding at the hands of humans. Others have been free to adapt to their environment, whether it's the streets of Dubai or the jungles of New Guinea. Feral or semi-wild dogs aren’t just mutts: Many are distinct breeds with unique features and abilities. From America’s Carolina dogs to the tree-climbing dogs of New Guinea, here are the five types of free-ranging dogs you should know.

1. Potcakes

Potcake puppy.
bookfinch, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

In between snorkeling and lounging on the beach, tourists to Turks and Caicos should find time to interact with the local dogs. Potcakes are the islands’ own feral (and adorable) dog breed. Weighing 40 to 55 pounds, the medium-sized dogs are likely a hybrid of the pets brought by the indigenous Arawak people, rat terriers left behind by supply ships, and the dogs of the British loyalists who moved to the Bahamas during the Revolutionary War. The dogs became a fixture of the region in the 20th century, earning the name potcakes because locals fed them the caked-on food from the bottom of their cooking pots. Today, potcakes can be found wandering Turks and Caicos begging for scraps like their ancestors. They’re also available to adopt—or take for a no-strings-attached walk on the beach—from the dog rescue charity the Potcake Place. The Bahamas have their own breed of potcake, too, which is officially known as the Royal Bahamian Potcake.

2. Carolina dogs

Carolina dog with ball.
Steve McDonald, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

You don’t need to leave the U.S. to find wild dog breeds. Visit certain corners of the American South and you might find roving packs of Carolina dogs, also known as American dingos. As their nickname suggests, the feral canines closely resemble their cousins in Australia. They have pointed ears, long snouts, and muscular bodies that help them survive in the wild. Carolina dogs are the oldest dog breed in America—with their earliest ancestors arriving on the continent 9000 years ago after crossing the Bering land bridge with the first Native Americans—but they weren’t recognized as a distinct breed until the 1970s. That’s when a University of Georgia ecologist named Dr. I. Lehr Brisbin noticed a pack of them near the Savannah River. The dogs are thought to be the only wild dog breed native to the country, and though they are instinctive hunters, they also make great pets.

3. New Guinea singing dogs

The New Guinea singing dog is an ancient dog breed that arrived on the island of New Guinea more than 4000 years ago. They stand about 17 inches tall at the shoulder and look like a cross between a dingo and Shiba Inu. But this wild dog is unlike any other on Earth: It has a flexible spine like a cat that allows it to scurry up trees after prey. Its high-pitched howl has been compared to the vocalizations of a humpback whale, which is how it got the name “singing” dog. (You can hear it in the video above.) The canines are also incredibly rare. Before a population was recently discovered in New Guinea, scientists feared that they had gone extinct in the wild.

4. Indian pariah dogs

Two Indian pariah dogs.
traumschoen/iStock via Getty Images

Indian pariah dogs have been present on the Indian subcontinent for thousands of years. They arrived in India by way of China, the country thought to be the home of the world's first domesticated canines. The lanky pariah dogs have adapted to living among people, often populating urban areas, but they generally fend for themselves. Unlike other so-called “village dogs,” the Indian pariah dog is a distinct breed and not just a general term for stray mongrels. They’re remarkably friendly for a semi-wild dog breed, and many people adopt them into their homes.

5. Sato dogs

Two sato dogs.
Geoff Gallice, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0

Sato is slang for “street dog” in Puerto Rico. Though they tend to vary in size and appearance, they’re typically small dogs with folded ears and short coats. Experts believe they descended from the first hunting and working dogs brought to Puerto Rico in the 1500s. The dogs have been abused and neglected for centuries, with so many people abandoning their unwanted pets on one part of the island that it earned the nickname “dead dog beach.” The strays are still stigmatized, but rescue groups are working to rehabilitate their image. The Sato Project is dedicated to rescuing, sterilizing, and finding forever homes for Sato dogs, with many of them ending up in the U.S.

‘Soft and Cuddly’ Venomous Puss Caterpillars Have Been Spotted in at Least 3 States

Wayne W G, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0
Wayne W G, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

The puss caterpillar is cute, cuddly, and coming to ruin your day.

USA Today reports that the highly venomous creature, also known as the southern flannel moth caterpillar, or asp, has recently been spotted in Florida, Texas, and South Carolina. Underneath its furry coat are tiny, potent spines that break off and attach themselves to your skin, causing excruciating pain and creating a hematoma, a bruise-like wound under your skin where blood has leaked from blood vessels.

According to University of Connecticut entomologist David Wagner, the caterpillar is dangerous partly because the sting of those spines becomes more painful over time. “It builds for a long time in a frightening way. No one expects stings to gain in impact or discomfort, and these will,” he told USA Today. “It packs quite a wallop.”

For one victim in Dade City, Florida, even medically administered morphine didn’t alleviate her agony. “It felt like someone was drilling into my bones,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “I cried and pleaded with God for hours to make it stop.”

puss caterpillar
going on going on, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

If one does happen to inch its way onto you, curb the instinct to flail about or swat at random—trying to brush off the adorable nightmare just increases the possibility of those sinister spines sticking to your skin. Instead, have someone carefully and calmly remove the insect with a twig or a 39-and-a-half-foot pole. Then, take a shower and wash your clothes to minimize further exposure to leftover spines.

As traumatizing as the experience sounds, your chances of meeting one of these fun-sized villains are hearteningly slim. Wagner explains that they’re particularly scarce above the Mason-Dixon line, and not even very common in southern states, where they’re usually spotted.

In short, this is just another scientific reason why you should stick to petting dogs.

[h/t USA Today]

8 Adorable Products You Can Buy for International Sloth Day

Good Luck Socks/Intelex via Amazon
Good Luck Socks/Intelex via Amazon

It’s that time of the year again, folks—the time when we all collectively lose our chill over a slow-moving, two- or three-toed mammal with an adorable squeak and poop that defies physics. That’s right: International Sloth Day is coming on October 20. Here’s a list of must-have coloring books, onesies, and Christmas sweaters that you can pick up to showcase your love of one of the internet's favorite animals.

1. Cuddly Microwaveable Sloth; $23

Microwavable sloth for International Sloth Day.
Intelex/Amazon

Warm your heart and your body with a plush sloth that doubles as a soothing heating pad. The toy is filled with millet grains and dried French lavender, a combination intended to help you get to sleep easier.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Hanging Ceramic Sloth Planter; $19

FattyBee Ceramic Sloth Planter.
FattyBee/Amazon

This flower planter pulls double duty, communicating both your love of sloths and your appreciation for plants. And it makes a tasteful piece of hanging home decor, too.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Sloth Coloring Book; $7

Sloth Coloring Book on Amazon.
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform/Amazon

Sloths themselves are already works of art, but you’d be forgiven for wanting a few more sloth-related crafts in your life. Now you can make your own masterpiece with this detailed coloring book. All you'll need are some colored pencils and you'll be ready to go.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Farting Sloth Coloring Book; $7

Sloth Farts Coloring Book on Amazon.
M & L Coloring Books/Amazon

But maybe traditional coloring books aren’t your thing. You’re in luck: Amazon sells a coloring book for the crowd that both loves sloths and laughs a little too much at farts.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Sloth Socks; $14

Sloth Socks on Amazon.
Good Luck Socks/Amazon

These socks are ideal for people who might not want to wear their love of sloths out in the open but are very comfortable showing it off on their ankles.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Sloth Onesie; $60

Tipsy Elves Sloth Onesie on Amazon.
Tipsy Elves/Amazon

No list of sloth-related products would be complete without a cozy onesie, and this one from Tipsy Elves is perfect for either pajamas or a last-minute Halloween costume. This onesie even comes with zippered pockets and cuddly sloth claws!

Buy it: Amazon

7. Sloth-Themed Ugly Christmas Sweater; $45


Tipsy Elves/Amazon

Why not celebrate the upcoming holiday season with this sloth-themed ugly Christmas sweater? You’re sure to be the hit of any holiday pub crawl or office Christmas party.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Sloth Mug; $13


Mika Mugs/Amazon

Really, what says it better than this mug? You just really freaking love sloths, and there’s nothing wrong with that, so be sure to declare your feelings along with your morning cup of coffee.

Buy it: Amazon

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