Costa Rican Street Dog
Costa Rican street dogs are free-roaming pups that typically congregate in cities or towns with plentiful resources. They share many basic traits with pet dogs, but they lead primarily independent lives outdoors.
Costa Rican Street Dog History
Like all dogs, the Costa Rican street dog is a descendant of the gray wolf. At some point, a number of wolves became domesticated (but experts disagree on exactly when and how) and integrated into humans' daily lives.
By the 19th century, people began recording their efforts to selectively breed dogs for certain traits—a practice that led to the hundreds of purebred dogs we know and love today. But the majority of dogs around the world do not belong to a particular breed. This includes Costa Rican street dogs.
Today, more than one million feral dogs wander Costa Rica. Some have been abandoned by their owners, while others were born on the streets. Local nonprofit groups are working to spay/neuter, care for, and rescue homeless dogs. And Costa Rica happens to be home to Territorio de Zaguates—a sanctuary that provides shelter and services to more than 1,300 stray dogs waiting to find their forever homes.
Costa Rican Street Dog Traits
Costa Rican street dogs can come in all shapes and sizes. But street dogs generally tend to be medium-sized.
Coat and Coloring
Though any combination of coat colors, patterns, and lengths is genetically possible, street dogs typically have short, brownish coats.
Distinctive Physical Traits
Costa Rican street dogs do not follow a breed standard, so no shared set of traits links them together. That said, common characteristics of street dogs include prick ears and pointed noses.
Costa Rican Street Dog Temperament
Street dogs must learn to fend for themselves. As a result, they tend to be scrappy, intelligent, and adaptable—all skills that support independent survival. Because they've never had to rely on humans, they may be fearful or skeptical of people who have not earned their trust.
Costa Rican Street Dog Care
A Costa Rican street dog's diet typically consists of whatever they can kill or find—small farm animals, scraps from trash cans, handouts from kind strangers, and so on. If you're leaving food out for a street dog, they'll benefit from commercial diets formulated for pet dogs.
Because they fend for themselves, street dogs aren't usually at risk of becoming overweight. However, if you take a street dog under your roof, keep an eye on their food intake to avoid overfeeding. Guidelines on dog food packages are a good starting point when determining daily portions.
If you've adopted a street dog that's comfortable being handled, regular brushing and nail trims will help them look their best. Good dental hygiene is also important for any dog. Professional cleanings and at-home dental care will keep their mouths healthy and reduce the risk of related health issues.
All dogs need exercise to stay physically and mentally fit, and street dogs are no exception. Costa Rican street dogs that are on their own will get adequate exercise during their daily roaming. Pet dogs, however, need access to the outdoors to stretch their legs and get mental stimulation. Playing in a fenced yard and going for leashed walks are great ways for your dog to release energy.
Street dogs are not accustomed to obeying commands from people. In fact, many may avoid close contact with humans. Before attempting a training program, start by building trust and respect with your dog. Slow and steady is the best approach to making inroads with a street dog.