If you’ve been to the Caribbean, chances are you’ve seen or heard of Potcakes. No, they’re not a delicious local food. Potcake is the term used by locals for the local mutts that roam the islands. Here is everything to know about Potcakes!
Where did the name come from?
The name “potcake” comes from a local food consisting of a mixture of congealed peas and rice. The rice that cakes at the bottom of the pot would typically get fed to the dogs hence the name! In the late 1970’s the Bahamas officially named this type of dog the Royal Bahamian Potcake.
How did they get to the islands?
Dogs across the Caribbean share a common ancestry. It’s believed that there are three main contributions to how this breed came to be. First, the Arawak people had dogs, which were brought with them to the Bahamas. Secondly, small terrier dogs were often brought on ships to protect goods from rodents. These ships traveled around the Caribbean so dogs definitely had a chance to mix. Lastly, when Loyalist fled during the American Revolution dogs were brought with them. It is also possible that early Spanish settlers introduced their own dogs to the islands.
What do Potcakes look like?
Potcakes can come in many different sizes and colors due to their mixed breeding. Most are described as having a “shepard-mix” look, but appearance changes depending on the island. Potcakes typically have cocked ears, a long face, and a smooth short coat. They range in colors with many being brown, white, black, or mixed.
Potcakes are generally small to medium sized. They stand around 24 inches. Healthy dogs weight around 45-50 pounds (20-23 kg), while stray potcakes weight around only 25 pounds.
How do they act?
While many Potcakes in the Caribbean are strays, this breed is great for pets too. They’re known for being intelligent, loyal, calm, and resilient. Unlike many other breeds, Potcakes have incredibly hardy stomachs. They’re able to eat many foods that other breeds cannot. While Potcakes make great pets, those that have been stray for a while may have difficulty adjusting to being confined. They’re known to wander if not properly supervised!
If you run into them while on vacation in Exuma you don’t have to be scared. They are typically very friendly and sweet. Many tourists fall in love with the strays and even sponsor them through the Bahamas Humane Society after they leave.
How are they treated?
Unfortunately, Potcakes haven’t always been treated the best by locals. Because many of the strays are not neutered or spayed they are overpopulated on Caribbean islands. There have been reports of people abusing, killing, and mistreating Potcakes, mostly due to misinformation.
Local animal charities have begun creating programs to better inform locals on how to treat these animals. There are now also spay-neutering programs on many islands to combat overpopulation of Potcakes. There are also many wonderful organizations that work to adopt Potcakes to families in other countries, such as Niagara Hearts Potcakes which brings these dogs to be fostered and adopted by families in Canada.