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.

This Course Will Teach You How to Play Guitar Like a Pro for $29

BartekSzewczyk/iStock via Getty Images
BartekSzewczyk/iStock via Getty Images

Be honest: You’ve watched a YouTube video or two in an attempt to learn how to play a song on the guitar. Whether it was through tabs or simply copying whatever you saw on the screen, the fun always ends when friends start throwing out requests for songs you have no idea how to play. So how about you actually learn how to play guitar for real this time?

It’s now possible to learn guitar from home with the Ultimate Beginner to Expert Guitar Lessons Bundle, which is currently on sale for $29. Grab that Gibson, Fender, or whatever you have handy, and learn to strum rhythms from scratch.

The strumming course will teach you how to count beats and rests to turn your hands and fingers into the perfect accompaniment for your own voice or other musicians. Then, you can take things a step further and learn advanced jamming and soloing to riff anytime, anywhere. This course will teach you to improvise across various chords and progressions so you can jump into any jam with something original. You’ll also have the chance to dive deep into the major guitar genres of bluegrass, blues, and jazz. Lessons in jam etiquette, genre history, and how to read music will separate you from a novice player.

This bundle also includes courses in ear training so you can properly identify any relative note, interval, or pitch. That way, you can play along with any song when it comes on, or even understand how to modify it into the key you’d prefer. And when the time comes to perform, be prepared with skilled hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides, bends, trills, vibrato, and fret-tapping. Not only will you learn the basic foundations of guitar, you’ll ultimately be able to develop your own style with the help of these lessons.

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A Prehistoric Great White Shark Nursery Has Been Discovered in Chile

Great white sharks used prehistoric nurseries to protect their young.
Great white sharks used prehistoric nurseries to protect their young.
solarseven/iStock via Getty Images

Great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) may be one of the most formidable and frightening apex predators on the planet today, but life for them isn’t as easy as horror movies would suggest. Due to a slow growth rate and the fact that they produce few offspring, the species is listed as vulnerable to extinction.

There is a way these sharks ensure survival, and that is by creating nurseries—a designated place where great white shark babies (called pups) are protected from other predators. Now, researchers at the University of Vienna and colleagues have discovered these nurseries occurred in prehistoric times.

In a study published in the journal Scientific Reports, Jamie A. Villafaña from the university’s Institute of Palaeontology describes a fossilized nursery found in Coquimbo, Chile. Researchers were examining a collection of fossilized great white shark teeth between 5 and 2 million years old along the Pacific coast of Chile and Peru when they noticed a disproportionate number of young shark teeth in Coquimbo. There was also a total lack of sexually mature animals' teeth, which suggests the site was used primarily by pups and juveniles as a nursery.

Though modern great whites are known to guard their young in designated areas, the researchers say this is the first example of a paleo-nursery. Because the climate was much warmer when the paleo-nursery was in use, the researchers think these protective environments can deepen our understanding of how great white sharks can survive global warming trends.