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Aruba’s Cunucu Dog

The wild dogs you see romping around the island of Aruba are known as Cunucu dogs. The Papiamento word “Cunucu” can roughly be translated (and I’m no expert) as “countryside”, or “of the countryside”, so the cunucu dog is really the generic dog of Aruba. They vary somewhat in appearance, but look generally like these dogs here.

My closest encounter with cunucu dogs occurred when we spent a day at Baby Beach a few years ago. My daughter adopted one for the day and we had a visitor in our rented tent. Our new friend got some shade, snacks, and affection for a few hours until one of the workers spotted him and shooed him away. I guess not all beach visitors appreciate a mangy looking  but friendly canine companion.

There is some dispute as to whether it is accurate to refer to a cunucu dog as a dog breed. Some dog sites list it as a dog breed, but others say they are simply the aruban version of dogs left to breed randomly, ie: generic mutts.  Other dog experts believe the cunucu dog is a breed closely related to the Medium Portuguese Podengo or Iberian hound, relying on DNA testing. One theory is that the dogs were brought over by Portuguese slave traders in the 16th century.

The most famous cunuco dog was Laika, the first living passenger to orbit the earth, aboard Sputnik 2 in 1957.

The Aruban government has never had an effective spay neuter program in place, resulting in a lack of population control of these wild dogs.  Various animal rights groups have set up spay neuter programs and adoption programs, including Aruba Island Puppies, in San Diego, California.

I am not aware of anyone conducting a controlled  breeding program of cunucu dogs.  If any readers know of any cunucu dog breeder, I would appreciate any contact information.

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  1. Pingback: Cunucu Dog “Dushi-Aruba” Is A Celebrity In New York

  2. linda says:

    The picture used is of my two gorgeous girls, Divi and Jessie.
    I took both of them out of the government’s kill area in the Wayaca area of Aruba- next to the Aruba Animal Shelter and across the street from the airport.
    Divi was 3 weeks old, and I wish I had taken the rest of her litter. They were all killed. One week before this picture was taken, I again went to the kill area and took a litter of puppies and Jessie, the brown dog. Unfortunately, there are 30 to 50 left to die there every day. Many are litters of puppies and kittens.
    The government needs to help fund a spay/neuter program instead of trying reduce the animal population by killing. They have been doing that for decades, and it doesn’t work. Educating the Arubian people starting in the schools- humane education and the importance of spay/neuter is the only way. Aruba has a real problem with not enforcing humane laws and animal abuse. The government needs to realize that how they treat the island animals is apparent to tourists. Please make changes. Don’t try to kill more off hoping the tourists won’t see them.

  3. Cindy Evenwell says:

    I just came back from ruba – my first time there. WHile I enjoyed the happy island and all it’s natural beauty, the situation with the stray dogs was very upsetting to me. As a lover of animals, the lack of consideration and care for these dogs was very disappointing and sad. Educating the Arubian people starting in the schools- humane education and the importance of spaying/neutering is most vital. I do not think I will vacation there again until these island dogs are trated more humanely.

  4. lisa says:

    i met a woman while i was working who adopted one..she is from Somerset, MA

  5. Jen Adams-LeBlanc says:

    It’s disgusting how the government has a “kill box.” My wife and I have two rescues from Aruba. One had been dumped on the side of the road, in a trash bag, with the rest of his litter. The shelter staff found them, only a couple made it. We took him home on the plane with us from Aruba. The second pup, was rescued from the kill box, by Eva, who runs the shelter in Aruba. Both are the most loving creatures and it enrages me that people discard these babies as if they are trash. Dogs love unconditionally…..

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