Arubian Cunucu

He is not recognized by the F.C.I.

Origin
Caribbean island of Aruba
Translation
Francis Vandersteen

A brief presentation of the Arubian Cunucu

The Arubian Cunucu is an outcast dog that lives on the Caribbean island of Aruba. Although they are not officially recognized as a breed by any breed association or club, they are well known to the locals. They are athletic, energetic sighthounds who would have hunted alongside the Arawaks who were indigenous to the region. Those who have chosen to share their home with a Cunucu find them tolerant, easy to train and loyal if a little needy on occasion, this is generally true of both dogs that have been brought home as puppies and adult dogs brought in off the streets.

History of the Arubian Cunucu

The Arubian Cunucu is a type of dog known as a pariah dog, meaning that they are not exactly wild dogs, as they are descended from domestic animals, but most dog breeds classified as pariah dogs are free-ranging animals that live on the outskirts of towns and villages. These dogs are essentially wild and their reproduction is not restricted, but some groups have developed enough similarities to qualify as a breed in their own right. The pariah dogs of Aruba have been given the name Cunucu, meaning countryside, because that's where they make their home, and they are said to be the descendants of Iberian dogs or Portuguese podengos that were brought to the islands by the Portuguese as early as the 16th century, dogs that then bred with local dogs in the region. The Arawaks would have employed Cunucu dogs to help them hunt in the rocky terrain of the region's interior, most often to hunt the large iguana lizards that live there, and may have bred them specifically for their hunting skills. Although the Aruban Cunucu's status as a distinct breed has yet to be formalized by a breed association or club, they are well known on the Aruban island region by native islanders and tourists alike, and have developed a distinct physical appearance and temperament. The first dog in space, Laika, was picked up as a stray in Russia, so there's no way of knowing her heritage with certainty, but many people familiar with the Arubian Cunucu believe she was related to this group of dogs.

Appearance of the Arubian Cunucu

Due to the unlimited reproduction of the Arubian Cunucu, there can be a little diversity within the group itself, but the dogs that are called Cunucu dogs are medium-sized dogs, between 11 and 18 kilos and around 46 centimeters in height, and all have a fairly distinct appearance. They tend to be slim dogs with a delicate head and long muzzle, rather like the Iberian dog and Portuguese podengo from which they are thought to descend, and their medium-length triangular ears are generally folded down and to the sides. Their eyes are almond-shaped and can come in any color, including particolored. These dogs also have long legs and muscular bodies that give them a jumping advantage, as well as superior maneuverability for chasing lizards among the rocks. They have very short, straight coats adapted to the region's warm climate, which come in a variety of colors and shades.

Temperament of the Arubian Cunucu

As a general rule, the Arubian Cunucu is said to be a very friendly dog towards people, including children and strangers, and wild dogs of this type living on the streets of Aruba are known to greet and sometimes even occupy a few days just spending time greeting tourists. Although these dogs are generally sociable with other dogs, their strong prey drive can make them dangerous housemates for cats and small critters, especially lizards. They are also known as highly intelligent dogs, and those who have rescued a Cunucu report that they are very easy to train, both as puppies and as adult dogs. They are more emotionally needy than many other pariah dog breeds, and can become bored or depressed if left home alone for too long, but they are also extremely adaptable and can live quite peacefully even in a small apartment as long as they receive sufficient exercise and attention throughout the day.

Needs and activities of the Arubian Cunucu

These dogs are both energetic and intelligent, requiring both physical activity and mental stimulation to avoid the boredom that can lead to anxious, destructive behavior. Fortunately, these characteristics combined with their innate agility, speed and exceptional jumping ability, also make them excellent candidates for a number of different dog sports, including agility training, lure coursing and flyball. Training sessions should be short and encouraging to avoid boredom and achieve the best results. While Arubian Cunucu dogs do quite well in apartments if they receive plenty of affection and exercise throughout the day, they are generally too friendly to make particularly good guard dogs.

Maintenance of the Arubian Cunucu

The Arubian Cunucu's short, smooth coat is generally very low-maintenance, but weekly brushing with a smooth brush or grooming glove will help control shedding and dirt and keep the coat shiny and supple. Dogs with folding or hanging ears are more likely than other dogs to have dirt and moisture trapped in their ears, and are therefore more susceptible to ear infections. Regularly checking your dog's ears and making sure they're clean and dry can help prevent any infection from taking hold. This breed has also developed to be well adapted to the tropical climate of its native land, and may not tolerate the cold as well as other breeds.

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