Potcakes in the Turks & Caicos

While on a Caribbean holiday, chances are good that a tourist will probably encounter potcakes, the endearing native dogs that live in The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos. These indigenous dogs are so named because locals feed them potcakes, the thick remnants of caked-up food found at the bottom of a pot. Because many of the potcakes are cute and friendly, especially the puppies, they are often as popular with tourists on Turks and Caicos vacations as the island country's beautiful and renowned Grace Bay Beach.

Although the potcakes, with their varied appearances, shapes and sizes may not appear like it, the dogs are now recognized as an official breed in the Bahamas. The Royal Bahamian Potcakes, as the breed is known, do tend to share the same small genetic pool and also have some of the same general characteristics. For instance, most of the potcakes are medium-sized dogs, with short, smooth fur and terrier- or hound-like faces. It is believed that potcakes are a mix of several dog types including terriers, hounds and also the Carolina dog, which was a breed brought over to the islands during the Revolutionary War.

Because these native dogs are usually not neutered, the Turks and Caicos was once faced with a potcake overpopulation problem. In 2001, the government of the Turks and Caicos estimated that there were over 1,000 wild dogs roaming its islands. To help combat the problem, potcake adoption agencies have sprung up on the islands.

One such shelter near Grace Bay Beach is named Potcake Place. Its main goal is to find the potcakes new homes in the United States. Because tourists on Turks and Caicos vacations often fall in love with the many potcakes that can be found wandering the streets and beaches, these adoption agencies have had relatively good luck finding the pups homes.

As with any unfamiliar dog, potcakes should always be approached cautiously by visitors while on a Caribbean holiday. While most are friendly and more than likely looking for a food handout, some of the potcakes may be feral and prefer to avoid human contact.