What Are Potcake Dogs?

Photo by bookfinch on Flickr

Royal Bahamian Potcake dogs are mix-breed, native dogs of the Caribbean.

While they might make up the greatest number of strays in the Caribbean, giant efforts by locals and foreigners are being made to give these dogs a permanent and loving home.

Potcakes are known for their friendliness, energetic enthusiasm and loyalty to their human families.

More About Potcake dogs

Royal Bahamian Potcake dogs (Potcake dogs for short) are mixed-breed dogs that are native to the islands of the Caribbean since interbreeding occurred centuries ago.

Potcakes aren’t easily discernable like Collies, Golden Labradors, or Dalmations.

However, they have common features that tell them apart.

For instance, they are generally medium-sized dogs with long muzzles, cropped or “helicopter” ears, and short, smooth hair without an undercoat.

Despite a lack of an undercoat, Potcake dogs are able to thrive in all weather types (except extreme cold).

They make great playmates and are known to love to run, fetch, dig holes, chew and follow scents.

An underdeveloped area of exploration in Potcakes is their formal training.

According to the Inter-American Development Bank, Potcake dogs can be trained to be scent detection dogs and allocate; guns, drugs, bombs, and arson, among other things.

Additionally, Potcake dogs have the ability to be trained into diabetic alert dogs, trained to detect the chemical changes produced by high or low blood sugar levels in diabetic patients, especially those who have Type 1 diabetes.


Unlike German Shepards who get anxious and bored if left alone for extended periods, Potcake dogs are relatively independent and are known to stray.

It’s not their fault; it’s in their genes. A mixed-breed dog, native to the Caribbean, they were usually called “Mutts” or “Mongrels” for their tendency to roam the streets. 

This history of freedom makes them energetic, social, and adventurous.

The Potcake dog is also known not to be very fond of the cold but can overheat easily in very hot weather.

They don’t scare easily around strangers and love socializing with humans and other dogs.

History of the Potcake dog

The Royal Bahamian Potcake dogs have the genetic makeup that can be described as a melting pot of interisland migration and the history of colonization in the Caribbean.

Because of a long history of interisland migration, Potcake dogs in the Caribbean share a common ancestry.

 Historically, when the Arawaks or indigenous peoples of South America came to the Bahamas, they brought their dogs along with them (who wouldn’t right?)

But the arrival of dogs didn’t just stop there.

Terriers were also brought from other Caribbean islands like the Abaco islands and new providence to protect ship supplies from rodents.

There also ships that sailed from North America carrying loyalists during the American Revolutionary War who brought dogs with them.

It is also believed that Spanish settlers brought their own dogs to the islands.

Thus began interbreeding amongst the species to produce what is now commonly known as Potcake dogs.

The name Potcake comes from the term open, “potcake” which refers to a Bahamian congealed riced and peas mixture found at the bottom of a pot.

This mixture was traditionally used to feed dogs. 

In the late 1970s, the Potcake became a designated breed formerly known as The Royal Bahamian Potcake. 

Though pure breed dogs are coveted pets, Potcake dogs are also so finding loving homes outside the Caribbean thanks to the efforts of many dog rescue operations.

Size of Potcakes

Potcake dogs are medium-sized dogs.

Healthy adult Potcakes can weigh between 45 to 55 pounds and reach a height of up to 24 inches.

Females are usually smaller.


Potcakes are loyal, intelligent, and playful.

They can have an intense bond with their owners, make excellent pets, and have intelligent, emotional eyes.

They often have a relaxed yet inquisitive disposition.

Potcakes are usually low maintenance and don’t demand too much in order to enjoy life. However, resource guarding can be a natural reaction when it comes to food.


In general, Royal Bahamian Potcakes are stout dogs who can withstand ailments that affect dogs considered to be of a higher pedigree.

Yet, like any breed of dog, Potcakes can succumb to health conditions. Here are some notable health issues in Potcake dogs.

Heartworm – This condition can be said to happen in dogs who live in warmer, more humid climates because mosquitoes thrive in these climates. However, Heartworm has been reported in dogs from all geographical demographics. Heartworm disease is caused by a parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis and is spread through the bite of a mosquito. When bitten, the Potcake becomes the host of these worms who mature into adults and breed while inside the dog. Heartworm is a serious disease that can lead to heart failure, lung disease, organ damage, and even death.

Ehrlichia – Also known as the tracker dog disease and tropical canine pancytopenia. This disease is spread through the bite of the brown dog tick. Although particularly severe in German Shepherd Dogs and Doberman Pinschers, Potcakes are also susceptible to the disease.

Ehrlichiosis can be divided into three stages :

  •  Acute (early disease) – swollen lymph nodes, fever, weight loss, bleeding disorders respiratory distress
  • Sub-clinical (having no outward sign of disease) – At this stage the only clue that a dog might be by infected can be found when a blood sample is drawn 
  •  Clinical/Chronic (long-standing infection) – It happens when the dog’s immune system cannot eliminate the organism. The Potcake dog can develop eye problems, lameness, swollen limbs, anemia bleeding problems, and neurological problems

Skin issues – Potcake dogs can experience itchy bites, mange, parvovirus, dry folded skin, cracks in the skin, tapeworm, benign skin growths, and bumpy skin. Their ears can also so be an easily infected place. Therefore, Potcake dogs will often scratch and bite the irritated and infected skin aggressively.

Osteoarthritis – Also known as Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD), it is a worsening inflammation of the joint due to cartilage deterioration. Potcakes can be predisposed to this condition because of poor nutrition, prior diagnosis of elbow or hip dysplasia, fractures or ligament tears, age, or obesity.

Allergies – Although Potcakes are known to have strong stomachs, this should not belie the fact that they can have food allergies and can have hypersensitivity to insect bites and stings. Allergies can also manifest themselves in skin dryness, irritation, and hair loss. Potcakes can also have inflammation of the gums and gingivitis, as reported by their owners.

Care of Potcakes

Potcakes are independent dogs that don’t need constant human interaction. However, when offered human interaction, they are loyal and fun to be around.

If you are adopting a Potcake from a local shelter, lookout for signs of Kennel cough and pneumonia.

Your Potcake may have traveled from the islands, so it’s advisable to take them for deworming to prevent life-threatening diseases like Heartworm.

Also, check for mites and skin infections, pink eye, gingivitis, and dental problems.

Although Potcake dogs can adapt to most weather conditions, sometimes it’s harder for them to transition into a new and foreign diet. You may find that they will have an allergic reaction to certain store bought pet food. If they are having allergic reactions or decreased appetite, consult your vet. 

Also, check for urinary tract infection if your Potcake is frequently urinating small amounts in a day.

Puppies need between 18 to 22 hours of sleep a day. Symptoms you should look out for because of lack of sleep are biting, mischievousness, and hyperactivity (much like a toddler).

Exercise and obedience training should also be part of a Potcake’s routine.

Older Potcakes and very young Potcakes may need more help in adjusting to their new home. But with lots of care and attention, they will thrive.


Potcakes are known to have strong stomachs. They are not known to be fussy eaters in general, so check their diet if they have an allergic reaction.

As with all dogs, Potcakes need to be fed according to their size, activity, and pre-existing conditions.

Coat Color And Grooming

Potcakes are most often brown; however, they also come in shades of red, yellow, black, white and cream. Because they have short fur and often don’t have an undercoat, grooming is relatively easy. But remember that they can heat up quickly, so a bath every now and then goes a long way.

They need to have their fur checked for ticks if you adopt them and every other time. Also, check their gums and teeth.

Children And Other Pets

Potcakes are not known for their aggression. On the contrary, they make great pets and companions. However, they can display signs of resource guarding. They will guard things that have value to them. It is a natural response and not an attempt to dominate you.

Aggression can come during meal times so make this time a calm and relaxing occasion. If the aggression escalates over time, remove young children and other pets and consult a professional.

Rescue Groups

There are lots of Potcake dogs rescue groups in the greater American North. However, US taxpayers can also make donations to societies that look after Potcake dogs in their native homeland, like the Bahamas Humane Society.

James Grayston

My name is James and I love dogs. have owned four Golden Retrievers in the past 15 years. Currently I own two "Goldies"- a five year old and a seven month old. The photo shows me with our youngest when she was about 7 weeks old!