Pet Care: Cookup & the common breed dog

By Paws for a Cause – Guyana

Doctor’s Note: Paws for a Cause – Guyana (“Paws”) is a local Animal Welfare Group operating and registered in Guyana as a Non-Profit Inc. The Group works to prevent animal cruelty, to promote humane, ethical, and responsible pet ownership, to advocate for controlling the animal population via spay and neuter campaigns, to educate the public, and to assist in cases of reported animal neglect and abuse. The Group’s work extends beyond dog and cats and includes all wildlife in Guyana. Occasionally, they will contribute a “Paws Perspective” to the Sunday Times ‘Pet Care’ Column, detailing their experiences in animal welfare.
At Paws for a Cause, we often get many versions of the same message when we put dog adoption profiles up on our page – “what breed is this?” Most of the time, the answer is exactly the same – we don’t know. We can hazard a guess, but all of the pups in our care are rescues, and even if we rescue a pregnant mom, there is often no clue about the breed of the father. In most cases, it is safe to say that the dog is a common breed mix. Unfortunately, that in itself turns a lot of people off from adopting, but there are also the people who will not judge on breed. They will choose a dog based on the dog’s rescue story, the way they look, or through an instinctive connection with them. In cases like these, we consider ourselves to be very lucky, especially in the case of adult rescues. Adult common breed dogs are often difficult to get adopted. They aren’t fluffy, they don’t have “short foot”, and people tend to prefer puppies. So what exactly is “common breed” in Guyana? People call them ‘rice eaters’, ‘kangalangs’ or ‘mutts’, and guesses of their predominant breed range from Basenjis to Dachshunds. They are called all sorts of creative names, but in essence, we really don’t know. We delved even deeper into the genetic makeup of common breed dogs, and realized that describing them as ‘common’ is a disservice.
Last year, a friend of ours sent the DNA of one of their dogs overseas for a doggy DNA test because they wanted to shed light on their actual breed. The dog that the DNA was taken from is probably the most ‘common’ looking dog you’d ever see, but the results showed that she has such a unique genetic combination of literally dozens of breeds that they were unable to identify a predominant breed or even a definitive mix of the main breeds. The Company opted to call the dog a “mega mutt” and even offered a refund because of the lack of result!


What we would like to posit is that these so-called common breed dogs are the most representative of Guyanese, and not just because they exist in Guyana. We talk about Guyana as a melting pot and often refer to ourselves as a ‘cookup’ – a mix of generations of different races, histories and cultures. Even a Guyanese with a single dominant race in their family tree is still part of this melange because they live in Guyana and are exposed to every part of our fascinating culture. Cookup, Curry, Pepperpot – our diverse heritage extends to dogs, even though we might not have noticed it before.
Many common breed & mixed breed dogs have come through our foster homes. There may not be readily available or documented evidence, but we truly believe that a feature of the common breed is their ability to adapt, survive and thrive. We can tell you from experience – many of the common breed pups are the ones that have been the strongest, the most entertaining and the most resilient dogs. These are the dogs that survived on scraps prior to rescue, the ones that use pedestrian crossings better than some humans, the ones that know what house to go to for food, water or temporary shelter. These are the dogs who have survived abuse, cruelty, neglect and the ones that somehow continue to have the capacity to recover, to learn to trust and to love you. We have even seen Husky / common breed mixes, who are able to manage our stifling heat mainly because of their common breed genes.
In our brand oriented society and world, it’s easy to create your definition of your ideal life. This may include a house, family, car, and a dog. To many, when they picture the dog, a pitbull, husky, or a ‘short foot fluffy’ dog will come to mind first. At Paws, we love every dog and if you’re willing to make a dog part of your family and care for it the way it deserves to be cared for, then we’re happy. In general however, purchasing dogs and encouraging puppy mills is something that we can’t in good conscience support. Dozens of fancy dogs are being sold at exorbitant prices when common breed ones are starving on the street. It gets decidedly murkier when you realize breeders often allow inbreeding, which causes severe genetic issues in a dog, and they often put so much stress on a mother pup that she lives her days chained and churning out puppies. There are so many dogs out there that need homes, and this brings a whole other level of sadness to this already tragic situation.
If you have a special breed dog, please don’t take offense. We strongly feel that all dogs deserve to be loved, but would also would like to reiterate – all dogs deserve to be loved. We encourage you to re-frame your thinking. Considering or adopting a rescue dog means that it is likely your dog will be mixed with common breed, but it also means that you have given a chance, a home and a life to a living creature, who like us, is a Guyanese evolutionary cookup of genetics, society, environment, and time.
If you’d like to offer comments, support or follow our work, find us on, on Instagram @pawsforacause.guyana, subscribe to our YouTube Channel, drop us a line at [email protected], or visit our website at
Animal welfare is everyone’s business. You don’t have to be an animal person – you just have to be a kind person.