As our name says, for our shelter, the zaguates, dogs without breed, are more special than any other: not only their physique stands out, but their qualities are unique and unrepeatable.
A zaguate is a dog without a pedigree, whose ancestry is generally unknown, which has characteristics of two or more types of breeds, or is descended from populations of wild or stray dogs.
The way we refer to these “unique breed” puppies varies around the world. In Costa Rica we call them zaguates, but do you know where that term comes from?
The word zaguate comes from the Nahuatl language 'zahuatl' which literally translates to 'mange'. It was used to talk about dogs that did not have a particular breed and lived on the streets, therefore they suffered from diseases, including mange.
However, lots of other words and phrases are used to describe dogs that have not been designated as purebreds. Although some of these were used in a derogatory way, they are currently used in a neutral or even affectionate way for mixed and homeless dogs.
A few months ago we asked our international territorian community how they referred to the zaguates in their country, and they gave us many answers. We compiled all the information to be able to share this list of words and terms with you: the zaguates around the world!
In the United Kingdom “mongrel”, while in the United States and Canada they tend to use the word “mutt” or “mixed”. In some countries, such as Australia, the term "bita" or "bitzer" is sometimes used, meaning "bits of this" or "bits of that". Other English-speakers use the term “tyke” or “cur”.
There are also mixed breed names based on geography, behavior, or food. In Hawaii, mixed dogs are known as "poi" dogs, even though they are not related to the extinct Hawaiian poi dog.
In the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, the common term is "potcake dogs" (referring to the leftover food they feed on).
In South Africa the expression “pavement special” is sometimes used as a description of a mixed breed dog.
In Philippines, mixed strays are often called “askals”, a Tagalog derived from the contraction of “asong kalye” which means stray dog.
In Puerto Rico they are known as “satos”, while in Chile and Bolivia, they are called “quiltros”, “rawe”, “chapi” or “cachuchín”.
In Peru they are known as "chuscos", while in Venezuela and Colombia they are called "criollos", "gozques", "chandas", "chandosos" or "canchosos" and "cacris", the result of the union of the words "street" and "Creole".
In Brazil and the Dominican Republic, the name for mestizo dogs is “vira-lata” (“boat turner”) because strays often turn over garbage cans in search of food scraps.
In Argentina they are known as "street dogs", "cuzcos", "Cruza", "PP" (‘Puro Perro’, pure-dog, that is, of no specific breed) or "Delmont" (Del Montón). They are also commonly called "Marca Pichicho" or "Perro Marca Perro" (Brand Dog Dog). In the province of Córdoba they are called "perros guasos". In Paraguay they are known as "delmer" (‘Del Mercado’ or ‘from the market’).
In Cuba they are called "chulos" or "satos".
In Ecuador they are known as "perro runa". They are also commonly known as "churrios" or "churros".
In El Salvador and Honduras they are known as "aguacateros" and “chucho” is also often used.
In Nicaragua and Guatemala they are known as "comecuandohay" (from "it eats when it can"). The terms "Perro indio" and "zaguate" are also used. In Panama they are known as "tinaqueros" or "tainakers".
In Mexico they are known generically as: "perro corriente", "cruzas" (mixes) or “perro eléctrico”. They are also called "chuchos", "solovinos" (because of “él sólo vino” o "he only came") and "pipeco" (an acronym for "pinche perro corriente").
Whatever you call dogs without breed, we want to remind you that they are worthy of love and the best life they possibly can have. Their unique characteristics make them perfect pets and they will always be thankful to you for giving them a try.
Adopt a zaguate! It will be the best decision you can make!