Polynesian Street Dog
The Polynesian dog is a now-extinct variety of domesticated dog. Today, descendants of these native dogs live on the streets of French Polynesian islands, such as Bora Bora and Tahiti.
Polynesian Street Dog History
Ancestors of Polynesians brought dogs along when they settled among the French Polynesian islands. The dogs served various purposes in society. People used their teeth and bones to make weapons and tools. Some were companion animals, whereas others were a source of food.
Eventually, European dogs came to the islands. Experts believe that they crossbred with the Polynesian dogs, contributing to the breed's eventual disappearance.
Modern descendants of the Polynesian dog roam the streets and beaches of the islands. Many of these semi-feral dogs are sick or neglected. Grassroots efforts by volunteer veterinarians to spay and neuter the population have helped humanely control Polynesian street dog numbers and increase their overall quality of life.
Polynesian Street Dog Traits
Though the original dogs on the islands tended to be small or medium-sized, street dogs can come in all shapes and sizes.
Coat and Coloring
Polynesian dogs typically had smooth coats that were brown, white, or rust-colored. But the coats of modern street dogs may be any combination of colors, patterns, and lengths.
Distinctive Physical Traits
Free-roaming dogs do not follow a breed standard, so there is no shared set of traits that links them together. However, the Polynesian street dog had a broad head, erect ears, small eyes, and a pointed muzzle.
Polynesian Street Dog Temperament
Street dogs have learned to fend for themselves. So, they tend to be scrappy and resourceful. But as a result, they may be wary of humans that have not earned their trust.
Polynesian Street Dog Care
Street dog diets typically consist of whatever they can kill or find—small farm animals, scraps from trash cans, handouts from kind strangers, and so on. If you're leaving food out for a street dog, they'll benefit from commercial diets formulated for pet dogs.
Because they fend for themselves, street dogs aren't usually at risk of becoming overweight. However, if you take a street dog under your roof, keep an eye on their food intake to avoid overfeeding. Guidelines on dog food packages are a good starting point when determining daily portions.
If you've adopted a street dog that's comfortable being handled, regular brushing and nail trims will help them look their best. Good dental hygiene is also important for any dog. Professional cleanings and at-home dental care will keep their mouths healthy and reduce the risk of related health issues.
All dogs need exercise to stay physically and mentally fit, and street dogs are no exception. Street dogs that are on their own will get adequate exercise during their daily roaming. Pet dogs, however, need access to the outdoors to stretch their legs and get mental stimulation. Playing in a fenced yard and going for leashed walks are great ways for your dog to release energy.
Street dogs are not accustomed to obeying commands from people. In fact, many may avoid close contact with humans. Before attempting a training program, start by building trust and respect with your dog. Slow and steady is the best approach to making inroads with a street dog.
Reviewed June 16, 2021 by Laura Inman, DVM