Liberian Street Dog
Liberian street dogs are free-roaming domesticated pups that typically congregate in areas near people—places with abundant resources. They share many basic traits with pet dogs, but they lead primarily independent lives outdoors.
Liberian Street Dog History
Like all dogs, the Liberian street dog is a descendant of the gray wolf. At some point, a number of wolves became domesticated (but experts disagree on exactly when and how).
By the 19th century, people began recording their efforts to selectively breed dogs for certain traits—a practice that led to the hundreds of purebred dogs we know and love today. But the majority of dogs around the world do not belong to a particular breed. This includes Liberian street dogs.
Liberian street dogs (sometimes called Liberian Terriers) are a local variation of the African village dog that adapted to the regional surroundings. Now, many street dogs exist in Liberia. And as the country struggles to rebound following a violent civil war and a devastating Ebola crisis, many of them are left to roam the area and fend for themselves.
In recent years, animal welfare organizations in Liberia have started programs that educate people on responsible dog ownership and provide dogs with veterinary care and food.
Liberian Street Dog Traits
Street dogs generally tend to be small or medium-sized. But Liberian street dogs can come in all shapes and sizes.
Coat and Coloring
Liberian street dogs typically have short, reddish-brown coats. That said, any combination of coat colors, patterns, and lengths is possible.
Distinctive Physical Traits
Liberian street dogs do not follow a breed standard, so there is no shared set of traits linking them together. Still, common characteristics of street dogs include prick ears and pointed noses.
Liberian Street Dog Temperament
Liberian street dogs have learned to fend for themselves. So, they tend to be scrappy, intelligent, and adaptable—all skills that support independent survival. Because they've never had to rely on humans, they may be fearful or skeptical of people who have not earned their trust.
Liberian Street Dog Care
Liberian street dogs' 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. Liberian 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 Annette Louviere, DVM