Costa Rican Zaguates


You are probably wondering what is a Zaguate?! A Zaguate is the Costa Rican way of referring to a stray, mix breed, or street dog. Basically, it is the national breed of Costa Rica.

Zaguates can be large or small, wire-hair or short-hair, young or old, black, white or anything in between. There is no combination of traits, colors, and looks that a zaguate has not achieved. Who wouldn’t want a wire-hair labrador dachshund terrier or a golden mini husky poodle? Many expats or tourists who visit will unexpectedly fall in love with a Costa Rican zaguate. These pups often end up wandering into your life when you least expect it.

One of my Zaguates in the front yard

Costa Rica unfortunately has a large stray dog population, especially in the more rural areas. Thankfully, many people have taken it upon themselves to help these charming zaguates. One of the largest shelters in Costa Rica is called Territorio de Zaguates or “The Land of Strays”. This shelter is home to over 1,300 dogs! Territorio de Zaguates strives to teach the citizens of Costa Rica the importance of castration and proper pet care. Another well known rescue organization in Costa Rica is Charlie’s Angels. Charlie’s Angels works on a much smaller scale, usually only taking in 15-20 dogs at a time. Both of these organizations often take in very neglected and abused animals. They work extremely hard to make sure every dog has its needs met and is restored back to good health. The best moment is always when they find the perfect home for each of their wonderfully unique pups.

My 4 Zaguates taking a nap
The best news is, you can find your very own zaguate locally! Here in Playa del Coco, we have our own organization called Patas y Manos. Patas y Manos is a nonprofit aimed at helping animals and humans within our local community. Many people living in Playa del Coco, Playa Hermosa, and Playa Panama help Patas y Manos foster dogs in need. This organization is always looking for someone to open their hearts to a zaguate of their own. I know I have 4 of them, the best dogs I ever had. Many people I know, one in particular, is my partner and he has 13, yes I said 13!

A group of Costa Rica Zaguates on the beach
Another great way to help a dog in need is to simply chat with your neighbors. Everyone knows someone who knows a zaguate that needs a home. Keep in mind that not every dog wandering on its own is a stray. Many people allow their castrated, adopted zaguates to continue visiting around the neighborhood or taking themselves on walks to the beach. Before adopting a dog right off the street, make sure you post on local social media groups or ask around in the community. If no one claims the pup, you now have a zaguate of your own! The local vet in Playa del Coco, Dr Jessica Jimenez, will give your zaguate an overall health check and help with any medical needs. After that, the only thing left to do is enjoy the company of a one of a kind, new best friend in paradise.

Street Dog (Zaguate) with a funny tooth
For those who cannot adopt, please donate to any of the beautiful organizations mentioned above. They all need your support!

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