As National Hispanic Heritage Month winds down, we want to take a moment to not only celebrate Hispanic Americans, but also the animals that hail from Hispanic nations. While many Latin American nations have a different outlook on pet ownership than Americans, there has been a rise in households with pets in many nations, so we’ve compiled a list of animals that share Hispanic heritage. Some you’ll know, and others may surprise you!
Leading off this pack of charming Hispanic pets is possibly the most famous dog from Latin America, the Chihuahua. This breed is known for their small size and feisty attitude. Hailing from the northern part of Latin America, the origin of the Chihuahua is unknown, but archeologists have discovered bones similar to the breed that date back to 300 B.C.
Winning hearts all over social media, this salamander has taken the pet world by storm. Aztec legend states that Xolotl, the god of fire and lightning disguised himself as these salamanders to avoid being sacrificed. Unlike others of their species, the Axolotl never actually outgrow their childhood stage, keeping the pink gills that are on their heads and webbed feet.
The Dogo Argentino
Though its name sounds like millennial web speak, the Argentine Dogo is a fierce protector of their human family, bred by two brothers who were hoping to raise a strong dog that is both loyal and easily trainable. Considered a dangerous pup in some parts of the world, this breed is well loved in their homeland of Argentina. Regardless, these guys are best for experienced dog owners with a will as strong as the dog’s, so if you’re considering adopting one, be ready to give your new pet lots of training and exercise.
Between the incredibly soft coat and large ears, the chinchilla’s adorable appearance and clean, quiet personality make them great pets. These rodents are nocturnal and easy to maintain, and if you’ve ever witnessed a chinchilla’s dust bath, you understand exactly how adorable they can be. Originating from the Andes Mountains in South America, Chinchillas have historically been hunted for their meat and fur, but are best known as pets in the United States.
Also known as the Mexican hairless dog or Xolo, this breed is the national dog of Mexico. They can be traced back more than 3,000 years to the Aztec nation, where many tribes considered them sacred. The breed varies in size, and there is even a variation with a full fur coat. Across all variations, one thing remains the same: they have a high prey drive, so keep an eye on them around smaller animals and pets. This loyal breed makes an excellent guard dog, but like similar breeds, they will need a strong trainer and lots of activity.
Iguanas are native to Central and South America and are one of the most popular lizards to keep as pets, despite never truly being domesticated. They will always carry the temperament of wild animals, so socialization is critical for taming. Regular handling is a key element to pet ownership of an iguana, as is commitment, because these lizards grow quite large and can live up to 20 years.
These adorable fluff balls are native to Cuba and date back to the early 1500s. Their silky coat does require a lot of grooming, so be ready with the brush. They are charming and affectionate, and make excellent guard dogs. Despite being a small dog, they aren’t as vocal as other small breeds, so if you’re looking for a quiet, playful dog that is smaller in stature, the Havanese is a great choice.
These adorable rodents make great pets thanks to their docile personalities and small stature. Found in the wild in the Andes Mountains of South America, they were originally domesticated in Peru more than 3,000 years ago. There are several breeds of guinea pigs with variations in their coat. Guinea pigs are pack animals and herbivores with many natural predators, so they can be shy in nature. If you’re bringing one into your home, be sure to spend time socializing with your pet out of their cage.
Despite being commonly associated with France, the Bichon Frise originated in the Canary Islands of Spain, where they were used for herding and on ships. They make an excellent choice for apartment dwellers and families. Small and playful, these companions are low maintenance in regard to their personalities, but their grooming requirements are another story, because they require regular maintenance to prevent matting.
Ocelots are technically small wild cats that hail from Argentina, but have a habitat that spreads upward to the southwestern United States. These spotted cats with large eyes have been kept as pets around the world but, like iguanas, were never truly domesticated. They are playful and energetic, so pet owners need to be prepared for their adventurous nature. Salvador Dalí was one of the more famous Ocelot owners, and his pet Babou was known to travel the world with him.
No matter where your pet originated from, taking the time to love and care for an animal is a commitment that brings joy to both the animals and their caretakers. The globalization of the pet world has allowed us to experience these animals as companions for centuries and celebrate their Hispanic heritage.
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