Some dogs are indeed easier to keep from picking up unwanted hitchhikers than others. The reason why lies in their furry coats, behaviour and genetic makeup. If you want to adopt another furry friend and want to lessen the risk of them picking up ticks and fleas read on to for the top 10 dog breeds in South Africa that are low maintenance and don’t shed.
1. Original South African Dog Breed: Africanis
If South Africa had a national dog, it would be the Africanis. These resilient dogs have an innate immunity to most parasites found in our sunny country. Their short coats make spotting and removing ticks and other parasites easy to do – that is, if pests get an unlikely foothold on an Africanis. A bonus is that these proudly South African pups don’t have a range of genetic complications associated with purebred dogs.
The short-haired, medium-sized canine is one of the few primitive dog breeds remaining, that is, they did not undergo crossbreeding with dogs from other continents. The Africanis name confirms its origin as ‘Afri’ refers to Africa, and ‘canis’ means dog. This is a truly African canine. DNA testing confirmed that the Africanis is a distinct dog breed indigenous to South Africa, one that dates back roughly 7000BC but only made the southern tip of Africa its home around 800AD.
Due to its unhindered development, based solely on natural selection, the Africanis is a robust breed resistant to many typical dog ailments and very well adapted to African conditions. Their short coat of fur and strong immunity make the Africanis our number one dog breed in South Africa that is easy to keep pest-free.
2. African Lion Hound Dog Breed: Rhodesian Ridgeback
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a powerful yet sweet pet. Initially bred in Zimbabwe, previously Rhodesia, this pup’s strength is well known, so much so that, at first, it was called the “African lion hound” as it could take on large wild animals like lions.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback’s name comes from a unique genetic mutation that led to a strip of hair on the dog’s back to grow in the opposite direction, giving it a distinguished appearance. As a hunting dog in the hot African climate, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is well-adjusted to life in the bush. They can withstand heat, rough terrain and fend off intruders.
The Ridgeback’s short coat doesn’t shed much, and it makes it easy for you to spot ticks – should they try to feed off of your pet. Since this African dog breed is energetic and requires regular exercise, they make wonderful hiking partners.
3. Gentle Giant Dog Breed: Boerboel
As one of the burliest dog breeds in the world, the Boerboel will amaze many with its gentle and calm nature. They are agile, despite their bulky size and surprisingly good with kids. Bred for working on farms as a guard dog, the Boerboel is resilient and protective. Because they can be territorial, it’s important to socialise a Boerboel pup early on, during its puppy years.
They only need a weekly grooming session to get rid of loose hair. During these sessions, keep an eye out for ticks hiding in the folded sections of skin. Even though they have a robust immune system, pest protection like Bravecto® will keep ticks, fleas and ear mites from these muscular pups.
4. Hyperactive Dog Breed: Jack Russell
The Jack Russell dog breed has become a firm favourite in South African households, in part, due to the misperception that this tiny pup is perfect for first-time pet owners. However, the reality is quite the opposite. A Jack Russel is pocket dynamite. This small pup thrives on its bursts of energy, tenacity and by finding loopholes in their owner’s commands. Their natural inclinations may seem out of place in an urban setting, and it would be, as they were first bred as a pocket-sized hunting dog in England.
Their persistence can be frightfully draining if you don’t have the stamina or patience to expel its generous daily dose of energy. But, their determination, intelligence, fearlessness, clownish antics and unwavering loyalty will win the hearts of many. Although Jack Russells love their people, their high-spirited nature could intimidate toddlers and young children.
A Jack Russell can dart through rough bushy areas and forests with glee. If a tick is quick enough to claim a spot on its white or tricolour coat, you will easily find it during their weekly grooming sessions – that is, if you can keep this family member to be still for five minutes!
5. Purring Dog Breed: Basenji
The Basenji is one of the cleanest and oldest dog breeds available in South Africa. Originally from the Congo, the quirky hunting dog is known for its self-grooming habits. Apart from cleaning itself like a cat, the Basenji can’t bark like other dogs. The “small thing form the bush” is also known as the “barkless dog from Africa”. Their flattened larynx makes it impossible for the basenji to bark, but they have a wide range of vocalisations which range from purring to shrieking.
The basenji is a quiet and calm creature that needs regular exercise and, should they need it, will protect its family with all their might. Their short coat is easy to maintain as they clean it themselves – all you need to do is brush them weekly to get rid of loose hair.
Similar to a Jack Russell, the Basenji is intelligent, headstrong, mischievous and spirited. The affectionate pups are muscular and make excellent, albeit adorable, watchdogs.
6. The Big Softy Dog Breed: Rottweiler
“Like the mythical Greek hero Hercules, the Rottweiler is strong and true with a loving heart” (source). Even though Rottweilers (aka Rotties) may intimidate strangers, the German dog breed is warm, alert and fearless. They are cool toward newcomers but have a patient demeanour as they can grow to like most people.
Their short and straight coat requires a weekly brushing and a more thorough scan for ticks and fleas as parts of their dark fur is shaggy and can obscure pesky hitchhikers from view. If you want to bathe your Rottweiler, make sure it’s warm enough outdoors. If you can strut around outside without a camisole, your pup is good to take a bath.
7. Quirkiest Dog Breed in South Africa: Boxer
Another active dog breed happily living life in South Africa, is the Boxer. Their sleek coat and tight skin make it easy to spot ticks and other parasitic pests early on. They need only a weekly brushing to keep their coats in top condition.
Socialising and training these pups early on will ensure they become well-mannered family members fond of providing the rest of the family with slobbery kisses. Boxers require daily exercise to keep them at their happiest. Just be mindful that boxers are susceptible to a range of hereditary ailments.
8. Adorable Dwarf Dog Breed: Dachshund
The pint-sized dachshund is a feisty, confident companion who prefers living in packs. So, if you want to adopt this dog breed in South Africa, it’s best to take two home instead, as this will greatly impact their general wellbeing and happiness.
Grooming their short, shiny coat is low maintenance, but because most are fawn-coloured, pests can camouflage in the hair. To catch these teeny critters, you have to run your hands through your dachshund’s coat to check for unusual bumps. Their stubby legs don’t move too quickly, and with their torso grazing the tips of grass blades, they are easy targets as ticks can comfortably clamber onto dachshunds’ small bodies.
Dachshunds with long hair grow wavy locks around their ears and chest area. These need more frequent grooming sessions. But whether you have a smooth-, long- or wire-haired dachshund, you have to take special care of their ears to avoid fungal growth and ear mites.
9. Clownish Dog Breed: Staffordshire Bull Terrier
The Stafforshire bull terrier, also affectionately known as a Staffie in SA, is a burly dog with massive, powerful jaws and a tender heart. They are muscular, broad and short legs which makes them particularly well balanced and agile when they’re on the go.
Their short, smooth coat is easy to maintain. The dark coloured patches on their coat need extra scrutiny to pick up any hiding parasites. Luckily, the Staffie doesn’t have the typical doggie odour, which means you need to bathe him only when necessary. They don’t shed much, and lose their hair annually, to start anew for the season, which means a weekly grooming session is sufficient.
10. Odd Ball Dog Breed: Bull Terrier
The Bull Terrier comes in two variants: the standard and fun-sized, miniature. Regardless of its size, the bull terrier is one of the dog breeds in South Africa with the most distinguished appearance. Their broad build, egg-shaped heads, close-set small eyes and erect ears give them an otherworldly look. A dense, short coat needs only weekly brushing to get rid of dead hair.
Bull terriers can be loving, affectionate and playful companions, but they need enough attention and sufficient training, otherwise, they may become destructive. Also, keep an eye for the obsessive-compulsive disorder as it often afflicts bull terriers. Signs include pacing and continual tail chasing.