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Last updated on April 17, 2014 at 1:21 EDT

Hawaiian Poi Dog

The Hawaiian Poi Dog is an extinct breed of domestic pariah dog that originated from Hawaiʻi that was once used as a source of food and was said to be a spiritual protector of children. The term Poi, which means kalo or taro root, was used in the dog’s name because it was given to the breed to fatten it before eating. The dogs were not needed for hunting, because the island does not have any large game animals excluding boars.

Explorers have described the Hawaiian Poi Dog as a short, fat dog that roamed the streets with pigs. These dogs varied in color and held a flattened head, a trait that is attributed to its diet of only taro root. Because the dog did not make a suitable pet and had no other uses besides being eaten, the breed quickly went extinct due to neglect and crossbreeding with European dog breeds. Today, the term Poi dog can be used to refer to a number of mixed breed dogs and sometimes people who have a Hawaiian-Anglo heritage ancestry.

Image Caption: Hawaiian dog, probably a poi dog. Credit: PawełMM/Wikipedia

Hawaiian Poi Dog