One of the most common misconceptions is that the AfriCanis is often confused with the greyhound-type dog and what is known as the township dog. This article describes the difference between these three types.

The AfriCanis is the traditional indigenous dog of subequatorial Africa. In Southern Africa, it is found in isolated ancestral tribal homelands, including Kwa-Zulu (interior), Transkei, Venda, Gazankulu, KaNgwane, KwaNdebele, Lebowa, QwaQwa, Ciskei, Bophuthatswana, and with the San people in the Great Karoo.

What are AfriCanis?

In summary, they fit the following specifications:

  • They are domestic dogs that emerged as an ecotype within a specific ecological niche.
  • They are the result of environmental adaptation, mostly under conditions of natural selection but influenced by human preferences for functionality and behavior.
  • They meet the requirement of a specific human society living in a particular ecosystem.
  • They have great endurance and can thrive on very little.

During apartheid South Africa, the rural ancestral homelands were marginalized, with the people (and their dogs) living in these areas (the former ‘Bantustan’ regions) relatively isolated. Consequently, it is primarily thanks to this enforced isolation that these dogs still exist today.

Since colonial times, Europeans looked upon these dogs with contempt and considered them mongrels. They were unaware (and totally disinterested) that the AfriCanis arrived 1200 years before Europeans set foot on the African continent. Additionally, it is important to note that purebred dogs have only existed since the inception of the Kennel Club London in 1870.

What are township dogs?

In South Africa, the term “township” usually refers to the suburban areas that, from the late 19th century until the end of apartheid, were reserved for non-white residents. Townships are the legacy of apartheid and are usually built on the periphery of towns and cities.

Dogs in these townships come from various backgrounds, including purebred dogs, crossbreeds, and mongrels of all shapes and sizes. Rescues and stray dogs are usually from these suburban areas; consequently, they are not AfriCanis.

When moving into these townships, people from ancestral lands rarely bring their traditional dogs. These dogs stay with their families, still living in their ancestral lands. However, in the rare instance where these rural dogs did come to the townships with their owners, they would inter-breed with any roaming dog. The results are not AfriCanis; rather, mongrels or, at best, an AfriCanis-mix.

On the other hand, if purebred dogs are introduced into traditional rural areas, they are unlikely to survive.


In summary, these rural areas are very demanding environments. And purebred dogs have lost most of their natural dog behavior. They no longer mate, give birth naturally, and raise their pups as they should. Even if they did succeed in breeding, their small surviving numbers would be of no consequence to the traditional rural dog population.

What are greyhound-type dogs?

This type of hunting greyhound (sometimes called the African Greyhound or Boerwindhond) is the result of purposefully crossbreeding ex-racing greyhounds with Foxhounds, Salukis, Deerhounds, or Irish Wolfhounds to improve their endurance and strength. Their specific function is for pack hunting and coursing. They are large dogs at least 75 cm high at the shoulder, with a very elongated head, a deep, narrow chest, an arched back ending in a low-set, hanging-down tail, and very angular rear legs. These dogs hunt in big packs, and sheep farmers use them for hunting Caracal (Rooikat) and Jackal to protect their livestock from these predators.

Sport hunters also use them for coursing, illegal racing, and hunting. At these illegal hunts, 40+ of these dogs, with their owners, come together. The dogs are released together to hunt whatever animal they come across. Sport hunting has become a significant problem for game (and wildlife) conservation, including preserving the critically endangered Oribi antelope. This illegal greyhound-type hunting is frequently run by syndicates, placing bets on dogs, with large sums of money changing hands.