sato puerto rican dog wandering streets
One of the many satos wandering the streets. (Photo by Glorimar Anibarro)

Quick Facts

  • Weight: 10 to 40 pounds
  • Height: 9 to 18 inches

The Look of a Sato

Satos vary in looks quite a bit but share some common characteristics. They tend to be small to medium-sized, with slightly folded ears and a thick, short coat.

The most common Sato variety looks like a small Terrier/Pointer mix with a thin, agile frame; long snout; and often a sickle tail. Many are almost foxlike.


  • Lanky appearance
  • Short, coarse coat
  • Coyotelike gait
  • Remarkable resilience
  • Lifespan: 10 to 12 years (when taken in as family pet)

Ideal Human Companion

  • Those with the time and patience to get their Sato acclimated
  • Experienced dog owners
  • Suburban and city dwellers
  • Lovers of underdogs
  • People who vacation in Puerto Rico (bring one back!)

What They Are Like to Live With

Satos (pronounced with a short A) are a type of dog rather than a breed. The name is Puerto Rican slang for “street dog,” but they are also known as Puerto Rican Found Dogs in the U.S.

They are the homeless dogs, or urban free-ranging dogs, that live in Puerto Rican cities. They are different from regular strays in that they have limited territory, and many have consistent contact with humans. What is surprising is that these neglected, sometimes abused dogs make very good family pets.

Living with a Sato often means an element of surprise, but they are almost always loving, affectionate dogs who are good with all family members. They need moderate exercise (some Satos will try to never leave the couch) and minimal grooming.

Things You Should Know

Because a Sato has spent time on the streets and then likely in a shelter, it may take a while for it to adjust to suburban or city life. Understandably, they can be nervous at first, but responsible and thoughtful owners can make their dogs feel at home with patience and training.

A Sato’s temperament depends on its background; a severely abused Sato will likely be shy and perhaps aggressive, while one that was taken care of by locals may be calmer and already half-domesticated.

Sato shelters such as Save a Sato ( do temperament tests before the dogs are made available for adoption. Save a Sato also works with individuals who want to bring one back from Puerto Rico.

Other rescue groups include Second Chance Sato Rescue ( and Stray from the Heart (

Homeless Satos encounter many health issues including rabies, parasites, and mange. Once these problems are tended to, they tend to be healthy dogs. However, it’s best to check a potential adoptee’s health records.

Sato History

Satos have existed as long as Puerto Rico has. These are the ancestors of working and hunting dogs that were brought to the island.

Today, Satos are rescued mostly by shelters in southern U.S. states because of their proximity to Puerto Rico, but are then often sent to Northeast rescues because of the overcrowding in Southern shelters. Satos are gaining popularity as family pets throughout the U.S.

7 thoughts on “Sato”

  1. I can't tell you how much I'm in love with my Sato dog. He is super smart, loving, kind to everyone he meets, just the most loving and best dog anyone can hope for. He thinks everyone he meets is his long lost friend and cries and carries on when he sees someone on the street. He's growing up with my grandson who are a week apart in age and they both look after each other which is amazing to watch. I can't ask for a better dog – he is one of a kind!

  2. We had several dogs which we loved and had long healthy lives. After we lost our last dog we did not plan to get another one until we met Georgie. He was small about ten pounds. Although it took about five months he slowly became the best dog we ever had. Great personality always wanting to please and is grateful for his second chance. A wonderful find,

  3. I got my sato dog from the street in Puerto Rico,,he was a mix between sato and chiwawa,,what a great dog,,he gave me so much love,, and I love him like my family,,he was very smart,,he never did nothing wrong inside the house without having any training,he was with me for 14 years,,I miss him every day,,I love him,,i miss his kisses and his games,,,I MIss Himm

  4. Have you found your sato difficult to house train? It never lived on the street, but was born in shelter and shipped to US.

  5. We met our Sato while traveling in an airport. He and his liter were being shipped to VT. We already had 2 dogs, and were NOT looking for another, but during a layover, he chose us! He is the best addition to the family – i cannot stress enough how loving and fun these dogs are, and once you read their sad stories of how they live since the hurricane, you will know you are doing such a great thing to rescue one!

    1. i couldn’t agree more. i’m in vt also we picked up two pups from alabama rescue while visiting family in ga.we lost our two boys over the last yr and decided it was time. the rescue we got them from comes to new england every weekend . a trainer said we’re did you get the sato’s had no idea. they are so sweet and so smart. Wish had room for more.

  6. Edward Koschmider

    I love my Sato dog Nina! She was very shy at first but is slowly coming around and turning into a great dog. She loves other dogs and is fine with people too. Wish that I could post a pic of this beautiful dog.

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