American cutaneous leishmaniasis (ACL) is a complex disease with a rich diversity of animal host species. This diversity imposes a challenge, since understanding ACL transmission requires the adequate identification of reservoir hosts, those species able to be a source of additional infections. In this study we present results from an ACL cross-sectional serological survey of 51 dogs (Canis familiaris), where we used diagnostic tests that measure dog's exposure to Leishmania spp. parasites. We did our research in Panamá, at a village that has undergone significant ecosystem level transformations. We found an ACL seroprevalence of 47% among dogs, and their exposure was positively associated with dog age and abundance of sand fly vectors in the houses of dog owners. Using mathematical models, which were fitted to data on the proportion of positive tests as function of dog age, we estimated a basic reproductive number (R
0 ± s.e.) of 1·22 ± 0·09 that indicates the disease is endemically established in the dogs. Nevertheless, this information by itself is insufficient to incriminate dogs as ACL reservoirs, given the inability to find parasites (or their DNA) in seropositive dogs and previously reported failures to experimentally infect vectors feeding on dogs with ACL parasites.