My Dog is an ‘Aspin’

Everytime I go outside with my dog for a walk, passer’s by always asked the breed of my dog because of his built and appearance. Well, I proudly answer that he’s an ‘Aspin’ though he’s actually a mixed breed. I just observed that most Filipinos are being obsessed of owning purebred dogs, neglecting and ignoring our own Philippine native dog.

Actually, Filipino native dogs have no discernable breed, in fact they are a mix of many breed down the line of their ancestors. Initially, they are called ‘Askal’, a combination of tagalog words for “Asong Kalye” which literally means street dog. This largely stemmed out of long-rooted views towards pet ownership in the country that normalized allowing dogs to roam the streets to fend for themselves and they were expected to just come home at the end of the day. This enabled irresponsible pet ownership and made the ‘Askal’ an off-neglected and abused pet.

Fortunately, to change this kind of mindset, an animal advocate, the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) proposed the alternative name ‘Aspin’ from ‘Askal’ to uplift the status of the Philippine Native Dogs. ‘Aspin’, short for Asong Pinoy (aso is the Filipino term for dog and Pinoy is a slang called for Filipinos).

Aspin, as proudly Filipino race, vary in looks and sizes. Some are short and stocky with compact body structure. Others are with short-haired which can also varied in color and markings. Several may have shaggier coats and be larger than average. However, they are all distinctly Filipino. And in addition to their features, Aspins have their own good qualities:

  • They are LOYAL and FAITHFUL. Aspin will protect their human pack at all cost. This is probably the reason why they were mostly regarded as guard dogs only and nothing more in the past.
Kabang the hero Aspin saved two girls from motorcycle accident, robbed her snout and upper jaw. (photo by Rappler)
  • They are LOVING. Just like any other dogs of all breed, rescue dogs as most Aspins are, tend to be more affectionate and more appreciative of their human owners.
A happy Aspin resting in an old tire while enjoying the sun (photo by PAWSsion Project Ph)
  • They are RESILIENT. Because Aspins are a mix of many genetic lines, this makes them generally much more resistant to most dog illnesses. This doesn’t mean they do not need proper vet care and vaccines, this just means less emergency vet visit.
  • They are SMART. Aspins are generally stree-smart. But learning tricks and obedience skills are not only for purebred dogs, many Aspins have actually excelled in them with proper training.
Kimchi, a rescued Aspin who won at the Philippine Dog Agility Association in 2015 (photo by Inquirer.net)
  • They are FUN COMPANIONS. Aspins love to socialize so bringing them outdoor events are not a problem. And they are very good indoor companion also.
  • They are LOW-MAINTENANCE. Finding the right food for Aspins is very easy as they have a varied diet. And also most of the Aspins have short coat that sheds very little and does not require a lot of brushing and grooming.

The tragedy of the Aspins in the country is that they are largely remain unseen, ignored and unheard. Depite of all the good qualities they possess, they are remain homeless in their own native land. Most of them are being abused and impounded by heartless humans, waiting to be rescued. And the sad fact that while many people spent a lot of money buying purebred dogs, Aspins are being left living in the shelters and some are roaming in the street without having adopted because they are not purebred, is very heart-melting.

(Source: Philippine Animal Welfare Society & PAWSsion Project)

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