How your puppies can live longer?

How to choose a puppy?

Your lifestyle and how much you are willing to spend on the puppy now and in the future are important factors to consider when you choose a puppy.

The following are factors to consider:

1.  Is the puppy healthy? When you have visited several pet shops over a few weeks, you will know how to spot a healthy puppy. It is just active and happy to see you. Some will charm your heart by knocking on the kennel cage specifically in your direction, eager to meet you.

Healthy looking Beagle puppies. The lemon Beagle (2nd from right) is a male while the other 3 are females. The male puppy is the most active and just wants to get out to explore.

Check that it has a clean coat with no hair loss or bald spots. It does not have watery eyes or runny nose.  Look at its belly to see if it has any swellings like umbilical and inguinal hernias. For a male dog, check to see whether it has two testicles.  Do more reading from the many dog books which are available at the library, book shops and pet shops.

As most pet shops will take back the puppy if it fails the veterinary inspection, do get your new puppy checked by your veterinary surgeon rather than save on the cost which vary from $25 to $60.00 for a general examination without blood tests and X-rays. 

2.  Pure breed or cross breed?  Almost all Singaporeans prefer to buy pure breeds.

If you buy a cross breed, it is hard to fore see how it will behave and how large a size it will grow up.

If you buy a pure breed, you know its temperament.  A miniature Doberman Pinscher will tend to be a noisy barker and guard dog. A Jack Russell will be a high energy puppy.

Pure breeds tend to inherit the faults of the breed and this is one disadvantage compared to the cross breed.

2.1  Pet quality and show quality puppies.  The problem for the Buyer that I am aware of is that occasionally, a pet quality puppies grow up to look like cross breeds when they grow up.

There may be litigation when such a puppy has been sold with pedigree papers and now one year later, grows up to look nothing like its breed

A new inexperienced shop owner may not be able to tell whether a purebred pet quality puppy will grow up to its pedigree standards. The shop owner may find it prudent to mention in the puppy purchase contract that the puppy is a pet quality puppy, not a show quality one.

It may be best to sell a puppy without pedigree papers or to warn in writing that the puppy sold with pedigree papers are pet quality, not show quality puppies that will be exhibit most of its breed specifications.

If you want a "true" pure breed, you may need to buy a show quality puppy. This can be expensive. Do buy from a reputable breeder or pet shop.

3.  Male or Female?

The costs of maintenance for a unsterilised female is higher than for a male.

The main worry is that the female stains the apartment with blood, twice a year during her "menstrual period", also known as the "bitch's heat period".

The bitch is often easier to train, but it may get attention from male dogs and unwanted pregnancy. 

Spaying a female solves most problems but the veterinary costs will be higher to sterilise a female male.

The main complaint about unsterilised males is the spraying of urine to mark his territory in or outside the apartment, aggressiveness, mounting on the legs of people including visitors. Some apartments can be full of urine smell due to the urine spraying, but the owner is unaware of the smell.  A sterilised male usually not do spray urine.

4.  Six-week-old, eight- or twelve-week old puppies or adult dogs?

4.1 The younger the better? Every dog lover falls in love with 6-week-old puppies.
Singapore chihuahua puppies for sale, 9668-6468
However, certain breeds like the Chihuahuas are not easy to care for at week 6 -8 and many will not eat in the new home.  Some will forget to eat as the younger children play with them for a long time. Soon they collapse and require
Buy a 6-8-week-old chihuahuas are not for inexperienced puppy owners
veterinary attention.  A reputable breeder will not sell his Chihuahuas or mini-Maltese till they are at least eight weeks old since my owners don't have experience with younger ones.

4.2 Adult dogs from animal shelters or re-homing organisations do make great pets if they have proper training. If not, their anti-social behavioural problems like nuisance barking, biting people and jumping on people may be hard to handle.

A puppy has the advantage of being a clean slate for training. You must have the time, money and motivation to train the puppy to be a good dog.

Singapore born Cavalier King Charles puppies, 6 weeks, for sale.

4.3 Local breeders usually sell at 8th week and they are irresistibly cute. They have been weaned and are ready for the new home.  

4.4  Imported puppies lose out to young ones. The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) mandates that imported dogs must be at least 12 weeks old. The pet shop owners find that these puppies are not so much favoured by the buyer who prefers the 8-week olds.  However, they are stronger and will have higher immunity against the viral diseases of puppies.

5. Long coat or short coat?

Much depends on whether you want to spend the money on grooming the dog every three monthly if you have a long-coated breed.  The cost is around $30.00 every 3 monthly. Or get an electric clipper and spend the time doing your own grooming.

5.1  Asthmatic baby?  Some breeds, whether long coated or short coated, will shed more hairs. Locals believe that the hairs shed will cause "asthmatic" attacks to babies and young children.  Do research on which breed sheds less hair and if your puppy loses hair more than usual, do consult your vet rather than wait till it is bald as there may be a skin infection.  A wise groomer will usually advise you to check with a veterinarian rather than selling you pet products to cure the excessive hair loss and losing good will.  
6. Money on maintaining a dog. Buying a puppy is cheap, but the maintenance cost over the life of the puppy will be higher.  How much are you prepared to spend for veterinary care when your dog is sick, food, grooming and pet transport? 

6.1 Veterinary costs. Some puppies never see the veterinarian after the puppy vaccinations.  Others see the veterinarian frequently.

Veterinary costs for an emergency illness may be around $100 or more. Bigger breeds do cost more to be sterilised by the vets too! Some locals tend to note that a visit to the general practitioner costs much less than a visit to the veterinarian but this is like comparing apples to oranges.  Vets generally have to invest in and maintain anaesthetic machines, surgical equipment, various sutures, autoclaves to sterilise equipment and isolation and sick ward facilities that a general practitioner does not need to.

6.2  Grooming costs.  The bigger the size and the longer the coat, the more money you have to spend on grooming. For the miniature Schnauzers, the cost is range from $30 -$45.  A standard Schnauzer will cost more.

6.3 Pet transport cost.  Taxis are usually the means of transport of getting a puppy to the veterinarian for most owners as dogs are not permitted in the subway trains and buses.

Do keep your pet inside a carrier cage as many Singapore's taxi drivers just avoid you if you carry the puppy in your hands. They are worried about the hairs shed in the taxi and the possibility of the puppy vomiting in their taxi. Muslim taxi drivers, owing to religious reasons do not wish to transport pets.

The pet transport people charges around $40 - $60 per to-and-fro trip to the veterinary premises and may have to include time waiting for your dog to be treated. 

Many groomers, owing to intense competition, include transport in their total grooming fees and this is convenient for owners.

6.4 De-ticking & annual dog licence costs.
Most dogs will get ticks from other dogs when they are taken out for exercise and there is the cost of tick control shampoos or drugs to be considered.

All dogs over 3 months of age are required to be licensed by the AVA. The penalty for keeping an unlicensed dog is $500. The yearly licence fee for an unsterilised female dog is $70 while it is $20.50 for a unsterilised or sterilsed male or a sterilised female.

7.  Singapore's canine laws.

7.1 HDB restrictions on dog breeds and numbers. 
Only approved breeds and their crosses (height and weight limits) can be kept in the HDB apartments. Only one dog is permitted in HDB apartments. 

For Sale. Singapore black Labrador is not so popular. Tel 9668-6468.
This ruling deprives many lovers of Cocker Spaniels, Golden Retrievers and Alsatians from owning dogs.
Not all HDB residents like small toy breeds. Many large breeds are well trained and cared for in apartments and condos. They are much less of a barking noise nuisance than the untrained small breeds!

Dec 13 03. Old English Sheepdog puppies for sale, Singapore 9668-6468

7.2 Condo rules, regulations and screaming teenaged girls. The government  ruling is a maximum of 3 dogs and so far, no ruling on size or breeds. 

Fortunately in Singapore, there is no ruling that the majority of residents must agree to the prospective dog owner keeping a dog as in some countries. Big breeds like the Golden Retriever, German Shepherd and the Rhodesian Ridgeback have been seen in condos.

Some Singaporean pre-teen and teenagers, usually females, just scream hysterically in fear when they see a large dog approaching them.  With the veterinary authority and other organisations educating school children on responsible dog ownership, there should be less fear now.

8.  Genetic and congenital diseases. I believe there are very few breeders in Singapore who can assure in writing that the puppies have been bred from parents who are free from hip and elbow dysplasia or eye defects causing blindness later. This certification is available for some breeds imported from the U.S or Germany.  There are also no laboratory facilities in Singapore able to screen the blood of the new born puppy for genetic, congenital and metabolic diseases.

The shop owner may find it prudent to mention in the puppy purchase contract that the puppy's parents have not been certified from genetic disease like hip dysplasia.

9. Temperament.

9.1 Interaction with other puppies and people.

Four male Silkie Terriers just want to have fun.  Well fed, they look plump and active and look forward to meeting people to play. They have socialised well with other puppies and will make great pets.

Nov 21 03. Silkie terrier puppies for sale.  9668-6468
Of course, the long coat means that you have to pay or spend time grooming.

9.2  Dominance and submissiveness

The alpha puppy is the leader of the pack of dogs. It can be a male or female.  Before you purchase, observe the puppies (if there are more than one) inside a new area, away from their kennels. 

9.2.1  Confinement test. If possible, confine the puppies inside a small box. Generally, you will see 3 types of behaviour.  A dominant puppy will come to you without being called and try to bite your shoe laces.  It may even growl at you when you take something from its mouth or attempt to open its mouth. It may grow up to bite people unless you know how to discipline it at the young age. 

Singapore cocker spaniels for sale  tel 9668-6468
The two male Cocker Spaniels are on the left. The puppy second from left is likely to be the alpha male and a leader as he is the first to move out of the box towards the photographer.  If he is not properly trained in obedience, he may bite the members quiet and introvert members of the family and small children.  

A submissive puppy will acknowledge that the prospective owner is the boss. It will not run towards you and may stay put. It may just be an independent puppy wanting to do its own thing later.  Use the eye-to-eye test.  This test is useful for  puppies around twelve weeks old, but not for younger puppies.  See paragraph 10.

The puppy who runs towards you wagging its tail without biting your shoes may be the type of puppy you want.

9.2.2 Eye-to-eye test
A black & white Chihuahua is not so popular with Singaporean Chinese dog buyers.
On a table looking at you.  
Put the puppy on a table outside its kennels.  Look at its eyes trying to make eye contact. This 12-week-old Chihuahua did not like to make eye-to-eye contact with the photographer who was a stranger.  It turned its head to the left or right or back when called. It would likely be a submissive puppy and good for a buyer who wants a quiet dog.

The puppy on its back looking at you.  Hold the puppy up with your left hand, turn it out its back with its belly facing you. If this is not possible, turn the puppy with its belly up, on a table. If it growls or dislike you doing this, it is likely to be a dominant dog.  

There are various good dog training books you can read. Generally, guard dog breeds tend to be aggressive and bark compared to some sporting breeds.

5-week-old Shih Tzu puppies. Weaned.
An aggressive puppy is usually but not always an extrovert pup. It needs more of your time to control its biting behaviour before it grows up into a dog feared by everybody at home.

Many biting dogs have not been properly trained when young and end up as unwanted fierce dogs being euthanased in animal shelters.    

Are you prepared to spend time in bringing the puppy out for exercise and training it to grow up to be a sociable happy dog?  You will need at least half an hour after work to train the puppy yourself as it is too early to send the young puppy for obedience training.

If you don't have time, buy a puppy that is not so extrovert or a breed like the Shih Tzu well known for liking people.
A happy Shih Tzu wagging its tail on seeing people makes it an attractive pet to most people.

10. Colour.
The colour and markings of the coat play a great part in whether the puppy is sold off fast or not.  
Brown Shih Tzu puppy 4 months old for sale, tel 9668-6468 
The colour not favoured by the Singaporean Chinese buyer is brown or black. The 4-month-old brown Shih Tzu has little white and cannot find a buyer easily. It is an ugly duckling as few prospective buyers will know that it will grow into an attractive adult dog.  The selling price will be much lower.

11. Buy one or two puppies?

Well cared for puppies. The Cavalier King Charles puppies just fall asleep at Toa Payoh Vets when they came for vaccination.

If you buy two puppies, be prepared to spend more time supervising their toilet training. If you find it hard to separate them, you will have difficulty to toilet trained them. One puppy may not wish to dirty its den but the other one just does not know what to do and soon, both puppies are dirtied every day.

12.  Unwanted dogs. Train your puppy or
go for obedience class when the puppy is young. Biting is a main reason for giving up the dog to the animal shelter or euthanasia. Around 1,000 unwanted and abandoned dogs are given to the animal shelter every month.  The vast majority are put to sleep.  Your puppy will live from 10 - 18 years of age and choosing the right one will be most important for you and the puppy.

2-month-old White Boxer for sale, Singapore $2,600
13. Your personality and life style now and in the future.  Many parents buy a puppy for their small children and end up taking care of the dog. Children less than 9 years old may not be capable of being fully responsible for the new puppy.  As children grow up, they may lose interest in the dog.

As the animal shelters usually receive too many unwanted dogs and do not have sufficient kennel spaces or parties interested in adopting them, most of the dogs are put to sleep.

Therefore, buy a puppy which suits the personality and life style of the principal care giver and this may be the wife or an adult female member of the family.  This will usually ensure that the puppy will live longer as it will not be neglected or abandoned and given to animal shelters.

As a picture tells a thousand words, the puppies in this webpage are used to elaborate on how to select a puppy. Without pictures, the article can make a reader fall asleep!

The puppies have been advertised by Singapore breeders and pet shops by Asiahomes Internet, an advertising agency. They are available for sale by the advertisers as at Nov 21 2003.  Dr Sing who is the author of this article, nor Toa Payoh Vets sell puppies or have puppies for sale. All queries will be referred to the advertisers.

Extracts from the Book:
How Your Puppy Can Liver Longer? Apartment Puppies in Singapore:
Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS.

Buyers interested in this book, email to

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©Asia USA Realty (S) Pte Ltd, 26 Jan 2004.  Focus:  Affordable homes for expats.

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