This year, Chinese New Year begins on February 16 and falls under the Chinese zodiac sign of the Dog. So I would like to share my canine experiences and wish list.

Dogs I’ve Loved Before

These are the dogs that lived with me and with whom I shared many good experiences. Most of them passed away from old age.

Shih Tzu

Care Level: Moderate

Description: Also known as the ‘Little Lion’, it is one of the 14 oldest dog breeds. It is a lover, not a hunter. It is an affectionate, happy, outgoing house dog which loves nothing more than to follow the people they consider theirs from room to room. My tricolor Shih Tzu was named Teddy.

Grooming: Since their coat fur is relatively long, Shih Tzus are considered high maintenance in terms of grooming, as they should be groomed once a week.


Care Level: Easy

Description: Originally bred as medium sized guard dogs, now, they are usually found as loving family companions. These dogs are full of energy and need regular exercise. They also tend to drool and snore loudly when asleep, but that’s all part of their roguish charm.

Grooming: Boxers are very easy to groom as they have short fur. However, they still need to be brushed for at least 5 minutes a day to get stray fur out.

Mini Pinscher

Care Level: Moderate

Description: The Mini Pinscher Doberman has a reputation for being sinister and sharp (sometimes they bark at almost anything). Some owners “debark” them for this reason—something with which I greatly disagree. Mini Pinschers are said to be the most loyal and loving of dog companions. This type of dog is very stable and friendly to its owners.

Grooming: This dog requires very minimal grooming as it has short fur, although they still need an occasional brushing for maintenance purposes.

German Shepherd

Care Level: Slightly Difficult

Description: Said to be one of America’s most popular dog breeds, this is a very intelligent working dog. Generally, it excels at almost anything it is trained to do, whether it be assistance for the handicapped, police and military service, herding, search and rescue, drug detection, competitive obedience and, finally, as a faithful companion. The German Shepherd is your all-around companion.

Grooming: Said to be one of America’s most popular dog breeds, this is a very intelligent working dog. Generally, it excels at almost anything it is trained to do, whether it be assistance for the handicapped, police and military service, herding, search and rescue, drug detection, competitive obedience and, finally, as a faithful companion. The German Shepherd is your all-around companion.

Belgian Malinois

Care Level: Slightly Difficult

Description: Also originally bred as herding dogs, they also work great as police dogs, protection dogs, and family companions. In the hands of an experienced dog person, they are intense, intelligent, and athletic companions. This dog is confident and protective in many situations. Under Philippine weather conditions, the Belgian Malinois has overtaken the popularity of German Shepherds for police work and protection.

Grooming: The short, smooth coat of the Malinois is easy to groom. Brush them weekly with a firm bristled brush, and bathe only when necessary. Malinois shed all year round.


Care Level: Slightly Difficult

Description: This breed was first developed during the late 19th century as a guard dog. It’s believed to be a mixture of many dog breeds, including the Rottweiler, Black and Tan Terrier, and German Pinscher. With its sleek coat, athletic build, and characteristic cropped ears and docked tail, it looks like an aristocrat. It is a highly energetic and intelligent dog, suited for police and military work, canine sports, and as a family guardian and companion. Unfortunately, I never encountered Dobermans in the Philippines that were used for police work or as protection dogs.

Grooming: This is a clean dog, with minimal doggie odor. Don’t be fooled by its coat length—the short coat does shed. Weekly brushing with a grooming mitt or rubber curry is sufficient; frequent bathing isn’t necessary.

My Current Dog Breeds

These are my canine friends who guard my office as well as my home. They bring joy to my office staff, family members, and household companions.


Care Level: Easy

Description: The Bullmastiff dog breed is a firm and fearless family guardian. While standoffish toward strangers, it’s got a soft spot for its loved ones. It has a short, easy-care coat, and drools a lot.

Grooming: The Bullmastiff coat is short and dense, easy to keep clean and shiny with a quick daily brushing using a rubber curry. Bathe only as needed.

English Bulldog

Care Level: Difficult Due to Health Issues

Description:  Bulldogs were originally used to drive cattle to market and to compete in a bloody sport called bullbaiting. Today, they’re gentle companions who love kids. A brief walk and a nap on the sofa is just this dog breed’s speed.

Grooming: Brush the Bulldog’s smooth, fine, short-haired coat once a week with a firm bristle brush. Wipe its face with a damp cloth every day, taking care to clean inside the wrinkles. Be sure to dry the inside of the wrinkles completely after they’re washed.


Care Level: Easy

DESCRIPTION The Chihuahua dog breed’s charms include its small size, outsized personality, and variety in coat types and colors. It loves nothing more than being with its people and requires a minimum of grooming and exercise. One of the best dog companions, for me.

Grooming: Brush the Chihuahua weekly with a rubber grooming mitt or a brush with short, natural bristles for a shorthaired Chihuahua and a pin brush for a long-haired Chihuahua.

My Wish List of Dog Breeds

This is the list of breeds which I am determined to acquire as soon as time, money, and space permits. My reviews here are based on reading and inquiring from friends who are taking care of them as well as veterinarian friends. I got great information from sellers in Tiendesitas dog stores. I often visit the place since it is just beside the church I go for Sunday service.

French Bulldog

Care Level: Easy

Description: The French Bulldog has enjoyed a long history as a companion dog. Created in England to be a miniature Bulldog, I admire the fawn color and can’t wait to have one.

Grooming: The coat of the French Bulldog is short, smooth, shiny, and fine. The skin is loose and wrinkled. They are average shedders. French Bulldogs are easy to groom and need only an occasional brushing to keep their coats healthy.


Care Level: Moderate

Description: The foxy-faced dog, considered “the little dog who thinks it can,” is compact, active, and capable of competing in agility and obedience trials, or simply being a family friend. Honestly, this breed is the on the wish list of my wife Suzie and because of her, I am also excited to have one.

Grooming: To keep hair off your clothes and furniture, brush and comb your Pom at least twice weekly with a wire slicker brush and metal comb. This distributes the skin’s natural oils, keeps the coat and skin healthy, and prevent mats or tangles. Be sure you brush and comb all the way down to the skin to remove all the shedding undercoat.


Care Level: Relatively Easy

Description: The Labrador Retriever was bred to be both a friendly companion and a useful working dog breed. Historically, it earned its keep as a fisherman’s helper: hauling nets, fetching ropes, and retrieving fish from the chilly North Atlantic. Today’s Labrador Retriever is as good-natured and hardworking as its ancestors, and it’s America’s most popular breed. These days, the Lab works as a sniffing dog, renders assistance dog to the handicapped in other countries, is a show competitor, and serves as a search and rescue dog, among other canine jobs. My wife and I admire this Labrador at church; it walks around with its security handler pleasantly at the same time, we can feel the Labrador’s protective instinct. One of my top breeds to acquire soon.

Grooming: The sleek and easy-care Lab coat has two layers: a short, thick, straight top coat, and a soft, weather-resistant undercoat. Brush the Labrador once or twice a week.

Great Dane

Care Level: Moderate

Description: The Great Dane is truly a great dog breed; large and noble, it is commonly referred to as a gentle giant or as the “Apollo of dogs.” Apollo is the Greek god of the sun, the brightest fixture in the sky. The Great Dane certainly holds stature in the dog world, but though it looks terribly imposing, it’s one of the best-natured dogs around. For all its size, a Great Dane is a sweet, affectionate pet. It loves to play and is gentle with children. Who doesn’t know its most famous representative, cartoon character Scooby Doo?

Grooming: It sheds a lot, but its coat is easy to keep in top condition with regular brushing. Regular brushing keeps your Great Dane’s coat healthy and clean, and cuts down on the number of baths it needs.


Care Level: Easy

Description: Small, compact, and hardy, Beagles are active companions for kids and adults alike. Canines in this dog breed are merry and fun loving, but being hounds, they can also be stubborn and require patient, creative training techniques. Snoopy best reminds us of a beagle.

Grooming: They should be brushed with a medium-bristle brush or a hound glove (a rubber mitt with nubs on the palm area) at least once a week to loosen and remove dead hair and encourage new hair growth. Beagles shed, but because their hair is short, it isn’t too noticeable.


Care Level: Easy

Description: One of my classics to acquire. Dachshunds are scent hound dogs who were bred to hunt badgers and other tunneling animals, rabbits, and foxes. Commonly called the “hotdog dog,” I got interested in the breed when I saw one owned by my friend Johnny Filart. It has a serious yet happy personality.

Grooming: Dachshunds are a low-maintenance breed. For the longer haired ones, they require daily brushing to keep the tangles away.

Jack Russell

Care Level: Difficult

Description: The Jack Russell Terrier is a lively, independent, and clever little dog. It’s charming and affectionate, but also a handful to train and manage. For experienced dog owners only! It’s the jogging partner of Manny Pacquiao while he trains for his boxing fights.

Grooming: It comes in two coat types: smooth and broken. Both types have a double coat with a coarse texture. The broken coat is slightly longer with just a hint of eyebrows and a beard. Some Jacks have what’s called a “rough” coat, which is longer than a broken coat. Whatever its type, the coat is never curly or wavy. Both coat types need only weekly brushing to remove dead and loose hair. If you brush your Jack faithfully, it should rarely need a bath.


Care Level: Easy

Description: I became interested in this breed mainly due to the learning experiences of my friends with Rottweilers. Almost all of them praise the breed. I just want to experience it too.

Grooming: Brush them weekly with a firm bristle brush to remove dead hair and distribute skin oils. It’ll shed twice a year, and you’ll probably want to brush more frequently during that time to keep the loose hair under control.

My Maybe Dog Breed List

They are dogs that I am considering acquiring, but I need to think twice because of some considerations such as size, maintenance, and price.


Care Level: Difficult

Description: Bred for centuries to be the cherished companions of the imperial family of China. My relatives used to have Pekingese and my encounters with them were fulfilling. My main concern is its long coat for its maintenance.

Grooming: Brush their coats weekly with a small bristle brush, curry brush, or shedding comb. Use a metal comb on the feathering and fringing on the legs, ears, and tail. These areas tangle easily, so comb them daily.


Care Level: Moderate

DescriptioN: Pugs often are described as “a lot of dog in a small space.” These sturdy, compact dogs are a part of the American Kennel Club’s Toy group, and are known as the clowns of the canine world because they have a great sense of humor and like to show off. Its looks are nice, mainly because I love flat nose dogs, yet I want the compact and frame size of a French bulldog.

Grooming: Brush their coats weekly with a small bristle brush, curry brush, or shedding comb. Use a metal comb on the feathering and fringing on the legs, ears, and tail. These areas tangle easily, so comb them daily.


Care Level: Moderate

Description: Best known as the star of Disney’s 101 Dalmatians, this sleek and athletic dog breed has a history that goes back several hundred years. It started out as a coach dog but has also served in many other capacities, including hunter, firehouse dog, and circus performer. When I was in my teenage years, I dreamed of having one but as I have experience keeping Doberman dogs, the Dalmatian seemed to lack the proud stance a Doberman acquires. The uniqueness of the color pattern of Dalmatians still interest me in keeping one.

Grooming:  Be aware that they shed year-round. Once or twice a week brushing is recommended


Care Level: Slightly Difficult

Description: First time I saw this dog with dog lover Jake Gao, I was in awe. During my recent trip to Europe, it was the second time I saw the Samoyed and I still couldn’t take my eyes of it. Such a beautiful dog. My minor concerns in case I have one is maintaining its white color and thick fur. My major concern is its price.

Grooming: Daily brushing is necessary when the coat is shedding; once or twice a week when it’s not. Bathing the Samoyed is a time commitment too, as thoroughly soaking the coat, rinsing out the shampoo, and letting it dry completely is no quick process.


Care Level: Easy

Description: This dog breed is gentle and fearless. The Maltese greets everyone as a friend. Its glamorous white coat gives it a look of haughty nobility, but looks can be deceiving. This is a sprightly, vigorous dog which excels not only as a companion but also as a therapy dog and competitor in dog sports that test agility, obedience, rally, and tracking. But most of all, it loves to be with its people. I call the Maltese a “small white Shih Tzu.” Such a cute dog.

Grooming: Maltese don’t have the undercoat typical of many breeds and don’t shed much. On the down side, Maltese coats mat easily and become dirty. In addition, Maltese are prone to unsightly tear stains on their faces. Gently brush and comb the coat of your Maltese daily.

Boston Terrier

Care Level: Easy

Description: Boston Terriers are gentle, affectionate companions with tuxedo-like markings that earned them the nickname “American Gentleman.” For me they look like bats in an adorable way. Just like the pug, I would like to have the body frame of a French bulldog on a Boston terrier.

Grooming: Boston Terriers are easy to groom. Brush them weekly with a firm bristle brush and bathe them with a dry, powder shampoo and a damp cloth, or give them an occasional bath when necessary.


This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s February 2018 issue.