Dog Owner's Guide

Places to get your dog in Singapore

Animal Shelters

Animal shelters where you can adopt a dog from:

Adoption fees charged by shelters typically cover the cost of initial care and veterinary procedures. For example, the SPCA adoption fee covers mandatory sterilisation, vaccinations, micro-chipping and de-worming. Adopting a dog from a shelter is cheaper than buying from a pet shop. More importantly, by adopting, you are saving two lives at the same time – you are giving a second chance at life to an abandoned animal, and another dog will now be able to stay at the shelter. At times, purebreds are available at shelters for adoptions but generally most are of no specific breeds.

Registered specialty breeders

These are knowledgeable home breeders of specific breeds of dogs. Registered breeders are supposed to be ethical in their breeding practices, maintaining high standards of breed conformity and have entered their dogs in championship dog shows. Each breeder usually specialises in one or two specific breeds only. These breeders usually will find out your needs in obtaining a dog, talk to you to assess your knowledge of dog care and to find out if your living environment is suitable. It is also advisable for you to visit their home where the breeding pair resides. They will usually quote you a price for a dog (usually a puppy). They will also normally follow up with you after you take home the dog to check if everything is going smoothly. If your breeder cannot prove to you that his or her dog has competed in dog shows, or that he or she seems like just a run-of-the-mill amateur home breeder, or someone who is just waiting for you to part with your wallet, then do not proceed further.

The best place to find reputable registered dog breeders is at a dog show. Most dog shows these days have "ambassadors" stationed at a counter to help the uninitiated better understand about breeds and showing. Talk to these ambassadors to find out more. Breeders who advertise in the newspapers may not be genuine ethical registered breeders. Reputable registered dog breeders also do not normally breed dogs for sale at pet shops.

Ads from pet owners

Dog owners who have mated their dogs produce litters of puppies and then try to sell them away by advertising in online or print classifieds, or post notices on online forums or notice boards at supermarkets or condomium clubhouses, etc. Sometimes, these pet owners may advertise using the word "adoption" but upon further negotiation, it turns out more to be an outright sale. These pet owners as it seems have not sterilised their dogs and have even allowed them to mate. Do not encourage such irresponsible behaviour by buying puppies from them. The only exception whereby you can consider buying a puppy is when the pet owners have sterilised the breeding pair after the litter was born in order to prevent future accidental mating. You may request to view the certificate of sterilisation in such cases.

Some other dog owners, due to their personal circumstances are selling their adult dogs, while some others are selling or giving away dogs that they have found. It is advisable to meet up with the dog owner at the place where the dog resides to see and interact with the dog before making any decision.

Action for Singapore Dogs (ASD) runs a public adoption board on their website where you can browse lots of dogs that are genuinely available for adoptions.

Pet farms

Pet farms are usually large establishments in one of the rural (or rather, sub-urban) areas such as Pasir Ris Farmway, Lim Chu Kang or Kranji. Generally, they consist of two portions: a storefront and a larger unseen section where breeding animals are kept, although a few do not breed in-house but import the animals.

Store fronts are usually very presentable with display kennels of different breeds of dogs and dogs for sale, as well as sales staff to assist if you need help. Prices are generally not cheap (they exist for profit-making just like any business) and the breed quality depends very much on how the breeding parents are chosen and how well they are cared for behind the scenes.

It has been reported by certain animal welfare organisations that at certain pet farms, unscrupulous breeding occurs behind the scenes and the dogs that are used for breeding may be kept in appalling conditions, while they churn out litter after litter not unlike a production line. If you really have to buy from a pet farm, please request to view the kennels of the parent dogs used for breeding if you feel the need to. If you are not allowed to view them, no matter what reason is given, it is wise to think twice (or thrice) before buying from them. If the animal is claimed to be imported, do ask to see the import documents and overseas breed certification, and make sure they are genuine. Check with the Singapore Kennel Club (SKC) and search online for characteristics and pictures of the breed you are intending to buy before actually buying them from pet farms so that you are better able to ascertain the breed quality. Some of these pet farms may even supply pets to middlemen and/or to your friendly neighbourhood pet store, which makes it even harder for you to know whether the pet you are buying is from an ethical source or not.

After all that have been said, good pet farms operating on ethical principles do exist, but they are not common. Over the years, a perception has somehow arisen that being ethical and operating a pet farm just doesn't mix.

Pet shops

Not all pet shops sell pets. Only some display pets for sale, while some others feel it is not ethical to sell pets. Just like pet farms, pet shops sell pets to make a profit like any other business. Therefore, prices are not cheap, breed quality and pet health also needs to be carefully checked. Some pet shops have good hygiene and healthy pets for sale, while some other pet shops may not have hygienic display kennels. Let your common sense help you make the judgment. Most pets in pet shops are obtained from either local unregistered breeders (a.k.a. pet farms) or overseas breeders. Pet shops usually would not reveal the pet farm or unregistered breeder that the pet came from. Some animal welfare advocates advise against buying pets from a pet shop or a pet farm as it perpetuates the cycle of commercial and unethical breeding of pets, while many other pets are abandoned or put down.

If you do shop for pets in a pet stop, check all the pet kennels on display. If a skin problem can be spotted on a single dog, or even if one kennel is unclean, it is not wise to buy from the pet shop as there is a chance that communicable diseases can be transmitted within animals in the same pet shop. However, there are many other diseases that can be contracted by your new pet before the sale, while appearing without any sign or symptom during the purchase. If you do buy from a pet shop and your new pet falls ill, seek veterinary advice immediately to ensure the disease is contracted before the sale, and then try to claim veterinary fees from the pet shop. Do not ever be persuaded into an exchange for another pet.

There are definitely pet shops out there selling pets ethically and honestly, in a clean environment. However, the difficulty is in finding them, as they are not common.