Meet The Breeds: Singapore Special

Meet The Breeds: Singapore Special

Nov 23, 2021
16 min

According to estimates done by some studies, there are about one billion dogs in the world. Of the one billion dogs, 250 million are of known species and have owners, which leaves 750 million roaming the streets as strays.

These strays continue to mix and procreate, producing offspring that are increasingly different from their parents, resulting in new breeds of dogs one cannot identify. These breeds go by different names, including mixed breed dog, mutt, and mongrel. Here in Singapore, though, we call them the Singapore Special.

Origin And History Of Singapore Special

The Singapore Special isn’t necessarily a breed of dog: it is more of a type of dog. The Singapore Special refers to a dog that has been bred in the streets: not on purpose or intentionally, but simply by dog breeds mixing up by themselves, on the streets. So, the Singapore Special is a dog that is bred on the streets, a product of generations of varieties of different breeds of dogs.

The Singapore Special could typically be said to be short-haired, medium to large sized, black-muzzled, has pointy ears, brown fur, and on the skinny side. This description has evolved, however, because you can get a Singapore Special that is the size of a Chihuahua, not necessary medium to large sized. Most of these dogs’ ancestors started out as guard dogs for construction sites and factories.

The dogs were left to their own devices when these buildings were completed, the construction business moved to another site, or these factories closed down. Some of these dogs are pets that have been abandoned by their owners, for one reason or the other.

Now, these dogs are strays and are constantly being rescued by animal welfare organizations and volunteer groups, or culled, which is generally ineffective in reducing the stray dog population.

Physical Characteristics of the Singapore Special

The physical characteristics of a Singapore Special cannot be pinned down to one specific description. The Singapore Special is a mixed breed dog, so the physical traits could be those obtained from either of its parents.

As such, you could get dogs that have brown coats, short hair, black muzzles, skinny, big, medium, small, have pointy ears etc. A Singapore Special has different physical characteristics, depending on the type of dog you want. There are roughly three types of mixed breeds or the Singapore Special, and they can be identified by their physical descriptions, such as: Mixes, Pariah Dog and Functional Breed.


These are dogs that show the traits of two or more breeds. This means that their ancestors may be purebred or they may have come from a long line of mixed breeds. Since these dogs look most like their ancestors, they are named after the breed they resemble, such as a poodle mix, a lab mix, or a collie-shepherd.

Pariah Dog

These are dogs that are the product of non-selective breeding which has happened over many generations. These dogs are usually yellow to light-brown and are of medium height and weight.

Functional Breed 

These are dogs whose ancestors are not purebred, but they themselves have been purposely bred because of how they perform in certain tasks, such as the Eurohound, the Pointer-Greyhound mix termed the Greyster, and the Alaskan Husky.

Personality And Temperament Of a Singapore Special

The Singapore Special is a dog that you can get when you visit dog shelters. Since they have been rescued off the streets, they might have trust issues, and may also have personality traits that are genetic. Before you get one, make thorough inquiries at the dog shelter. If you settle on a dog that you want to adopt, take your children to the adoption shelter so that the dog can get familiar with them. Singapore Specials can be house trained, but they need a lot of patience and time. They may get attached to a particular person in the family, usually the person they perceive to be their “real” owner, and may be antagonistic towards children. Children should be supervised every time they are around the dog, and only left alone with the dogs when they are older, quieter, and calmer.

Where Can I Adopt a Singapore Special?

Here are a few shelters where you can adopt a Singapore Special of your own!

1. Action for Singapore Dogs (ASD)

ASD is a registered charity and has been operating since December 2000. With a strict no-kill policy, they aim to enhance the welfare of stray and abandoned in Singapore. You can browse through their vast selection of dogs of different ages and looks which are up for adoption on their website. You may also head down to their shelter at 80 Lim Chu Kang Lane 1, Singapore 718911.

2. Save Our Street Dogs (SoSD)

SoSD as its name suggests strives to advocate and educate about the killing our street canines, as well as adjustments to stray management policies and strays’ welfare. They also aim to Rescue & Rehome stray dogs and lastly, the Sterilization For Humane Population Control. At SoSD, you can adopt, foster and sponsor a dog! You can contact them on their website for more information. The SoSD shelter is located at 59 Sungei Tengah Road, Block T Unit 01-42, Singapore 699014.

3. Causes For Animals Singapore (CAS)

CAS is an animal welfare charity built to support local animal welfare needs. Their goal is to save lives of the homeless dogs in Singapore and unwanted companion animals. You can volunteer, donate, foster and adopt at CAS! They too have a list of dogs up for adoption on their website if you want to check it out. CAS is located at 59 Sungei Tungah Road, The Animal Lodge, Singapore 699014. However, do take note that CAS operates on a by-appointment basis so don’t forget to set up an appointment before your visit!

More About The Health of the Singapore Special

Due to its mixed heritage, the Singapore Special is a rather healthy dog. Studies show that mixed breed dogs such as the Singapore Special need less veterinary attention, and they are less susceptible to many diseases compared to an average purebred dog.

Also, the Singapore Special has a lower mortality rate, living longer on average as compared to purebreds, though some purebreds have longer lives than the Singapore Special.

Care and Grooming

The Singapore Special requires care and grooming, regardless of the length of the hair. Whether it is done professionally or by yourself, you need to groom them, giving them baths at least once every month and professional grooming at least four times a year.

Use warm water and dog shampoos and conditioners to bathe them, to remove the tangles in their fur. Rinse their fur thoroughly and towel them off or use a blow dryer. Trim the fur, especially armpit fur, hair on their paws and between their toes.

Do trim the facial hair on long-haired dogs to prevent hair falling into their eyes. A Singapore Special is a good dog to take into your care, but before that, you have to take note of certain things.

To summarise it all, a Singapore Special may have trust issues as it is a rescued dog. Talk to the adoption agency and ask questions about the dog’s personality traits and behaviour. The Singapore Special can  be house trained, but they require a lot of time and patience, and they need to know that they are loved and cared for.

Try to maintain a quiet and calm environment around the dogs, which means that children will have to be supervised around them, at least until the dog is used to its new home.

Grooming is important for their health, even though they are less likely to fall prey to disease as purebred dogs. Adopt a Singapore Special, allow one less dog on the streets, and one more best friend companion in your home.

Update: With the recent revision in the Project ADORE guidelines, more Singaporeans are now able to adopt our Singapore Specials! Hooray! Before buying a dog, do consider adopting one, you’ll be promised with a loyal and loving companion.

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