Dog keeping in Taiwan: Its contribution to the problem of free-roaming dogs

Yuying Hsu, Lucia Liu Severinghaus, James A. Serpell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Citations (Scopus)


This study conducted a quantitative ethnographic analysis of the influence of demographic factors and early experience (childhood exposure to dogs) on Taiwanese dog-keeping practices and behavior. A telephone survey of a randomly selected sample of 2,001 Taiwan residents determined their dog ownership histories, current patterns of dog ownership and disposal, and other dog-related activities. The results suggest that low rates of neutering, easy availability of low- or no-cost puppies, a tendency to allow owned dogs free access to the outdoors, unrealistic expectations of dog ownership, canine behavioral problems, and religious and cultural taboos against euthanasia and shelter relinquishment have contributed to the recent increase in the numbers of free-roaming dogs in Taiwan. Logistic regression analyses determined that a relatively small number of demographic and experiential variables predicted dog ownership and disposal patterns. The most important of these was childhood experience of living with household dogs. In light of these findings, future efforts to reduce the stray dog problem should focus on enforcing registration fees, particularly for unsterilized animals; low-cost neutering schemes; and educational programs designed to promote neutering, improve knowledge of canine behavior and behavior problems, and develop more realistic expectations and attitudes toward dog ownership. Marked Taiwanese resistance to canine euthanasia and shelter relinquishment suggests a need for alternative methods of managing the existing free-roaming dog population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • General Veterinary


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