July 4, 2016 – No, they are not a new species: the three Panda Chow Chows that hit global news headlines recently are pure bred white Chow Chows dyed to look like a cross between a Giant Panda and a dog. Allegations of animal cruelty led to a government investigation.
Last week, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) of Singapore stated in an official report that the health and welfare of the Panda Chow Chow dogs of Singapore had not in any way been compromised and that no animal cruelty has been committed with regards to the dyeing of the fur of the dogs to look like Pandas. The AVA investigation came after an online hate campaign was launched against the dogs’ owner Meng Jiang. Now vindicated, she spoke out to Pet News Today.
TuDou, YüMi and DouDou are big babies. TuDou, which means ‘potato’ is the boy of the family and turns one this Thursday, 7 July. Sisters YüMi (sweetcorn) and DouDou (bean), turn one on 29 July. The lazy but good-natured Chow-Chows have no idea how famous they have become in their short lives. A government investigation, international media reports and winning a sponsorship contract with a Canadian gourmet pet food company mean nothing to them – they just like playing with their teddies, chew toys and chasing balls and each other.
After completing her master’s degree at Imperial College London, Meng, 27, and her husband migrated to Singapore last year.
“We are both dog lovers and had dogs when we were children. We both wanted dogs and talked about this as something we would do when we settled in Singapore. We fell in love with photos of cute Chows Chows that had been dyed to look like Pandas online. Even without looking like a panda, white Chow Chows were just so adorable too. We researched the Chow Chow breed and discovered that it is quite rare to get pure bred white Chow Chows. We eventually found a reputable breeder and went to see some of their puppies. We fell in love instantly and ordered three from the breeder upfront for their next litter. We did this in February 2015 before we fully moved to Singapore.
“We had no real concrete plans to dye them like pandas. The reality is when you order white Chow Chows from the breeders you never know for sure if you are actually going to get them as white. This is because it’s rare and most Chow Chows come in red or black. We ordered our Chows because we wanted three white Chows Chows and because we are dog lovers ﬁrst and foremost. As they grew we realised that they actually were starting to look really like pandas.”
YuMi was dyed first as a test. The white colour on the Panda Chow Chows is their natural coat colour and the black areas are dyed. The dye used is professional dog hair dye and is 100% organic, non-toxic and safe for dogs, Meng explained. The ingredients used in the dye consists of puriﬁed water and food dye colourants. All ingredients are approved by the FDA, FD&C and the Personal Care Products Council (formally known as the CTFA). A patch test is always done before applying the dye.
“I take them to the groomers about once every 10 days speciﬁcally to be washed and for their hair to be trimmed and general hygiene like eye checks, nails trimmed ears cleaned teeth cleaning. Due to their breeding they really love it. Chow Chows love playing in water and love being clean, so put the two together and going to the groomers is a really a fun event for them. They really enjoy being washed and playing with the water in the bath. They also love being pampered and massaged by the groomer. Approximately every six weeks or every 4th visit to the groomer, they get their natural colourant topped up up after they have been washed, blow dried and massaged.
“The Panda Chow Chows eat two meals a day, one in the morning and one at night. I feed them a mixture of dog kibbles and organic foods. The organic foods includes: cheese, carrots,boiled eggs, beef, lamb, ﬁsh, soy milk, apples, yogurt, rice etc. I always steam the vegetables and meats for them. I try to feed them a mixture of diﬀerent whole foods so they get all the nutrients that growing puppies require. It also gives them a variety in taste so they are always looking forward to their meals. People are very jealous of their diet. They eat as well, if not better, than a lot of humans,” Meng said. They also get walked twice a day; once in the morning and once in the evening around sunset at the beach when the Singapore heat has subsided.
“TuDou, YüMi and DouDou have really brought so much joy to our family. My husband and I are both dog lovers and the three of them have completely changed our lives. Their sweet and innocent faces and playful personalities just bring so much happiness to our lives. They are the most well-natured and loving animals and we love them. It really is like having three little babies to look after,” Meng said.
“Tudou’s favourite pastime is staring at the elevator and waiting for visitors, and he loves chewing on smelly shoes. YüMi loves chasing cleaning mops, and jumping on and oﬀ the living room sofa. Doudou is the most playful one and always likes to wake TuDou and YüMi up from naps to play chase and run around in circles in the living room and dinning room.”
What does she say to those who claim dyeing the dogs is animal abuse?
“There are a minority of moral crusaders who have posted on social media claiming that what we are doing is cruel and somehow immoral. However, all of their arguments are rooted in falsehoods and sensationalist claims,” Meng said.
“Their main objection seems to be that dying the dogs is cruel. It is 100% not cruel.
“When any of these self-proclaimed ‘dog lovers’ take their dogs to get neutered they are literally rubbishing their own argument. Having a dog neutered is not natural and it physically alters, and essentially disables, the dog forever. But according to these people on their moral crusade it is totally ok for them to pay a person to remove their dogs’ reproductive organs if that person wears a white lab coat, calls themselves a vet and says its ‘beneﬁcial’ or ‘good’! Totally hypocritical.
“Being cruel to a dog is locking it up all day so it gets no exercise, being cruel to a dog is starving a dog to death, being cruel to a dog is not cleaning up after it and letting it live in its own ﬁlth, being cruel to a dog is beating it, NOT dying your dog with 100% organic product.”
Photo: TuDou, YüMi and DouDou, courtesy of Meng Jiang.