Get to know the Philippine ‘witch dog’, the breed we can hopefully call our own

Image via Tom Asmus | Facebook
  • Bukidnon is a home to the Philippine tiger dogs also known as aso ng gubat by locals 
  • These canines, called witch dog by the Visayans, have characteristics unique to its breed like sharper claws that shed on its own regularly
  • A dog researcher is making efforts for this dog to be recognized by having its DNA studied to establish its breed

In the jungles of Bukidnon, there is a breed of dogs existing for a while known for their unique traits.

Image via Tom Asmus | Facebook

These dogs don’t breed with other dogs. With their jungle-like behavior such as climbing trees and hunting for snakes, raising them at home would be difficult.

Believed to have existed for 36,000 years, Visayans call them the Philippine witch dog, also known as tiger dog and aso ng gubat by locals. In Luzon it is called bird catcher. They have a noticeable brindle coat— dark-brown with black stripes.

Philippine dog researcher, Tom Asmus, has a few of these canines and admitted it is quite a challenge to keep them at home.

In one of his videos, we can see how easily they escape a 6 feet high nipa paneling by using their sharp claws. These claws regularly shed off on their own even without trimming unlike most dog breeds in the world where cutting of nails is necessary as part of grooming.

left – The Philippine witch dog claws and right – the trimmed nails of other dogs | Image via Tom Asmus | Facebook

Aside from having sharper claws, this breed has genitals less than half the diameter of most domestic dogs, so it usually only mates with its kind. Additionally , they have double-sealing anus, very high prey drive, black lips, black gums and roof of the mouth and tongue spotting.

In the hopes to assemble the dog genome, Mr. Tom submitted a DNA from two of his aso ng gubat to the World Canine Genome Project. He already has the dogs’ genotype data waiting to be analyzed by a canine geneticist to establish that this is a purebred species of canine.

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Aspins o asong Pinoy are a mixed-breed domesticated dog native in the Philippines. There are no known specific ancestors identified for this breed. If the witch dog’s DNA indicates it is a purebred type, finally we would have a breed we can call our own. We are with Sir Tom Asmus in this endeavor.

Image via Mommyjoyce FB