As people in Taiwan prepare for Lunar New Year celebrations to welcome in the Year of the Dog, pet store owners are already feeling some new year's cheer.
Pet sellers estimate that on average more than NT$20 billion is spent on 1.6 million pet dogs and related products in Taiwan every year.
But with the“Year of the Dog”soon to arrive, pet store owners have seen their sales increase by at least 20 percent so far.
Dogs that are cute, small in size and easy to take care of remain the most popular animals in the pet market.
The Red Toy Poodle, the recipient of widespread media exposure in Taiwan because popular model Lin Chih-ling owns one, tops the list as the best-selling breed of dog, according to the Taipei Pet Commerce Association. It has remained the most requested breed since the second half of last year.
Rounding out the top 10 of best-selling breeds are Maltese, Dachshunds, Chihuahuas, Yorkshire Terriers, Pomeranians, Shiba Inus, Shi Tzus, Beagles, and Siberian Huskies, in that order.
Sales of Labradors, however, have declined, after the Japanese film Quill made them among the most popular breeds less than two years ago.
There is a downside to the higher sales, however: increased abandonment.
The Taipei-based China Pet Association urged people who plan on owning a pet dog to carefully consider the responsibilities involved and not simply buy a pet because it is fashionable.
Other animal protection activists urged people yesterday that adopting a stray dog was a better choice than spending money to buy one, especially since local residents tend to buy“flavor of the month”breeds before abandoning the dogs when the“fever”dies down.
Animal protection activists have estimated that up to 95 percent of all stray dogs in Taiwan are former pets, reflected, for example, by the rising number of stray Labradors in recent months after many were bought following the movie Quill.
To boost the adoption rate, the Animal Protection Association is planning to provide basic training to the abandoned dogs starting in February in order to make it easier for their future owners to take care of them.