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Irong Bisaya
Askal (aspin) dog Masinloc, Zambales.jpg
An aspin in Masinloc, Zambales.
Origin Philippines
Domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris)

Askals or aspins are mongrel dogs in the Philippines. The name "askal" is a Tagalog-derived portmanteau of asong kalye or "street dog" as these dogs are commonly seen wandering the streets. The Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) has suggested the alternative term aspin, short for asong Pinoy (Pinoy dog).[1] In Cebuano, mongrel dogs are called irong Bisaya, which literally means "Visayan dog" or "native dog" (note that the word "Bisaya" doesn't explicitly mean "Visayan" but it is a term pertaining people and animals native to a specific locale. For example, "manok bisaya" simply means a breed of chicken native to a locality), implying that these are not thought of as a mixed-breed dog so much as unbred mongrels with no purebred ancestors.[2] This is only from a Bisayan point of view since Irong Bisaya don't differ in character or physical appearance from the other Askals found in the entire Philippine archipelago. Physically, the dogs have "all shapes, configurations and sizes."[3] Females' height usually ranges from 12-16 inches while Males can be between 14-19 inches. The coat can be short haired or rough. Coat colors ranges from Black, Brown, Brindle, Gray, Cream and White. Spots are commonly found at the base of the tail and at ithe back in semi circular fashion. The snout sometimes appears black if the coat color is brown. The tail is usually held high and the ears can be floppy, semi-floppy or fully pointing upwards. The bone structure of a native Askal is on the medium range, never heavy like in Rottweilers. In an opinion piece for the Inquirer, Michael Tan writes that Askals are often more resilient and street-smart than purebreds.[4][unreliable source?] Jojo Isorena states that house-kept askals tend to be more shy or fearful because dogs that were easier to catch would be eaten.[3] PAWS reports that at one point, 98% of the calls it received about cruelty and abuse involved askals.[3]

Askals have been raised traditionally as guard dogs of the home and farm, They are naturally suspicious of strangers, independent and protective of family members. They are also good to very young children as companions due to their devotion to family members. They are usually trusted by their Filipino owners to roam around town markets or the neighborhood to socialize with other dogs which is why these dogs are seen by the Western people as stray dogs when, in fact, they are not. They are, however, expected to be home before dusk especially the males who would always be looking for females in heat. Female dogs usually stay home and are excellent watch dogs. Roaming around without their owner on their side, they are prone to dog catchers wanting a free pulutan (bar chow), especially male Askals . It is common to hear stories of a pet dog coming home with wounds sustained from a bolo or limping home. They are captured and eaten by the dog catchers for their meat, which is called azucena (asocena).[5] Aspins were allowed to compete in the First Philippine Dog Agility Championships in 2013.[6][7] At the 2015 Pet Express Doggie Run in Pasay City, aspins were the featured type of dog.[8] The dogs featured in an essay by Gilda Cordero-Fernando.[9] Aspins have been trained by the Coast Guard to identify bombs and drugs by scent.[10]

Notable aspins[edit]

  • Kabang, an aspin who lost a snout while saving two young children[5][11]
  • Dagul (won the Lewyt Award for Heroic Compassionate Animals, of the North Shore Animal League of America)[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Honasan, Alya (2007-07-22). "‘Hey, pare, let’s save the whales’". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Archived from the original on February 15, 2009. Retrieved 2007-10-25. 
  2. ^ "Irong ‘bisaya’ magamit sa bomb sniffing". GMA News.TV. Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  3. ^ a b c Alya B. Honasan (May 15, 2012). "In praise of the ‘asong Pinoy’". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 10 June 2015. 
  4. ^ Tan, Michael. "Askal". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Archived from the original on February 15, 2009. Retrieved 2007-04-27. 
  5. ^ a b Campbell, Jeff (2014-10-07). Daisy to the Rescue: True Stories of Daring Dogs, Paramedic Parrots, and Other Animal Heroes. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. pp. 87–. ISBN 978-1-936976-62-1. Retrieved 10 June 2015. 
  6. ^ Jose Santino S. Bunachita (May 25, 2013). "Aspin to compete in national dog show". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 10 June 2015. 
  7. ^ Jujemay G. Awit (May 26, 2013). "From 5 cities, canines come to bow, wow in Philippine Dog Agility Association". Sun.Star. Retrieved 10 June 2015. 
  8. ^ Melissa G. Bagamasbad (March 17, 2015). "Pet Express Doggie Run 2015: ‘Aspins’ shine and get second chances at life". Retrieved 10 June 2015. 
  9. ^ Ventura, Sylvia Mendez (2005). A Literary Journey with Gilda Cordero-Fernando. UP Press. pp. 94–. ISBN 978-971-542-483-7. Retrieved 10 June 2015. 
  10. ^ Non Alquitran (January 27, 2015). "20 bomb-sniffing dogs from US to secure APEC meet". The Philippine Star. Retrieved 10 June 2015. 
  11. ^ "PHL's hero dog Kabang soon to undergo $20,000 facial surgery in US". GMA News Online. 2012-10-09. Retrieved 18 August 2016. 
  12. ^ "FORMER FILIPINO STREET DOG WARNS 16 YEAR OLD MASTER OF IMPENDING AVALANCHE: Dagul's Bravery Merits North Shore Animal League America's Lewyt Award (September 2003)". Animal People. Archived from the original on 5 May 2004. Retrieved 9 March 2014.