Hanoi’s Doggy Dark Side

I’ve written in the past about the booming Hanoi dog scene and how many affluent Hanoians are really getting into non-Asian breeds. The ones I see most frequently are Siberian Huskies, Miniature Pinschers, Cocker Spaniels, Labradors, German Shepherds, Poodles, Bull dogs, Doberman Pinschers, and Dalmatians. Another two breeds which are very popular here are Pit Bulls and American Staffordshire Bull Terriers.  Sadly, I think many are used either for fighting or encouraging a macho image. Below are some pictures from an American Pit Bull Terrier club meeting in Lenin Park.


Many of the dogs meeting up were lovely happy looking little puppies – but some had clearly been in fights



IMG_6938IMG_7502Unfortunately, not all of them were sweet natured puppies as the above photo shows. Sadly, I have seen Pit Bulls several times on the back of motorcycles, bloodied and torn up, presumably coming back from a fight. Today I saw two massively muscular ones walking with a diminutive old lady, luckily both were muzzled.

I don’t know anything about the context of these fights, but it is sad both for the dogs themselves and the risk that they then pose when taken to public parks.

A few months ago I took Tala to our closest park, the small Lenin Park, and upon entering we spotted a Pit Bull about 50 metres away, off its leash. Almost as soon as we had seen the dog, it came straight for Tala at full pelt. I stood in front of her, as having a confident stance and uttering a firm ‘no’ usually keeps most would-be assailants at bay, but in this case it was completely futile as the dog rushed past and then came around to attack from behind. The whole incident was probably over in seconds, although it felt much longer with Tala’s high pitched squealing and my inability to remove the mauling dog from Tala frustratingly trapped in place by her leash. By the time the owner arrived and had removed him we were both pretty shaken – Tala with three puncture wounds and bruising all over her torso (which became visible in the following days) and me with scrapped knees from scrambling around trying to separate them. We walked away quickly without even thinking to berate the owner. I think we were very lucky that her injuries weren’t worse.

Luckily Tala did not seem to dwell on what happened and we returned to the park a few days later with Tala trotting trepidly. The next weekend we bumped into a lovely Pit Bull puppy (not exactly sure which type as it seems very hard to tell the difference between the American Staffies and American Pit Bulls) who Tala happily played with for half an hour tumbling around.


Aloof at first to the puppy’s advances….

He was very sweet

He was very sweet and had beautiful colouring


Soon they were playing like old friends


Happily tired out!

Smiling Tala – happily tired out!

I spoke in broken English to his owner who inspected Tala’s bite marks and shook his head in disbelief re-iterating that his dog would definitely not be used for fighting. Although I hate to make assumptions on the basis of breed (as the puppy above proves there are many great Pit Bulls with caring owners), we will now be more cautious around Pit Bulls. The attack on Tala was completely unprovoked – it is simply not normal for a male dog to run straight at a female and attack, unless of course that dog had been trained to fight, apparently the case in this instance. I hope dog owners so inclined learn at least not to let them off the leash in parks!