A couple of weeks ago, residents in Beijing were puzzled to discover an unusual leaflet posted under their doors. The two-page notice asked that all dogs be registered, and their owners pay a fee of 600 yuan (HK$564). The registration was not a huge surprise; the city is notorious for its strict controls - generally speaking - on the private lives of its residents. It is also clear that the government is concerned about pet dogs. To outsiders, the demand for 'two, one-inch colour photos of your dog' may seem somewhat out of the ordinary. But this is not the case in a city where it is normal to have one's credentials constantly examined. The real shock was the list of 41 breeds which have been banned from Beijing. Admittedly, some were not a surprise. Big dogs (the sheet specifies those over 35cm tall) are the main targets; German Shepherds and St Bernards, along with Pyrenean mountain dogs, Irish Wolfhounds, Akitas and Great Danes. Aggressive breeds, including Rottweilers, Tibetan Mastiffs, Dobermanns, and Bull Terriers, are also on the list. But another 28 breeds were targeted - ones that you would not ordinarily associate with being a nuisance because of noise, their aggressive nature, or size. Collies, for example (the list specifies both the bearded and Scottish varieties), which are not seen as excessively large or terribly dangerous, are a no-no. Similarly, both the regular and Hungarian breeds of vizslas - a kind of floppy hunting dog with a goofy smile - are banned. And why would the licensing bureau be concerned about Bedlington Terriers? I have never heard a bad word spoken about them. Since there does not appear to be a clear pattern, the list seems arbitrary. Questions need to be asked. How did the government come up with the list? Who decided which breeds to include and which to leave out, and why? Perhaps this was merely a case of a group of bureaucrats sitting in a room and throwing out names until a consensus was reached. What happens if the dog you own is on the list? Will it just be shipped out of the capital, or put down? It is hard to imagine a Beijing municipal worker demanding to enter a local residence to drag away the family Dalmatian. Beijing dog owners are concerned.