Breed Tips

Top 5 Chinese Dog Breeds

China and dogs go way back to thousands of years. The land of magic and spirituality, China has had dogs in cultural stories and artworks since as long as 7000 years. Several skeletal remains from Chinese archaeological digs have been which helps estimating the presence of dogs on the Chinese land. Studies have shown that the genetic diversity of dogs is the highest in Asia which also tells us that the domestication of these species probably first started there. Ancient Chinese people have used dogs for hunting, herding, farm labor and even ritual sacrifices. For modern day Chinese people, dogs have become a major source of food along with pigs. So basically, there are two extremes when it comes to the people of China regarding dogs – one is dog owners and the other dog eaters. However, on several occasions, these groups have even hijacked trucks of dogs bound for the slaughter and redistributed them to proper owners to be raised as pets, instead. With this, let us look at the top 5 Chinese dog breeds out there - 

1. Pugs

  • Average Weight: 14 to 18 pounds (male and female)

  • Average Height:  10 to 13 inches (male and female)

  • Life Expectancy: 13 to 15 years

  • Coat and Color- Short, smooth coats that typically come in fawn or black

One of the most popular dogs worldwide, Pugs, are known to have originated from China somewhere around 400 BC. Pugs are sociable, gentle companions are a small sized dog breed, that were favored even by the Buddhist monks there. In the 21st century they remain yet popular with a lot of celebrity owners. The breed is often described as ‘much in little’. They might look small but have a lot of energy within them and are also very charming despite its small size. 

2. Chow Chow

Chow Chow
  • Average Weight: 40 to 90 pounds (male and female)

  • Average Height:  17 to 22 inches (male and female)

  • Life Expectancy: 11 to 13 years

  • Coat and Colors – Rough or smooth coat usually available in black, blue, cinnamon, cream, or red

The China originated dog; Chow Chow is a sturdy dog with a thick dense double coat. These hunting and herding dogs and the pet of ex-US President Calvin Coolidge, have a dominant personality. The dominance comes along with the aggressive nature.

a great companion for walking, trekking, hiking, running, etc. The muscular build is what makes them resemble their ancestors and are used to pull disntances for a long distances.

3. Tibetan Terrier

Tibetan Terrier
  • Average Weight: 18 to 30 pounds (male and female)

  • Average Height:  14 to 16 inches (male and female)

  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

  • Coat and Colors – A shaggy double coat available in black, white, piebald, brindle, grey and golden

Also called as the Tsang Apso or the Dokhi Apso in regional languages, the Tibetan terrier is a Chinese breed which is not actually a terrier. It was actually given its name by European travellers visiting the country that thought the breed resembled the terriers from back home. Tibetan Terriers were kept as good luck charms, mascots, watchdogs, herding dogs, and companions. It is the ‘Holy dog of Tibet’ which was originally used to protect the ancient monasteries of Tibet. In modern times, it is now used for companionship and even therapy by many humans. 

4. Tibetan Spaniel

Tibetan Spaniel
  • Average Weight: 9 to 15 pounds (male and female)

  • Average Height:  10 to 12 inches (male and female)

  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

  • Coat and Colors – A silky double coat in  red, fawn, gold, white, cream, black and tan, and parti colors 

Another Tibetan dog which has spaniel in its name but is not a spaniel at all. Spaniels were originally bred to be compact, athletic, and enthusiastic hunting companions. The Tibetan spaniel was for none of these and was actually used for the protection of the Tibetan monasteries. It has its origin in the Himalayas dating back around 2500 years. They might be small by size but they do their jobs aptly by sitting high up on walls and barking when strangers came near. 

5. Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu
  • Average Weight: 9 to 16 pounds (male and female)

  • Average Height:  8 to 11 inches (male and female)

  • Life Expectancy: 10 to 16 years

  • Coat and Colors – Long, double coat that comes in color variations such as black, white, blue, gold, or liver

The toy dog, Shih Tzu, is a small playful breed of dogs that were treasured by the Chinese nobility for centuries. They were considered as a noble breed there. Although it can be tracked to some ancient breeds of dogs, it actually finds its resemblance more close to wolves rather than other dogs. Shih Tzu literally translates to ‘little lion’ as there are legendary stories for that name. The story goes that Buddha owned a small Shih Tzu and one day when out on his travels, robbers threatened him of robbing and murdering. To protect his owner, the small dog transformed into a humongous lion and scared them away!  

This is not an exhaustive list of Chinese dogs but the most popular ones. However, there are many other breeds which find their origins in China. For e.g., Xiasi Quan, Chinese Crested, Pekingese, Lhasa Apso, Shar-Peis, Kunming Wolfdog, Japanese Chin, Formosan Mountain Dog, Chinese Imperial, Chinese Chongqing, etc. Most of these dogs were somehow related to the monasteries and find mentions in various religious Chinese scriptures. From royal palaces these dogs now find their place in the comfortable sofas of the living room. However, pet dogs used to be quite uncommon in Chinese cities where they served no practical purpose because there was no farm work to be done—and they were banned in many urban areas in the early 1990s. However, today dogs are a common sight on streets in Chinese cities nationwide, partly because of the health benefits of dog ownership. 


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