The most populous continent in the world is Asia – expanding across 48 different countries. With over 4.5 billion people, Asia accounts for over half of the world’s total population!
As a result, Asia is home to hundreds of millions of dogs. Furthermore, various terrain and thousands of years of culture makes Asia the prime breeding ground for some of the most unique Asian dog breeds.
Today, Asian dogs have made their way to all parts of the world and for good reason. Many of which, have become some of the most popular dog breeds in western countries as well.
And if you’re interested in country-specific dog breeds, i’d highly checking out our individual guides to the dogs of various Asian countries.
RECOMMENDED: Top 100 Smartest Dog Breeds
Table of Contents
The Best Asian Dogs
This list just barely scratches the surface of all Asian dog breeds from the far east. In fact, there are hundreds of breeds from the continent – both recognized and non-recognized dogs from the AKC.
Here are the most popular and best (in my opinion) Asian dogs that you should really know about. If you feel like we’ve left out a great breed, let us know in the comments section below!
China makes up almost a third of Asia’s population. As a result, some of the best and most iconic dog breeds come from this Asian country. See more Chinese dog breeds here.
1. Tibetan Mastiff
Highlights: Confident, Courageous, Firm.
There are few dog breeds as grand and majestic as the Tibetan Mastiff. Originating from China, they’re the gold standard of guard dogs in Asia. Not only are they fierce protectors of the home, but they also come with a hefty price.
In fact, the most expensive dog ever sold was a Tibetan Mastiff. For just $2 million dollars USD, a golden-haired Tibetan Mastiff was purchased in 2014. One more thing – the breeder claimed this dog had “lion’s blood.”
With such a high price, the Tibetan Mastiff has all the qualities you would want in a protector. They’re extremely confident, brave and tenacious by nature. As long as you treat them well, they’re loyal and loving dogs perfect for guarding your home.
- For a hefty price of $2 million USD, a Tibetan Mastiff with “lion’s blood” was sold in 2014.
- These dogs were so highly regarded in Tibet because the Tibetans believed their souls were the reincarnation of Tibet monks.
- In Tibet, they’re called Do Khyi, which translates to “tied dog.” This is because they’re usually chained most of the day and let loose at night.
RECOMMENDED: Tibetan Mastiff – Nomadic Guardians of Tibet
Highlights: Regal, Affectionate, Devoted.
The Pekingese dogs are small Chinese toy dogs known for their adorable “lion’s mane.” Not only are they fantastic lap dogs, but also regarded as royalty in the Middle Kingdom.
Prior to 1980, Beijing was actually called Peking. Pekingese dogs were so highly regarded in China that they were named after the country’s capital. Now, that’s recognition.
These dogs are confident and charming. Plus, they know it too. Many owners will tell you that they act like noble dogs with an aristocratic demeanor. Though that’s all in the past, they haven’t forgotten their roots in royalty.
Due to their small size, they do not enjoy playing with rowdy children. Rough-housing is a big no when it comes to the Pekingese. However, they do enjoy the company of calm and older kids.
- The Pekingese is referred to as the “lion dog” in China. Folklore says they’re a cross between lions and monkeys.
- In Imperial China, stealing a Pekingese is a serious crime. In fact, it is punishable by death.
- The Pekingese can be traced back to over 2000 years ago – to the Han Dynasty.
RECOMMENDED: Pekingese – The Royal Lion Dogs of China
3. Shih Tzu
Highlights: Loyal, Friendly, Calm.
Like the Pekingese, the Shih Tzu is a Chinese toy dog, bred to be an excellent companion and lap dog. During the Ming Dynasty, the Shih Tzu were the favorites among the aristocrats and noblemen of China.
They still act like true elitist dogs with a somewhat superior attitude. But with the right owner and proper training, a Shih Tzu can be a very devoted and loving companion.
The Shih Tzu is one of the most popular toy dogs in the world, especially in the United Kingdom. In fact, this dog breed has been owned by all types of celebrities – including Queen Elizabeth II and Miley Cirus. It’s difficult to resist the charm of a Shih Tzu.
In terms of physical characteristics, the Shih Tzu has unique features. For instance, they have a distinctive underbite mouth where the upper jaw is smaller than the lower jaw. This cannot and should not be “fixed.”
- Only 14 Shih Tzu dogs existed at one point (7 male and 7 female dogs). Fortunately, the breed was able to recover.
- Military personnel stationed in Europe brought the Shih Tzu back to the United States in the 1940’s.
- Shih Tzu means “little lion” in Mandarin. They were given this name because the Buddhist God of Learning often traveled with a little lion that looked like a Shih Tzu.
RECOMMENDED: Shih Tzu – Guide to the Little Lion Dog
4. Chow Chow
Highlights: Stubborn, Serious, Dignified.
The Chow Chow is an ancient spitz-type Chinese dog breed originating from as far back as the Han Dynasty. In their long history, these dogs have effectively been used as skilled hunting dogs throughout Asia.
Though many believe the Chow is from China, there has been a long debate on the official origins of the breed. Some claim they’re actually from Mongolia, whereas others believe they originated from the northern Arctic.
Regardless of their origins, the Chow Chow has become one of the most iconic dog breeds in Asia. These dogs have made it to nearly every Asian country today. Plus, they’re one of the top 100 popular breeds in America.
They’re most known for their teddy bear-like coat and black, blue or purple-ish tongues, which is rare among all dog breeds. In fact, mutts with such colored tongues are often mixed with Chow Chow somewhere along their bloodline.
Researchers have claimed the Chow Chow to the one of the least intelligent dog breeds. However, they’re just stubborn dogs with an independent mind. They won’t do your bidding just because you ask.
- The Chow Chow, along with the Shar-Pei, are the only two official purebred dogs to have the black colored tongues.
- The name Chow Chow was created by the English in the 18th century, and was a word to describe anything that came from Asia at the time.
- The Chinese emperor from the Tang Dynasty owned 2,500 Chow Chows. They were used as hunting companions for the emperor’s hunters.
RECOMMENDED: Chow Chow – Guide to the Black Tongue Dog
Highlights: Mischievous, Playful, Charming.
Did you know the Pug is an Asian dog breed? Specifically, one from China. Perhaps one of the most popular Asian dogs in the world, the Pug is a little mischievous dog with a playful attitude. There’s so much to love about them.
Pugs have become widely recognized and frequently featured by some of the most prestigious organizations. For example, Pugs were favorites among Chinese emperors and made great companions to them. In addition, they were the official dog of Holland’s royal House of Orange.
Pugs are known for their big round eyes on their large round heads. The face wrinkles and brow give them an almost human-like expression at times. Whether they’re happy, sad or curious, owners will somehow be able to tell through their many expressions.
These Asian dogs adjust well to almost every environment. They’re great in an apartment or a large house, in the city or the suburbs. Just make sure to keep them away from extreme climates.
- In Holland, a pug is called a mopshond, which means “to grumble.” So, a group of pugs is called a “grumble.”
- Pugs were named after marmosets (small monkeys) due to their resemblance. In the early 18th century, marmosets were called pugs.
- The official dog breed of the Royal Dutch’s House of Orange is the Pug.
RECOMMENDED: The Complete Guide to the Pug
Japanese dogs are some of the most popular in Asia (and the world), especially the Shiba Inu. Here are other popular Japanese dogs you need to know about. See more Japanese dog breeds here.
6. Shiba Inu
Highlights: Active, Vigilant, Perceptive.
No Asian dog breeds list is complete without the Shiba Inu. They’re not only one of the most popular dogs in Asia, but the most popular in Japan. And on the internet, they’ve become a popular meme.
The Shiba Inu is a “cat-like” or feline dog. They’re small independent dogs with sneaky agility and quickness. It’s probably why they get along great with cats. On the other hand, not so much with other small dogs or children.
They’re unique for their “shiba scream,” where the Shiba releases a very peculiar high-pitched scream. This can happen both out of excitement or distress, so it may be difficult to tell at times.
Shiba Inus look very similar to the big cousin, the Akita Inu. They have the same curly tail, triangular ears and sharp snout. However, they are different dogs with distinct bloodlines. Still, they’re very different to tell apart as puppies.
Shiba Inus are certainly one of the most popular dog breeds to come out from Asia. They’re wonderful companions, which is probably a main reason why they’ve been exploding in popularity.
- Because of the Distemper virus and frequent bomb raids, the Shiba Inu almost went extinct during World War II.
- Despite the small size, the Shiba Inu was originally bred to be versatile hunters. They would aid in hunting down boars, birds and even bears.
- There is a cryptocurrency named after a Shiba Inu – Dogecoin.
RECOMMENDED: Shiba Inu – Bold, Spirited & Good Natured
7. Japanese Spitz
Highlights: Loving, Playful, Obedient.
The Japanese Spitz is essentially the “Japanese Pomeranian.” Not only do they look eerily alike, but they’re both from the same spitz dog family. Other similar dog breeds include the Samoyed, American Eskimo and Husky.
Though one of the more recent Japanese breeds, the Japanese Spitz has quickly gained popularity on the international stage. They’re easily the third most popular dog from this Asian country, behind only the Akita and Shiba Inu.
This spitz has a great temperament. They’re playful with people and extremely obedient with owners. Simply put, they are “family-oriented dogs.” The Japanese Spitz also gets along with children and other calm dogs. I would even recommend them as companions for seniors.
Their unwavering loyalty and devotion is top-notch, which explains why they’re such obedient dogs. If you shower them with love and kisses, you can bet they’ll reciprocate it back.
- It wasn’t until World War II that the Japanese Spitz breed was finalized.
- Due to this breed’s similarity to the American Eskimo Dog, the Japanese Spitz is not officially recognized by the American Kennel Club.
- The Japanese Spitz was created by crossbreeding the German Spitz back in the early 1920’s.
RECOMMENDED: The Complete Guide to the Japanese Spitz
8. Akita Inu
Highlights: Devoted, Dignified, Fearless.
The Akita Inu is a national symbol of Japan. So much so, that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would gift these dogs to other national leaders and people of importance. Most notably, to Vladimir Putin in 2012.
Although Akita Inus make great gifts, they make better companions. When it comes to loyalty, the Akita Inu is second to none among Asian dog breeds. For this reason, they can be quite territorial and protective dogs. It’s why they’re such coveted guard dogs.
On the flip side, they can be difficult dogs to train for the inexperienced. Plus, they don’t usually get along with other dogs (especially male dogs) and pets. Early and frequent socialization is necessary to prevent any potential fights and scuffles.
What may surprise you is that they’re excellent with children. And according to many owners, they have an affinity towards kids. With this massive 100-plus pound dog, it’s still a good idea to closely monitor any playtime with kids.
In a nutshell, the Akita Inu is one of the most balanced guard dogs to originate from Asia. They can make awesome playmates, but also fierce protectors. You can always count on your Akita Inu.
- Helen Keller was the first person to bring the Akita Inu into the USA after visiting Japan’s Akita Prefecture in 1937.
- These dogs are so influential in Japan that there is a museum called the Akita Dog Museum in Odate.
- The Japanese Prime Minister gave Russian President Vladimir Putin a male puppy Akita in 2016. Unfortunately, Putin rejected his offer.
RECOMMENDED: Akita Inu – The Hachiko Dog Breed
Though Thai dogs aren’t very popular outside their country, the domestic dogs they do have are incredibly famous in Thailand. Slowly but surely, the world is finally seeing how great these Thai dog breeds are.
9. Thai Ridgeback
Highlights: Intelligent, Loyal, Affectionate.
The Thai Ridgeback is by far the most popular dog breed from Thailand. They’re tough and rugged landrace dogs of the Asian country and are beloved by the people.
The Ridgeback is what you’d call a “natural athlete.” They’re extremely agile and quick, with an ability to jump surprisingly high. There aren’t many fences that can contain a Thai Ridgeback.
Having to survive for so many years on their own, the Ridgebacks have developed strong survival instincts. As such, they’re very independent dogs that have strong prey-drive, making them formidable hunters. For this reason, they may try to hunt down a cat or a smaller dog.
Thai Ridgebacks can come with many coat colors, such as blue, black, red, fawn and two-tone. However, black is by far the most popular color. What makes them physically unique is their spotted colored tongues, which can also be solid black and blue sometimes (like a Chow!).
Fortunately, the Thai Ridgeback has become a fantastic companion dog for families all over the world. They’ve gained quite a bit of recognition outside of Asia and has even been recognized by the American Kennel Club (FSS).
- The reason the Thai Ridgeback had kept relatively pure is because poor transportation in Thailand kept them from crossbreeding with other breeds.
- Thai Ridgebacks from Northern Thailand are sometimes born with dew claws on their rear feet.
- These dogs were used for snake control and are very capable of killing a cobra.
10. Thai Bangkaew
Highlights: Intelligent, Athletic, Loyal.
Though not nearly as popular as the ridgeback, the Thai Bangkaew is still an Asian dog breed worth talking about. For many years, the Bangkaew’s origin was unclear. However, a recent DNA study showed that these dogs originated from a domestic Thai dog and the Asiatic jackal dog.
Relatively new, the Thai Bangkaew was bred in Thailand sometime in the 1900s. It’s believed that these dogs came from the village of Bangkaew in the Phitsanulok Province of central Thailand. Hence, the name.
They can be a bit stubborn at times, but don’t mistake their stubbornness for low intelligence. These dogs are very smart and generally excellent protectors of the home.
Thai Bangkaews are not recommended for novice dog owners, which may explain why they’re not as popular as the Ridgeback. However, if properly trained, they make solid companion dogs from Asia.
- DNA studies can confirm that the Thai Bangkaew originated from the Thai street dogs and the Asiatic Jackal dog.
- Researchers believe that the Thai Bangkaew was created over 100 years ago.
- These dogs come from the village of Bangkaew and was believed to have been bred at a famous monastery called the Wat Bangkaew.
Indian dog breeds are all nearly extinct thanks to the introduction of western dogs. Regardless, India is home to some of the best dogs in Asia. See more Indian dog breeds here.
Highlights: Active, Loyal, Independent.
When it comes to Indian dogs, the Chippiparai is the most iconic. The Chippiparai to India is what the Akita Inu is to Japan or the Korean Jindo to Korea. Consequently, they’re the most famous Indian dog breed.
Chippiparais are very active dogs, able to run surprisingly quick with long strides using their long legs. It’s why they’re some of the best hunters that Asia has to offer. However, expect to provide these dogs plenty of daily exercise if you plan to keep one.
Today, the Chippiparai is regarded as a symbol of dignity and royalty in the country of India. Though western dogs have nearly put all Indian dog breeds at the brink of extinction, the Chippiparai is still relatively prevalent in rural areas of India.
Not only are they easy to care for but they’re fairly robust dogs. In other words, they require very little veterinary care. Still, it doesn’t mean they don’t need any care at all. It’s important to provide them with all the necessities for healthy living.
- These dogs are often called the “maiden’s beastmaster” due to their popularity as gifts to newlywed brides.
- Though they’re called the Chippiparai, they are also referred to as “Kanni” depending on their coat colors.
- Chippiparai were dogs kept by only the elitist of India at one point in time.
RECOMMENDED: Chippiparai – The Royal Indian Hunter
12. Indian Spitz
Highlights: Loving, Playful, Charming.
Although other Indian dogs may be “more iconic,” the Indian Spitz is probably the most popular dog from India. With such a great temperament, it’s easy to see why.
Also part of the Spitz family, the Indian Spitz is nicknamed the “Indian Pomeranian.” They both have a nice fluffy coat with a curly tail. But upon closer inspection, they’re quite different. For example, the Indian Spitz has a much shorter coat and are generally smaller.
Aside from these small physical differences, they’re essentially the same – including the bright and playful personality. These dogs have a ton of energy and love to play with all humans. They’ll do whatever it takes to get your attention.
The Indian Spitz is an excellent choice as a companion to a child or senior. Within loving families, they’re the best versions of themselves. If you’re an owner that would like to do nothing but play with your dog all day, the Indian Spitz is perfect for you.
- Because of its eagerness to please, the Indian Spitz is said to be the easiest Indian dog to train.
- In the 1980s, the Indian Spitz exploded in popularity after the Indian government imposed strict import regulations on dog breeds.
- These dogs come in two different size variations – a smaller and larger spitz.
RECOMMENDED: Indian Spitz – The Complete Dog Breed Profile
There’s more to Korea than just the renowned Jindo dog. Korea is home to some of the friendliest and most beautiful dog breeds. For more, check out our list of the most popular Korean dog breeds.
13. Korean Jindo
Highlights: Devoted, Active, Brave.
The Jindo dog is the national dog breed of South Korea. And as expected, they’re by far the most popular dog breed to come out of Korea. Jindos are immensely loyal but have a ton of energy – easily making them some of Asia’s most versatile family dogs.
As their name would tell you, these dogs are indigenous to the southern Korean island: Jindo Island. For several years, they were bred and trained to be highly skilled hunting and tracking dogs. Fortunately, they’ve nearly all transitioned to family companions.
The Korean government has spent a lot of time training these dogs to serve in their national army. However, the Jindo has such strong prey-drive that they didn’t become popular military or police dogs.
The key to raising a happy and healthy Jindo is socialization, especially at an early age. To overcome their strong hunting instincts, they must frequently meet and play with other dogs and/or children.
- At one point, the Los Angeles Police Department considered using the Jindo in their k-9 Unit. Two dogs were imported from South Korea to train.
- After the Seoul Olympics in 1988, hundreds of Jindo dogs marched in the opening ceremony.
- Jindo dogs are known for their ability to escape yards and crates. Always keep a close eye on your Jindo.
14. Dosa Mastiff
Highlights: Affectionate, Sweet-tempered, Dominant.
The Dosa Mastiff, otherwise known as the Korean Mastiff, is the largest breed to originate from South Korea. Weighing up to nearly 200 pounds, the Dosa Mastiff may seem really intimidating, but they’re not.
In fact, they’ve been called the “gentle giants of Korea.” They break the traditional image and mold of the aggressive mastiff dogs. Rather, the Dosa Mastiff is good-tempered, sweet and loving.
The reason why they’re such calm dogs is because they’re primarily bred as show dogs. Breeders didn’t need them to be great protectors like with other mastiffs. An obedient and docile temperament was more favorable for show competitions.
Dosas have extremely smooth coats with a shiny gloss. The colors of the coat are extremely beautiful, ranging from a deep brown to a red mahogany. However, these dogs can still be dominant dogs due to the sheer size. In other words, you’ll need to establish dominance to keep them in check.
Malaysia is not an Asian country you would think of for having unique and exotic dog breeds. Though the country doesn’t have many internationally famous dog breeds, they have dogs popular within the country.
Highlights: Intelligent, Alert, Active.
Although still considered relatively rare, the Telomian is the most famous and popular dog breed to come from Malaysia. In fact, this is the only homegrown Malaysian dog to live outside of the country.
The Telomian was originally bred by the aboriginal people of Malaysia. What’s unique about them is their special ability to climb and jump. The Orang Asli people built elevated huts to avoid encounters with dangerous animals. For this reason, these dogs needed to learn to climb.
In the 1960’s, anthropologist Orville Elliot discovered this breed and brought them back to the United States. By 1970, the Telomian Dog Club of America was established and breeders started producing more dogs.
Physically, the Telomian is unique for its elongated back and short, smooth coat. They can come in various shades of white and sable with a black mask. Standing just 18 inches tall, the Telomian is a small dog breed with a blue, purple or black-ish tongue – similiar to the Chinese Chow.
- Despite being kept by Malaysian locals and aboriginals, the Telomian were considered to be “bad luck” dogs.
- Some scientists believe that the Telomian could be the missing link between the Australian Dingo and Baseji dog breed.
- Malaysians call the Telomian, Anjing Kampung, which means “village dog” in their native tongue of Malay.
Indonesia is another South East Asian country with few that many people know. Still, it doesn’t mean this beautiful country doesn’t have equally beautiful dog breeds.
16. Kintamani Dog
Highlights: Affectionate, Vigilant, Active.
The Kintamani dog is the only dog breed to originate from “Asia’s Hawaii,” or Bali Island of Indonesia. They come from the Kintamani region of Bali Island and are believed to have evolved from landrace dogs (Bali street dogs).
Though they may look very similar to the Samoyed, they are very different dogs. The Kintamani has long fluffy hair and a broad face. Their forehead and cheeks are usually flat, resembling that of a Chow Chow.
Kintamani dogs are independent by nature, as they’ve spent a lot of time on the streets. As domesticated pets, they can be a little too territorial. But with a kind family and proper socialization, you can expect an affectionate and loyal dog.
In addition, these dogs are active and energetic. They love to climb and can usually be found scaling rooftops and spending the day people-watching from above.
- Genetic studies have shown that the Kintamani were derived from Bali street dogs and other Asian dog breeds, such as the Chow Chow.
- Bali Island will hold a Kintamani Dog Exhibition every year in hopes of promoting these amazing native dogs.
- In March of 2019, the FCI decided to give the Kintamani dog provisional recognition.
Because spitz dogs originated from the arctic circle, such as Siberia, it’s not surprising that we have such iconic and popular dogs from Russia. The cold country isn’t just known for the Husky, but so much more. See all 21 Russian dog breeds here.
17. Siberian Husky
Highlights: Mischievous, Loyal, Lively
Siberian Huskies are, without question, the most iconic dog breed from Russia. Today, they’re found in all parts of the world, including areas with warmer climate. In America, Huskies are part of the top 20 most popular breeds list.
Originally bred with endurance and agility in mind, these dogs have become the premier sled dogs. And while they still do pull sleds in snowy regions, they mainly wonderful pets in households everywhere.
Keep in mind, these dogs can be a little stubborn at times. But that doesn’t mean they’re not loyal dogs. Rather, they’re independent-minded dogs with a ton of energy that needs to be put to work on the field.
Because they were bred to be with other sled dogs, they’re really good pack dogs. In other words, they get along great with other dogs and people. But if you want a guard dog, Huskies are way too friendly!
- A pack of Huskies saved an Alaskan town’s kids by delivering the anti-toxin for Diphtheria from over 700 miles away.
- Huskies are one of the few dog breeds to have natural blue eyes without having the “merle” gene, as seen in Aussies.
- According to DNA studies, Huskies share a large amount of DNA similarities with the prehistoric grey wolf.
18. Alaskan Malamute
Highlights: Loyal, Calm, Playful
While the Alaskan Malamute may have been popularized in Alaska, they actually migrated from Siberia (like with the Husky). The only difference is that the Malamute came to Alaska several thousands of years ago.
Alaskan Malamutes are often confused for Siberian Huskies. In fact, the two spitz dogs have so many similarities that it’s not surprising. From the appearance to origins, these iconic Asian dogs have a lot in common.
The main difference is the size. Malamutes are considerably larger than Huskies. But as for temperament, Malamutes are just as playful, friendly, affectionate and loyal. As much as they love to work, they love human companionship more.
Malamutes are world-class sleigh dogs. Thanks to their hefty size, they specialize in pulling heavier loads. All this means is that they require a lot of run daily to meet those exercise needs.
- Because of an elementary school student, the Alaskan Malamute became the official dog of Alaska in 2009.
- The Alaskan Malamute has appeared on stamps in at least 14 countries, including in the United States.
- It’s rare to see an Alaskan Malamute barking. Instead, they’ll “talk” with a vocalized sound and howl.
RECOMMENDED: Alaskan Malamute vs. Siberian Husky
Highlights: Docile, Adaptable, Loyal
The Samoyed may just be the “happiest” Asian dog breed we have. Largely thanks to the upturned corners of their mouths, they look like they’re smiling all the time. We call this the “Sammie smile.”
Known for their fluffy white double coats and bright demeanor, Sammies are hard working dogs that were bred for various jobs in the snow. Originating from Siberia, they’re powerful yet agile workers, making them super versatile dogs.
When they’re at home, Samoyeds can be amazing companions that show a lot of affection and loyalty towards the owners. As such, they demand a lot of love and attention. In a loving household, they’re superior family dogs.
However, Samoyeds aren’t ideal for everyone. Because they were bred for negative degree climates, they don’t do well with warm weather. Plus, they need a ton of physical activity on a daily basis. Oh, and don’t get me started with their shedding!
- Samoyeds are one of the 14 modern dog breeds that have a genetic footprint closely resembling the grey wolf.
- Sammies are known for their “singing,” in which they howl and yodel in a melodic tune. Multiple dogs may also harmonize with one another.
- These dogs were previously known as the best reindeer guarding and herding dogs in the arctic circle.
Did we miss an Asian dog breed that deserves to be on this list? If so, leave the dog breed in the comments section below! We’ll do our best to continuously update this list.
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