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The 16 Best Asian Dog Breeds – The Complete Guide to Iconic Dogs From Asia

With 48 countries, Asia is home to some of the best dog breeds in the world.

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 unique Asian dog breeds.

Today, Asian dogs have made it to all parts of the world and for good reason. Many of which, have become some of the most popular dogs in western countries.

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

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. 

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!

Chinese Dogs

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.

The Tibetan Mastiff is by far the most expensive dog breed from China.

There are few dog breeds as grand as the Tibetan Mastiff. Originating from China, they are the gold standard of guard dogs in Asia. Not only are they fierce protectors of the home, but 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.” 

Still, 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. 

INTERESTING FACTS

  • 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

2. Pekingese

Highlights: Regal, Affectionate, Devoted.

The Pekingese are viewed as dumb dog breeds after been spoiled by royalty for hundreds of years.

The Pekingese are small Chinese toy dogs known for their unique “lion’s mane.” Not only are they fantastic lap dogs, but also regarded as royalty in the Middle Kingdom of China. 

Prior to 1980, Beijing was actually called Peking. Pekingese dogs were so highly regarded in China that they were named after the country’s capitol. Now that’s recognition. 

These dogs are confident and charming, and they know it too. Many owners will tell you that they act like noble dogs with an aristocratic demeanor. 

Because of 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 kids.

INTERESTING FACTS

  • 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

And today, they still act like true elitist dogs with a somewhat superior attitude. Still, with the right owner, 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 rather 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.” Owners appreciate this and love them for who they are. 

INTERESTING FACTS

  • 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.

Although the Chow Chow is regarded as a dumb dog, I believe they're just a stubborn breed.

The Chow Chow is an ancient Chinese dog breed originating from as far back as the Han Dynasty. In their long history, these dogs have 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 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. 

They’re most known for their teddy-bear like coat and black/blue/purple-ish tongues, which is rare among all dog breeds. In fact, mixed dogs with such 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 unnecessarily do your bidding just because. 

INTERESTING FACTS

  • 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

5. Pug

Highlights: Mischievous, Playful, Charming.

The Pug is the most surprising Chinese dog breed that no one knew was from China.

Did you know the Pug is an Asian dog breed? Specifically, one from China. Neither did I. Perhaps one of the most popular Asian dogs, the Pug is a little mischievous dog with a playful attitude. There’s so much to love with them.

They’ve become widely recognized and have been featured in some of the most prestigious organizations. For example, Pugs were favorite among Chinese emperors and often 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. However, try to keep them away from extreme climates. They’ll manage but will thrive in places with moderate temperatures. 

INTERESTING FACTS

  • 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

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.

The Shiba Inu is the most popular dog of Japan, and one of the best dog breeds to come out of Asia.

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 often described as “cat-like” or feline. 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 known for their “shiba scream,” where the dog releases a very peculiar high-pitched scream. This can happen out of both excitement or distress, so it may be difficult to tell at times. 

Shiba Inus look very similar to the big brother Akita Inu with the same curly tail, triangular ears and sharp snout. However, they are different dogs with a distinct bloodline. Though they are very difficult to tell apart in puppyhood. 

Shiba Inus are certainly one of the most popular dog breeds to come out from Asia and are wonderful companions to have.

INTERESTING FACTS

  • 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 a companion dog originating from Japan.

The Japanese Spitz is essentially the “Japanese Pomeranian.” Not only do they look eerily alike, but they’re both from the same spitz family. Other similar dog breeds include the Samoyed and American Eskimo Dog. 

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 great temperament – often playful with people and extremely obedient with owners. They thrive in a loving home and are certainly “family-oriented dogs.” The Japanese Spitz also gets along with children and other calm dogs. Many would even recommend them as companions for elders.  

Their 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 with undying loyalty and affection. 

There’s a lot to love about the Japanese Spitz and it’s easy to see why they’re some of the most popular dog breeds to come out of Asia. 

INTERESTING FACTS

  • 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 one of the most coveted Asian dog breeds to come out of Japan.

The Akita Inu is a national symbol in the Asian country of Japan. So much so that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would often 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 and devotion, 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 your best bet to prevent any potential fights and scuffles. 

What may surprise you is that they’re excellent with children. Some may even go as far as saying they have an affinity towards kids. With this massive 100 plus pound dog, it’s still a good idea to closely monitor any playtime your children have with this dog.

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.

INTERESTING FACTS

  • 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

Thai Dogs

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 to originate from Thailand.

The Thai Ridgeback is by far the most popular dog breed to come out of 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. They’re very independent dogs and have strong prey-drive, making them top tier hunters. For this reason, they may not do so well with cats and smaller dogs.

They 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. 

Fortunately, the Thai Ridgeback has become a fantastic companion dog thriving in 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).

INTERESTING FACTS

  • 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.

The Thai Bangkaew is the second most popular breed from Thailand and has been gaining popularity throughout Asia.

Though not nearly as popular as its cousin, the Thai 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. 

They can be a bit stubborn at times, but don’t let mistake stubbornness for low intelligence. These dogs are very smart and generally excellent protectors of the home. 

Thai Bangkaews aren’t recommended for novice dog owners, which may explain why they’re not as popular as the Ridgeback. However, if trained properly, they make some of the best companion dogs of Asia.

INTERESTING FACTS

  • 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 Dogs

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.

11. Chippiparai

Highlights: Active, Loyal, Independent.

Living with a Chippiparai can be easy if you know what you're doing.

When it comes to Indian dogs, the Chippiparai is certainly the most iconic. The Chippiparai to India is what the Akita Inu is to Japan or the Korean Jindo to Korea. They’re probably the most famous Indian dog breed.

The Chippiparais are very active dogs, able to run surprisingly quick in strides using their long legs. For this reason, they’re some of the best hunters that Asia has to offer. On the flip side, expect to give 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 rather robust dogs. In other words, they require very little veterinary care. Still, it’s important to provide them with all the necessities for healthy living. 

It may be difficult to find a Chippiparai. However, if you can, I’d highly suggest raising one. They’re amazing companions with a lot of versatility.

INTERESTING FACTS

  • 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.

The Indian Spitz is a breed recognized by the Indian Kennel Club.

Although other Indian dogs may be more iconic in Asia, the Indian Spitz is probably the most popular dog to hail from India. With such a great temperament, it’s easy to see why.

Part of the Spitz dog family, the Indian Spitz is often referred to as 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.

As a result, the Indian Spitz is an excellent choice for a companion to a child or elder. 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 may just be right for you.

INTERESTING FACTS

  • 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

Korean Dogs

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 is the most iconic and popular dog to come from Korea.

The Jindo dog is the national dog breed of South Korea. As a result, they’re by far the most popular dog breed to come out of Korea. Jindo dogs are immensely loyal with a ton of energy, 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’re mostly excellent companions and family dogs today. 

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. 

If properly trained, they’ve been said to be some of the best mid-sized family dogs from Asia. It’s why they’re so popular among families in South Korea.

INTERESTING FACTS

  • 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 Korean Mastiff is Korea's friendly giant dog breed.

The Dosa Mastiff, or Korean Mastiff, is by far the largest breed to originate from South Korea. Weighing up to nearly 200 pounds, the Dosa can 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 a mastiff dog, which is refreshing. Rather, the Dosa Mastiff is good-tempered, sweet and loving. They’re the ultimate companions among large dogs from Korea.

The reason why they’re such calm dogs is because they were primarily bred as show dogs. Breeders didn’t need to breed them for protection like with most other mastiffs.

Instead, these dogs 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. I’ll take this over aggressiveness in my family dog – any day. 

Still, these dogs can be dominant dogs due to their large size. In other words, you’ll need to establish dominance in the household with them to keep them in check. 

INTERESTING FACTS

  • These dogs were bred solely for the purpose of show competitions. For this reason, they’re called Korean beauty dogs.
  • The distant cousin of the Dosa is the Japanese Tosa Inu.
  • Purchased for 10 million Indian Rupees ($140,000 USD), the Dosa Inu became the most expensive dog to be imported into India.

Malaysian Dogs

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.

15. Telomian

Highlights: Intelligent, Alert, Active.

The Telomain is the most popular dog breed from Malaysia and has been gaining popularity in South East Asia.

Although still considered relatively rare, the Telomian is the most famous and popular dog breed to hail 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. Because of this, 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.

They’re one of the rarest and most unique dogs from Asia. So if you can get your hands on one, definitely do so!

INTERESTING FACTS

  • 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. 

Indonesian Dogs

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 one of the only dog breeds to originate from Indonesia.

The Kintamani dog is the only dog breed to originate from “Asia’s Hawaii,” or Bali Island of Indonesia. This dog originated from the Kintamani region of Bali Island and is believed to have evolved from landrace dogs (Bali street dogs). 

Though they may look very similar to the Samoyed, they are certainly 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.

They can come in an array of colors, but white is the most popular and sought after by many breeders and dog owners. 

Kintamani dogs are independent by nature, as they’ve spent a lot of time on the streets. As domesticated pets, they can be territorial to a fault. Still, with a family and proper socialization, you can expect an affectionate and loyal dog.

In addition, these dogs are quite active. They love to climb and can usually be found scaling rooftops and spending the day people-watching from above.

INTERESTING FACTS

  • 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

Did we miss an Asian dog breed that deserve to be on this list? If so, leave the dog breed in the comments section below! We do our best to continuously update this list.

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