China is well-known for its pandas, dragons, silkworm, and centuries of beautiful ancient traditions. But did you know China is also home to some of the most unique dog breeds ever? Large, small, fluffy and even hairless, there’s a dog breed from China that’ll appeal to you.
Historical evidence has suggested that it was in ancient China, where the domestication of dogs first appeared. This practice can be traced as far back as 15,000 years ago, where scientists have identified maximum genetic variation.
There was also a time in Chinese history when certain breeds were patronized by the rich and elite. And unlike the past, people in China have grown to love dogs. As a result, it’s common for Chinese families to own a pet dog now, despite stringent government regulations.
Chinese dog breeds include the Pekingese, Chinese Crested, Shih Tzu, Pug, Tibetan Terrier, Lhasa Apso, Japanese Chin, Manchurian Hairless, Tibetan Spaniel, Formosa Mountain dog, Chuandong Hound, Chongqing dog, Bone Mouth, Xiasi Quan, Shaanxi Xian, Laizhou Hong, Kyi Apso, Kunming Wolfdog, Tibetan Mastiff, Shar Pei and the Chow.
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Small Chinese Dog Breeds
Arguably the most famous and popular Chinese dog breeds are all small or toy dogs. Most of which, are some of the best lap dogs. Small Chinese dogs were once bred to sit on the laps of royalty. As a result, many of these small dogs still retain their instincts of warm your lap!
There are just 9 small Chinese dog breeds, including the Pekingese, Chinese Crested, Shih Tzu, Pug, Tibetan Terrier, Lhasa Apso, Japanese Chin, Manchurian Hairless, and the Tibetan Spaniel.
Highlights: Affectionate, Loyal, Proud
Royal in every way possible, the Pekingese is indeed the most popular dog breed from China (Though in the USA, the Shih Tzu takes that cake). They’re rich in legacy, but also have an amiable demeanor that matches their reputation.
In the 8th century, members of China’s Tang Dynasty revered and loved this breed to the point where you had to be a royal to own one. It’s no wonder they were actually named after the Chinese capital, which is currently known as “Beijing” today.
At that time, the capital of Imperial China was pronounced as Peking by the French missionaries. Hence, why they’re not called the “Beijinese.” Can you imagine if the United States had a “District of Columbia” dog? There’s no better honor.
From its once sacred status, this Chinese dog has come a long way. They’re now bred all over the world and owned by many people regardless of social stature. However, some people in China still praise this breed as if they’re for the elite.
A signature characteristic of this breed is the golden coat of fur which has earned him the nickname of sun-dog or lion-dog. The Pekingese lives up to both nicknames because it is brave as a lion and bright as a sunny day.
- Folklore legend says the Pekingese, nicknamed “lion dog,” is a cross between a lion and a marmoset (small monkey). Science says otherwise.
- Pekingese were so highly regarded in Imperial China that stealing a Pekingese is punishable by death.
- One of the only two surviving dogs on the Titanic was a Pekingese named Sun Yat-Sen.
Dignity comes foremost with this dog breed and to an extent, also dictates the dog’s behavior. Despite being relatively small, cheerful and affectionate, a Pekingese would rarely settle down on top of your lap. So don’t force your Pekingese into being a lap dog.
Not all small Chinese dogs are lap dogs! But as friendly as they are to family, the Pekingese can just as well assume an air of arrogance towards strangers. This behavior is symbolic of their imperial history, where they were treated with great respect.
Most of the time, the Pekingese is a picture of calmness. However, when it isn’t, the owner should be prepared to handle the most stubborn pet in the world. But the strong will and stubbornness is why the Pekingese is often mistaken as “dumb.”
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2. Chinese Crested
Highlights: Playful, Alert, Sweet-tempered
The Chinese Crested dog comes in two distinct varieties, often in the same litter. One version comes with fur and the other with just minimal hair. As such, the two types are called the Powderpuff and Hairless Chinese Crested, respectively.
However, the hairless coat is the dominant trait, making them a bit more popular than their furry siblings. But even so, it’s not too difficult finding a powderpuff Crested.
For owners who regard bald as beautiful (or for owners who are allergic to pet-hair), the hairless Crestie will be the best option. And what makes the Chinese Crested truly unique and special is that they are not completely hairless.
Rather, there is a tuft of hair on its head resembling a crest and some on its feet that resembles wearing “socks.” In fact, this is why this Chinese dog was given their name. Plus, there is also hair on the tip of its tail, giving them a bushy appearance.
- One of the most famous Chinese Crested is Sam. He’s the winner of the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest from 2003 to 2005.
- Chinese Crested dogs love heights and are often described as “feline dogs” for this reason.
- These dogs served a big role on voyages for Chinese sailors in the 14th century. Their primarily job was to catch and kill rats, thus preventing the spread of the Black Plague on ships.
Chinese Crested Temperament
The most unusual behavior of the Chinese Crested is its love of heights (no, I’m serious). It would not be unusual for a Crestie to sit perched on top of a couch. This is the reason why some owners say Cresties are feline or “cat-like” dogs.
But as a companion dog, a Chinese Crested is quite entertaining because they will keep vying for your attention through its tricks. These dogs are very eager to please and will jump at the chance to show off his or her abilities.
Owners also describe their Chinese Crested as sweet, loving, affectionate and playful. As a result, they’re some of the best companion dogs that mesh well with older kids and seniors. They’re not too energetic either.
But if you’re not fond of vocal dogs that love barking, then the Chinese Crested may not be right for you. Like many other small dog breeds, these dogs will yap away at the slightest of sounds. But at the least, they make good watchdogs.
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3. Shih Tzu
Highlights: Loving, Loyal, Gentle
The popularity of the Shih Tzu comes from the fact that they’re wonderful companions who just love tottering at its master’s heels and sleeping on his or her lap. In other words, they’re the most ideal lap dog to come out of China.
There was a time in history when this breed was the favorite of the rich and elite during the rule of the Ming Dynasty. This may explain why some people feel the Shih Tzu appears snooty at times – after all, it’s in their DNA.
Spend a few hours with this dog breed and you’ll realize that the snobbishness is just superficial. In reality, a Shih Tzu is one of the most endearing dogs that you can hope for. They’re quite affectionate and loving dogs.
At first glance, the Shih Tzu might remind you of a flower because of the mass of hair flowing out of the head. Another distinctive trait is its mouth, wherein the upper jaw is relatively narrow compared to the lower jaw. It looks a bit like an over-bite.
- The Shih Tzu breed is believed to be over 1,000 years old, dating back to roughly 1000 B.C. in ancient China.
- “Shih Tzu” is translated to “little lion” in Chinese mandarin. They were given this name because of their association with the Tibetan Buddhist God of Learning, who traveled with a little lion.
- At one point, the Shih Tzu was nearly extinct. Only 14 dogs (7 males and 7 females) saved this Chinese breed from extinction.
Shih Tzu Temperament
A Shih Tzu is happiest when the owners are around and does not mind living in enclosed space, like an apartment. However, they need to be groomed daily and can display signs of discomfort when if living in a warm climate region.
This means they are most suitable for pet owners who have plenty of time, like an elderly couple or a housewife with minimal domestic responsibilities. And while these dogs may rank low for dog IQ (top dumbest dogs), they’re actually smart in other ways.
Shih Tzus make some of the best watchdogs, as they are always alert, vigilant and aware of their surroundings. They’ll alert you if someone gets too close to your territory. However, some may not be able to stand their constant barking.
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Highlights: Cheerful, Fun-loving, Friendly
Who can ever forget the adorable, four-legged Pug featured in the Vodafone ad as a steady yet reliable companion? This is exactly how this Chinese dog is best described – extrovert, playful, affectionate and quirky at times.
In 400 BC, the Pug was patronized by Buddhist monks and was a regular dog companion among the monasteries. As a matter of fact, these dogs have quite a bit of history in ancient China as lap dogs for the Chinese elite.
Past emperors from ancient China had a strong affection towards dogs with flat faces, including the Pug. It’s why all the toy dogs from this country share this same physical trait. So while they may look silly, this look has been revered for centuries.
The Pug can come in an array of colors, but their most distinctive feature is the pushed-in nose with a dash of blackness all around the face. And let’s also not forget their big round eyes, which make them appear worried all the time.
- In 2009, a Pug named Chester Ludlow received an MBA degree from Rochville University. However, it turned out to be a public stunt by Get Educated.
- The term for a group of pugs is “grumble.” The phrase originated from Holland, where pugs are called “mopshond,” which means “to grumble.”
- In 1740, the Pope forbad Catholics from joining the Freemasons. In response, they formed a secret organization called “Order of the Pug.”
Chinese Pug Temperament
Emotionally, a pug is regarded as being one of the most stable dog breeds in the world. Although small in size, they’re dependable dogs. In other words, expect the Pug to be by your side (or on your lap) no matter what happens.
Pugs are highly adaptable and comfortable in any setting as long as their family members are with them. Whether in an apartment, an individual house or even a farm in the rural region, you can count on a Pug to be comfortable and adjusted.
This breed is particularly fond of children, thus making them the perfect choice if you have kids in the family. They’ll usually glue themselves to the owners (velcro dog warning!), as they love being with their people. It’s pretty much what Pugs were bred for.
Although they’re social, they can also be docile. But let’s not forget how stubborn they can be too. If and when when they want to be, they can be very intelligent. So despite the few “flaws” of this Chinese dog, it’s hard to resist the charm of a pug.
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5. Tibetan Terrier
Highlights: Loving, Loyal, Tender
Despite the name, the Tibetan Terrier isn’t actually from the terrier dog group. Rather, they’re in the non-sporting dog breed category. In fact, they don’t act like a typical terrier either. They are from the Tibetan region in China, though.
Also called the “Holy Dog of Tibet,” the Tibetan Terrier is one of four dog breeds bred to protect the old ancient monasteries of Tibet. And given their small 20-pound frame, they did more watching than they actually did guarding the people.
The Tibetan Terriers feature a shaggy double coat with a wool-like undercoat. However, the top coat resembles human hair more than typical dog fur. Without this coat, they wouldn’t be able to manage in the harsh cold conditions of Tibet.
Though they’re hardy dogs that tend to live a long life, the Tibetans are susceptible to a few health problems, mostly involving the eyes, hips and joints. These are just a few things to look out for when bringing home a Tibetan Terrier.
- The Tibetan Terrier was given its name by European travelers who thought they resembled terrier dogs.
- These dogs were “good luck charms” and said to have been kept purebred for over 2000 years.
- At one point, these dogs were actually called “Lhasa Terriers.”
Tibetan Terrier Temperament
Tibetan Terriers have grown in popularity because of their family-oriented temperaments. Not only are they great rural dogs, but adapt effortlessly to apartment or city life. It won’t matter if you live in a small apartment or a large farm.
Tibetan Terriers strike the perfect balance between playfulness and calmness. They’ll spend hours on hours playing with your kids, but also love to cuddle up with their owners to relax. They’re low-key dogs, but also lively playmates when they feel like it.
Having guarded monasteries for thousands of years, the Tibetan Terrier’s vigilance makes them great watchdogs. Though they’re not overly aggressive with strangers, but they’ll be suspicious of them and investigate when needed.
Despite the good, they’re stubborn at times and won’t always respond well to obedience training. Still, they’re very intelligent dogs. It’s just that they’re more independent-minded than other dogs, which explains their confidence.
6. Lhasa Apso
Highlights: Fun, Confident, Smart
The Lhasa Apso is a Tibetan dog breed that’s been around for over thousands of years. Like the other Tibetan dog breeds, they served in Buddhist monasteries in the reclusive regions of the cold and large Himalayas.
Though small in size, these aristocratic dogs are famous for their lavish coats that hang to the floor, draping from all sides of the body. They are truly an interesting sight to see and make for a great ice breaker when guests are over.
Fanatics of the Lhasa Apso say their oval-shaped dark eyes are great communication tools. That is, a Lhasa is a very expressive dog and the eyes are truly the window to their soul. It’s why they’re such good communicators!
Though they originated from China’s Tibetan region, the Lhasa Apso has become wildly popular in all parts of the world – even in the west. In fact, many A-list celebrities own one, including top icons Ellen DeGeneres and Gwen Stefani.
- They are sacred dogs. The Buddhist monks believed the souls of lamas and priests are reborn as Lhasa Apsos prior to being reborn as humans.
- Lhasa Apsos were regarded as “good fortune” dogs. In fact, they were gifted by the Dalai Lama to the USA in the 1930s.
- They live long lives with an average of 15 years. The oldest Lhasa Apso was 29 years old.
Lhasa Apso Temperament
The Lhasa Apso is a very friendly dog with a temperament that appeals to families of all types. And once you get to know them, they’re quite comical and funny dogs. They also have a mischievous side to them as well. However, they’re not the most trainable dogs.
With familiar people, they’re going to be warm and affectionate dogs. However, the Lhasa Apso can be quite stand-offish with strangers. After all, they were bred to do this job. But don’t be discouraged – this is why they’re great watchdogs!
Though the Lhasa Apso is a small dog, they’re confident and a little courageous. Some may not even realize how small they actually are. They’ll do whatever they can to protect the family, as most good watchdogs do too.
7. Japanese Chin
Highlights: Alert, Independent, Smart
The Japanese Chin is…Chinese? Well, according to some sources. The history of these dogs is probably as confusing as their name. In fact, there’s been a lot of debate over the actual origins of this toy dog in the past. There’s still no conclusive evidence.
Many claim they’re from Japan, while others believe China is their true birthplace. The reason experts believe they’re from China is because of their uncanny resemblance to the Pekingese. But while the two may share ancestors, the Chin was popularized in Japan.
Furthermore, some even believe that the Japanese Chin and Pekingese were both the same dog at one point! Their theory is that the Pekingese were actually gifted to Japan by the ancient Chinese Emperors several hundred years ago.
We can’t say for sure where the Japanese Chin originated from, but we do know that they’re amazing lap dogs and companions. And, that’s all that matters. There’s a reason why they were highly regarded gifts for only the elites of empires in the far east.
- Their specialty trick is the “Chin Spin,” where they’ll quickly spin around in circles while on their hind legs. Impressive and entertaining!
- Some experts believe that Japanese Chins were actually gifted by the Koreans in AD 732. And you thought it couldn’t get more complicated?
- It can take up to two years for a Japanese Chin’s coat to fully develop.
Japanese Chin Temperament
Japanese Chins are famously known for their feline-like attitude. If given the choice, the Chin tends to always seek higher grounds to rest, much like a cat would do. Plus, they’ll paw and wipe their faces like their feline friends.
They can be stubborn, but they’re always alert and very intelligent. For the most part, Japanese Chins will be very affectionate dogs. Though independent, they are surprisingly loyal dogs. But make sure to provide early socialization for a more balanced dog.
The Japanese Chins are very adaptable, able to find comfort in just about any situation or home. And with their friends and family, they love the opportunity to perform tricks to please. Few lap dogs are as willing to please as the Chin!
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8. Tibetan Spaniel
Highlights: Playful, Assertive, Intelligent
The Tibetan Spaniel is one of the oldest breeds in the canine kingdom. In fact, they originated from the Himalayan regions of Tibet nearly 2,500 years ago! With a small lion’s mane and a fluffy erect tail, they have all the key traits of a Tibetan dog.
Although they’re called the “Tibetan Spaniel,” these dogs aren’t actually genetically linked to the spaniel group. Rather, they were given this name mainly because of their close physical resemblance to some of the spaniel dog breeds.
Associated with monks and monasteries, the Tibetan Spaniel is adored because to the people’s love and appreciation for lions in the Middle Kingdom. Plus, they’re intelligent enough to work in tandem with its larger counterpart, the Tibetan Mastiff.
Together, they’ll safeguard territory and warn against intruders in an effective manner. On the other hand, Tibetan Spaniels are obedient enough to learn various tricks taught by their owners and serve as an entertaining companion.
- The Tibetan Spaniels were never sold, but only gifted by Buddhist monasteries to leaders of other Buddhist countries.
- They are believed to share ancestry with the Pekingese, Japanese Chin, Pug, Shih Tzu and the Tibetan Terrier.
- Tibetan Spaniels are the premier watchdogs of Buddhist monasteries. They sit high on monastery walls and bark when strangers come close.
Tibetan Spaniel Temperament
Tibetan Spaniels are extremely intelligent and affectionate – two of the best traits for a companion lap dog. Owners tend to describe them as very cat-like. Don’t be surprised to find them climbing furniture and resting on high grounds as if they were actually cats.
In terms of personality, they are the opposite of the Chinese Chow. The Tibetan Spaniel will need plenty of reciprocated attention and affection. Furthermore, they can’t stand being left alone, especially for long periods of time.
As affectionate as they are, the Tibetan Spaniels are also sensitive to its owner’s mood. They do like to lounge around for most part of the day. But since the Chinese regard them as bearers of good fortune, no-one actually minds.
9. Manchurian Hairless
Highlights: Affectionate, Cautious, Loyal
The Manchurian Hairless is a dog that few have heard of. However, they’re a hairless dog breed that is most famous for being the “cousin” of the beloved Chinese Crested dog. As a result, you’ll see many similarities between the two.
Like the Chinese Crested, the Manchurian will sport a round head with a short snout and skull. And just like the Crestie, they’ll be brachycephalic and may have a difficult time breathing when it’s too hot or they work too hard!
Unfortunately, there’s not much known about these hairless dogs. They’re fairly rare, despite their close cousins being very popular in China. And while they can still be found in few parts of the world, expect to pay up to $1,000 USD for one.
Manchurian Hairless Temperament
Manchurians are fiercely loyal and devoted small dogs. They were bred to be good lap dogs, and that’s exactly what they are. They love nothing more than to sit on their owners’ laps, which explains why they can become a little protective.
The Manchurian Hairless will be an outgoing and sociable dog. Manchurians love being the center of attention and can get along great with most people. But because they’re fragile petite dogs, kids need to treat them with care.
Manchurians may be yappy little dogs that bark at everything, though. For this reason, they tend to make capable watchdogs. However, don’t expect them to do much other than bark at the intruder. In some cases, they’re too friendly to “attack” strangers.
Medium-Sized Chinese Dogs
China is home to some of the most beloved medium-sized Chinese dog breeds. While these dogs are lesser known, they’re unique and beautiful in their own right. For the purpose of this list, we classify these medium dogs as breeds above 30 pounds in weight.
Medium-sized Chinese dog breeds are a lot more rare. This group consists of just 5 dogs, including the Taiwan dog (Formosan Mountain dog), Chuandong Hound, Chongqing dog, Bone Mouth and the Xiasi Quan.
10. Formosan Mountain Dog
Highlights: Intelligent, Active, Loyal
The Formosan Mountain Dog, called “Tuguo” in Chinese, is not from mainland China, but rather from the Republic of China (Taiwan). In fact, they’re the landrace breed of the island, which was also called the “Formosa Island” in the past. Hence, the name.
Despite their names, these dogs are not solely found in the mountainous regions of Taiwan. They can be found wandering the streets of large metropolitan cities, such as the country’s capital, Taipei. This breed can be all over the country and live in harmony with humans.
Formosan Mountain Dogs have adapted well to the modernization of the country. In rural areas, they have been trained to be hunting dogs, guard dogs, search & rescue and even family dogs. It’s no surprise they’re so popular in Taiwan.
- These dogs are nearing extinction thanks to the lack of conservation efforts by the Taiwan government.
- During WW1, Formosan Mountain Dogs were bred with military German Shepherds to produce guard dogs for highway construction workers.
- The Taiwan Dog nearly went extinct because of the dog-eating culture brought to the island by the Chinese Nationalist Party in 1945.
Taiwan Dog Temperament
This Taiwan dog is always brimming with energy. In the right home, they’ll be loyal and loving dogs to a stable family. They’re famously known by locals for being intelligent dogs with the ability to learn tricks or commands very quickly.
Because they’re indigenous dogs that has spent most of their history in the wild, they need plenty of socialization while in domestication. Without it, they’re likely to develop into fear-aggressive dogs that may be pose a threat to others.
The Formosan dog is much better off as a one-owner dog. However, that’s not to say they won’t thrive in a large family. Though they can be affectionate towards humans, they can also act aloof towards other family members.
11. Chuandong Hound
Highlights: Dignified, Loyal, Brave
The Chuandong Hound is truly an ancient Chinese dog breed thought to have existed back during the Han Dynasty in China. Having been around for nearly 2,000 years, this old breed can still be found in the Chongqing province today.
Most historians point to the Chinese Chongqing Dogs as the original ancestors of this hound. In fact, the two breeds are more closely related than you think. At one point, the two breeds strayed into two separate breeds, thus we see the similarities.
The Chuandong Hound will have a deep red color (mahogany) that blends into various dark colors, such as black or brown. This is their signature look. Plus, the coat will always be thin with a smooth yet soft texture that’s consistent throughout.
- The Chuandong Hound’s tongue is unique because it can be solid blue, solid dark purple/blue or with blue spots.
- DNA tests show that the Chuandong may be related to the Tibetan Mastiff, Chow Chow and landrace breeds from South China, Vietnam and Thailand.
- Despite being a medium-sized dog, the Chuandong Hound can live up to 20 years.
Chuandong Hound Temperament
There’s an aura of nobility and dignity that surrounds the Chuandong. They’re proud dogs that can be excellent companions in a home with strong leadership and mutual respect. As such, they tend to be great with kids, though suspicious of others.
However, being aloof with strangers means they are excellent guard dogs. And thanks to their alert and vigilant nature, they’ll be able to sense any intruders coming. In addition, the Chuandong dogs are known to have high prey-drive.
For the most part, these dogs are very friendly to their loved ones. They can be a little stubborn and independent at times. Even so, they have great respect for their owners and will go through training to please them.
12. Chongqing Dog
Highlights: Loyal, Vigilant, Courageous
What makes the Chongqing breed stand apart from the others is their affinity towards the family. This is true despite serving as a hunter and a guardian for the home. It’s why Chongqings are one of the most sought-after dogs in China.
It was when the Han Dynasty ruled China that the Chongqing reached popularity in the south-west part of the country. Ever since, they’ve been revered as one of the natural breeds of China despite a genetic tie to the Chow and Tibetan Mastiff.
Having this deep-brown muscular canine around is indeed reassuring as it could help you protect the property and people of the home. Their sharp instincts and inherent ability to remain alert will make them ideal guard dogs.
- There are roughly as many Chinese Giant Pandas as there are Chongqing dogs – making them one of the rarest Chinese dog breeds in the world.
- When ancient statues from the Han Dynasty were dug up in the 1980’s, the artifacts provided evidence that the Chongqing dog existed 2000 years ago.
- Chongqing dogs have been on the brink of extinction twice in the last 100 years. First, when the communist part slaughtered these dogs. The second time was when the SARS epidemic hit China.
Expect a Chongqing to be fond of children and family. But when it comes to strangers, this breed is bound to take on an aloof stance. They may not be aggressive but are wary of strangers, revealing their presence at the slightest hint.
However, with enough socialization at an early age, these dogs can become great family dogs. This dog is brave, but known most for their immense loyalty. If you’re a firm and consistent owner, your Chongqing will be obedient and protect you.
It should be noted that Chongqing dogs can have completely different personalities. They take their roles in the family very seriously. So, if you make them the guard dog, they may have a completely different temperament than if they were just a companion.
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13. Bone Mouth Dog
Highlights: Active, Agile, Calm
As cool as their name is, the Bone Mouth dog is not a completely unique dog breed. Rather, they’re a variation of the Chinese Shar-Pei. In Chinese, their name is pronounced “gǔ zuǐ,” which is a direct translation to “bony snout.”
This is because this variation of the dog has less “meat” and flaps of skin around the snout. Plus, a Bone Mouth differs from the Shar-Pei because the former has fewer wrinkles, a pointed tail, shorter hair and a roof-tile muzzle.
According to the Chinese locals, the Bone Mouth dog is the original version of the internationally famed Shar-Pei. The Shar-Pei that you know today was most likely developed by the Americans and bred with temperaments for western families.
- Standing as tall as 23 inches, the Bone Mouth is considerably taller than the American Shar-Pei.
- According to Chinese breeders, the meat-mouth variation was developed by the Americans and is the Shar-Pei that you probably know.
- Though these dogs are known for having a blue-blackish tongue, some light-colored dogs will have pink or spotted tongues.
Bone Mouth Temperament
There’s very little information surrounding the temperament of the Bone Mouth Shar-Pei. In ways, the Bone Mouth retains the same temperament as Shar Peis. But from what we’ve found, we know they are docile and loyal dogs.
Like with most Chinese dogs, Bone Mouth dogs are affectionate and tend to like being around the people they love. Despite the wrinkles, they’re more active and agile than you think. However, they can be reserved with strangers.
14. Xiasi Quan
Highlights: Obedient, Smart, Devoted
The Xiasi Dog or “Bai Long Quan,” as the Miao ethnic group calls them, is a Chinese dog breed that originates from the southern Guizhou Province of China. In the province, they had served as some of the top hunting dogs for decades.
These unique dogs stand apart from other Chinese dog breeds, as they have a lean muscular build and a signature white wiry coat – much like a terrier breed. In addition, they almost always have an erect tail and pointed ears.
The Xiasi dog has all the qualities of an excellent hunting dog. They have an incredible nose, along with sneaky agility and impressive endurance. They can spend hours on hunting trips with little to no effort. Plus, their prey drive is impressive.
- According to the Chinese, the Xiasi dog is regarded as a “lucky omen” that’ll bring prosperity to the household.
- In Guizhou, Xiasi dogs participated in boar-fighting competitions. The dogs were judged by their willingness to fight and attacks attempts.
- These dogs are currently fighting extinction. It’s estimated that there are less than a few hundred purebreds left in Guizhou province.
Xiasi Dog Temperament
Xiasi Quans are intelligent dogs that want nothing more than to work for and please the owner. They are relatively easy to train and do well in a family setting. However, they must meet their mental and physical stimulation needs to thrive.
The hunting instincts in the Xiasi is strong, as with all great hunters. That said, make sure you keep them on a leash at all times. And if a small animal runs by, they’ll chase it down and it’ll be difficult to catch them. They lock in.
As a hunting dog, Xiasi Quans are very comfortable operating in “dog packs.” The Xiasi will most likely get along with other dogs as long as they’re raised together. However, they may be a problem for other small pets you own.
Big Chinese Dog Breeds
The large dog category offers some of China’s most famous and popular dog breeds, including the Chow Chow, Tibetan Mastiff and Shar Pei. All of which, have made their way to the west and other asian countries. For this article, we classified large dog breeds as above 50 pounds in weight.
Large Chinese dog breeds include the Shaanxi Xian, Laizhou Hong, Tibetan Kyi Apso, Kunming Wolfdog, Tibetan Mastiff, Shar Pei and the Chow Chow.
15. Shaanxi Xian Hound
Highlights: Courageous, Alert, Agile
The ancient Xian Hound is a Chinese dog with traditional folklore and legends attached to its name. In the history of China, these dogs are one of the oldest – thought to have originated around 685 AD. And on the field, they’re as capable as any hound.
In the past, these dogs were primarily developed to locate, track, chase and capture prey on open fields. It is why they’re such agile and skilled hunters. Like the Saluki, the Xian Hound is equipped with an amazing set of ears and ears for hunting.
In fact, these Chinese hound dogs look very much like the Saluki and other “typical” sighthounds. The main difference is in the curled tail and the shorter hanging ears. They’ll have a smooth coat and a long set of legs, allowing them to hit quick speeds with long strides.
- The Xian Hound nearly went extinct when the Chinese government banned normal citizens from hunting.
- Currently, the China Kennel Union is making an effort to bring back this extremely-rare breed through the collection of DNA samples.
- The Xian Hound was named after the Chinese god, Zhang Xian, who was a highly skilled archer from the heavens. He often took the form of a dog.
Xian Hound Temperament
The Xian Hound will be an active and energetic dog. They were built to have amazing stamina to keep up with wild game during their long hunts. As a result, they’ll need plenty of exercise. In fact, the best is when they have an open field to roam free.
These dogs will appreciate a loving home to come back to after a hard day of work. They are loving and friendly in the home and tend to get along with other dogs. The Xian Hound often hunted in packs of multiple dogs, after all.
16. Laizhou Hong
Highlights: Calm, Courageous, Loving
The Laizhou Hong, which also goes by the name “Chinese Red Dog” or “China’s Red Dog,” is a huge molosser-type breed from Northeastern China. And while red is the lucky color in China, this breed is called “red” because of their reddish hue.
Like with most molosser-type dogs, the Laizhou is muscular, big and strong. What stands out is that their body tends to be long with a thick neck and large head. Along with their large and erect ears, they resemble a German Shepherd.
The reason for this is likely because these dogs were developed from the German Shepherd. In fact, they were probably derived from several german dog breeds, including the Rottweiler and the Great Dane. See the similarities?
Today, the Laizhou Hong is a relatively rare dog that is mostly found in the Laizhou region of China. Outside of the province, they’re hard to come by. And on the international scene, the Laizhou Hong is nearly impossible to find.
- The Laizhou Hong is known for their wicked strong bite, thanks to their powerful jaws with a scissor bite mouth and muscular head.
- In the late 19th century, several provinces of China were occupied by the Germans, who also brought their dogs. This led to the development of working Chinese dogs, such as the Laizhou Hong.
- Currently, the Laizhou Hong is only recognized by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) kennel club.
Laizhou Hong Temperament
Despite their looks, the Laizhou Hongs are known to be confident yet calm dogs. That is, they are a lot friendlier than they look. If you get to spend some time with these dogs and develop trust, they’ll always have your back no matter what.
Given their background as a working breed derived from some of the best working dogs, the Laizhou dogs also have good work ethics. They love to put their muscular frame to good use, especially if it means pleasing the owners.
In the home, they’ll be able to serve as incredible companions, always sticking by your side. However, they make excellent guard dogs as well. And if you need a working dog for various jobs on a farm, the Laizhou is a fine choice. These dogs can adapt to any home!
17. Tibetan Kyi Apso
Highlights: Loving, Calm, Protective
Also known as the Apso Do-Kyi to the west, the Tibetan Kyi Apso is one of the rarest dog breed to come from China. Like the Tibetan Mastiff, they were bred to be big guard dogs – protecting sheep, goat or whatever the nomadic tribe of Changthang traveled with.
The Kyi Apso is fairly similar to the Tibetan Mastiff, except instead of the mastiff’s signature mane, the dog sports a shaggy muzzle and beard. But because they’re lighter and more nimble, Kyi Apsos are also more agile and athletic.
The double coat of the Kyi Apso is long and dense, which is necessary for surviving the harsh cold climate of Tibet. Plus, they come in a variety of colors, including a solid black, black and tan and a more interesting shade of red or blue.
- While on duty, these dogs wear thick red collars made from yak wool. They’re meant to protect their throats from injury should they battle with wolves or snow leopards.
- Thubten Gyatso, the 13th Dalai Lama, was famously known for having a Tibetan Kyi Apso.
- They are one of the few primitive dog breeds to have only a single estrus per year, as opposed to two. Only canids, such as wild wolves have this characteristic.
Kyi Apso Temperament
Unfortunately, there is very little information on the temperament of the Tibetan Kyi Apso. However, we do know that they’re generally loving and calm dogs, except for when they’re on duty. They’re not afraid to let out a fierce bark at strangers.
Kyi Apsos are excellent at assessing situations and potential threats. It’s why they can be fun-loving one moment and dead-serious the next. This ability is similar to the Rottweiler’s and is a clear sign of high adaptive intelligence.
For the most part, they’re easy to get along with if they’re familiar with you. Those lucky enough to find and interact with an Kyi Apso say they’re less serious than other guard dogs and have a sense of humor that can be heartwarming.
18. Kunming Wolfdog
Highlights: Obedient, Devoted, Smart
In terms of appearance, this Chinese breed would remind you strongly of the German Shepherd due to the head-shape and athletic physique. Yet when you look at their tiny feet, you cannot help but compare them to cats.
Rather, the Kunming Wolfdog is a wolf hybrid specifically developed for extreme tasks in search and rescue, fire fighting and military work. However, they were first developed for military work in Yunnan province during the 1950s.
The Kunming also fluffs up and straighten their bushy tail as a sign of alertness. Given the natural instincts and agility, this Chinese dog breed is perfect for police and military work. However, they may not be ideal family pets.
Even so, the trend is changing. The only reason why they’re such underrated family dogs is because of their constant need for physical and mental stimulation. It’s something that not every home can provide to these high-energy Chinese dogs.
- Kunming Wolfdogs were used as security dogs during the 2010 XVI Asian Games in Guangzhou, China. One of their main jobs was to sniff out any potential bombs in the sports arena.
- Often known as Chinese German Shepherds, Kunming Wolfdogs were some of the first breeds to work with China’s K-9 force back in 1953.
- These dogs are a result of crossbreeding German Shepherds with Wolves.
For a large breed, this canine is surprisingly well-behaved towards family members. They love to perform tasks for their owners and will gladly accept obedience training from a respected owner. It’s why they’re the perfect service dog.
They tend to try to assume a leadership role from day one due to their dominant temperaments. So, be careful and establish your dominance as the alpha when it comes to the Kunming. Without it, your obedience training may be difficult.
With that said, this dog can be somewhat unpredictable and should be monitored at all times. These big Chinese dogs shouldn’t be playing with children unless they’re properly trained and the kids are old enough to respect them.
RECOMMENDED: Kunming Wolfdog – The Chinese GSD
19. Tibetan Mastiff
Highlights: Tenacious, Brave, Determined
This Tibetan Mastiff has stood the test of time. In earlier generations, they had served Alexander the Great. And in the most recent generation, they were trusted guardians for the Dalai Lama. Being as big and strong as a leopard, a Tibetan Mastiff is intimidating.
But by investing in one, you will have acquired a loyal companion that will guard and protect your home against all adversities. Observe a Tibetan Mastiff and the first thing that would strike you is its confident gait and majestic aura.
Shift your attention a bit and its coat will strike you as unique. Furthermore, their combination of soft wool covered by a rough outer texture is captivating. Another distinctive feature is its deep chest, not to mention its deadly bite, which can be lethal.
- The most expensive dog ever sold was a Tibetan Mastiff. He sold for nearly $2 million dollars USD back in 2014.
- The Tibetan Mastiff was popular among British royalty. Queen Victoria, King George IV and Edward VII (prince of Wales) all owned Tibetan Mastiffs at one point.
- People of Tibet believed these dogs carried the souls of monks that weren’t reincarnated into human.
Tibetan Mastiff Temperament
A Tibetan Mastiff is alert at all times. For all its ferocity and seemingly unlimited stamina, it takes its time to size up the situation and plan a strategy before jumping into a fight. They’re not out-of-control dogs that’ll rush into any fight.
Independent that it is, this dog breed is most compatible with owners that believe in giving their dogs a certain degree of freedom in decision making. They’re often called “challenging dogs,” as they can be strong-willed and stubborn.
Due to their immensely large stature, the Tibetan should be socialized very early on. With enough socialization training, they should be friendly with people and comfortably co-exist with other dogs in a large space.
RECOMMENDED: Tibetan Mastiff – Nomadic Guardians of Tibet
20. Chow Chow
Highlights: Loyal, Aloof, Independent
Anyone who prefers a big, hairy, strong and dignified canine would find the Chow Chow to be the ideal dog. Although the exact origin of this breed is somewhat unknown, it does boast of an ancient legacy that can be back to the 11th century BC.
While its bluish black tongue renders it a novelty among the canine breeds, the thick mane around its head gives the impression of a lion. Additionally, the thick fur often causes people to relate them to bears and other furry beasts.
Given its size and inherent strength, a Chow Chow traditionally fulfills the role of a hunter and a sledge-puller. In fact, they were known to take down the most vicious predators, such as wolves or leopards. But today, they’re just premier guard dogs.
- Research studies of DNA have shown that the Chow Chow is one of the oldest surviving dog breeds in the world. The appearance of Chows on ancient artifacts confirms this theory.
- The Chinese emperor of the Tang Dynasty (7th century A.D.) kept 2,500 Chow Chows to accompany his 10,000 hunters.
- The Chow Chow and Chinese Shar-Pei are the only two purebreds to have a black-blue tongue.
Chow Chow Temperament
Don’t expect a Chow to play cute and do your bidding, like fetching your paper and trotting on your heels. This dog breed is by far the most aristocratic and also the most independent of all the Chinese dog breeds.
They’re often viewed as a dumb dog breed, but really they’re just stubborn and aloof. Because of this, you must start its socialization early on. Frequent grooming is also a must, particularly during summers, when thick fur pose a problem.
The most unique quality of the Chow is their tolerance of being alone. However, this doesn’t mean you should leave them alone all the time. Chow Chows still appreciate family time and can be as loyal and devoted as any other breed.
RECOMMENDED: Chow Chow – The Black Tongue Dog
Highlights: Affectionate, Stubborn, Intelligent.
The Shar-pei was believed to have originated around 200 BC Han Dynasty in a village of Southern China (Tai Li). For this reason, they’re one of the most ancient Chinese dog breeds to survive (and even thrive) until present day.
The name ‘Shar-Pei’ is a Cantonese word which translates to “sandy skin.” This indicates that the breed was named because of its rough coat bearing a sand-like texture. For centuries, the Shar-Pei had been valued for being courageous and tenacious.
Time and again, they’ve proved valuable as guard dogs that are extremely protective of their family members and home. Despite these traits, these dogs are not hostile or aggressive by nature. They avoid getting into fights if given a choice.
- Hong Kong kennel owner, Matgo Law, saved the Shar-Pei dogs by writing a plea to help breed these dogs. LIFE magazine responded and soon enough, everyone wanted one in the United States.
- Bred as fighting dogs, Shar-Pei had a strategic advantage – their wrinkly loose skin. When opponents bit them, they would get a mouth full of skin instead of hitting vital organs.
- In 1978, the Shar-Pei was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the rarest dog breed in the world (60 known). Today, they are the 57th most popular breed in the USA.
Shar Pei Temperament
Shar-Pei dogs are generally quiet and reserved dogs, but they are also known to have one of the highest adaptive intelligence amongst dogs. When confronted with a stranger, they’ll be suspicious and wary, but won’t attack for no reason.
At times, this high intelligence could lead to stubbornness and independence. So, to minimize this, putting your Shar-Pei through obedience training is necessary. They may require extra consistency and patience, though.
The Shar-Pei is fiercely loyal, but could assume an aggressive stance towards strangers if they are provoked of see their owners in danger. As such, make sure to socialize through regular walks and include it as a part of its daily routine.
So tell, which is your favorite Chinese dog breed and why? Leave a comment in the section below!
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Free Hong Kong
Thursday 17th of November 2022
Great write up, really interesting. However there is one fallacy. Taiwan is not the Repuic if China. Taiwan is Taiwan and it is it's own country. As Hong Kong should be as well.
Friday 18th of November 2022
Agree with the point that Taiwan is its own country. There's absolutely no denying it. But the independent country is still officially known as the Republic of China, hence why I included the mountain dog in this article.
Wednesday 25th of September 2019
Chinese dogs are beautiful!!
Thursday 25th of July 2019
The Tibetan mastiff looks like a Pokémon or something
Monday 11th of February 2019
I've always been a fan of Chinese culture. I read books, watch films and decided to take a dog from here.