Dog Breeds Dog Fun

21 Charming Chinese Dog Breeds – The Complete Guide to All Chinese Dogs

Some of the best dogs in the world are Chinese dog breeds.
Written by Richard Jeng

China is well-known for its pandas, dragons and silkworm. But did you know China is also home to some of the most charming dog breeds ever? Big, small, fluffy or hairless, there’s a dog breed in China that will appeal to you.

Historical evidence has suggested that it was in the Middle Kingdom that domestication of dogs first appeared. This 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.

RECOMMENDED: 31 Stunning Dog from Germany

All Chinese Dogs

It’s just a matter of identifying one Chinese dog that would be most compatible with you and your family. Learning about these dogs’ characteristics and temperament can help you choosing your next companion and friend.

Though the following is a list of breeds homegrown in China, many have recently reached worldwide popularity. So, here are all 21 Chinese dog breeds. Which Chinese dog is your favorite? Let us know in the comments.

21. Xian Hound

Highlights: Courageous, Alert, Agile

via Nationalpurebreddogday

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.

20. 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 they get too much exercise! Needless to say, they are suited for swimming.

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 some 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.

For the most part, the Manchurian Hairless will be an outgoing and sociable dog. They love being the center of attention and can get along great with most people. But because they’re fragile small 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.

19. Chuandong Hound

Highlights: Dignified, Loyal, Brave

via First Chuandong Hound Club

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 of China today.

Most historians point to the Chinese Chongqing Dogs as the original ancestors of the Chuandong 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. It’s worth noting they need a dominant owner though.

18. Laizhou Hong

Highlights: Calm, Courageous, Loving

via Facebook

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. It’s why you see all the similarities in these dogs.

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 – only available with specialized breeders.

  • 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. After all, the Laizhou is actually a people-oriented dog. 

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 also a top choice. These dogs can adapt to any environment.

17. Tibetan Kyi Apso

Highlights: Affectionate, Calm, Protective

Photograph: Cengiz Yung

Also known as the Apso Do-Kyi to the western world, the Tibetan Kyi Apso is one of the rarest dog breed to originate from China. Even among the rare Tibetan dogs, this breed is truly hard to come by.

And like the Tibetan Mastiff, they were bred to be big guardian dogs – protecting sheep, goat or whatever the nomadic tribe of Changthang traveled with. These dogs are fierce and will often sound off a loud warning bark when threatened.

The Kyi Apso is fairly similar to the Tibetan Mastiff, except instead of the mastiff’s signature mane, this 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 climates of Tibet. Plus, they come in a variety of colors, including a solid black, black and tan and interesting shades of red or blue.

With their robust build and protective nature, Kyi Apsos were also tasked to guard temples and camps in the mountaintops. And like the Tibetan Mastiff, they take their jobs seriously.

  • 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 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 experience interacting with these dogs say they’re less serious than other guard dogs and have a sense of humor.

16. Tibetan Terrier

Highlights: Loving, Loyal, Tender

Despite the name, the Tibetan Terrier isn’t from the terrier dog group. Rather, they’re a non-sporting dog breed. But they are from the Tibetan region in China.

Also called the “Holy Dog of Tibet,” the Tibetan Terrier is one of four dog breeds that protect the ancient monasteries of Tibet. In fact, they look similar to the Tibetan Lhasa Apso – just slightly bigger.

These dogs feature a shaggy double coat with a wool-like undercoat. However, the top coat resembles human hair more than dog fur.

Though they’re hardy and generally live a long life, Tibetan Terriers are susceptible to certain health problems, mostly involving the eyes and joints.

  • 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

These dogs 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.

Tibetan Terriers strike the perfect balance between playfulness and calmness. They’ll spend hours playing with your kids, but also love to cuddle up just as much. They’re low-key dogs, but also lively playmates.

Having guard monasteries for thousands of years, you can be their vigilant nature makes them superb watchdogs. They’re not overly aggressive with strangers, but they’ll be suspicious of them.

They’re stubborn at times and won’t always respond well to obedience training. Still, they’re very smart dogs – just more independent-minded than other dogs.

15. Lhasa Apso

Highlights: Fun, Confident, Intelligent

The Lhasa Apso is a Tibetan dog breed that’s been around for over thousands of years. Like the other Tibetan breeds, they served in Buddhist monasteries in the reclusive regions of the Himalayas.

Though small in size, these aristocratic dogs are known for their lavish coats that hang to the floor, draping from all sides of the body. They are truly an interesting sight to see.

Fanatics of the Lhasa Apso say their oval-shaped dark eyes are great communication tools. They’re very expressive dogs and the eyes are truly the window to their soul.

Though they originated from China’s Tibetan region, the Lhasa Apso has grown wildly popular all around the world. In fact, many A-list celebrities own one, including 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. Once you get to know them, they’re quite comical and can be a little mischievous.

With the familiar, they’re warm and affectionate dogs. However, they quite stand-offish with strangers, which is why they’re great watchdogs.

Though the Lhasa Apso is a small dog, they’re confident and a little courageous. They’ll do what they can to protect the family, as most watchdogs do too.

14. Japanese Chin

Highlights: Alert, Independent, Smart

The Japanese Chin is….Chinese? The history of these dogs is as confusing as its name. In the past, there’s been a lot of debate over the actual origins of the Japanese Chin.

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.

Furthermore, some even believe that the Japanese Chin and Pekingese were both the same dog at one point! Their theory is that these dogs were gifted to Japan by the ancient Chinese Emperors.

We can’t say for sure where the Japanese Chin originate from, but we do know that they’re amazing lap dogs and companions.

  • 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. They can be stubborn, but they’re always alert and very intelligent.

If given the choice, the Chin will always seek higher grounds to rest, much like a cat would do. Furthermore, they’ll paw and wipe their face.

For the most part, Chins are very affectionate dogs. Though independent, they are surprisingly loyal dogs. Just make sure you provide early socialization for a more balanced Japanese Chin.

These dogs are very adaptable, able to find comfort in just about any situation or environment. Also, they’re decent watchdogs with their vigilant demeanor.

RECOMMENDED: All About the Japanese Chin

13. Xiasi Quan

Highlights: Obedient, Intelligent, Devoted

The Xiasi Dog or “Bai Long Quan,” as the Miao ethnic group calls them, is a Chinese dog that originates from the southern Guizhou Province of China.

These unique dogs stand apart from other dogs of China, as they have a lean muscular build and a signature white wiry coat. In the province, they had served as hunting dogs for decades.

The Xiasi dog has all the qualities of an excellent hunting dog. They have an incredible nose, along with sneaky agility and impressive endurance.

When they’re off the field, they’re affectionate and loving companion dogs for families. Despite a strong hunting instinct, they get along well with other dogs in the pack.

  • 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 highly intelligent dogs that want nothing more than to work for and please their owners. They’re relatively easy to train and do well in a family setting.

However, if you don’t plan to use them on the field, they need to meet their mental and physical stimulation elsewhere. Dog puzzles, games and a lot of exercise are recommended for these high-energy dogs.

The hunting instincts in the Xiasi is strong. Make sure you keep them on a leash at all times. If a small animal runs by, they’ll chase it down and it’ll be difficult to catch them.

As a hunting dog, they’re very comfortable operating in “dog packs.” The Xiasi will most likely get along with other dogs as long as they’re raised together. But they may be a problem for other small pets you own.

12. Formosan Mountain Dog

Highlights: Intelligent, Active, Loyal

The Formosan Mountain Dog, called Tuguo in Chinese, is not from mainland China, but rather from the small island of Taiwan. In fact, they’re the landrace breed of the island, which is also called Formosa Island.

Despite their names, these dogs are not solely found in the mountainous regions of Taiwan. They wander the streets in even large metropolitan cities such as the country’s capital, Taipei.

Formosan Mountain Dogs have adapted well to the modernization of the country. In rural areas, they’ve been trained to be hunting dogs, guard dogs, search & rescue and even family companions.

  • 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.

Formosan Mountain Dog Temperament

This Taiwan dog is always brimming with energy. In the right environment, they will be loyal and affectionate dogs.

They’re famously known by locals for being highly intelligent dogs with the capability to learn commands and jobs very quickly. It’s why they can make such great hunting and guard dogs.

Because they’re indigenous dogs that’s spent most of their history in the wild, they need plenty of socialization. Without it, they’re likely to develop into fear-aggressive dog breeds.

The Formosan dog is much better off as a one-owner dog. Though they can be affectionate towards humans, they can also act aloof towards other family members.

11. Bone Mouth Dog

Highlights: Active, Agile, Calm

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 literally translates to “bony snout.” That’s because this variation has less “meat” and flaps of skin around the snout.

In addition, the 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 now famous Shar-Pei. The Shar-Pei that you know today was most likely developed by the Americans.

  • 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. However, from what we’ve found, we know they’re docile and loyal dogs.

Like with most Chinese dogs, Bone Mouth dogs are affectionate and tend to like being with people. Despite the wrinkles, they’re more active and agile than you think.

10. Kunming Wolfdog

Highlights: Obedient, Devoted, Intelligent.

The Kunming Wolfdog is like the Chinese cousin of the German Shepherd.

In terms of appearance, this Chinese breed would remind you strongly of a German Shepherd because of its head-shape and athletic physique.

Yet when you look at their tiny feet, you cannot help but compare them to cats. Like with feline, the Kunming also fluffs up and straighten their bushy tail as a sign of alertness.

Given their natural instincts and agility, this Chinese dog breed is perfect for police and military work. They may not be popular family pets, but this trend is gradually 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 household 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.

Kunming Temperament

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.

They tend to try to assume a leadership role from day one. So, be careful and establish your dominance as the alpha when it comes to the Kunming.

With that said, this dog can be somewhat unpredictable and should be monitored at all times. Kunmings shouldn’t be playing with children unless they’re properly trained and the kids are old enough.

RECOMMENDED: Kunming Wolfdog – Chinese German Shepherd

9. Chongqing Dog

Highlights: Loyal, Vigilant, Courageous.

The Chinese Chongqing dog is one of the rarest dog breeds in China.

What makes the Chongqing breed stand apart from the others is its affinity towards its family. This is true despite serving as a hunter and a guardian for the home.

It was when the Han Dynasty ruled China that the Chongqing reached popularity in the south-western part of the country. Ever since, they’ve been revered as one of the natural breeds of China.

Having this deep-brown muscular canine around is indeed reassuring as it could help you protect your property. Their sharp instincts and inherent ability to remain alert 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.

Chongqing Temperament

Expect a Chongqing to be fond of children and family members. But when it comes to strangers this dog 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. They’re brave, but known most for their immense loyalty. As long as you’re a firm and consistent owner, the Chongqing will be obedient and protect you at all costs.

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 dog.

RECOMMENDED: Chongqing Dog – East Sichuan Hunter

8. Chinese Crested

Highlights: Playful, Alert, Sweet-tempered.

The Chinese Crested dog is a bald Chinese breed with hair in only three areas.

The Chinese Crested dog comes in two distinct varieties, often in the same litter. One version comes with fur and the other does not. They’re called the Powderpuff and Hairless Chinese Crested, respectively.

However, the hairless coat is a dominant trait, making them more popular than their furry counterparts. It’s not too difficult finding a powderpuff Crested, though.

For dog lovers who regard bald as beautiful or allergic to pet-hair, the hairless Chinese Crested may be the best option. What makes the Chinese Crested truly unusual is that it is not completely hairless.

Rather, there is a tuft of hair on its head resembling a crest and some on its feet to mimic wearing “socks.” There is also hair on the tip of its tail, giving it 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, seriously). This has even caused some owners to describe them as being “feline.”

As a companion, a Chinese Crested is quite entertaining because it will keep vying for your attention through its tricks – they’re very eager to please.

Owners describe their Chinese Crested as sweet, loving, affectionate and playful. As a result, they’re some of the best companion dogs due to their favorable temperaments.

But if you’re not fond of bark-y dogs, 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.

RECOMMENDED: All About the Chinese Crested

7. Tibetan Mastiff

Highlights: Tenacious, Brave, Strong-willed.

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

This Tibetan Mastiff has stood the test of time. In earlier generations, they served Alexander the Great and in the most recent generation guards the Dalai Lama.

Being as large and muscular as a leopard, a Tibetan Mastiff is of course 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. 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 prove to be lethal at times.

It’s worth noting that the Tibetan Mastiffs are currently listed as one of the most expensive dog breeds in the world. In fact, the most expensive dog ever sold was a Tibetan Mastiff.

  • 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.

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.   

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

6. Shih Tzu

Highlights: Affectionate, Loyal, Gentle.

The Shih Tzu is one of the best lap dogs of all the Chinese breeds.

Popularity of Shih Tzu arises from the fact that it is a wonderful companion who just loves tottering at its master’s heels and sleeping on his/her lap. In other words, they’re the perfect Chinese lap dog.

There was a time in history when this breed was the favorite of the rich and elite during the rule of the Ming Dynasty. It explains why some people feel the Shih Tzu appears snooty at times – it’s in their DNA.

All you need to do is spend a few hours with this dog to realize that the snobbishness is just superficial and in reality it is one of the most endearing dogs that you can hope for.

At first glance, the Shih Tzu might remind you of a flower because of the mass of hair flowing out of its head in all possible directions.

Another distinctive characteristic is its mouth wherein the upper jaw is relatively narrow as compared to the lower jaw. It looks a bit like an over-bite. This signature physical trait can be seen in many Shih Tzu mixes too!

  • 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 its owners are around and does not mind living in enclosed space, like an apartment. However, it needs to be groomed daily and can display signs of discomfort when the temperature rises.

This means they are suitable for pet owners who have plenty of time, like an elderly couple or a housewife with minimal domestic responsibilities.

Though these dogs may rank low for canine intelligence (top 20 “dumbest dogs”), they’re actually smart in other ways.

They make some of the best watchdogs, as they are always alert, vigilant and cautious of their surroundings. A Shih Tzu will alert you if someone gets too close to your territory. However, some owners can’t stand their constant barking.

RECOMMENDED: Shih Tzu – The Little Lion Dog

5. Chow Chow

Highlights: Loyal, Aloof, Independent.

The Chow Chow is probably the least intelligent dog breed from China.

Anyone who prefers a big, hairy, strong and dignified canine would find the Chow Chow to be perfect. Although the exact origin of this breed is somewhat unknown, it does boast of an ancient legacy that can be traced as far back as 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.

Given its size and inherent strength, a Chow Chow traditionally fulfills the role of a hunter and a sledge-puller. However, they are generally viewed as a intimidating guard dog today.

  • 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 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 the thick fur could pose a problem.

The most unique quality of the Chow is their tolerance of being alone. Most dogs are social creatures and strongly prefer to be around people, but that’s not the case with the Chow Chow.

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

4. Tibetan Spaniel

Highlights: Playful, Assertive, Intelligent.

The Tibetan Spaniel has been known to work in tandem with the Tibetan Mastiff.

This Chinese dog breed, the Tibetan Spaniel, is one of the oldest in the dogdom. They originated from the Himalayan regions of Tibet nearly 2,500 years ago!

Although they’re named the Tibetan Spaniel, these dogs aren’t actually from the spaniel group. They were given this name mainly because of their close physical resemblance with certain spaniels.

Associated with monks and monasteries, the Tibetan Spaniel is loved because of people’s appreciation for lions in the Middle Kingdom. Plus, they’re alert enough to work in tandem with its bigger and stronger counterpart, the Tibetan Mastiff.

Together, they’ll safeguard territory and warn against intruders very effectively. On the other hand, they’re 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 qualities for a companion dog. Owners will describe them as very cat-like, often climbing furniture as if they were actually cats.

In terms of personality, they are the opposite of the Chinese Chow. A Tibetan Spaniel needs 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, thus qualifying as a most understanding pet. If you’re having a bad day, expect a Tibetan Spaniel to come comfort you. 

They do have a tendency to use the couch for most part of the day, but since the Chinese regard them as bearers of good fortune, no-one actually minds having them lounging around the house.

3. Pug

Highlights: Charming, Mischievous, Sociable.

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

Who can ever forget the adorable, four-legged creature featured in the Vodafone ad as a steady and dependable 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 companion in monasteries. As a matter of fact, these dogs have quite a bit of history in ancient China

A Pug could be black or fawn, but its most distinctive feature is the pushed-in nose with plenty of blackness all over the face. It gives them the impression of wearing a black mask

Personally, my favorite thing about this dog breed is all the amazing pug jokes that has populated the internet. Their quirky looks and personalities make for some of the best memes.

  • 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.”

Pug Temperament 

Emotionally, a pug is regarded as being one of the most stable dog breeds not just in China but in the world. Though small, they’re dependable.

Pugs are highly adaptable and comfortable in any setting as long as their family members are around. Whether in an apartment, an individual house or a farm in a rural area, a Pug will be comfortable.

This breed is particularly fond of children, thus making them the perfect choice if you have kids in the family. A Pug will usually glue itself to the owners (velcro dog!) and some guests, as they love being with people. It’s pretty much what they were bred for.

They’re docile and social by nature, but can be stubborn at times. When they want to be, they can be quite intelligent too. Despite the few flaws, it’s hard to resist the charm of a pug. 

RECOMMENDED: The Guide to the Chinese Pug

2. Shar-Pei

Highlights: Affectionate, Stubborn, Intelligent.

The Shar Pei is one of the oldest Chinese dog breed, estimated to have been bred in 200 BC.

The Shar-pei was believed to have originated around 200 BC (Han Dynasty) in a village in Southern China (Tai Li). For this reason, they’re one of the most ancient Chinese dog breeds to survive until present day.

With their wrinkled forehead, blue-black tongue, petite ears and hippo-like head, Shar-peis easily stand out from other dog breeds. You won’t have a hard time spotting one at a dog park. 

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’ll avoid getting into a fight 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, but they are also known to have one of the highest adaptive intelligence amongst dogs.

At times, this high intelligence could lead to stubbornness. So, to minimize this, putting your Shar-Pei through obedience training is necessary. Start early for better results!

The Shar-Pei is fiercely loyal, but could assume an aggressive stance towards strangers, which is why socializing through regular walks should be a part of its daily routine.

1. Pekingese

Highlights: Affectionate, Loyal, Proud.

The Pekingese is associated with Chinese royalty and is easily the most popular dog in China.

Royal in every way, the Pekingese is indeed the most popular dog breed in China. They’re rich in legacy but also have an amiable demeanor.

Back in the 8th century, members of the Tang Dynasty in China revered this breed to the point that you had to be a royal to own one.

They were named after the Chinese capital, which is currently Beijing. However, at that time, the capital was known as Peking. Can you imagine if the United States had a “District of Columbia” dog? 

From its once sacred status, this canine breed has come a long way. In fact, they’re now bred in several parts of the world and owned by many people regardless of social stature.

A signature characteristic of this breed is the golden coat of fur which has earned it 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. 

Pekingese Temperament

Dignity comes foremost with this dog breed and to a great extent it also dictates the dog’s behavior. Even though it is relatively small, cheerful and affectionate, a Pekingese would rarely settle down on your lap. Not all small dogs are lap dogs!

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.

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.

RECOMMENDED: Pekingese – The Royal Lion Dog

Tell us, which is your favorite Chinese dog breed and why?

Posts you may like:

About the author

Richard Jeng

Richard has been raising dogs his whole life, including a Poodle, Pomeranian, Corgi and Australian Shepherd. He's always working with animal shelters and dog rescues because of his passion for all dogs. Fun fact: his all time favorite breed is the German Shepherd. Read More.


Leave a Comment