Numerous dog breeds originated in China. Several are popular as pets today and a few are rare. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes most of the breeds but not all.
Chinese Chongqing Dog
This ancient, rare breed is also known as the Eastern Sichuan Province Hunting Dog. It originated from Chongqing, China. The Chongqing is a strong and sturdy dog with that possesses terrier-like characteristics, including tenacity, courage and intelligence. It’s a natural guard dog that was used for protecting as well as for hunting. It is usually aloof with strangers and has an independent spirit.
It stands 14 to 19 inches (35 to 50 cm) tall and weighs 33 to 54 pounds (15 to 25 kg). It possesses a deep brown colored coat that doesn’t require much grooming, just the occasional brush and bath.
This dog does, however, require regular, vigorous exercise, making a good jogging or hiking companion. Neither the AKC nor the United Kingdom Kennel Club (UKC) recognizes this breed.
Chinese Crested Dog
This fine-boned toy dog comes in hairless as well as powder-puff varieties. The hairless has tufts on the head (crest), feet (socks) and tail (plume); the Powderpuff is completely covered with a soft, straight coat. Both types can be in the same litter.
The breed is believed to have come from African hairless dogs. Chinese sailors used these dogs to hunt vermin aboard ships. They appeared in Europe during the 1700s.
The hairless variety is prone to frequent skin irritations, allergies and sunburn and should wear a sweater during cold weather. It sheds little hair, and this makes it a good dog for people with allergies.
Chinese Crested Dogs are considered alert and playful. These dogs greatly enjoy human companionship and have been known to perform tricks. They can be diggers but are generally not barkers. These small dogs average 12 inches (30 cm) tall and usually weigh 10 pounds (4.5 kg) or less. They make great apartment dogs due to their small size but they do need regular exercise because they can become bored and destructive.
Grooming for the hairless variety is fairly easy. They should be bathed frequently and have oil or cream massaged into their skin. Powderpuffs need more grooming, including daily brushing.
The AKC recognized the breed in 1991 as part of the Toy Group. The UKC recognized the Chinese Crested in 1995 as part of the Companion Dog Group.
Chinese Foo Dog
Another rare Chinese dog breed that is not recognized by either the AKC or the UKC, this dog is thought to have originated from a cross between the Chow Chow and Northern European hunting dogs. A typical spitz-type dog, this breed comes in toy, miniature or standard size. It’s known as a companion dog and a working dog that guards and hunts. It was also used as a sledding and watchdog.
This breed is also known as the Chinese Choo Hunting Dog and the Chinese Temple Forest Dog. One job was guarding Buddhist temples. The naming of this dog breed is very significant to the Buddhist religion. The Chinese Foo looks like a lion, a sacred animal to Buddhists. The Chinese word for Buddha is Fo, which led to the original name – the Dog of Fo.
The Chinese Foo Dog comes in both long and short-haired varieties (Rough or Plush) with diverse coat color, including black, fawn, red, and cream and sable. The double-coat is weather resistant. It has small, erect ears and the tail is carried over its back (a Spitz trait). This powerful, compact dog possesses a deep and somewhat expansive chest and a fairly broad head.
It needs routine, rigorous exercise, such as jogging or Frisbee. This is an active, agile, alert, hardy dog. It is a highly devoted family pet with great dignity and independence, meaning the breed may not always be as obedient as an owner might like.
Chinese Imperial Dog
Another breed not recognized by the AKC or UKC, many consider this a small Shih Tzu while others look at it as a totally separate breed.
Those who promote it as a separate breed say the purpose of this tiny dog is that of a personal pet. These dogs stand less than 9 inches (23 cm) tall and weigh under 9 pounds (4 kg), making excellent dogs for apartment life. Though small, these dogs still need daily walks and regular play activity. The long-haired coat requires occasional bathing and regular grooming and clipping.
These are playful, happy, trusting and affectionate dogs that also love to sit quietly on their owners’ lap for long periods of time. They can live 10 to 15 years.
A breed that is popular as a pet and is recognized by the AKC and UKC, the Chow Chow is noted for its unique lion-like mane and blue-black tongue. This ancient breed has been around for more than 2,000 years, used as a working and companion animal. Its purposes included hunting, herding, pulling and protection; some believe the Chow was the original ancestor of the Samoyed, Norwegian Elkhound, Pomeranian and Keeshond.
This is one of the most serious-minded of all dog breeds, with an aloof and strong-willed demeanor. Cat-like in personality, the Chow is independent, stubborn and less eager to please than other dog breeds. However, it can be affectionate and devoted to its family.
The thick, double coat comes in red, black, blue, cinnamon and cream. The coat can be either rough or smooth. Regular grooming and bathing are necessary.
This breed also requires early socialization, training, and some type of daily exercise. A sturdy dog, the Chow stands 17 to 20 inches (43 to 51 cm) tall and weighs 45 to 70 pounds (20 to 32 kg).
A popular pet, the Pekingese was originally bred for companionship by Chinese nobility. This small, compact yet sturdy dog possesses a lion-like face, oftentimes with a black mask, displaying courage and dignity. Its long, coarse hair can be any color and requires regular brushing. The coat forms a noticeable mane.
Pekingese images abound in Chinese art dating back to the 8th century. The breed gets its name from the ancient city of Peking (now called Beijing). These dogs were considered sacred in ancient China and could only be owned by royalty. Pekingese came to Europe when the British overtook the Chinese Imperial Palace in 1860; it was first shown in England as a breed in 1893 and was recognized by the UKC in 1948.
The AKC recognized the Pekingese in 1906 as part of the Toy Group. These dogs stand only 6 to 9 inches (30 to 45 cm) and weigh less than 14 pounds (6 kg). Their small size makes them great apartment dogs, but they are sometimes hard to housebreak.
These are considered brave, independent little dogs, sensitive and very affectionate with their owners. They live 10 to 15 years but tend to catch colds easily.
Another popular small Chinese dog breed, the Pug is believed to have originated before 400 BC. It was known in Holland by the 1500s. The breed was further developed and standardized in Britain. Pugs became popular in Europe during 19th century Victorian times. The UKC recognized the breed in 1918; the AKC recognized the breed even earlier, in 1885.
Tibetan monasteries kept Pugs as pets, and the breed made its way to Japan and Europe. It was the official dog of the House of Orange in Holland. Prince William II owned pugs, and in France, Napoleon’s wife, Josephine, had a pug.
This square, stocky breed features a massive, round head with a black mask and deep wrinkles. Its short, easy-to-maintain coat comes in fawn, silver fawn, apricot fawn or black.
These dogs are noted for their playful personalities and outgoing, loving, faithful dispositions. They are friendly and eager to please, often providing comic relief through their rambunctious nature. Owners need to be careful not to overdue exercise and play – the dog’s short muzzle contributes to breathing problems, including wheezing and snoring. Pugs are also prone to colds and can be stressed by weather extremes.
Part of the AKC’s Toy Group, Pugs weigh between 13 and 20 pounds (6 to 9 kg) and stand 10 to 14 inches (25 to 36 cm).
This unique breed features loose skin, wrinkles and a hippopotamus-shaped head; wrinkles diminish as the dog ages. The Shar Pei was originally bred for dog fighting as well as hunting wild boar and guarding flocks. Like the Chow, this is an ancient breed, dating to about 200 BC. Like the Chow, the Shar Pei has a blue-black tongue.
During the Communist Revolution, the Shar-Pei population dwindled significantly. In 1973, a Hong Kong businessman acquired a few dogs in an attempt to save the breed. Thereafter, numbers climbed, and it is now one of the more popular dog breeds.
The Shar Pei’s personality includes aloofness with strangers; however, it is devoted to its family. The breed is often seen in the show ring as well as at agility, obedience and tracking events.
The name “Shar-Pei” means sandy coat; however, the color comes in various solid shades. Minimal grooming is required, occasional bathing and brushing, especially during shedding season.
Considered intelligent, generally stubborn and somewhat dominant, this breed is not for everyone. It learns quickly but requires early training and socialization.
A stately, stocky dog with very small, thick ears, the Shar Pei stands 18 to 20 inches (46 to 51 cm) and weighs 45 to 60 pounds. The AKC recognized the breed in 1992 as part of the Non-sporting Group.
These dogs require routine exercise, such as daily walks and plenty of play time. However, they are sensitive to warm weather. If outdoors, they require ample shade and water.
This breed is of the most popular family pets in the world, according to the AKC. Their popularity dates back centuries, being cherished by Chinese royals for more than 1,000 years. The Shih Tzu was the house pet for most of the Ming Dynasty. The name means “lion” and “of the master” (or lama), and dates back to1643 when the Manchu rulers of China received a few “lion dogs” from the Dalai Lama. Many believe this breed descended from crossing the Lhasa Apso or the Tibetan mountain dog and Pekingese. British soldiers discovered these dogs during World War II.
The Shih Tzu’s long, luxurious double coat is its most distinctive feature. The silky coat comes in all colors and requires daily brushing and regular grooming. Often a topknot is created and tied up in order to keep hair from the dog’s eyes.
Even though this dog breed is sweet and playful, it’s not afraid to stand up for itself. It possesses an arrogant carriage with the head held high, and the tail curved over its back. However, this is an outgoing and happy dog with its sole purpose that of companion. Considered lively, friendly and trusting, this breed makes an excellent family pet.
The AKC recognized this diminutive breed in 1969; it is part of the organization’s Toy Group. The Shih Tzu ranges from 8 to 11 inches (20 to 28 cm) tall and weighs 9 to 16 pounds (4 to 7 kg). It does quite well in smaller dwellings but still requires play and walks for exercise.
Despite its name, this breed originates in China and, like other small Oriental dog breeds, was also a breed of royalty. Its purpose was to accompany ladies of the Imperial Palace and warm the laps of Chinese aristocracy. Evidence suggests that commoners could not purchase these dogs – they were for nobility, and when they arrived in Japan, these little dogs were frequently given as gifts to diplomats. In 1853, a pair of these little dogs was presented to Queen Victoria from Commodore Perry when he returned from his mission to open Japan.
The breed features a distinctive Oriental facial expression with a large, broad head, wide-set, protruding eyes, and patterned facial markings.
This small dog breed is considered sensitive and intelligent, agile and playful. Chins can be taught to perform tricks. They are affectionate and devoted companions, good with other dogs and pets. However, they are reserved with strangers and in unfamiliar situations.
Their silky, straight coat varies in size and length. Color can be red and white, black and white, or black and white with tan points. They possess a plumed tail that is carried over the back, curving to one side. Their flowing coat requires twice-weekly brushing.
Play and daily walks will provide a Chin with adequate exercise. For a small breed, a Chin doesn’t live very long, only about 10 years.
The AKC recognized this breed in 1888; it is part of the Toy Group. The Japanese Chin is also called the Japanese Spaniel, the name by which it was known until 1977. It stands 7 to 11 inches (18 to 28 cm) and weighs 4 to 15 pounds (2 to 7 kg).
Many Chinese dog breeds remain popular as pets today, and a few are still virtually unknown outside their native country. Whether in the show ring or spending time with their favorite person, these special dogs display their unique qualities.