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Chinese dog breeds are dogs that have a heritage in China. These dogs either once came from China or continue to be bred in the country. Chinese dog breeds have unique distinctions that separate them from other breeds. Many of these dogs have long hair and are small in size because of why they were bred. For example, many Chinese dogs were bred for the nobility, who wanted smaller lap dogs. These are only some of the distinctions that make Chinese dog breeds unique.
When learning about Chinese dogs, there are a few things you need to consider. You’ll want to understand the history, the type of breeds, and what those breeds are like. While there are a lot of details to learn, we’re here to help.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about Chinese dog breeds.
What is a Chinese Dog Breed?
Chinese dog breeds are dogs that come from China. These origins can be historical or even recent. For example, some shepherds that are being bred in China exhibit unique Chinese qualities that are distinctive from their brethren back home in Europe. Therefore, Chinese dog breeds can be any breed related to China.
Most Chinese breeds are smaller than European or American breeds because of the reason they were bred. These dogs were usually bred as lap dogs for upper-class citizens and the nobility. This is why many Chinese dog breeds, like the Shih Tzu, are known as toy breeds. It’s for their small size and playful personalities.
What is the History of Chinese Dog Breeds?
Understanding the history of these great Chinese breeds will help you determine which breed is right for you. Chinese dog breeds have a lot of history, but we’ll start with where it all began. One of the earliest dog breeds that came from China is the pug. Pugs date back to around 400 BCE, making them one of the oldest dog breeds in the world—only some breeds, like Formosan mountain dogs, are older.
One of China’s most popular breeds today is the Chinese crested dog. These dogs were first bred during the 1500s when many historians believe that the dogs accompanied Chinese sailors on various expeditions. Their role was usually to catch vermin or alert sailors to danger. Many people believe that Chinese crested dogs are descendants of hairless dogs from Africa. Their lack of hair is pretty strong evidence of this, but they also don’t have the wrinkly faces that many Chinese dog breeds have.
That said, most Chinese dog breeds that you see today are smaller because they were bred for the nobility. They were used as a symbol of wealth and prosperity among China’s upper classes. Therefore, most breeds are small, like the Pekingese or Shih Tzu.
What is the Temperament of Chinese Dog Breeds?
The temperament of Chinese dog breeds depends on the dog. Most of the smaller dogs have friendly personalities with an abundance of energy. They’re also known for their barking, which is high-pitched compared to larger dogs. Larger Chinese dog breeds are more relaxed but can bark or have an aggressive reaction when provoked. Remember, no two dogs are the same, and training plays a big role in how well-behaved a dog breed can be.
The only dogs with an aggressive temperament are Tibetan Mastiffs, but this is only when they’re not trained properly. Their aggression comes about when their owner is in danger or if they suspect something is wrong.
Now that you know a little bit about Chinese dog breeds, we’ll take you through some of the most common dogs that you’ll run into.
The 12 Most Common Chinese Dog Breeds
Chinese dog breeds vary in size, temperament, and even history. However, there’s more than you would think. There is also a wide range of variation between these dogs. You’ll find that some dogs are larger in size, and others are small and playful. Discover the most common Chinese dog breeds below.
- Shih Tzu
- Chow Chow
- Chinese Crested Dog
- Japanese Chin
- Lhasa Apso
- Tibetan Terrier
- Kunming Wolfdog
- Tibetan Mastiff
- Formosan Mountain Dog
Learn more about each Chinese breed below.
1. Shih Tzu
The Shih Tzu is one of the oldest dog breeds in China that’s known as a toy breed. Shih Tzus are known as toy breeds because of their small size and playful personalities. These dogs became popular in China because they were favored by Chinese royalty. The dogs used to be found on their laps and even at important meetings and sailing expeditions.
When it comes to appearance, the Shih Tzu looks like a small lion. They usually stand at around 8 to 11 inches and weigh between 9 and 15 pounds. Their coat is long and can come in several color variations. Some examples include gold, blue, and white.
When it comes to Chinese dog breeds, the Shih Tzu is one of the most popular. They’re also popular worldwide and can be adopted from breeders around the world.
2. Chow Chow
The Chow Chow is another popular Chinese dog breed. They’re small dogs that usually have long black fur, and their face resembles that of a bear. Aside from being popular today, Chow Chows have been popular for a long time. These dogs have been around since 206 BCE and used to be used as hunting dogs. This breed is also known for being a good guard dog.
Chow Chows have distinctive features aside from their fur and face. They’re about 20 inches tall and have a rough coat that can be blue, black, or brown. Red is less common but also appears on a Chow Chow’s coat sometimes. Expect a Chow Chow to live for about 10 to 12 years if they’re healthy.
Pekingese are among some of China’s most popular dog breeds. The name translates to sun dogs or lion dogs, and some ancient Chinese history suggests that many people believed that Buddha shrunk a lion down to the size of a dog to get this breed. However, it’s more likely that the Pekingese breed was the result of breeding big dogs with little dogs. China was known for its toy dog breeds at the time, which is why it wouldn’t be uncommon for a larger dog to be bred with a smaller dog.
The Pekingese is small, like other toy breeds, and stands at about 6 to 9 inches. Their coat is thick, and they have a lion-like mane. The mane can be in red, gold, or some other colors. This mane is what helped breeders come up with a name for the dog. These dogs live for about 15 years if their health is okay.
4. Chinese Crested Dog
It’s hard to tell when Chinese Crested dogs entered the scene. It’s thought that sailors bred these dogs during the 1500s after they visited regions like Africa. In fact, it’s possible that the Chinese Crested dog is from Africa and not China. Still, it’s one of the most popular dogs in China and continues to be bred to this day. Plus, Chinese is in the name, so how could we not include them on our list?
Chinese Crested dogs have several features that separate them from other dog breeds. They can be hairless or have hair, and they resemble some hairless dogs from Africa. Chinese Crested dogs usually have soft and silky hair only found on the head and accompanied by pinkish-grey skin. The variant of the breed with hair is sometimes known as the powderpuff, which has a silky white coating. You can expect these dogs to live for about 15 years if their health is in order. They’re also smaller than most dogs, only weigh about 12 pounds, and stand at around 13 inches.
Pugs are adorable small dogs that originated in China around the time of 400 BCE. These dogs are small, often chunky, and have a wrinkly face. As one of the world’s oldest dog breeds, pugs will likely continue to be one of the most common dog breeds to come from China. That said, many breeders across the world will help you obtain a pug, and they’re relatively average in price when compared to other Chinese dog breeds.
Pugs usually have a white or tan coat and black facial features. They have short legs and aren’t very tall, which makes them perfect lap dogs. For this reason, many people along with Chinese royalty, fell in love with the dogs. Today, they’re still happy and fun lapdogs. Expect a pug to live for 13-15 years if they’re healthy.
6. Japanese Chin
This is an interesting Chinese dog breed because of its name. While it’s known as the Japanese Chin, its origins are in China. Their close cousins are the Tibetan spaniels, and they could have reached Japan in a few ways. Some say that they sailed across with traders from China, while others suggest that the Japanese Chin was gifted to Japanese royalty by China’s emperors.
These dogs have been around for over 1,000 years and, during this time, have developed a reputation as being calm and affectionate. Some Japanese Chins are even compared to cats because of how they sit on laps. They are small dogs that only weigh about 5 to 9 pounds. Their height is roughly 8 inches, and they have a few coat colors. Some are black and white, whereas others are black. Japanese Chins can live for up to 14 years.
7. Lhasa Apso
Lhasa Apsos are some of the most beautiful dogs that you’ll find. They have long hair that covers them from head to toe, and they know how to strut it around. Aside from having soft and beautiful fur coats, they’re lovable and playful. This makes them a great family dog, and they will also bark to alert you to any problems. That said, they’re not the friendliest to strangers, and you may have problems training them because of their standoffish demeanor.
When it comes to appearance, these dogs are usually tan. You need to pay attention to their fur growth to ensure that it doesn’t reach the floor, or else you’ll have to clean them often. So, grooming is important because they’re a bit high maintenance. As for weight and height, they’re around 11 inches tall and weigh in at 12 to 18 pounds.
8. Tibetan Terrier
The Tibetan terrier is a small dog that weighs between 18 and 30 pounds. What makes this breed stand out is its mop-like appearance. They have long hair that covers most of their body, and the coat is usually white, grey, or a combination of these colors. What’s more, they have a strip of mustache-like fur located right above their lip.
These dogs are friendly and have a playful temperament. They’re full of energy, and it’s important to play with them often if you want to avoid them running in circles around your home. Aside from their temperament, these dogs are smart and can be trained to perform a wide range of tasks. However, they will get bored if you’re not being playful during training.
9. Kunming Wolfdog
The Kunming Wolfdog has skyrocketed in popularity over the last few decades. This breed was introduced to China during the 1950s when breeders began to import German shepherds. Many breeders also refer to these dogs as Chinese German shepherds because of their heritage. Like German shepherds, they make good search and rescue dogs, along with good service and police dogs. Their official name comes from the city they were mostly bred in called Kunming.
Kunming Wolfdogs are not recognized by the AKC, but they are a distinct breed in China. They’re similar to German shepherds and weigh between 65 and 85 pounds. Their coats are short and usually brown or black. Most Kunming Wolfdogs live for about 13 years.
10. Tibetan Mastiff
Not all Chinese dogs are toy breeds. You’d be surprised by how large some of these dogs can get, which is why we have to include the Tibetan Mastiff. These dogs are massive and can weigh up to 150 pounds. They can also stand tall, with a height that’s between 16 and 24 inches. If you come across one of these dogs in the wild, there’s a good chance that you wouldn’t even think it’s a dog.
While the Tibetan Mastiff is big, it’s one of the most lovable Chinese dog breeds you’ll find. They have a lion-like appearance that gives them a fluffy mane, and they have good manners in public. Temperament-wise, this breed likes to protect its owner, so it’s important to train them well if you plan on having them around in company or strangers often.
Tibetan Mastiffs will live for around 10 to 12 years, and training them may prove challenging because they’re not typically food-driven. Make sure you weigh the pros and cons before you decide on a Tibetan Mastiff.
11. Formosan Mountain Dog
Formosan Mountain Dogs are one of the oldest dog breeds in existence. They’ve been on the Asian continent for at least 10,000 years, but some archeologists suggest that they can be 20,000 years old. Until recently, these dogs used to be wild, but some have been domesticated. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), they’re not yet recognized as an official dog breed.
Formosan Mountain Dogs come from China and other regions of China. Their appearance is usually black, but they may have a short white or brown coat. As for their size, they’re about 15 inches tall and weigh between 20 and 40 pounds. They’re most commonly used as hunting dogs.
Shar-Peis are one of the few breeds from China that aren’t under 20 pounds. They weigh about 50 to 60 pounds and started being bred around 2,000 years ago for hunting and tracking. Unfortunately, these dogs have a troubled past. While they were popular in China for most of the nation’s history, their population was reduced to almost nothing during the Communist Party’s revolution. This dwindled their population, and they didn’t make a comeback until American breeders began breeding them again. Their rarity makes them one of the most expensive Chinese dog breeds around.
Shar-Peis remain popular even with their dwindling numbers because of their adorable appearance. They have wrinkled faces like other Chinese breeds and have short coats that are either tan or black.
Fun fact: Shar-Pei translates to Sand Skin.
These are some of the most common Chinese dog breeds that you’ll find. However, many breeds can be considered Chinese because they’ve spent some time in China, like the Chinese Imperial dog.
FAQs About Chinese Dog Breeds
Have questions about Chinese dog breeds? Find answers below.
What is a Chinese Imperial Dog?
Chinese Imperial dogs are a unique breed that’s native to China. We kept these dogs off of our list because they’re usually a mixed breed and appear as small Shih Tzus. The nobility used to love these dogs, and they served on ships and had a place within the Imperial Court. This is where Chinese Imperial dogs get their name. They started being bred in the 1970s and continue to be bred by breeders across the world today.
How Much Are Chinese Dog Breeds?
Dog breeds from China vary in price. On average, expect to pay between $2,000 and $4,000 for a Chinese dog breed. That said, if you plan on buying the dog in China and having them sent to the United States, the cost can increase by another $2,000 to $4,000, depending on the breed.
The type of dog breed also plays a role. Chow Chows are one of the most in-demand Chinese dog breeds, so they’re usually more expensive than Chinese Crested dogs. Keep this in mind when looking for a Chinese dog breed.
Are Chinese Dog Breeds Available in the United States?
Yes, Chinese dog breeds are available in the United States through reputable breeders. You can find authentic and purebred dog breeds like Chow Chows, Chinese Crested dogs, and even Shih Tzus in the US. Always thoroughly research prospective breeders. Knowing if a breeder is reputable ensures that you get the right breed and that it will be healthy.
What’s the Best Chinese Dog Breed?
The best Chinese dog breed varies, but many people love the pug, Chow Chow, and Shih Tzu. These dogs are the most popular dog breeds originating from China, and thousands are bred yearly. Still, the best dog breed comes down to what you prefer. If you like a big dog, for example, you might prefer a dog like the Tibetan Mastiff or Shar-Pei.
Find a Chinese Dog Breed Today
Several dog breeds have a heritage that comes directly from China. However, finding an authentic dog breed is easier said than done. Always make sure you consider dog breeds from verified breeders to avoid any problems. Also, make sure you vet the breeder to ensure that they fit your standards.
If you plan on getting a breed directly from China, be prepared to pay the price. Some dogs can be upwards of $8,000 to 10,000 dollars. Therefore, be sure to consider your options and the type of temperament you’re looking for before you make a big commitment.