The Chinese use animals to represent each of their zodiac signs: the ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, pig, rat…and dog. While we won’t be celebrating the Year of the Dog again until 2018 (I would know for my animal sign is the dog), I thought it would still be a good idea to dedicate this week’s “Good Dog” article to dogs of Chinese origin.
The Chinese believe that dogs bring good “yang” energy into our homes. They create bright, positive, active energy and provide us with comfort and security. Dogs even influence Chinese mythology and represent some important symbols of good fortune and protection.
[bctt tweet=”The Chinese Imperial Dog was first bred in China in the Imperial Palace where the smaller ones were carried by the nobility in the sleeves of their robes. After coming to the United States there were always breeders that bred the smaller dogs but the Chinese Imperial Dog did not receive recognition until March 2005.” username=”17aboutdogs”]
There are at least a dozen dog breeds of Chinese descent – these breeds include:
• Bone-mouth Shar Pei
• Chinese Chongqing Dog
• Chinese Crested Dog
• Chinese Imperial Dog
• Chow Chow
• Formosan Mountain Dog
• Kunming Wolfdog
• Shar Pei
• Shih Tzu
• Xiasi Dog
While I would love to go into detail about every one of these unique breeds, I have chosen to highlight the three most popular ones based on our customers’ opinions. So here it is – the most widely owned Chinese dog breeds are: the Shih Tzu, Pug, and Chinese Crested (Sorry Chow Chow…better luck next year).
Shih Tzu – The Little Lion Dog
Did you know that the average Shih Tzu is less than 12 inches tall and range from 8 to 16 lbs.? Don’t let their small stature fool you though. The Shih Tzu (which means “Lion Dog”) is thought to be a descendant of the wolf – specifically, an ancient Chinese wolf known as the Senji, which had drop ears, a short muzzle, and big, dark eyes.
The colors of a Shih Tzu’s coat can vary wildly. Many are solid and have coats that are black, white, brown, liver, and blue. Others can be bi-colored, including black and white, liver and white, silver and white, brindle and white, and black and gold. Their coats grow quickly and can be either long or short. In fact, the coat of the
long-coated Shih Tzu will often touch the ground even while the dog is standing.
According to the UK Kennel Club, the average lifespan of a Shih Tzu is more than 13 years with many reaching the ages of 16 to 20. However, the Shih Tzu breed is known to be subject to some not-so-fortunate health issues. Among these are IVD (Intervertebral Disk Disease), hip dysplasia, Hypothyroidism, and, like all dogs with short muzzles, they can be prone to breathing problems.
Yet don’t let these concerns distress you. The “lion dog” can be an excellent companion. Their disposition is playful and affectionate and they generally get along well with other animals. Plus they make great watchdogs because they are very brave and always on alert.
Chinese Crested – Charming and Affectionate
The Chinese Crested dog comes in two varieties: Hairless and Powderpuff. Powderpuffs have a long, soft coat that changes in appearance depending on how they are groomed.
Then there is the hairless variety – in fact, there are actually two varieties of hairless crested: true hairless and hairy hairless. True hairless dogs have very little to no fur at all, while hairy hairless dogs have patches of hair on the head (crest), paws (socks), and tail (plume).
[bctt tweet=”The Chinese crested dog is further distinguished by its hare foot, (having more elongated toes) as opposed to the cat foot common to most other dogs.” username=”17aboutdogs”]
While the average Chinese crested has longevity of 12 to 14 years, there are some health problems that could shorten their life expectancy. Ocular and dental problems can be common, as well as allergies and immune disorders. (Interestingly enough, the dental issues are far more common in the hairless variety.) More severe problems include patellar luxation, which can cause the kneecaps to become dislodged, resulting in lameness. Another serious issue is Canine Multiple System Degeneration. This can lead to a dog walking with a “drunken gait” or falling down while climbing stairs or making a fast turn.
The Chinese Crested makes a great family animal as they are very affectionate, charming and quite loveable. Just make sure that your kids are gentle with this pup. Since they don’t have the protective coat that other breeds have, Chinese crested can injure easily.
Pugs – A Symbol of Chinese Mythology
The pug resembles the ancient Chinese mythical creature, the Fu Dog. Fu dogs were thought of as imperial guardians and according to folklore were said to be able to transform into dragons. It is actually very common to see statues of these animals placed at the doorways of Chinese businesses and in the home to protect against burglars and evil spirits.
[bctt tweet=”A Pug travelled with William III and Mary II when they left the Netherlands to accept the throne of England in 1688. During this period, the Pug may have been bred with the old type King Charles spaniel, giving the modern King Charles Spaniel its Pug characteristics.” username=”17aboutdogs”]
Similarly to the Shih Tzu, pugs have a short muzzle and a scrunched face. They are also similar in size, weighing 14 to 18 lbs. Other distinctive features of the pug include a curved tail and predominant wrinkles that cover the face and head.
While Pugs can come in a variety of colors, including black, white (extremely rare), fawn, apricot fawn, silver, and brindle, the American Kennel Club only considers black and fawn colors to be “standard”.
Pugs have an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years, but obesity can be an issue if the dog has a fairly sedentary lifestyle. Pugs can also suffer from Pug Dog Encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), Hemi vertebrae (congenitally deformed vertebrae), hip dysplasia, reverse sneezing, and (I’m not joking) overheating.
They are known for displaying an even temperament and are dogs that love to please their owners. Pugs are rarely aggressive and are good for families with children.
I hope you enjoyed this article about Chinese dog breeds. May you have good fortune, prosperity, health, wealth, and happiness.