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Chinese Dog Breeds: An In Depth Look at Dogs of Chinese Origin

Chinese dog breeds include some of the most ancient breeds in the world. These dogs have been bred for their unique characteristics for hundreds, if not thousands of years, resulting in proud, loyal, and unique breeds of dog that are like no others. 

Chinese dog breeds are as diverse as the enormous (and wrinkly) Shar-Pei and the tiny yet regal Shih Tzu, with these two being believed to be the most famous Chinese dogs. There’s also the sturdy Chow Chow, the loyal Tibetan Terrier, and the hairless Chinese Crested Dog. 

In this article, we explore the best Chinese dog breeds that are now found all over the world! Keep reading to find out more!

What are Chinese dog breeds?

Chinese dog breeds are Asian dog breeds that can trace their lineage, or descent, back to China. There’s a long history of dog breeding across China, and many of the world’s oldest dog breeds originate from here. 

There’s no single defining feature of China dogs, though. They are too varied for this to be the case. The dogs we’ve listed below all have unique features that ensure that today, they are found all over the world - and not just in China. 

Each breed is different, so let’s examine them in individual detail. 

Large Chinese breeds

Large Chinese dog breeds are classified as any dog of Chinese origin that weighs above 40 pounds. The two most famous large Chinese dog breeds are the Tibetan Mastiff and the Shar-Pei. Here are the most popular large Chinese dog breeds. 

Tibetan Mastiff

You won’t need a dog ramp for beds for the enormous Tibetan Mastiff because this dog has the potential to grow up large!

The Tibetan Mastiff was bred to live at a high altitude in the Tibetan mountains and so has a thick coating of fur to protect it from the cold conditions. This large dog isn’t too far removed from wild dogs and wolves, and the Tibetan Mastiff was purposefully kept to guard flocks of sheep and other animals from dangerous predators. 

It’s a guard dog, through and through, but these dogs are loyal to a fault and surprisingly fluffy and cuddly when they are at home (although they might not fit on the couch with you). 

Average height: 25 inches

Average weight: 70 -150 pounds

Shar-Pei 

The Shar-Pei is one of the most well-known of the wrinkly dog breeds, and their wrinkly faces have endeared them to many families the world over. 

The Shar-Pei was bred in China to be a guard dog, and today, they’ve found their place as family dogs too. They’ll look after you, as long as you look after them. They are intelligent, loyal, yet somewhat fierce with people they don’t know. 

As this is a large dog, their independence doesn’t suit them with first-time owners. But take the time to get to know a Shar-Pei, train them right, and they’ll be by your side for the rest of their life!

Average height: 20 inches

Average weight: 30 - 60 pounds

Medium Chinese breeds

Medium-sized Chinese dog breeds roughly fall between a weight of 15 to 30 pounds and include many wonderful family-sized dogs, such as the Tibetan Terrier. Here are the best mid-sized Chinese dog breeds. 

Chongqing 

The Chongqing is one of the rarest dogs on this list and one of the least well-known. This mid-sized dog is a native of the city of Chongqing, in southern Sichuan province, but it’s yet to become popular abroad (outside specialist circles!). 

But the Chongqing is unique because this hunting dog is a contender for the oldest dog breed in China, if not the world. Believed to be similar to the Japanese Shiba Inu in ways, the Chongqing is a direct descendant of wild dogs that roamed the mountains of Sichuan over 2000 years ago, and they are thought to have changed little since. 

The Chongqing is squat but extremely muscular, and they have endless stamina. They are smart, dependable, but fearsome. They would make for an excellent working dog or would be an unrelenting guard dog once trained. 

Average height: 16 inches

Average weight: 30 - 50 pounds

Chow Chow

The Chow Chow is also one of the oldest known dog breeds in China (and the world). The Chow Chow was first bred around 2000 years ago, and they have gone down in Chinese history as the Chinese ‘Lion Dog.’ 

These fierce dogs are proud and loyal but seriously dependable. Similar to Korean dog breeds, most notable the Korean Jindo, they are somewhat fluffy but have an almost bear-like face and powerful features. They can be anywhere from black to red in colour, but one thing that is consistent, is the much-prized blue-black tongue of the Chow Chow - no other dog has a tongue like it!

Average height: 20 pounds

Average weight: 40 - 70 pounds

Tibetan Terrier

The Tibetan Terrier is on the smaller size when it comes to mid-sized dogs, but these adorable animals are full of energy and playfulness. 

Tibetan Terriers were bred in the Tibetan mountains, but they’re not technically terriers - they just look a lot like terriers and so were given that name by Europeans who didn’t bother to inquire further. 

Tibetan Terriers have long fluffy coats (to keep the cold at bay), and they have an independent yet loyal streak in them. They were originally used as sheepdogs, and they have intelligence that’s unmatched by many other dogs.

Average height: 15 inches

Average weight: 20 -24 pounds

Small Chinese breeds

There are many small Chinese dog breeds, a size range that incorporates a fantastic array of companion dogs, many of whom were originally bred for royal courts. Any breeds under 15 pounds are generally classed as small, but they are usually much lighter than this. Small dogs include the Shih Tzu, the Pug, and the Chinese Crested Dog. Here are the best small Chinese dog breeds. 

Shih Tzu 

The Shih Tzu is one of the best known Chinese dog breeds because this tiny companion has become a firm favorite in homes across the world. 

These tiny dogs might be small in stature, but they have enormous character, so much so that they rightfully earned their Chinese name centuries ago. The name is derived from the Chinese name for lions, and these miniature dogs are very much fierce. 

They are also incredibly endearing, and they love being pampered and groomed as much as they enjoy running through the woods chasing rabbits. As far as dogs go, the Shih Tzu is loyal, fun-loving, and easy to look after! 

Average height: 10 inches

Average weight: 9 - 15 pounds

Pug

The Pug is another classic Chinese dog breed that’s very much been imported abroad. This tiny dog stands just 10 inches tall, but their huge pug-smiles are absolutely unbeatable. 

These lovable little dogs have wrinkly faces and a wizened character. They’ll shower you with friendship and loyalty, and they really don’t take much looking after at all. 

Their wizened looks come from their breeding, and it’s thought these dogs were first bred over 2000 years ago, possibly to be companions to Buddhist monks. 

Average height: 10 inches

Average weight: 15 pounds

Chinese Crested Dog 

The Chinese Crested Dog is one of the more unusual breeds of dog to come out of China. While they aren’t particularly popular as a family dog, they are highly regarded for their often hairless coats - which makes them perfect for anyone with lots of allergies!

Yes, the Chinese Crested Dog is sometimes bald. Strangely, each litter of Chinese Crested Dog will contain a number of hairless pups and a number of long-coated pups (there’s no middle ground!). 

The hairless version is bald, except for tufts over the head, which are often grown and out and groomed lovingly by the owner. The full coated version is known as a Powder Puff for its fluffy hair!

Average height: 12 inches

Average weight: 8 - 12 pounds

Chinese dog breeds: final thoughts 

Chinese dog breeds are surprisingly common, and they are today found all over the world - not just in China!

These often ancient dog breeds are consistently loyal, yet independent, and unique. From the wrinkly Shar-Pei to the royal Shih Tzu, there’s a Chinese dog breed that’s well suited to your home. 

If you’re searching for the perfect dog, then why not bookmark our guide to Chinese dog breeds for inspiration?

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