The Chinese New Year begins on February 16 and according to the Chinese Zodiac Calendar, 2018 is the Year of the Dog. According to the website ChineseNewYear2018.com, “A Dog’s most defining characteristic is their loyalty. They will never abandon their friends, family, or work. Honest and just, they are popular in social circles. Everyone needs a Dog friend for advice and help. They are also good at helping others find and fix their bad habits. Despite how they act, they are worried and anxious inside. However, they will not let this stop them. Once they decide on something, no one can persuade them against it.”
I decided it might be fun to look at some of the Chinese dog breeds that have become popular in the United States over the last half century to see if the real dogs of China and those born under the sign of the dog have any personality traits in common.
The Chinese Crested is believed to have accompanied Chinese sailors on the high seas, hunting vermin during and in between times of plague. The breed comes in two distinct varieties: Hairless and Powderpuff, shown together in breed competition. The Hairlesss variety, seen here, has hair only on its head (crest), feet (socks) and its tail (plume). The Powderpuff is the coated variety of the Chinese Crested. They are completely covered in a moderate length coat that is silky and straight. Chinese Cresteds are a very lively, alert, agile and entertaining breed. They love to play and love to cuddle.
The Chinese Shar-Pei is a unique and intelligent dog most often recognized for its wrinkles. This ancient breed is thought to have originated in the area around the small village of Tai Li in Kwangtung Province, and has existed for centuries in the southern provinces of China, apparently since the Han dynasty circa 200 BCE. Initially developed as an all-purpose Chinese farm dog, the breed does well today in obedience, agility, herding, and tracking, with skills that would have been needed on the farm. Because the name “Shar-Pei” means “sand coat,” harshness is a distinctive feature in its two accepted coat types, either horse (short) or brush (up to an inch long). Other unique qualities include black mouth pigment, a slightly “hippo-like” head shape, small ears, deep-set eyes and rising topline.
The Chow Chow is one of the oldest recognizable types of dog, discovered in China more than 2,000 years ago. The Chow Chow was used for hunting, herding, pulling, and protection. Today, the Chow Chow is primarily a companion dog with a possessive nature that endears his family and their possessions to him. Recognized by the AKC for competition in 1903, the Chow Chow possesses the rare characteristics of having a blue-black tongue and stilted gait.
The Pekingese was always a favorite pet of the American and European aristocracies, an ancient toy breed from China dating back to 800 CE. It is one of the few breeds drawing its name from a capital city — Peking, now Beijing. Pekingese were the favored breed of the Chinese Imperial court and were brought first to England, then from there to America. Legend attributes their origin to a mythical cross between a lion and a marmoset. The smallest Pekingese are known as “Sleeve Dogs” because they were carried in the voluminous sleeves of the Chinese nobility. The Pekingese is a long-lived, active breed that is as ideal for apartment living as it is for a palatial home.
The Pug is of Chinese origin and dates back to the pre-Christian era. They were prized possessions of the emperors of China and lived in a most luxurious atmosphere and at times were even guarded by soldiers. The Dutch traders brought the Pugs from the east to Holland and to England as early as the 15th Century. Their primary purpose has always been exclusively for the companionship and amusement of their people. Pugs combine a cocky confidence with a friendly, sensitive nature. They are great with children and thoroughly relish playtime. They are small yet sturdy, rough, and yet sensitive and sincere. Pugs are extremely friendly, uninhibited, delightful, comical little characters. Pugs come in two colors, fawn and black.
The Shih Tzu, according to tradition, was developed in China’s Imperial courts by the crossing of ancient Chinese and Tibetan breeds. This royal toy dog became extinct in China following the revolution of 1949 but fortunately, a number of Shih Tzu had been taken home by diplomats so the breed was continued in England, Norway, and Sweden. In recent years the breed has become enormously popular in the United States as a sturdy, lively, alert toy dog that is a happy companion. Shih Tzu in the show ring have a long flowing double coat; family pets look charming in a variety of short-hair clips.