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Different parts of the world tend to breed dogs differently depending on the culture, climate, and their peoples’ needs throughout history. It’s interesting to look into dog breeds originating in the same country. Chinese dog breeds, especially those most commonly seen in the U.S., tend to have short snouts, curled tails, and sometimes wrinkly skin. Of course, there are a plethora of dog breeds that originated in China, and the list below isn’t nearly exhaustive.
Unfortunately, most breeds on this list are poorly bred, so we recommend looking for a rescue dog and avoiding unethical breeders. While great breeders are out there, they aren’t breeding dogs with shortened muzzles and other features that put a dog’s looks above its health.
Let’s dive into our list of 10 Chinese dog breeds that make excellent pets.
1. Chinese Shar-Pei
The Chinese Shar-Pei has a wrinkled face, rolls of skin on the body, and triangular, curled ears. They’re 18-20 inches tall and can weigh between 45-60 pounds.
These dogs shed moderately and drool more than some other breeds. Their smooth, short coat requires very little grooming, which is a plus for busy pet parents.
A rescue Shar-Pei would make an excellent pet. They’re affectionate, protective, and stubborn. Training might prove difficult, but as with any dog, you can succeed using force-free techniques. Always avoid aversive training methods.
2. Chow Chow
Chow Chows aren’t great for first-time dog guardians but make terrific pets for those prepared to care for them well. These dogs are adorable, with fluffy coats, curled tails, and triangular ears. They’re smart, affectionate, and protective.
Chow Chows require only moderate exercise but still need a daily walk to stay fit. Walks also offer a great time to bond with your dog, and they get enrichment by sniffing, observing those around them, and basking in the sunshine and fresh air.
Unfortunately, they often have issues with other dogs and prefer to be the only pet in the household. Chow Chows are commonly wary of strangers as well.
This makes proper socialization and training vital for the breed. These are fairly large dogs, standing 17-20 inches tall and weighing 45-70 pounds.
They should have confidence around strangers rather than fear, which can lead to aggression. Dog introductions should be made properly; you must know how to read dog body language before attempting it!
Pugs are smaller than the breeds above, standing 10-13 inches tall and weighing just 14-18 pounds.
These are true lap dogs, perfect for people who want a little shadow to follow them. They can be quite clingy and are prone to separation anxiety. It’s important to teach them how to be alone for short periods, but never leave them alone for a long time.
Those who live alone and work full-time outside the house should avoid this and other lap dog breeds, as they were bred for companionship and can’t tolerate this much alone time.
Pugs do well with children and other dogs, though supervision is always necessary. They tend to need little grooming, but brushing them once a week will help deal with their profuse shedding.
Though pugs are very playful, they only require moderate exercise. They’re easy to train, seldom bark, and more accepting of changes in their home or routine than most other breeds.
Pekingese dogs are teeny tiny, 6-9 inches tall, and weigh under 14 pounds. They look like little hairballs when their coats are grown out, but they can also be kept short, so they’re easier to groom.
However, these dogs are double-coated, so they shouldn’t be shaved. Clipping their fur to a few inches in length is better for them and won’t damage their coat.
Because of their double coats, Pekingese dogs shed moderately and have shedding seasons twice yearly, where their coat sheds more profusely.
Regarding personality, these dogs are loving towards family, playful, and protective. They make good watchdogs, though you shouldn’t expect them to guard anything successfully.
They only need moderate exercise, such as a slow walk around the block. Pekingese pups can be stubborn and take things, including training, at their own pace.
5. Shih Tzu
Shih Tzus are elegant little dogs, standing 9.5-10 inches tall and weighing 9-16 pounds. Their coats grow like human hair and shed as little as the hair on our heads.
If you allow it to, your Shih Tzus coat will drag on the floor beneath them. However, this style is difficult to maintain and rarely practical. Most people opt to have their Shih Tzus shaved or trimmed to a couple of inches in length, so they don’t have to comb them daily.
This is a popular breed, and there are plenty of reasons why. Shih Tzus are cuddly lap dogs and tend to get along well with other pets and children so long as they’re gentle. Never leave a child or dog unattended.
Shih Tzus aren’t super playful, but they like games of fetch and daily walks to release their energy.
6. Tibetan Terrier
Tibetan terriers are sweet dogs that look like mops — in the most affectionate way! Their trailing fur is sleek and beautiful, and the mustache-like fur above their nose is adorable.
These fluffy dogs are 14-17 inches tall. Males weigh 18-30 pounds, while females are slightly shorter according to the AKC breed standard.
With a long double coat, these dogs shed moderately but will lose more fur in the winter and spring during the shedding season.
They’re known for being incredibly loving and smart. They thrive when they feel like they’re working with you toward a common goal and can get bored if training feels meaningless. Tibetan terriers are sensitive, so it’s important not to use aversives or harsh training techniques.
Lastly, they need a daily workout for both their brain and body. These dogs are high-energy, so at least one long daily walk is necessary. Pairing this with training, puzzles, or games will give them the mental enrichment they need to thrive.
7. Lhasa Apso
Lhasa Apsos are true family dogs because they’re affectionate, sweet, and goofy around their families but may be more stand-offish with strangers.
Their fur parts in the middle and will grow to the ground if allowed. They can also get haircuts in varying styles and lengths, with the shortest being easiest to groom.
Males stand 10-11 inches tall, and females are slightly shorter. This breed weighs just 12-18 pounds.
A short walk and playtime inside are all a Lhasa Apso needs to stay happy and fit. They can prove difficult to train because they tend toward stubbornness and boredom. Motivating them properly is important if you want them to learn something new.
8. Chinese Crested
Chinese crested dogs come in two different types: hairless and powderpuff. Hairless Chinese crested dogs are bald, apart from long hair on their heads, tails, and bottoms of their legs. Powderpuff dogs have long, silky hair all over their bodies.
Both require plenty of grooming, albeit in different ways. Hairless dogs require sunscreen and other skin treatments, as their exposed skin is quite sensitive. Their little fur should be brushed daily to prevent tangles or mats.
Powderpuff dogs must be brushed daily, as their fur mats easily. Mats in the fur will pull at the skin, especially when a dog moves, causing constant pain. It’s very important to prevent this from happening!
Neither Chinese crested sheds much at all. This Chinese dog breed is loving toward family and even strangers, adaptable, and eager to please. They can be barkers, especially if bored, left alone for long periods, or neglected.
A short daily walk is enough to tire them out when it comes to exercise. It also provides the mental enrichment they need to prevent boredom.
Xiasi dogs are very rare — less than 300 exist today — and they’re not seen in the U.S. They originate from Guizhou, a rural province in China. Locals believe that Xiasi dogs bring wealth, which is exactly what they were bred to do.
They were originally bred over a thousand years ago as hunting and watchdogs. Not only would they keep their families and material possessions safe, but their families often profited from their hunting abilities.
Due to the way they’re bred, they tend to get along well with dogs of their size or larger. They have strong prey drives and may see cats or smaller dogs as prey to chase or hunt.
They’re intelligent, eager to please, and adore their families. Like most hunting breeds, they should always be kept on a leash or in a properly enclosed area, so they don’t run off after prey.
These dogs have wiry white or cream fur that can be any length. Their tails are straight and upright, and their heads are large. They stand 17-20 inches tall and weigh 22-66 pounds.
10. Tibetan Mastiff
Last on our list of Chinese dog breeds is also the largest! Tibetan mastiffs weigh anywhere from 70-150 pounds. Females are 24 inches or taller, while males stand over 16 inches tall.
These dogs are less wrinkly and have longer fur than your typical English or bull mastiff. Very lion-like in appearance, their fur grows longest on the tops of their heads and around their necks. They shed profusely and, like all mastiffs, are droolers.
Tibetan mastiffs are loving towards their families but extremely wary of strangers. This breed’s instincts are to protect, so teaching them good manners in public and controlling them at all times is vital.
Training can be difficult, and this breed isn’t recommended for inexperienced dog trainers. They’re independent thinkers, don’t like repetition, and can be stubborn. According to the AKC, these dogs are rarely food-driven.
This means it’ll take patience and creativity to get them to listen. Never fall to aversive training methods; instead, find less common ways to motivate them. Tibetan mastiffs listen best when they see a reason behind your asking, rather than just practicing their “sit” for the dozenth time.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this list of Chinese dog breeds that make good pets. Please research any breed thoroughly before adopting. As stated earlier, many on this list aren’t ethically bred. That said, rescue dogs make terrific pets; any dog on this list is the right pet for someone!
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