Top 10 Unique Chinese Dog Breeds

China is not only the world’s largest country in terms of population but is also home to some of the most popular dog breeds such as Shih Tzu, Shar Pei, and Pug.

From toy breeds like Pugs to the giant Tibetan Mastiff, several unique breeds originated in the Chinese region. And interestingly, most of these breeds are among the oldest breeds on the planet. At the moment, some of the Chinese dog breeds are among the top 20 breeds in the world.

Sounds interesting? Let’s learn about the top 10 Chinese dog breeds below.

Top 10 Most Popular Chinese Dog Breeds

Chow chow

chow chow

Image: marcia-oc via Flickr

The Chow chows are among the oldest dog breeds in the world. Their origins can be traced all the way to the mountains of Mongolia in 206 BC. During the Han dynasty, they were a favorite breed amongst Chinese Emperors and were used as guard dogs to look after valuable possessions.

Today, they rank as the 64th (out of 155) most popular dog breed in the world. In appearance, the Chow Chow is a medium-sized dog no bigger than 20 inches and weighing around 70 pounds. But don’t be fooled by their chubby and fluffy looks alone because these pups can be quite a handful as they require a lot of exercise and attention.

By nature, these pups are kind of like cats; reserved, territorial, and often independent. But once you make friends with them, they will love you with all their hearts. The Chow chows can be black, beige, and even red. The most interesting thing about a Chow chow is its tongue- it has a bluish-black or purple-colored tongue which makes it stand out from other breeds.


pug chinese dog breed

Image: Matt Peoples via Flickr

At 12 inches and approximately 18 pounds, the Pug is a small, wrinkly toy-faced dog with a glossy, beige coat and a heart of gold. It would not be wrong to call Pugs the perfect combination of cuteness and cuddles but it’s their personalities that really make them stand out.

Known to be one of the funniest pets around, the Pug is a complete house clown capable of making anyone laugh with its goofy but adorable antics. The Pug traces its origins to sixteenth-century China where they were bred as companion dogs for rulers. Later they found their way to Europe and proved to be popular with several historical figures including Queen Victoria.

While there is no doubt that pugs make fantastic pets, they are not ideal for families with small children. Since pugs are quite fragile and can be easily injured by a child. Still, if you got a Pug while you have children home, keep them supervised while they are around each other.

Related: Top Pug Names



Image: VirtualWolf via Flickr

Shar-Pei translates to “sand-skin”, an attribute associated with the distinctive loose wrinkles of a Shar-Pei dog. Their broad muzzle, triangular ears, and snoopy eyes set them apart from other breeds. Historians believe that their origin dates back to Han Dynasty (200 B.C), and they are descendants of Han dogs in southern China.

These fiercely loyal companions possess a dominant streak, and only proper parenting with early positive conditioning can train this pooch into a well-behaved home dog. They make excellent apartment dogs as they are not prone to barking a lot, but their snorting and grumbling are loud.

Generally, they are clean dogs and need bathing once every few months. However, their bristle-like coat makes them prone to skin fungal infections if the folds are not cleaned and dried out properly. Overall they are intelligent and alert dogs devoted to their humans.

Shih Tzu

shih tzu dog

Image: Tearstone via Flickr

It is widely believed that the Shih Tzus were developed by Tibetan Monks by cross-breeding Lhasa Apso and the Pekingese dogs.

Shih Tzus are small dogs, about 10 inches tall, and weigh between 10-16 pounds. They have big brown eyes, a sturdy physique, a cute curled-up tail, and a luxuriant long coat. By nature, these dogs are cheerful, lively, and affectionate. This is why they adore human company and thrive on it. They get along well with children and other animals and are happy to play with anyone they find.

Although they can be difficult to housebreak at first but with proper training, they can adjust to any environment. Dog owners often have trouble maintaining Shih Tzu’s silky long hair as it requires frequent washing and brushing. Moreover, due to their small and fragile stature, they can easily hurt themselves by prancing around the house. So, dog owners need to supervise their Shih Tzu at all times without leaving them alone for too long.

All in all, they are wonderful pups that make great companions. Also, a very popular designer dog; Shih Poo is the cross between Shih Tzu and Poodle, and is one of the most popular hybrid breeds nowadays.

Chinese Crested Dog

chinese crested dog

Image: annrkiszt via Flickr

Chinese Crested dogs, commonly known as couch potatoes, are one of the most exotic Chinese breeds. With pink spotted skin and crested hairdo, these lively miniatures are believed to have originated from Hairless African dogs. The Chinese Crested dogs are found in two varieties: hairless and Powderpuff, and usually stand at 11-13 inches tall.

These graceful pooches make excellent apartment dogs as they do not require outdoor walks or runs like other breeds, and they are intensely social. Their fine-boned structure makes them athletic to jump off from tall fences. Chinese Crested dogs are eternally devoted to their humans but might come off as wary to strangers.

They are extremely playful and can suffer from separation anxiety, so they should not be left alone for long. They are also prone to skin diseases if the body hair is not maintained properly. Overall, if you are looking for an incredibly affectionate, playful, and cuddlesome pup, the Chinese Crested is the right choice for you.


pekingese dog

Image: wombatarama via Flickr

The Pekingese is another ancient dog breed from China believed to have been created by Buddha himself. This is why, they have been quite popular throughout history, serving as lapdogs for several emperors. These dogs are among the most popular Chinese dog breeds in the world.

The modern Pekingese is a petite little creature weighing as much as 14 pounds and measuring no more than 9 inches. In appearance, the Pekingese are compact dogs, with small almond brown eyes and lion-like gold coats that fall to their feet.

At first glance, the Pekingese look like mischievous furballs but they are quite disciplined dogs. However, they can be very loud and vocal if they spot a stranger which despite their small size makes them good guard dogs.

Formosan Mountain Dog

The Formosan Mountain dog is also known as Taiwan Dog and sometimes Tugoi which literally translates to Native Dog in Mandarin Chinese. Tugou is a general name used for several Chinese breeds. The most popular Chinese breeds under the family of Tugous are Chinese Field Dogs, Xiasi Dog, and Chongqing Dog. They all stand tall at approximately 20 inches.

tugou formosan mountain dog

Image from Facebook

The Formosan Mountain dogs are a product of contemporary breeds (German Shephard, Akitas, and Pitbulls) and ancient breeds, which have a history of being imported to Taiwan in huge quantities. Loyal, fearless, and alert! These are the most distinctive traits of these dogs that sets them apart from other canine clans.

Owing to their history of being guard dogs like other Chinese breeds, Xiasis may come off as standoffish to strangers but are excellent protectors of their owners. Overall they are very intelligent dogs but not suitable for first-time owners because they require proper training and attention.

Chinese Imperial Dog

Chinese dog

Image: dominiqueb via Flickr

9-inch tall and weighing less than 7 pounds, the Chinese Imperial Dog is small enough to fit in a teacup. This Pooch is known by many other names including “Tiny Lion” and “Micro Shih Tzu”.

Dog breeders are divided on the origins of this sweet little pup, with some claiming they are a miniature version of the Shih Tzu dog while others believe that they are a completely different breed. What is known for certain is that the breed traces its origins to China and became popular in the United States during the dog boom of the 1960s.

In appearance, these pups are small but masculine, shrouded in a luxurious fluffy coat. They are found in many different colors including fawn, red, and even pied. By nature, these dogs are affectionate, loyal, and cheerful. They get along well with everyone, including small children and animals. However, due to their fragile structure, they can easily dislocate joints which is why they must not be left unsupervised for too long. Additionally, they can also develop small dog syndrome if they are not given enough attention. Overall, they are delightful dogs, that make excellent companions.

Kunming wolfdog

Kunming wolfdog from China

Image from Pinterest

Also known as the Chinese Wolfdog, the Kunming is a Shepherd dog first created in the Yunnan province of China. A rare dog breed, the Kunming is quite similar to the German Shepherd. They have large dome-like heads, and small erect ears and are most commonly found in black and rust colors. They are about 27 inches tall and can weigh up to 38 kg.

They are very intelligent and masculine dogs that are used in search and rescue operations, as well as, military assistant dogs. In temperament, these dogs are cool-headed. They enjoy learning new tricks and can be fiercely competitive. They are curious creatures that love to explore and run around.

Like most wolfdogs, they require early socialization and training to ensure that they do not turn aggressive or worse destructive. While generally healthy, they do commonly suffer from problems like hip dysplasia. Overall, the Kunming is a useful, courageous, and loving dog that would make an excellent pet.

Chongqing dog

chinese chongqing dog

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Known as the Chinese Bulldog, the Chongqing is a medium-sized masculine dog with a wrinkly face and flat bamboo-like tail. Found mostly in dark brown or black colors the Chongqing can weigh as much as 22 kg and grow as tall as 18 inches.

Due to their working dog nature, these pups are reliable, resilient, and loyal. They are known for their strong, often dominating personalities which is why they do not get along with other animals. They are also tedious to train which makes them unsuitable for first-time dog owners. However, once these pups warm to a human, they shower them with unconditional love and devotion.

Wrapping it up:

So, these were the top 10 Chinese dog breeds and most of them are very popular not only in China but also outside China. Many of them are considered ideal dog breeds for families such as a Pug or a Pekingese.

Recommended read – Phu Quoc Ridgeback Dog