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21 Popular CHINESE DOG BREEDS List (Alphabetical)

If you’ve ever been to China, you might have seen some of their interesting dog breeds.

China is home to a wide range of breeds that are specific to the country, many of which are becoming increasingly popular around the world.

Here is a list of some of the most popular Chinese dog breeds, including brief histories and facts.

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Start Watching the Top 10 breeds (or Reading the Complete List):

1. Chinese Chongqing Dog

chinese chongqing dog standing on a white background

Chongqing Dogs are “smart, loyal, and protective” medium-sized dogs with short, bristly fur, a squished face, and pointy ears.

This breed is also known as the East Sichuan Hound and originates from the regions of Sichuan and Chongqing in southwest China.

Their coat color is reddish-brown or a dark brown color.

They have a very similar face to breeds such as bulldogs and pugs and have an incredibly good sense of smell.

This is related to their original purpose as a hunting dog, as they have to be good at sniffing out prey.

The Chongqing Dog is one of the oldest dogs with Chinese ancestry on this list and can be traced back to the third century.

Chongqing dog standing on the lawn looking to its right side

An archeological dig found statues resembling the breed in a graveyard from the Han Dynasty, proving that it’s clearly been around for some time.

statue of chinese chongqing dogBack then, the statues were used to accompany the family into the afterlife, which proves that they were seen as a very protective breed.

In the past, the breed was also used as a hunting dog, which has resulted in it being a very intelligent and loyal breed.

As with any other ex-hunting breed, they do require plenty of exercises and mental stimulation.

The breed is very intelligent, and so can become bored quickly if they’re not kept entertained.

However, this is easily overcome if you’re willing to put in the effort of playing with the dog every day (which isn’t even that much effort after all).


2 chinese chongqing dogs on leash

The breed has a very relaxed temperament, but can be very protective of its owners and wary around strangers.

However, if the owner is present, they’ll quickly warm up to anyone.

They make a great family pet but will require plenty of training to overcome their protective instincts.

They can be good around children but again will need to be eased into the situation.

Did You Know?

  • Archeologists found sculptures bearing a strong resemblance to the Chinese Chongqing dog in an ancient tomb in 1987. They estimated the breed’s history to go back an estimated 2,300 years from the time of the Han Dynasty!
  • The Chinese Chongqing Dog nearly became extinct during the mid 20th century because of the Communist Party persecution.
  • Today, the Chongqing dog is rarer than the Panda bears! There are only around 2,000 of them in China.

2. Chinese Crested Dog

Chinese Crested Dog photographed on white background

The loving, playful, and loyal Chinese Crested Dog is considered to be one of the small dog breeds originating in China.

They are probably one of the most recognizable breeds on this Chinese dog breeds list and are known worldwide for their unusual lack of fur.

They still have fur on their head, feet, and tail, hence the “crested” part of their name.

The rest of their body, however, is completely bald and is often characterized by spots on the skin.

Chinese Crested Dogs were originally bred to be a companion for the disabled and elderly, and so they have all of the desired characteristics of a companion pet.


chinese crested dog lying on the grass

The dogs’ temperament is usually calm, very friendly with family members and they often get on well with other dogs.

One of the best features of this breed is its intelligence.

They’re very easy to train, which is another reason they do well in competitions.

Because they were specifically bred as companion pets, they don’t have the same desire for exercise as standard breeds, which is very helpful for some people.

They could be considered lazy, as their favorite hobby is sleeping. They’re still athletic enough to have a good run around when they want one.

Owners often praise the breed for its easygoing nature, and although they might not be the cutest in appearance, they certainly make excellent companion dogs.

Did You Know?

  • The Chinese Crested Dog is quite a well-known breed because it’s been the winner of the world’s ugliest breed in 2003, 2004, and 2005. A Chinese Crested, called Sam, was the winner of the ugliest breed these years too.
  • Chinese Crested dogs were used on merchant ships for catching mice and other vermin. Being hairless doesn’t really offer any advantage in this situation, other than helping to keep them cool.
  • One amazing feature about the breed is that they have sweat glands. A well-known fact about dogs is that they pant to keep cool, but this isn’t true of the Chinese Crested. It can regulate its temperature through its skin like humans.
  • They are known as the “Dr. Seuss dog because they look like the characters in Dr. Seuss’s stories.

3. Chinese Imperial Dog

Chinese imperial dog photographed on white background

The Chinese Imperial Dog is another small Chinese dog breed (the “smaller ” version of the Shih Tzu) and is considered a toy dog.

They’re also known as the “Imperial Shih Tzu,” although the two breeds aren’t closely related.

It’s a translation of “lion dog,” as they’re another breed that’s thought to look like the lion guardians from ancient Chinese culture.

They were first bred in China by the royal family as companion dogs, and some of the smaller ones were actually carried in sleeves!

chinese imperial dog on a cemented ground

However, they’ve always been recognized as separate breeds in China. Its long and wavy coat knows the breed that’s also very dense.

The coat can either be kept long or trimmed, but the trimmed version is more common for owners because it’s much easier to manage.

That said, they still need regular grooming because the coat can become very matted otherwise.

Chinese Imperial Dogs come in a wide range of colors, but the most common is a black and white mix.


Chinese Imperial Dog on the lawn

The breed is known for its calm and friendly temperament, which is a result of them being bred as companion dogs.

They can be very energetic and require more exercise than you’d expect for a small dog.

However, as they’re small dogs, simply playing with them in the house will often be enough.

The breed makes an excellent companion pet and does socialize well with other dogs, but be careful with them around children.

Like other small dogs, they’re much more susceptible to unintended injury.

Did You Know?

  • The breed is a very old one and is believed to have been around for over 2,000 years, although the American Kennel Club has only recognized them since the 1960s.
  • The main reason why there’s debate over the origin of the breed is that although they’re not related, the breed is almost identical to the standard Shih Tzu, but is just much smaller.

4. Chinese Red Dog

Chinese Red Dog standing on the field

The Chinese Red Dog is also knows as the Laizhou Hong and is a sturdy looking molosser type of dog with distinctive pointy ears.

It is a calm, affectionate, loyal and sociable canine. With an independent and eager nature they make great work dogs, guard dogs and also pets.

The Laizhou Hong is a large and intelligent dog with a broad, black nose and wide nostrils.

Their nasal bridge and muzzle are long and distinctive, as long at the dog’s skull actually, and they have lips that fit the shape of their jaws tightly.

Their gums can be dark and they can also have dark spots on their tongue. They also have large paws compared to other dogs.

Chinese red dog sitting with tongue sticking out

Their back legs are straight, well-defined and strong. They have tight fitting skin with dense, short fur that is smooth and glossy.

Their coats are black with brown marks on their muzzle, throat, face, legs and chest. They also can have markings over their eyes and under the tail.

This dog at adult size usually weighs in at 45 – 60 kg. The height of the adult male is usually 25 – 31 inches and female 25 – 27 inches.

The Chinese Red does well in hot and cold climates and can be expected to live up to 15 years. It does best if living in a home with some outdoor area to run around as they are a high energy dog that needs exercise and space to run around often.

Did You Know?

  • In the 19th century the Chinese Red dog was breed by German soldiers from the Shandong Xian Hound and 3 kinds of German dogs (the German Shepherd, Rottweiler and Great Dane). After some time it became a breed of its own.
  • They have strong jaws with a scissor bite.
  • They need lots of exercise daily to satisfy their needs.

5. Chow Chow

Chow chow dog on white background

The “silent, dignified, protective and aloof” Chow Chow originates from Chinese indigenous dogs, and some historians believe it can trace its history back over 2,000 years!

They were initially bred as a hunting and fighting dogs, but were also used to pull sleds, and are well adapted to the colder climates of northern China.

The breed is a recognizable one, but they’re not particularly popular, for several reasons. (see “Did You Know?”)

Chow chow running on the lawn

However, if you take the time to look after a Chow properly, they can become a loyal companion.

Chows are known for their stocky appearance and have a square head and large body.

Their fur is very thick and fluffy and can be either soft or rough.

Chows also have a curly tail that sits across its back. The standard color for the breed is cream or fawn, but they are also seen in black and red.

There are particular rules around the acceptable color for dog shows, with fawn being the most popular in competitions.


chow chow on a white background

When it comes to temperament, Chows can be very wary of strangers, and owners should take care when walking them in public spaces.

While the breed isn’t known to attack strangers, they can get very protective if they believe their owner is under threat.

They’re not very active dogs, but do still need daily exercise, mainly to prevent boredom and weight gain.

To prevent any aggressive tendencies from developing, owners are recommended to socialize them from a very early age.

Did You Know?

  • A Chow Chow is best known for looking like a “giant teddy bears”.
  • They are not the friendliest dogs and are often described as aloof by owners and breeders.
  • They don’t do well in hot climates, which rules them out to a large number of potential owners, and they can be challenging to manage.
  • They are best known for their blue-black tongues (one of only two AKC-registered breeds with such features), which is a unique feature not seen on many other dog breeds.
  • There is no White Chow chow. Many breeders describe their chow chows colors as champagne, silver, lilac, chocolate, or WHITE. All of these are just “fancy names” of chow chow’s regular colors.

6. Chuandong Hound

Chuandong hound in the backyard

The Chuandong Hound is a handsome medium-sized dog with a red/orange-colored single coat. It has a strong jaw and pointy ears. It is active, courageous and energetic.

They are great guard dogs, but not suitable for police work or other similar industries as they tend to be too dominant and ignore the rules if overexcited.

But they can be well-trained with some time and effort on the owners behalf and are eager to please their master.

They have been trained in the UK to work as therapy dogs. Also they make great pets and are caring and mindful around children.

The Chuandong Hound needs a strong and firm owner who will spend time with training the dog properly.

This lively hound also needs a lot of exercise and time outdoors and will happily run along with its owner.

Comparisons can be made with the Chongqing dog. The Chuandong Hound is bigger and only has a red coat whereas the Chongqing can be red and black. Both are naturally hypoallergenic.

Did You Know?

  • Its tongue is blue or has blue spots on it.
  • Some puppies are born with a black mask which usually fades with age.
  • The life span of the Chuandong Hound is an amazingly long 16 – 20 years.

7. Formosan Mountain Dog

black formosan mountain dog on the lawn

The “faithful, alert and intelligent” Formosan Mountain Dog is thought to be one of the oldest dog breeds in the world, and its history can be traced back to over ten to twenty thousand years ago.

In ancient times the breed was used as a hunting companion, and they are the descendants of hunting dogs from South Asia.

Today the breed is often found roaming the streets of Taipei, but can also be found in homes as a watchdog and companion.

As an attempt to rescue many of the abandoned dogs found in Taiwan, many Formosan Mountain Dogs have been brought to the U.S.

With that being said, it’s extremely rare to find a purebred of the breed, and most purebreds are located in Taiwan purely for conservation reasons.


formosan mountain dog standing on shallow water

The Formosan Mountain dog is an extremely territorial breed, making it the perfect choice for a guard dog.

Though they are standoffish around strangers, they are very different from members of their families.

Towards family members, Formosan Mountain Dogs are extremely loyal. Though they do well will all family members, they seem to strike a closer bond with one particular family member.

The Formosan Mountain dog does well with children. With that being said, they don’t deal well with rough behaviors, so children need to learn to respect their boundaries.

Formosan Mountain dog on leash

When it comes to other animals, the Formosan does have some aggressive tendencies. Because they have a strong prey drive, it’s not unlikely that they will attack a cat or rabbit.

They don’t always do well with other dogs but can get along if they are raised together from puppyhood.

Did You Know?

  • Very few Formosan Mountain Dogs are bred in the United States. Most are rescues from Taiwan.
  • The Formosan Mountain dog has a spotted tongue.
  • In 2015, an abused Formosan Mountain Dog was adopted by a British Royalty family in California.

8. Japanese Chin

Japanese Chin standing on white background

Granted, as the name indicates, “Japanese Chin“, this noble, affectionate, playful, and loyal breed isn’t considered a popular Chinese dog breed, but the origin of the breed is actually a hotly debated issue.

Many believe it arrived in Japan through the Chinese or Koreans, which is why it’s ended up on this Chinese dog breeds list.

Owing to this debate, no one is completely sure when the breed arrived in Japan, but the general consensus is between the 8th and 11th centuries.


Japanese Chin dog on white background

The breed is considered more like a cat in temperament than a dog.

They’re independent, talented, and even wash their faces with their paws. They’re very friendly dogs and have built a reputation as therapy animals.

They can be trained very easily and respond well to learning new tricks.

Like other lapdogs, they don’t require much exercise but should be taken out to relieve boredom if nothing else.

Did You Know?

  • The first person to own the Chin in the U.S. was President Franklin Pierce.
  • The Japanese Chins are ancient dogs that originated as Chinese dog breeds.
  • When the Chin first came to Japan, they were not seen as a dog. Rather, they were seen as a separate being.
  • Likened to cats due to their agility and the way they wash their faces with their paws

9. Kunming Wolfdog

Kunming Wolfdog kneeling on cemented seat with tongue sticking out

The “intelligent, brave, and confident” Kunming Wolfdog is named as such because it originates from a domesticated dog breed being crossbred with a wolf.

This gives the breed a wilder appearance and also affects temperament.
The Kunming Wolfdog is commonly used as a military support dog in China and has even been trained to detect mines.

However, they also make popular pets for many families.

Think of them as essentially the Chinese equivalent of a German Shepherd (they look similar).

The breed is quite a recent one when compared to others on this Chinese dog breeds list.

They were created in the 1950s specifically for military assistance, and although there isn’t an official breeding list, they can count German Shepherds as their ancestors.

Other than that, there isn’t much evidence regarding other breeds used to create the Kunming Wolfdog.

They have a double-layered coat that’s similar in color to a German Shepherd, and they shed it twice a year with seasonal changes.

They have a long tail that is usually carried low but can lift up when excited.

Although their coats are usually black and brown, they have been known to cover a range of colors, including rust and straw.


Kunming Wolfdog standing on the lawn

The breed is very intelligent and can be trained quickly and easily.

This is why they’re used as military dogs, but it also makes them great pets.

However, they do require plenty of exercises and mental stimulation, which unfortunately rules them out as assistance dogs.

That said, they still make excellent family pets and guard dogs and will be very loyal to their family.

Did You Know?

  • Kunming Wolfdogs resulted from German shepherds and wolves crossbreeding
  • In August 2019, China’s first cloned police dog, an eight-month-old Kunming wolfdog named Kunxun,  passed the police dog assessment and became an official k9 detective.

10. Lhasa Apso

Lhasa Apso on white background

The first historical recordings of the “loyal, watchdog, and comical” Lhasa Apso date back to 800 B.C.

During this time, they were only kept by monks and nobility and were largely used for guarding and protecting.

Because the breed was commonly found watching over temples and monasteries, it was considered to be very sacred.

The only time there were allowed to be transported out of the country was when they were gifted by the Dalai Lama.

When gifted by the Dalai Lama, Lhasa Apsos were thought to bring prosperity and good luck.

The first pair of Lhasa Apsos sent to the U.S. were gifted to Suydam Cutting in 1933.

Shortly thereafter, in 1935, the breed was officially accepted into the AKC and has long been welcomed into American homes ever since.


Lhasa Apso on the lawn

The Lhasa Apso was long bred to be a guard dog, so they can often be aloof with strangers.

They have a sharp bark that allows them to alert their family when strangers are nearby, but this bark can become a nuisance if the breed is not properly trained when barking is acceptable vs. when it is not.

Though the Lhasa Apso can be wary of strangers, they are very loving and affectionate with those of their own family.

They require a great deal of human companionship and require socialization from a young age to prevent snippy behaviors.

Young socialization is also required in order for the Lhasa Apso to do well with other dogs and pets.

lhasa apso on the table with owner

They also tend to mature slower than other breeds, so extra patience is required when raising this breed.

Though the Lhasa Apso loves to be around their family, they are also extremely independent and don’t mind being alone.

Though a short walk will be welcomed, this breed doesn’t require a great deal of exercise and is more than content spending the majority of their time indoors.

The breed is often described as curious and playful, and owners often refer to them as little comedians.

Did You Know?

  • Many people believe that when the owner of a Lhasa Apso dies, their soul enters into the body of the dog.
  • You can expect to see a Lhasa Apso in the pound scene of the movie, “Lady and the Tramp”
  • The name “Lhasa Apso” means “Bark Lion Sentinel Dog.”

11. Manchuarian Hairless Dog

Manchurian Hairless dog in the backyard

The Manchuarian hairless dog, also knows as tai tai is very rare even in China.

The small dog is playful and friendly and also protective of it’s owner. It makes a great pet and mixes well with other dogs.

Its domed head, short nose and naked skin make the Manchurian Hairless dog special and unique. Some do have some hair on the tail, feet and head. It is the cousin of the Chinese Crested dog.

It comes from the Northern regions of China which is a surprisingly cold place for a hairless dog to originate from.

?Did You Know?

  • The Manchurian Hairless has a lifespan of 12 – 15 years.
  • Since they don’t have hair they don’t smell or get fleas.
  • It may have dental and skin issues.

12. Pekingese

Pekingese dog licking her nose

The “noble, aloof and dignified” Pekingese are also known as “Lion Dogs” because they look like the ancient Chinese lion statues commonly found in temples and palaces.

They’re an ancient breed and are known as toy dogs.

This makes them count as a small Chinese dog breed, and are in fact, one of the smallest on this list.

The breed was originally kept by Chinese royalty as a companion dog, and that’s where its name comes from.

Pekingese under the bed

The Forbidden City, the seat of Chinese royalty, is located in Peking (now called Beijing).

However, the breed has soared in popularity around the world and is favored for its appearance and temperament.

The breed has hardly changed in the last 2,000 years and is known for its long and fluffy coat.

They can come in a wide range of colors, including fawn, black, brown, and cream, and typically have blackface.


Pekingese close up photo

Because they were bred to be lap dogs, they’re very content to simply sleep all day, but should be taken on walks to avoid weight gain.

They are independent, stubborn, quite difficult to train, and not fond of strangers.

With patience and proper training, calm, affectionate, and devoted companions.

One of the biggest commitments needed is the constant care of the coat.

It requires daily brushing and should be groomed every other month.

The fur should be trimmed around the face to avoid things getting in the eyes

Did You Know?

  • Three out of twelve dogs survived the sinking of Titanic. One of them is a Pekingese.
  • In Ancient China, stealing a Pekingese was a crime punishable by death.
  • They are known to snore loudly because of their short noses.
  • The Pekingese is the most popular dog in China.

13. Pug

Pug lying on white background

The “lively, eager to please and the playful” pug is probably one of the most recognizable breeds in the world and has held a special place in popular culture for many years.

Characterized by its squished face, stocky body, and curly tail, pugs, have a long history in both the East and the West.

Have you seen a pug with an un-squished face? or a pug with rare and controversial color?

If not, below are must-read articles:

When they were first brought to Europe, they became a popular companion for royal families.


Pug photographed against a white background

Pugs are definitely among the popular Chinese breeds and are known for their big personalities and friendly temperaments.

Pugs can be stubborn, but not in a bad way, and they are easy enough to train if you’re committed.

Worth A Look:  “Pugs pros and cons.”

They’re rarely aggressive and will get on well with other pets and children.

For this reason, they make great family dogs.

They’re surprisingly strong for their size and require more exercise than you might think for a small breed.

This is down to their high energy levels, and the breed’s tendency for holding weight easily.

Due to their use as companion dogs, pugs appreciate the human interaction and are very aware of changes in their owner’s mood.

They’re eager to please and should be played with regularly.

pug on leash rolling on the footpath

While they do require plenty of exercises, pugs also appreciate sleeping for much of the day.

Did You Know?

  • Confucius (551-479 BC) wrote something about pugs during his time.
  • Pugs’ existence is thought to date back to 400 BCE!
  • They love to sit on sofas or furniture.

14. Shar-Pei

2 types of Shar-Pei

The “calm, independent, loyal and affectionate” Shar Peis are known around the world but have never really taken off as a famous dog, although they have a special place among dedicated breeders and owners.

Shar Pei’s have small, triangular ears that sit on top of their head, and a tail that curls over their back.

The standard color for a Shar Pei is fawn or cream, but kennel clubs recognize over 16 different colorations.

They have a blue-black tongue, which is only really also seen in the Chow Chow, which was one of the original species the Shar-Pei was bred from.

Three Types Of Shar-Pei

1. Bone-Mouth

Bone-Mouth Shar-pei on white background

It is actually the “original” or the Traditional type of Shar-Pei but is probably less recognizable to many reading this list.

The breed has quite a distinctive look and has several unique features.

It has fewer wrinkles, shorter fur, “roof-tile” muzzle, short hair, and a more pointed tail, all of which set it apart from its better-known cousin.

Typically, bone-mouth is favored in darker colors, and will usually be found in black, blue-black, and black with rust.

However, lighter colors, such as fawn and cream, are found, but these are considered less desirable by breeders.

2. Meath-Mouth or Western Sharpei

Shar Pei sitting on white background
The Meat-mouth Shar-Pei is easily one of the most recognizable on this Chinese dog breeds list and is known for its wrinkly face and curly tail, heavy muzzle (or “hippopotamus look”) with fleshy padding and longer hair.

They come in 3 varieties of coat types namely:

  • Horse Coat – rough, prickly and off-standing, soft in one direction and harsh in the other.
Meat Mouth horse coat shar-Pei in the beach
  • Brush Coat – with longer hair and a smoother feel.
Meat mouth brush coat shar-pei
  • Bear-Coat– long, soft coat.
21 Popular CHINESE DOG BREEDS List (Alphabetical) 1

3. Miniature Shar-Pei

Miniature Shar-pei with blue collar standing on the lawn

As is probably obvious in the name, this breed is simply a smaller version of the Shar-Pei breed.

This makes it a small Chinese dog breed and is typically only 17” tall at its biggest.

While this might not seem particularly small, it does make them better suited to certain households, and therefore, an excellent family dog.

The breed was created simply through selectively breeding small Shar Peis together, and so isn’t counted as a separate breed.

Everything about the breed is identical to a normal Meat Mouth Shar-Pei, except they’re just smaller. They have the same build and face, and the characteristic facial wrinkles that identify the breed.


Sharpei on its owner's shoulder

Shar Pei’s were originally bred as guard dogs, so this has resulted in them being wary of strangers, and needing constant socialization from an early age.

If this is done correctly, however, they will develop into incredibly friendly and loving dogs.

They are very loyal to their owners and are receptive to strangers if their owners are present and handle the meeting properly.

The breed is quite energetic and very intelligent, and so requires plenty of exercises and mental stimulation.

If this isn’t handled correctly, the dog will become bored, which results in either depression or destructive behavior.

However, if appropriately exercised, the breed will be fine when at home

Did You Know?

  • “Shar-Pei” is a Cantonese word, which means “sandy skin.” The breed was named “Shar-Pei” because of its rough coat bearing a sand-like texture.
  • It’s been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as one of the rarest breeds in the world.

15. Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu dog breed with red-ribbon on white background

The history of the “lively, friendly, and good-natured” Shih Tzu dates back to the 7th century, where they were often handed out as gifts to Chinese emperors.

Though the exact origins of the breed are unknown, they may have been developed through the crossbreeding of the Lhasa Apso or Pekingese.

While it is not for certain, many believe that it was the Shih Tzu that was kept by Mongolian Emperors to help keep lions calm during lion training.

It was the belief that this was the reason that Shih Tzu’s earned the nickname “little lion dogs”.

It was in 1928 that the first pair of Shih Tzu’s were brought to England, and soon after, they also took on popularity in the U.S. The breed gained official recognition with the AKC in 1969.


21 Popular CHINESE DOG BREEDS List (Alphabetical) 2

The purpose of the Shih Tzu has long been as a companion, and their personality remains reflective of that to this day.

Unlike many breeds of dogs that enjoy hunting, guarding, or retrieving, this small Chinese dog simply wants to be with members of their family.

In return, the Shih Tzu can be described as an extremely loving and affectionate breed of dog. They require a lot of attention, and they love lying in your lap.

With that being said, though the Shih Tzu will happily curl up beside you, they are also extremely lively and alert.

shih tzu walking on the lawn

They will always let you know when strangers are in the home, though you will rarely find a Shih Tzu that will become aggressive.

In most cases, Shih Tzus do well with all people, including children and strangers. In the majority of situations, Shih Tzus also tend to do well with other dogs and pets.

Did You Know?

  • Recent research suggests that Shih Tzu’s are in the top fourteen oldest breeds of dog, with origins dating back as early as 8 000 BC.
  • Paninging, the Shih Tzu, has taken over the internet! Photos of Paninging sleeping in unusual positions have gone viral, and the dog now has over 124 000 Instagram followers.

16. Tibetan Kyi Apso

Tibetan Kyi Apso standing against a white background

While the exact history of the “gentle and good guardian” Tibetan Kyi Apso a.k.a. Tibetan Collie is unknown, Tibetan art pieces suggest that the breed most likely dates back to the 17th century and likely originated in the Mount Kailash area.

The breed was commonly used by nomads to herd and guard livestock. The breed was also known for having strong hunting instincts and good stamina and was therefore also used for hunting down large game.

Though the breed did make its way into other countries in the 1970s, it remains very rare outside of its native land. It has not yet gained recognition by any American Clubs.


Tibetan Kyi Apso with owners in front and behind it

The Kyi Apso is often described as both extremely brave, yet also very affectionate in nature.

They are a very dominant breed and therefore require an owner that can establish themselves as leader of the pack.

Because they were long used as guard dogs, the Kyi Apso has developed a strong suspicion towards strangers.

They will not let a stranger enter into their territory without a challenge, and at times, this challenge could become aggressive.

In order to prevent aggression towards strangers, early socialization is required.

The breed does very well with children and handles them very gently. Having said that, because the breed is so large, supervision is always required when they are near young children to avoid any accidents.

Did You Know?

  • The name “Kyi Apso” translates to “bearded dog.”
  • The name “Kyi Apso” can also mean “a dog that is tied”, insinuating that these dogs probably spent much of their time in history tied on chains.
  • It is said that the 13th Dalai Lama owned a Kyi Apso.

17. Tibetan Mastiff

Tibetan Mastiff in front of white background

The history of the “strong, loving, and gentle” Tibetan Mastiff can be traced back to Tibet and is believed to have descended from Mastiff type dogs that originated over 5,000 years ago.

Unfortunately, due to lack of documentation, little is known about the history of the breed before 1800.

The first Tibetan Mastiff to be transported to England was gifted to Queen Victoria in 1847. They were officially recognized by the England Kennel club’s Stud Book.

In 1931, the first breed club was formed for the Mastiff, but these efforts were soon put to an end with WWII. It was not until 1976 that imports of the breed began again.

In 1974, both the Tibetan Mastiff Club and the American Tibetan Mastiff Association were formed, and the AKC officially recognized the breed in 2007.


Tibetan Mastiff with red leash on the lawn

The Tibetan Mastiff is a highly intelligent breed of dog that is very independent and self-sufficient.

The breed has a strong sense of self and will not tolerate being treated as a “pet”. Rather, they want to be treated equally.

Though the Tibetan Mastiff tends to be extremely loyal to family members, they can also be very stubborn, which often makes them difficult to train.

For this reason, Mastiffs require an experienced owner that can establish themselves as the leader of the pack.

tibetan mastiff in the snow

The Tibetan Mastiff is often described as being extremely fierce and makes an excellent guard dog.

Though they are loving and affectionate towards family, they do tend to be aloof towards strangers. This breed requires early socialization to prevent territorial aggression.

Did You Know?

  • Many people in Tibet believe that Tibetan Mastiffs are hosts of the souls of monks and nuns were not accepted into reincarnation or the heavenly realm.
  • In Tibet, Mastiffs are often kept chained to fences during the day and let loose at night.
  • Tibetan Mastiffs can survive high in the mountains and harsh, low-oxygen environments. According to studies, Tibetan Mastiffs share a pair of mutations with wolves that most other breeds of dogs do not have. It is this genetic connection to wolves that allows them to survive in such harsh conditions.
  • “Tibetan Mastiff” is a misnomer. The Tibetan Mastiff itself is not a true mastiff.

18. Tibetan Spaniel

Tibetan Spaniel photographed against a white background

The “playful, intelligent, and confident” Tibetan Spaniel is a small dog, but its history is anything but.

The breed was originally bred by Tibetan Buddhist monks to be companions and alarm dogs.

The “Tibbies” as they were nicknamed were also commonly given to foreign dignitaries as gifts.

The first Tibetan Spaniel was brought over to England in the late 19th century, and the breed quickly gained popularity here until WWII when it was wiped out.

In 1947, more Tibetan Spaniels were imported and efforts were made to recover the breed.

In 1960, it was officially recognized by the England Kennel Club as a distinct breed. Since that time, the breed has also made its way to the United States, where the AKC recognized it in 1984.


Tibetan Spaniel dog sitting on grass

The Tibetan Spaniel is still an excellent watchdog, and for this reason, they can often be somewhat aloof with strangers.

Having said that, unlike many other small guard dog breeds, the Tibetan Spaniel is not prone to excessive barking and will only bark if an intruder is near.

Though the breed is somewhat standoffish with strangers, they are extremely loving and affectionate towards their family members.

The breed loves to cuddle and seems to be especially responsive to people’s feelings and moods.

Tibetan spaniel named Buddy

Even though the breed loves to cuddle up with their family members, they are also very independent thinkers.

They generally do well with training, but can also be quite stubborn when they want to be.

The breed does enjoy being active but doesn’t require as much activity as many other dog breeds. Their small size makes them suitable for apartment or country living.

Did You Know?

  • The new 2019 Lady and the Tramp movie features a Tibetan Spaniel as the one who sings “He’s a Tramp” in the pound.
  • Tibetan Spaniels have long been referred to as “Little Lions”. In Buddhist religions, lions are considered sacred. In return, Tibetan Spaniels are considered very honorable.
  • Tibetan Buddhists believe that humans are often reincarnated as Tibetan Spaniels and other similar dog breeds.

19. Tibetan Terrier

Tibetan terrier photographed against a white background

The “loyal, affectionate, and playful” Tibetan Terrier, sometimes referred to as the Lhasa Terrier, is an ancient breed that originated in the Tibetan Himalayas.

Believed to be one of the most ancient of all Tibetan dogs, this breed is thought to be an ancestor of Lhasa Apso, the Shih Tzu, and the Tibetan Spaniel.

The breed was originally kept by Buddhist monks to be both watchdogs and companions but was also commonly gifted to local herdsmen to be a guard and herd dog.

In fact, for many years, the Tibetan Terrier was so prized that it could not be bought; it could only be gifted.

The first Tibetan Terriers to be brought to Europe came over in 1922 (one male and one female).

These pairs were bred together and had their first litter in 1924. Since then, the Tibetan Terrier has been recognized by the FCI under the Tibetan dog breeds.


Tibetan Terrier sitting on the lawn

The Tibetan Terrier is an extremely loving and affectionate breed that thrives on attention.

The breed does not tend to bond closely with one particular member of the family, but rather with all family members equally.

The breed is also considered to be very sensitive, and also reads human emotions very well. If the Tibetan Terrier senses sadness, they will do almost anything to cheer you up.

The breed is playful and good with children, but will not tolerate rough behaviors.

As such, it’s always important to supervise small children around the dog and to teach children how to respect the Terrier through gentle play.

Tibetan terrier in winter

Though the Tibetan Terrier is very loving and affectionate to family members, they do tend to be standoffish towards strangers.

They are also extremely territorial, and for this reason, they make excellent guard dogs.

With that being said, while the Tibetan Terrier will alert you to a stranger’s presence, they are not considered aggressive and will not attack unless extremely provoked.

Did You Know?

  • Frank Lampard, Premier League Manager of Chelsea, equates his success in business to his Tibetan Terrier. According to Lampard, he has a specific walking, feeding, and training schedule with his dog that, if he misses, will have a negative effect on his success.
  • Tibetan Terriers have long been regarded with extreme respect in Tibet, and are often called the “little people.”
  • Tibetan Terriers have long been known as “Holy dogs” and “bringers of good luck.”

20. Xian Hound

Xian hound in the field

The Xian Hound is a graceful and elegant creature with long legs that are strong. It has great power and stamina and can run very fast.

With it’s sleek figure, it can appear skinny to those not familiar with the appearance of the breed. They don’t carry much fat on their body at all, especially from birth and in the younger years.

The Xian Hound is strong-minded and independent breed of dog. It is devoted to it’s master but not friendly towards others, often appearing aloof.

Originating in the Shanxi province of China, the Xian Hound is a sighthound that hunts for game and protects against predators. It once chased and caught prey on the open, flat land of the Huangtu Plateau.

It has been known in China since at least 685 AD. It is less common these days and the reason is Chinese people have been restricted from hunting as much as in previous times.

Paintings and drawings of the Xian Hound have been found on walls of an ancient Qin Dynasty prince’s tomb dating back 2,500 years.

Emperors used this royal hunting sighthound to hunt game. Their history is thought to precede the records of the ancient silk routes.

Did You Know?

  • The Xian Hound looks similar to a Saluki or Persian greyhound.
  • Skeletons of the Xian Hound have been found in royal graves and sometimes wearing precious collars.
  • They are now considered rare in China. The China Kennel Association is trying to bring the numbers up.

21. Xiasi Dog

Xiasi dog in the green lawn

The “tenacious, loyal, and alert” Xiasi Dog is one of the breeds considered Tugou and originates from the Guizhou Province in China.

It’s named after the town in which it was originally bred, and is still considered the center of the breed, both in China and the rest of the world.

There is evidence that suggests the breed was created in the 11th century and was used for hunting small animals.

They are not particularly well known outside of China, and current estimates state that there are very few purebred Xiasi Dogs left in the world.


female Xiasi dog in the green lawn

The breed is very intelligent and agile.

However, at the same time, the breed is very friendly towards humans and is very protective of its owners.

It was also used as a guard dog throughout China, and so is wary of strangers, particularly when its owner isn’t around.

The breed’s intelligence makes it very easy to train, and like many other hunting dogs, it shows a willingness to learn.

While this is useful for domestic owners, it also, unfortunately, means that they’re still commonly used as fighting dogs in China, and are often pitted against boars.

The dogs are judged on a range of things in these fights, and they, unfortunately, prove to be still quite popular.

Did You Know?

  • The Chinese believe that the Xiasi dog brings wealth to their family; that is why they have so much respect for the dog.
  • Xiasi dogs are popular in boar-fighting competitions.


Many popular Chinese dog breeds are increasing in popularity in the rest of the world, excluding obvious choices like pugs.

However, the rarity of many breeds is still reflected in their price, especially if you’re looking to buy from a reputable breeder.

One of the most important things to bear in mind is that many of these Chinese dogs require attention, and might not be suitable for first-time owners.

The best place to start is by researching your desired breed to see how it fits in with your lifestyle, as many of these breeds do still make excellent pets.

You’ll find other Asian Dog Breeds in the links below:

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About the author: Pablo Pascua created dogbreedsfaq.com because of his interest in all the different breeds, and his desire to learn more. His inspiration comes from the many dogs he has owned throughout his life.