List of Chinese Dog Breeds – What You Need to Know About

Dog breeds that originate from China come in all forms and sizes. Some, like the Pekingese, are lapdogs, while others, like the Chow Chow, are large breed dogs. Not all Chinese dog breeds have the same personalities, but the common denominator is that all of them are very cute and adorable.

A Brief History of Chinese Dog Breeds:

Thousands of years ago, China started to domesticate and produce dogs. The ancestors of the breeds that you see today can be traced back to those years. Domestication of dogs began in the regions between China and Mongolia.

Dogs are cherished in China, as they are considered to be part of the Chinese culture. For example, the Chinese Imperial Court favored the Pekingese, which is a small Chinese dog breed. For the longest time, only members of the Chinese Imperial Court had the right to own a Pekingese.

Then change happened in the 1960s, when the Cultural Revolution started (1966-1976) and thousands of dogs were eradicated in China. Why? because dogs were seen as symbols of the elite class. The original Chinese dog breeds nearly vanished.

The Chinese Shar Pei was saved from the upheaval during the Chinese Revolution. It was brought to another country, but not without issues. The original Chinese Shar Pei adjusted to the food and the new environment, and as a result, experienced some changes in its physical appearance. In a way, they sort of lost their original appearance and the Chinese Shar Pei of today are smaller in size. The same can be said about the Tibetan Mastiff.

These days, the Chinese are making a huge effort to bring back the ancient Chinese dog breeds which were ‘tarnished’ during the upheaval.

Deng Xiaoping took care of two mini spitz dogs, and by the early 2000s, dog breeding started intensifying in China again. Today, there are many types of Chinese dog breeds which you would definitely love to have as part of your family.

List of the Different Chinese Dog Breeds:

1. Chinese Crested: Comes in two varieties- one has a fur referred to as Powderpuff, while the other one does not have fur and is referred to as Hairless Chinese Crested. The unique thing about it is that both varieties can belong to the same litter. But between the two, the hairless one is the more popular.

For someone who suffers from allergies, there is no doubt that the hairless Chinese Crested is the better choice. However, despite being referred to as hairless, in reality, you should know that this breed is not 100% hairless. There is a bunch of hair on its head which looks like a crest. Hair is also found on the tip of the dog’s tail.

Interesting Facts about Chinese Crested

  • This dog has no fear of heights at all. For this reason, it is also referred to as ‘feline dog’.
  • This dog was very important for Chinese sailors during the 14th century. The role it played was to catch and kill rats, which prevented Black Plague infestation.
  • The award for the World’s Ugliest Dog was awarded to Sam (a Chinese Crested dog) from 2003 to 2005. 


A very affectionate Chinese dog breed, the Chinese Crested enjoys cuddle time with its owner. It can also be the clown of the family, because it enjoys making a show for everyone. It totally loves getting attention by playing tricks, and this behavior endears the dog all the more to its owners.

2. Chow Chow: Classified as a big dog that weighs somewhere between 45 to 70 pounds. This dog breed is popular for its thick coat and black tongue. The facial wrinkles make it look like it is frowning.

Interesting Facts about Chow Chow

  • During the Tang Dynasty, the Emperor took care of 2,500 Chow Chows to help his 10,000 hunters.
  • DNA tests have proven that this dog breed is one of the oldest dogs in the world.
  • Along with the Chinese Shar-Pei, the distinct characteristic is the color of its tongue- bluish to the black colored tongue.


You cannot expect a Chow Chow to clown around to get your attention. It is independent and aristocratic by nature. It can be aloof and does not get along well with other dogs. Early socialization and exposure to children are necessary in order for the dog to live harmoniously with its owners.

3. Shih Tzu: A lapdog which enjoys lying around with its owner. It has long and flowing hair, available in many colors. Once you get to know a Shih Tzu, you will realize that there is so much sweetness behind its snobbish and aristocratic demeanor.

Interesting Facts about the Shih Tzu

  • When translated to Chinese Mandarin, Shih Tzu means ‘little lion’. The name is inspired by the fact that this Chinese dog breed is associated with the Tibetan Buddhist God of Learning.
  • One of the oldest dogs, which can be traced back as far as 1000 B.C.


A shih tzu is a very affectionate lapdog that suffers from separation anxiety. It just loves doing everything with you- be it the laundry or watching the television. This dog breed is perfect for someone who has plenty of time at home. It tends to please its owner and loves to play with young children.

4. Shar-Pei: This is one of the Ancient Chinese dog breeds that is still around today. You can easily spot a Shar-Pei because of its small ears, hippo-appearance head, wrinkled forehead, and bluish to black tongue. It has a sandy-feel, like a coat.

Interesting Facts about the Shar-Pei

  • Bred as a fighting dog, its advantage is its wrinkly and loose skin. If an opponent bites this dog, the loose skin does not allow for penetration to the vital organs.
  • The Shar-Pei was included in the Guinness Book of Records as one of the rarest dogs in the world.


An independent-minded dog that requires early socialization. Not advisable for the novice dog owner, as it has a tendency to be stubborn and headstrong. This dog breed is very protective of its owner; in fact, it enjoys the company of its owner more than it enjoys being with other dogs.

5. Pekingese: This is without a doubt the most popular Chinese dog breed in the world. The combined dignity and headstrong personality make this dog endearing to its owner. It is characterized by its double-coated and long hair which requires daily grooming.

Interesting Facts about the Pekingese

  • A highly-regarded dog in Imperial China; anyone who was caught stealing it was sentenced to death.
  • Sometimes referred to as ‘lion dog’ or ‘sun dog’ because of its golden coat. It actually lives up to that name, as a Pekingese is brave like a lion but at the same time has a sunny disposition.


A very friendly and affectionate dog to its owner. Strangers must be wary of this small dog breed, though. It can be fierce and arrogant towards people with whom it is not familiar. This is why early socialization is recommended. A Pekingese is a calm dog, but if it does not receive obedience training at a young age, it can end up stubborn and headstrong.

6. Kunming Wolfdog: It has a close resemblance to the German Shepherd, except for the fact that it has tiny feet. One cannot help but compare its alert behavior to that of a cat, where it would carry its bushy tail up high. The Kunming Wolfdog can grow up to 27 inches and may weigh up to 38 kilograms.

Interesting Facts about the Kunming Wolfdog

  • A fairly new dog breed which was created in 1950 in China. Some claim that it is a cross between a German Shepherd and a wolf.
  • Some call this breed “Chinese German Shepherd”. Way back in 1953, it was used in military services.
  • This dog breed worked in bomb-sniffing during the 2010 XVI Asian Games held at Guangzhou, China.


This Chinese dog breed is smart, energetic and inquisitive. Though they look tough, the Kunming Wolfdog is actually approachable and well-behaved. It can be a great addition to the family. For new owners, it is important to establish leadership right away, lest the dog will try to assert itself as the alpha.  

7. Tibetan Mastiff: During the early times, the Tibetan Mastiff Chinese dog breed served Alexander the Great. It was also used as a guard dog among nomadic herdsmen. In recent years, it has also been used to guard the Dalai Lama. Its built is large and muscular, but once you establish a rapport, this dog will be your best guard dog and will protect you against all kinds of dangers.

If you are wondering what dog breed is considered to be the most expensive, then look no further: the Tibetan Mastiff is one of the most expensive breeds of dogs.

Interesting Facts about the Tibetan Mastiff

  • The most expensive dog was a Tibetan Mastiff. It was worth almost 2 million US dollars.
  • The people of Tibet thought that these dogs carry the souls of the monks that had not reincarnated as humans.


This Chinese dog breed is a fierce protector of its owner. It can be territorial and would want to be the ‘boss’ in many situations. Due to its guardian instincts, it has to be trained the moment you take it home with you.

8. Pug: The wrinkled face of this small-sized dog will surely melt your heart. It is bred to accompany Chinese nobility. It is full of life and laughter and gets along well with everyone, which makes it the perfect family dog.

Interesting Facts about the Pug

  • Marie Antoinette owned a Pug named Mops.
  • Josephine Bonaparte also owned a Pug named Fortune. Before she got married to Napoleon Bonaparte, she was incarcerated at Les Carmes prison. She would send messages to her family by placing them in her Pug’s collar.


Do not expect a Pug to do ‘chores’ for you, as this dog was bred solely as a companion. It is very affectionate and would love to sit on your lap all the time. It is friendly even to strangers.


Chinese dog breeds boast a long and rich history. Owning one is bound to make you feel very proud. Some of the breeds are lapdogs, and they are content just lazing around with their owner. Others are bred as working and guard dogs, and thus, you can expect them to act as fierce protectors.

Whatever your choice is, owning and caring for a Chinese dog breed is indeed a privilege. They have been around for the past thousand years and have evolved into adorable Chinese dog breeds.

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