China has some of the oldest dog breeds, and these breeds were rarely seen outside of China before the late 16th century. Most of the Chinese dog breeds were developed as guardians, and personal companions, so they have a very distinct set of characteristics.
Chinese Crested: The Chinese Crested is a hairless small dog breed, categorized in most kennel clubs as a toy breed. The breed comes in two varieties, the Powder Puff, and Hairless, both of which are part of the same litter. The hairless variety has a tuft of hair on its head, tail, and paws, and the Powder Puff variety has a long soft coat. The breed is believed to have originated in Africa, but the current name most likely comes from the use of the dog as a rat catcher on Chinese trade ships.
Chinese Imperial Dog: The Chinese Imperial Dog was originally thought of as a type of Shih Tzu, but is now considered its own distinct breed. It is a great companion and makes a wonderful family pet. An intelligent breed, with a lot of energy that is also comfortable spending time quietly resting, so it makes a good dog for apartment dwellers. It was developed around 700 AD, and was bred as a form of foot warmer to the emperor of China.
Chow Chow: Often shortened to ‘Chow’ the Chow Chow is a large dog breed that is one of the oldest recognized breeds of dog still living. It has a very puffy coat, and short muzzle, which contributed to its nickname, “puffy-lion dog”. A relatively calm dog which is happy to rest most of the day, the Chow is often kept as a companion pet, and is friendly with family, but can be weary of strangers.
Japanese Chin: Despite its name, the Japanese Chin originated in China. The Chin is often described as very cat-like, and makes a superb companion dog breed for people living in small spaces. Very loyal and friendly, the Chin love spending time with her family but can be a bit shy with strangers.
Kunming Wolfdog: Similar in look to European shepherd dogs, the Kunming dog, and is today kept most often as a companion animal. Their ancestors are the German Shepherd, from which they get their strong intelligence, and are highly trainable. Due to their ancestry, they require a lot of exercise, and are not a good choice for apartment living, unless they have a highly active owner that provides daily vigorous exercise.
Shar Pei: The most distinctive feature of the Shar Pei is the blue (black) tongue, and its wrinkly face. It is a medium sized dog, which can make a great pet, as long as it is well socialized when a puppy. Though it is friendly, it can be weary of strangers, which makes them a good fit as a guardian dog breed.
Shih Tzu: A small dog breed, the Shih Tzu has a silky coat, and a varied personality. It can be highly affectionate and loyal, but does require good socialization and training as a puppy in order to be a well-balanced adult. The Shih Tzu is a great watchdog due to its alert nature.
Pug: A highly popular breed, the Mini mastiff (as it’s nicknamed) is a very good companion breed due to its calm and gentle nature. With a big personality, and strong will, the Pug is a wonderful family dog that wants to always be around his human pack.
Pekingese: Known as the ‘Lion Dog’, is another ancient Chinese dog breed, earning its name due to its flowing lion-like coat. The breed was highly favored in the Chinese imperial court, and is now popular across the world. It is now mostly a companion dog, and is a great option for those living in small spaces and want a dog with little need for exercise.