19 Distinctive Asian Dog Breeds – Asian Dogs That Define Tradition & Loyalty!

asian dogs

Historians say that Asian breeds date back 11,000 years, whereas European breeds’ history is only 200 years old. Asia, the world’s largest and most populated continent, is a continent of antiquity.

Researchers actually discovered evidence that indicates that the domestication of dogs may have been in Asia around 33,000 years ago, before they migrated to the Middle East, Africa, and Europe.

According to DNA researchers, there were three major lineages of Asian dogs 11,000 years ago:

  • Western Eurasian lineage — Those dogs are now in Africa, India, Europe, and the Middle East
  • East Asian lineage — Now are Chow Chow, Shar-Pei, dingo, New Guinea singing dog, and Tibetan mastiff
  • Arctic lineage — These are modern-day husky breeds (sled dogs), Alaskan malamutes, and a small amount of ancient American dog ancestry found in modern-day North American breeds such as the Chihuahua and Xoloitzcuintli

Asian Dog Breeds

Asian canines range from the most popular breed, Shih Tzu, to the enormous Tibetan mastiff, with lots of adorable beasts in between. Tibetan mastiffs are some of the most ancient dogs, and the Tibetan mastiff can weigh 150 pounds.

1. Central Asian Shepherd

asian dog breeds

Central Asian Shepherd dogs (CASD) are believed to be the oldest known Asian dogs and may have existed 5,000 years ago. They weren’t bred by humans but evolved through ancient climate and culture.

CASD bonded with people. They are territorial and guarded people as well as their possessions. If humans had sheep, the CASDs would guard the flock or whatever was in the humans’ territory.

According to the American Kennel Club, the former USSR standardized the breed in the 1920s, and then a new standard was created after the USSR fell. The modern breed is known as the Central Asian Ovcharka, which separated the breed from indigenous CASD found in Russia. Ovcharkas are a powerful breed and come in different sizes, colors, and temperaments.

This ancestor of Asian dog breeds is confident, independent, and courageous and weighs 88 to 110 pounds. Their strongest traits are protecting their people, being trainable, and adaptable.

2. Chow Chow

asian dog

The fluffy Chow Chow is one of the primitive dog breeds with a distinctive appearance. It has a spitz-like look that suggests that they originated from the Han Dynasty, and Chows are depicted in artifacts from China’s Han Dynasty (c. 206 BC).

Chows are protective of their people and their property. They were once skilled and noble hunting dogs but now can relax at home and be tended to by their humans.

Most believe the Chow is from China, although some historians claim they’re actually from Mongolia, and others think they came from the northern Arctic. Regardless of origin, they are one of our cute dog breeds.

They were adored by Chinese nobles and also served as guards and haulers. Chows became popular in the West when canine lover Queen Victoria bought one home at the end of the 1800s. The Chow Chow is affectionate and likes helping others, making them one of the most popular dogs in China. They are 45-70 pounds and live 8-12 years.

3. Afghan Hound

asian bred

The Afghan hound, the pooch with the regal silky coat and long legs, is sweet, reserved, comical, independent, and has a lot of energy. They are another of the ancient Asian dog breeds and predate written history by a few centuries. Afghans originated from an area that is now Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan, where they were hunters and adored by the royals, tribal chieftains, and aristocrats.

They are sight hounds from Afghanistan that use their vision to find and chase their prey. They also have a great deal of endurance. How can something so fancy be a predator? Afghan hounds didn’t arrive in the West until the late 1800s and didn’t become popular in the US until the early 1930s. Zeppo Marx and Pablo Picasso were early Afghan owners. The Afghan makes a lovely companion.

Afghans weigh 50-60 pounds and live about 12 to 18 years.

4. Shih Tzu

asian dogs breeds

Shih Tzu means lion dog, and these small dog breeds were likely bred from the Lhasa Apso and the Pekingese. They were pets of Chinese royals thousands of years ago. In the 1930s, some Shih Tzus made their way to England. Now, they are among the most popular breeds in the US and the UK.

Queen Elizabeth II and Miley Cyrus were/are two Shih Tzu owners. They are affectionate, playful, outgoing, great with children and other dogs, trainable, and adapt well to everything. They weigh 9-16 pounds and live 10-18 years.

5. Shiba Inu

asian dog breed

The Asian dog breed Shiba Inu is very popular in the US. They are a Japanese ancient breed that was used by hunters and are the favorite dogs in Japan. They are like a big dog in a foxy little dog’s body whose heritage began around 300 BC.

They are strong, affectionate, protective, and need mental stimulation. Shibas are a medium-sized dog that makes a great family pet but can be difficult to train.

According to the American Kennel Club, they didn’t reach America until 70 years ago when the first Shiba Inu entered the country with a returning military family in 1954, and now they’re a favorite of pet parents. The Shiba Inu is 17-23 pounds and lives 13-16 years. They were almost extinct after World War II but regained their popularity in 2008.

6. Akita 

asian breeds

My first dog was an Akita-Lab mix that looked like a fawn Akita, and my second pup was a rescued pinto Akita, so I am very enamored with this oversized, teddy bear-like fluffy dog breed. They are dignified, devoted, and courageous, weigh 70-130 pounds, live to be 10-14 years, make an excellent guard dog, need exercise, and are strong-willed. They are one of the dogs with the strongest bite force.

In the 17th century, a banished nobleman and his barons competed to create a large hunting dog. Only imperial families and those in their court were allowed to have Akitas until they were finally shared with the masses. The American Akita Inu is larger than the Japanese version, but the American Kennel Club considers them the same breed (other countries don’t).

Akitas have webbed toes to help even out their weight when walking on snow, and their front dew claws function like ice picks. Akitas were originally bred to guard the imperials and later were used to hunt and as a fighting dog. They are one of the wolf-dog breeds.

7. Shar Pei

asian breed dogs

The wrinkly Shar-Pei, whose name means “sand skin,” is quite unique looking. They are very smart, good at adapting, loving, can be aloof with strangers, and will protect their people. They have an abundance of courage, making them great guardians. They also have a blue-black tongue.

Shar-Peis are strong, regal, independent guardians famous for intelligence and loyalty. They are suspicious of strangers and other dogs. Shar-Peis are serene dogs that are eager to play, but they can be aggressive if they feel threatened. Early training and socialization are essential.

After China’s communist revolution in the mid-1900s, the Shar-Pei population decreased dramatically to near extinction. In the 1970s, a Chinese Shar-Pei enthusiast asked American breeders to breed them.

8. Dosa Mastiff

big asian dogs

The Korean Dosa Mastiff breed is rare and big. They weigh 160-185 pounds. Dosas are dignified, intelligent, easygoing, good-natured, gentle, relaxed, social, and devoted. They like people and need mental and physical stimulation.

Guardians need to let the enormous Dosa know that the humans are alphas because there’s no room for misunderstandings with such a big pooch.

Dosas are great with children and other pets. Keep an eye on them so they don’t accidentally step on or knock down smaller kids. They are also known as the Korean mastiff.

9. Indian Spitz

Indian dog

The British bred them from German Spitzes and engineered them to be able to handle the heat and humidity in India. Indian Spitz dogs are friendly, loyal, lively, and enthusiastic, and like other dogs, they can eat whatever’s available, even rice, milk, yogurt, or chicken.

They are great watchdogs, too. The Indian spitz weighs 26-40 pounds. Indian Spitz, with their fluffy coats and alert nature, are perfect petite guardians for homes.

Though they resemble the German Shepherd, they’re more compact and furry. These clever, lively pups are quick learners, making them delightful companions.

10. Pug

large chinese dog

Pugs are an ancient breed with roots dating back to 400 B.C. There is some confusion as to whether they originated in Mongolia or the Arctic region. Chinese emperors adored flat-faced toy dogs like Shih Tzus, Pekingese, and Pugs. Pugs were only acquired as gifts.

In the 1500s, Dutch traders came back from Europe with the Pug breed. William and Mary of Orange brought Pugs to England when they assumed the monarchy, and many Brits wanted to be Pug pet parents. Some people think they are one of the ugly dog breeds, but there’s no such thing as an ugly dog.

They weigh 14-18 pounds and live 13-15 years. They are loving, wonderful with children, friendly, playful, and adapt well to things. They make a wonderful companion and love human companionship, are good with other pets, and are a great family pet and lap dog. Plus, they’re small enough for apartment living.

11. Black Russian Terrier

fluffy chinese dog

Black Russian terriers (BRT) were secretly bred in Moscow in the 1930s to create the perfect military dog. The 17 different types of canines, including Newfies, Giant Schnauzers, Airdales, and Rotties, were used.

BRTs patrolled border fences and were guarding dogs, strong enough to knock over prison camp prisoners and hold them down. They have lots of energy, are trainable, adapt well, and need stimulus.

Today, BRTs are mostly pets but can be a working dog and/or watchdog. They are highly intelligent. BRTs thrive with lots of positive reinforcement training and exercise. Another of the beautiful black dogs, they weigh 80-130 pounds and live 10-12 years.

12. Japanese Chin

asian looking dog

The Japanese Chin’s history is not completely known. Some think they have Chinese origins, and others claim they are Korean. Japanese chins made their way to Japan 500 to 1,000 years ago. Japanese nobles are credited with refining the breed. Westerners didn’t discover the chin until 1854 when Japan was reopened for trade after 200 years of isolation.

Japanese Chin is affectionate with people, good with other canines, charming, and independent. They were originally bred to guard the royals. This small dog weighs 7-11 pounds and lives 10-12 years.

13. Borzoi

asain dog

The AKC reports that the Borzoi were favorites of the Romanovs in Russia, where the aristocrats hosted wolf-hunting extravaganzas that were like festivals. They were known as the Russian Wolfhound, but in America in 1936, they were renamed Borzoi, meaning swift (“borzy”) in Russian. Tolstoy wrote about them in his novels.

Although they are physically elegant, they are very fast and strong. Borzoi has lots of energy and needs mental and physical stimulation. They live 9-14 years and weigh 60-105 pounds

14. Korean Jindo

asian hunting dog

The Korean Jindo originated on an island called Jindo by the southwest coast of South Korea. For centuries, the Korean Jindo was unrestrained and living with humans, enabling them to develop into a natural breed with great hunting skills.

They were officially recognized as the Republic of Korea Preservation of Cultural Assets Act No. 53 in 1962 and are called Korea Natural Treasure #53. 

This popular Asian dog from near the southwest coast of South Korea is intelligent, alert, brave, and loyal. Jindos weigh 30-50 pounds and live to be 14-15. They are good watchdogs.

15. Chippiparai

big asian dog

The Chippiparai dogs are from India. They live 12-15 years and weigh 33-44 pounds. They are considered sight-hounds and have a hunting dog background. The breed is intelligent, robust, loyal, and independent.

Chippiparai likes people and companionship and doesn’t like being alone. They are robust and need plenty of physical movement. Chippiparai were favorites of the royals.

Scientists think they are genetically linked with Egyptian breeds, Sloughi and Saluki — royal dogs in Egypt.

16. Japanese Spitz

Japanese fluffy dog

They probably descended from white German Spitz that were brought to Japan around 1920 from Siberia and China. Breeding records were lost in World War II, but they were first exhibited in 1921 at a Tokyo show.

In 1925, two white spitzes were imported from Canada and some from China, the US, and Australia. It’s believed that cross-breedings from those created the standard for the Japanese spitz.

Japanese Spitz are good with kids and other dogs, friendly, trainable, loyal, smart, alert, and protect their humans. They are brave guard dogs with no fear for their own safety. They weigh 10-25 pounds and live to 10-14.

17. Bangkaew

hunting asian dog

It is believed that around 100 years ago, a domestic Thai dog was crossed with the Asiatic wild jackal, perhaps in the town of Bangkaw and probably at a monastery. They are part of the Spitz family. The puppies later mated with herding dogs.

Bangkaew were bred to guard homes. They are protective dogs, energetic, active, intelligent, playful, can be stubborn, and aren’t one of the easiest dogs to train.

Bangkaew are very popular in their homeland of Thailand but rare elsewhere. They are also renowned in their homeland for their speed and hardiness. Bangkaews weigh 35-43 pounds and live to be 14-17.

18. Lhasa Apso

cute asian dogs

The Lhasa Apso is an ancient breed that’s been around for a thousand years. They were watchdogs in palaces and Buddhist monasteries in the Himalayas. They have silky long hair that sweeps along the floor.

Lhasas are confident, smart, funny, exotic, and elegant. Lhasas came to the West when the first Westerner to enter Lhasa, the Chinese Forbidden City, was given two Lhasas by the 13th Dalai Lama.

They were lap dogs for the Chinese emperor and Chinese royalty. Lhasas protect their owners and are loving and good at adapting. They are tiny watch dogs that bark to notify their guardians when a stranger approaches.

Many owners like their Lhasas to have a short puppy clip cut, which saves bathing and brushing time. This small dog weighs 12-18 pounds and lives 12-15 years.

19. Thai Ridgeback

Thai Ridgeback

The Thai Ridgeback is in archeological documents from 360 years ago. They are named after their nationality and distinctive coats. They were a hunting dog that also guarded and accompanied carts in Thailand. These Asian dogs are very rare outside of Thailand, weigh 35-75 pounds, and live to be 14-15.

The Thai Ridgeback is loving, intelligent, and muscular and needs plenty of physical movement and mental stimulation. They are agile and have impressive jumping skills.

Ridgebacks have a ridge on their back where the fur grows in the opposite direction of their regular fur and spotted or black/blue tongues.

FAQs

Which Dog Breed is Native to Asia?

Central Asian Shepherd Dogs are believed to be the oldest known Asian dog.

What is the Most Famous Asian Dog?

The Pug is probably the most famous of dog breeds with its adorable pushed-in face and funny personality.

What is the Most Famous Pet Dog in Asia?

The Shiba Inu is the most famous dog in Asia.

Which Is the Oldest Dog Breed in Asia?

The Central Asian Shepherd Dogs were possibly in Asia 5,000 years ago.

Conclusions

Almost 60% of the inhabitants of Earth live in Asia so it makes sense that the continent is the original home of many beautiful and wonderful canines of every size and personality characteristic. We have lots of favorite Asian dog breeds living in the US.

Elise Margulis
Elise Margulis is a talented animal writer and a devoted pet parent residing near Manhattan in a cozy suburb. With a Chow mix and a rescued Siamese as her loyal companions, she's been animal-obsessed since childhood. Penning informative articles on pet nutrition, health, and animal welfare, she's also an avid advocate for adoption and animal rights. When she's not writing, she serves as the editor of two local online news sites. Working from home with her fur babies, she advocates adoption and animal welfare through volunteering and social media. A true animal lover and vegetarian for over 31 years, she's on a mission to raise awareness and make the world a better place for all creatures.

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