13 Most Popular Chinese Dog Breeds – Perfect Picks for Pet Lovers!

chinese dog breeds

Dog breeds come from all over the world. In fact, there are probably numerous breeds that you’ve never heard of. However, some of the most popular dogs in the US today actually originated from China. The nation domesticated canines approximately 9,000 years ago and used them for a variety of purposes. 

Smaller dogs were held by Chinese royalty and were pampered pooches carried around by elites. Medium and larger dogs were used to hunt, herd, transport goods, and protect families. However, sadly, some dogs are also used as a food source in the nation.

In fact, the Yulin Dog Meat Festival is an annual event that results in the deaths of thousands of dogs. Animal rights activists have fought to end the event with little success.

Each of the breeds comes with its own characteristics, though there are some notable similarities between several, such as the Pug and Pekingese with flat faces classified as brachycephalic and the Chow Chow, Shar Pei, and Chongqing with their darker purple-ish tongues.

Chinese Dog Breeds 

There are many different Chinese dog breeds that originate out of the Asian nation, but some are more popular and well-known than others. Let’s take a look at a few. 

1. Pugs 

chinese dog

The Pug is one of the most recognizable Chinese dogs and is also one of the most popular dog breeds. The history of this pup dates back to 400 BC when it served as a companion for Chinese emperors.

It has a very playful demeanor, which means it makes a great house pet, and its size makes it a great dog for an apartment. 

The Pug belongs to the toy group due to its small stature. It stands between 10 to 13 inches tall and tends to weigh under 20 pounds. The coat on this pup is short and smooth, and most pugs come in fawn color, but there are black pugs, too! The lifespan of this ancient Chinese breed is around 13 to 15 years. 

2. Xiasi 

chinese dog
LauraKelsch, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Xiasi is an adorable breed that was originally bred for hunting or as a guard dog. Because of this, it has a very strong prey drive. It hails from China’s Guizhou province, and in Chinese culture, it’s believed to bring wealth to its owners.

The pup is both loyal and affectionate, adopting a workhorse persona outside the home but a great family dog inside. The Xiasi tends to bond with its owner. 

The Xiasi belongs to the hound dog class and is not recognized by any kennel clubs, including the American Kennel Club (AKC). It’s a medium-sized pup that stands 17 to 20 inches tall and weighs between 20 to 60 pounds.

Its wiry coat is short and white in color. You can expect the Xiasi to live around 12 to 14 years, which is average for a dog of its size.

3. Pekingese 

china dogs

The Pekingese is another popular Chinese breed that is often touted as “lion dogs” due to the longer fur framing its face, which gives it a lion-like appearance. The breed was considered a popular dog among Chinese royalty in the country.

It has a friendly, loving, and outgoing personality, and they often demand affection if they don’t get enough. 

Like many of the Chinese dog breeds, the Pekingese belongs to the toy dog group. The Pekingese stands around 6 to 9 inches tall and can weigh up to 14 pounds.

The thick double coat on this pup is long, and it comes in multiple colors, including red, gold, sable, tan, black, cream, and gray. The Pekingese dog can live 12 to 14 years.

4. Chinese Crested

china dog

The Chinese Crested dog is a hairless breed that comes with or without hair, sometimes a combination of both. The breed used to be prominent on trading vessels as a means of hunting vermin.

Some consider Chinese Crested dogs ugly dogs because of their lack of fur, but the opposite is quite true. These hairless dogs are a very loving and playful breed that gets along well with children and other pets. 

Like many on this list, the Chinese Crested belongs to the toy group as it’s a small dog that has a height of 11 to 13 inches and a weight of 8 to 12 pounds. Despite its name, it has soft, silky hair on its tail, feet, and head, and those with hair have a white and gray coloring.

Chinese Crested dogs are one of the longer-living breeds on this list, with a life expectancy of 13 to 18 years. 

5. Chow Chow

dog breed from china

If you’re looking for a Chinese breed that resembles a teddy bear, the Chow Chow is your dog! Chow Chows have very defining characteristics, such as their blue-black tongue and giant mane around their faces.

The Chow Chow dog has a very protective nature, and early socialization is a must with this breed if you want to raise it with other dogs; otherwise, it’s good as an only pet. However, they are low-maintenance, independent, and very intelligent dogs

The Chow Chow Chinese dog breed belongs to the non-sporting group and once served as a hunting dog. Chow Chows are one of the bigger dog breeds to come out of China, standing 17 to 20 inches tall and weighing 40 to 70 pounds.

Chow Chows have very thick coats that can be either smooth or rough and come in a variety of colors, including red, black, cinnamon, cream, or blue. The Chow Chow dog lives an average of 10 to 12 years. 

6. Japanese Chin

small chinese dog

The Japanese Chin is a cat-like dog that thrives on being in your lap. It’s a very loyal breed that’s alert and intelligent. There’s a debate surrounding the origin of this dog and whether it originated in China or Japan. However, it’s believed to have originated in Tibet. They don’t require a lot of exercise and are easily trainable.

The Japanese Chin belongs to the toy group and is a small dog that stands no higher than 8 to 11 inches tall and weighs between 4 and 9 pounds.

It has a long silky coat that comes in several color variations, including black and white, sable and white, lemon and white, and solid black or white. The Japanese Chin tends to live between 10 and 14 years. 

7. Chinese Chongqing

chinese breed dog

The Chinese Chongqing dog is one of the rarest dog breeds in the world, believed to have originated 2,000 years ago in southern China in the Han dynasty period. It has a wrinkly face and an imposing stature and tends to be aloof with and wary of strangers.

The Chonqing is a wonderful companion, however, for its owners, with whom they are protective and fiercely loyal. This rare breed makes for a great family dog because it tends to love children and having fun.

Chinese Chongqing dogs are classified as working dogs, though the breed isn’t recognized by the AKC. This Chinese breed tends to stand 16 to 19 inches tall and weigh between 44 to 54 pounds.

Chongqing dogs don’t come in many color variations, just mahogany or brown, and their coats are short and harsh. This rare breed lives around 10 to 13 years. 

8. Shih Tzus

chinese small dog breeds

Shih Tzus were once considered the country’s noble dog and are another “lion dog” breed. An interesting fact about the Shih Tzu is that it is closely related to wolves, more so than other dog breeds.

They are very lively pups with a perky disposition and get along with just about everyone and other animals. 

The Shih Tzu is a toy dog that stands 8 to 11 inches tall and weighs between 9 and 16 pounds. This Chinese dog has a long double coat that you’ll often find in many different color variations, including white, black, gold, blue, and liver. Shih Tzus live an average of 10 to 16 years. 

9. Chinese Shar Pei 

chinese lap dogs

The Chinese Shar-Pei has a long storied history, including a period where it nearly went extinct. Its history dates back 2,000 years ago, when it was originally bred as one of China’s top hunting and guard dogs.

Their most notable features are their blue-black tongues and wrinkly skin on their faces. Their name, Shar Pei, stands for “sand skin.” The Shar Pei is a devoted pet with an independent streak that does best in homes with older children. 

Chinese Shar Peis belong to the non-sporting group and are one of the larger breeds on the list. The Shar Pei is around 18 to 20 inches tall and weighs 45 to 60 pounds.

The short, bristly coat of a Chinese Shar-Pei is typically chocolate, blue, black, or cream in color. The Shar Pei lives around 8 to 12 years.

10. Lhasa Apso

chinese puppies

The Lhasa Apso bears a slight resemblance to the Shih Tzu, though it has a slightly longer snout. These pups are from the Himalayas and initially served as alert dogs in the monasteries.

The Lhasa Apso’s high level of intelligence can make them stubborn at times, but they’re affectionate dogs with their families. They are also hypoallergenic.

The Lhasa Apso is classified as a non-sporting dog that is on the smaller side. It stands between 10 to 11 inches tall and weighs between 11 to 18 pounds on average.

Lhasa Apsos have long hair with silky fur that requires consistent grooming. The coat is usually a combination of colors and can include white, brown, sandy, golden, and black with a dark grizzle. They will live an average of 12 to 14 years.

11. Kunming Wolfdog 

big dogs from china

Kunming Wolfdogs bear a striking resemblance to German Shepherds. Similarly, they work as rescue dogs, military dogs, and police dogs in the nation. Kunming Wolfdogs are very intelligent and need to be kept mentally stimulated and have regular exercise, lest they become destructive.

It’s one of the wolf-dog breeds to come out of the country and is an easy-going dog that tends to bond with its family.

The Kunming Wolfdog is a working dog not recognized by kennel clubs such as the AKC. It is the largest dog on this list, standing 25 to 27 inches tall and weighing 65 to 85 pounds.

The breed has a double coat that comes in a variety of colors, like the German Shepherd, including black, rust, brown, and cream. The breed lives 12 to 14 years on average.

12. Formosan Mountain Dog 

chinese black wolf dog

The Formosan Mountain Dog, also known as the Taiwan Dog, has a genetic profile that dates back between 10,000 and 20,000 years ago. They serve many purposes, including as a family, hunting, rescue, and guard dog. The dog is fearless and bold but very keen. They’re faithful to their owners.

The Formosan Mountain Dog is a hunting dog, belonging to the primitive group, though it’s not recognized by the AKC. It’s small to medium in size, with a height of 13 to 16 inches and a weight that falls between 25 and 40 pounds.

The coat on these pups is short and smooth, and it comes in a variety of colors, including fawn, black, white, and brindle. The average lifespan of a Formosan Mountain Dog is 9 to 13 years.

13. Chinese Imperial 

chinese small dog

The Chinese Imperial is closely related to the Shih Tzu, even being described as a micro Shih Tzu. It’s another dog that was widely known to be kept by emperors as companion dogs and is one of the cutest dog breeds to come out of China.

These little pups are vivacious, very outgoing, and happy dogs. They do have an independent streak that leads to stubbornness, but they love to play and cuddle, making them excellent family dogs. 

The Chinese Imperial is part of the teacup group, though it’s not recognized by kennel clubs. It’s a tiny dog, standing 7 to 8 inches tall and weighing only 4 to 7 pounds. Their long coats are dense and luxurious in nature, and they have fluffy, curled tails.

You can find the Chinese Imperial in brown, fawn, white, silver, black, and pied colors. The breed lives to be 10 to 15 years old.

How to Choose the Right Chinese Breed Dog

As with any dog, including the Chinese dog breeds, it’s important to outline the traits that you want in a dog and then look for a breed that exhibits those traits. For example, if you’re looking for a lap dog, you might not want to go for a Kunming Wolfdog, as it can grow to 85 pounds.

That doesn’t mean they won’t think they’re lap dogs — just ask my furry beast, Ranger, who insists if he fits, he sits.

Consider size, maintenance — such as how often you have to brush its fur or take it for grooming — and energy levels. Choosing a dog that likes to run all the time isn’t going to be a good fit for an apartment or those who live a sedentary lifestyle. 

Breed to Avoid 

As with choosing the right dog for your household, you’ll want to pay attention to traits for Chinese breeds to avoid. For example, if a breed is known to be aloof or has a strong prey drive, you’ll want to avoid adopting it if you have children or smaller animals in the home.

Similarly, some come with health issues that can be costly down the road. Research is a critical part of ensuring you pick the best Chinese breeds for your home. 


What Dog Breed Is Native to China?

All of the Chinese dog breeds that we have listed above are native to China. There are others, of course, such as the Tibetan Terrier, Tibetan Mastiff, and Tibetan Spaniel, to name a few.

Many of these breeds have made it across the world to find homes in other countries over the past several centuries.

What Dogs Are Similar to Pekingese?

The Pug is very similar to the Pekingese in terms of its look. Then, there’s the Shih Tzu and Tibetan Spaniel that bear a slightly similar appearance.

What Is the Name of the Cutest Dog in China?

The cutest dog in China is definitely subjective, but if you asked me? I would say either the Tibetan Terrier or the Bone Mouth, which is a variation of the Shar-Pei. The wrinkles and the flat ears just do it for me. 

Final Thoughts

Most Chinese dogs date back to ancient China and have fascinating histories. They tend to be on the small to medium size, though there are a few notable exceptions in the hunting dogs and guard dogs classifications.

They’re revered pets, and the Chinese aren’t afraid to show their dedication to them. They also love their Fu dog statues, a protection symbol in Chinese culture that typically sits in the entryway of a home or building.

Chinese dog breeds are more than just pets; they are a testament to the rich tapestry of China’s history and culture. Whether you’re seeking a loyal companion or a spirited playmate, these dogs have been cherished for millennia, and for good reason.

Embrace the legacy and let the timeless charm of Chinese dog breeds enrich your heart and home!

Christina Drury
Meet Christina Drury, a dedicated animal enthusiast, and proud pet parent. She has a deep-rooted affection for all creatures, and Christina has called the Buckeye State home for the past four years. As a seasoned writer, she possesses a versatile writing style that spans various niches, yet her heart truly belongs to animals. With her innate connection and expertise, Christina is committed to crafting engaging and insightful content for animal-related issues.

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