15 Esteemed Chinese Dog Breeds

Published January 27, 2021
Pekingese Dog

Chinese dog breeds are some of the oldest canines in existence. The breeds are courageous and the center of many Chinese legends. Most of the dogs spent time with royalty, and many of the names have special meanings in the Chinese language.

Chinese Dog Breeds

Many of the dog breeds originated in imperial China. For example, the Chinese crested breed originated in China in the sixteenth century! All of the breeds vary in size and shape. Legends tell that nobility bred the Chinese Imperial breed to look like miniature lions.

Chinese Crested

The Chinese crested comes in two different varieties. There is a hairless dog or powderpuff type. The hairless version became popular with Chinese seafarers and originated in the 16th century.

Hairless Chinese Crested dog

Chinese Shar-Pei

This ancient breed traces its history back to the Han Dynasty and may be related to the chow chow. In southern China, this dog is famous for dog fights but also farming. This breed's notable blue-black tongue is a distinguishing feature, as this is a rare trait.

Chinese Shar-Pei

Miniature Shar-Pei

The mini pei is a smaller version of the shar-pei breed. The miniature breed stands no taller than 17 inches and weighs between 25 and 40 pounds.

Miniature Shar-Pei

Tibetan Mastiff

The Tibetan mastiff is fiercely territorial and loyal to his family. This mastiff is one of the most ancient breeds and known as a guard dog in the isolated islands of Tibet, Nepal, and Bhutan.

Tibetan Mastiff


This proud, ancient breed is closely associated with China's emperors and the ruling elite. This breed is known as the Foo dog and lived at China's royal palace. This dignified canine is affectionate and loyal to family members. Yet the Pekingese is stubborn, quiet, and reserved.


Shih Tzu

Tibetan lamas sent some of these dogs as tributes to Chinese emperors. The shih tzu is revered as a holy dog as it resembled the Chinese notion of a lion. The breed name means "little lion" in Chinese.

Portrait Of Shih Tzu

Chow Chow

Chow chows originated from the ancestors of the modern spitz-type breeds. This breed developed in the Arctic Circle before migrating to Mongolia, Siberia, and China. The chow is versatile and known as a farm dog with an unusual blue-black tongue. The shar-pei and the chow breeds are related.

Red chow-chow

Lhasa Apso

The Lhasa apso originated in ancient Tibet. This breed may be an incarnation of the mythical Tibetan snow lion. The true meaning behind the dog's name is "bearded lion dog," and monks kept the dogs for centuries.

Lhasa Apso At Home

Tibetan Spaniel

The Tibetan spaniel originated over 2,000 years ago. The ancient Asian breed is best known as a gift to ambassadors visiting China. This canine is also known as a "lion dog" and bred by Tibetan monks. The breed is not a real spaniel!

Tibetan Spaniel dog

Tibetan Terrier

The Tibetan terrier is similar to the Tibetan spaniel with a history of living with Tibetan monks. The title "holy dogs of Tibet" is a title this canine earned after years of acting as livestock guardians and companions for the monks.

Tibetan Terrier dog

Chinese Imperial

This breed is a close relative of the shih tzu and originated in imperial China. This dog is known for his lovely temperament and is friendly with other dogs. Nobility kept this breed in the sleeves of the robes used for worship.

Chinese Imperial Dog


Pugs are an icon of China's elite, and this is another ancient Chinese breed. This breed name means "much in a little" in Latin and fashionable among the aristocracy. The pug is a delightful breed and excellent companion dog.

Pug dog playing

Chinese Chongqing Dog

This rare breed is an ancient dog known for its bravery. The Chongqing breed is seen on pottery from the Han Dynasty and known as a guardian and hunter in China. Even in China, this dog is rarely seen and serves as the protector of property in certain regions.

Chinese Chongqing dog

Xiasi Quan

This breed originated from the Guizhou Province in China and a savvy hunter. In the southern area of Guizhou, the Xiasi Quan breed is a fierce guard dog.

Xiasi Quan dog

Japanese Chin

This breed is not from Japan! No one knows how the Japanese chin arrived in Japan as this ancient breed traces back to China. The chin is closely related to the Pekingese breed. This toy dog is also known as the Japanese spaniel.

Japanese Chin puppy

Chinese Breeds Are the Center of Many Legends

Some of the Chinese breeds may be monks incarnated, and many lived with Chinese royalty. The exquisite breeds on this list are the center of legends and ancient myths. All of the Chinese breeds need to be on the shortlist for every pet parent if you can identify a reputable breeder. Some of the dogs are quite rare!

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15 Esteemed Chinese Dog Breeds