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Chinese dog breeds: The five most popular ones

Chinese dog breeds: The five most popular ones

From fluffy lapdogs to wrinkled-faced guard dogs, the land of China has produced some truly unique dog breeds over the last few centuries. And many Chinese dog breeds are on the list of most popular dogs in the US!

Many of these pooches were kept as royal companions. Others as hunting and guard dogs. But, one thing is sure, all of them have long, varied histories that go back thousands of years.

In this article, we’ll learn more about five well-known Chinese dogs like the Shar-Pei, Pekingese, and others.

While you’re already here, check out some of the most popular mixed breeds:

Chinese dog breeds

To make it easier for you, we won’t only give you the name and picture of these breeds, we’ll also let you in on what they are like, what they look like. Basically, we’ll give you a little bit of info on these dogs.


Pugs are one of the most popular breeds for families because of their cute, friendly behavior, but they’re also one of the oldest breeds in the world.

The Pug originates from China, sometime around 400 BC. Back then they were even companions of Buddhist monks in Tibet.

chinese dog breeds the pug
The Pug’s personality is the best trait about them

Although some believe pugs are related to the Pekingese, another dog from China, others believe they were ancestors of bulldogs and mastiffs.

Breed overview

Height: 10 to 13 inches
Weight: 14 to 18 pounds

Physical Characteristics: Compact but sturdy and active dog with a round head, wrinkled face, short nose, and curly tail.

Coat: Short, sleek coats usually available in fawn or black.


Called “pekes”, “lion dogs” or “sun dogs”, Pekingese were originally kept as pets for Chinese kings. In fact, one story goes that Pekingese were actually created when the Buddha shrunk a lion to the size of a small dog.

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In reality, the Pekingese was most likely the result of breeding a larger dog with a toy-sized dog in China. Either way, they remained a popular and well-groomed pet among Chinese kings for thousands of years. Nowadays, they aren’t as popular anymore, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t amazing dogs!

The Pekingese is most recognizable by its lion-like mane

Breed overview

Height: 6 to 9 inches
Weight: Up to 14 pounds

Physical Characteristics: Compact, stocky toy dog with a flat face and a long, thick double coat that requires regular maintenance; most recognizable by lion-like manes.

Coat colors: Gold, sable, or red, but they can also be gray, black, brown, and cream.

Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu also belongs on the list of popular Chinese dog breeds. This is a small toy dog with a playful personality. They got their name for their lion-like appearance – “Shih Tzu” literally comes from the Chinese word “lion”. Like the Pekingese and Pugs, Shih Tzus were valued by the Chinese upper-class for centuries and they were even named the noble dog of China.

Shih Tzu
The Shih Tzu comes in many different colors

Also, despite their lapdog appearance, this dog breed is more closely related to wolves than some other dog breeds.

Breed overview

Height: 8 to 11 inches
Weight: 9 to 16 pounds

Physical characteristics: Surprisingly robust toy dog with a flattened face and a long double coat.

Coat colors: They can be many colors, white, fawn, creme, black, and many more. These dogs can be one solid color or be a combination of three colors.

Chow Chow

Chow Chows are one of the oldest Chinese dog breeds, dating back to 206 BC. Back then this breed was a hunting and guard dog. Chow Chows have a very distinctive appearance: their faces are somewhat bear-like with deep facial wrinkles and a blue-black tongue.

Chow Chow is one of the fawn color dog breeds
One of Chow’s most notable features is his blue-black tongue

Breed overview

Height: 17 to 20 inches
Weight: 40 to 70 pounds

Physical Characteristics: Medium-sized, non-athletic dog; compactly built with a lion-like mane, a wrinkled face, and a blue-black tongue.

Coat color: Their coats can be rough or smooth and come in brown, black, red, and cream colors.

Chinese Crested

Since the Chinese Crested is of extremely early origins, no one is sure exactly when or how the breed evolved. Many people believe that this hairless dog was brought to China from Africa and bred with smaller, toy-sized dogs to give the Crested its unique, appearance.

Chinese Crested
The Chinese Crested is one of the oldest dog breeds

But, it’s also important to state that the Chinese Crested dogs are known to have been brought aboard Chinese merchant ships to hunt vermin.

Breed overview

Height: 11 to 13 inches
Weight: 8 to 12 pounds

Physical Characteristics: Small, delicate, hairless dog with long, silky tufts of hair on the face, tail, and ankles.


In conclusion, many Chinese dog breeds are among the oldest breeds in the world. Like the country itself, the breeds are full of diversity. From the small lap dog to fast, wiry, and well-armed hunting dogs to huge shepherd dogs.

So, if you are interested in getting a Chinese dog, inform yourself in advance about their needs. It is also very important to find a good breeder, someone who is reliable, especially with breeds like the Pug which has many health problems. So, sadly, these dogs have been overbred to have very flat and short snouts, which resulted in them having breathing problems. So, be careful about who you buy your dog from

But, no matter which of these breeds you choose, with a little attention and affection you can be sure that they will be a loving and loyal companion as long as they live.

My name is Jackie and I am a veterinarian with a degree in veterinary medicine. With extensive experience in treating various animals, I am known for my compassionate and personalized approach to animal care.