Shar-pei, Japanese spitz, shih tzu...all about these dogs from Asia

The Chinese Crested Dog—what a nerve! 

This strange canine has a puff on the head and hair on the neck. The rest of the body is devoid of fur, except for the fringed tail and the "sock" legs. One subspecies has a light downy coat on the skin. The origins of this lively, affectionate, and playful little companion dog are obscure. It was perhaps used by the first Chinese emperors as a guard because of its exceptional vigilance. Merchants would take him on board as an exotic gift during stopovers. While it was more and more abandoned in China, Americans discovered it at the end of the 19th century. With its punk look, it is all the rage!

The shar-peï, all wrinkled

With his bluish tongue and wrinkles on his head and a large part of his body, he does not go unnoticed! This stocky dog with a short and thick coat has been known for at least two thousand years. The shar-pei, a Chinese translation of "sand skin", was first bred in the Canton region in southern China as a herding or fighting dog. However, he greatly prefers a cozy life with his master. In the second half of the 20th century, the animal was abandoned in its country of origin. But the Americans, and then the French from the 1980s onwards, fell in love with this animal "drowned in a much too big skin", as the writer Michel Tournier described it.

The Japanese spitz, bright white

In German, spitz means "pointed" or "sharp". This word refers to a type of dog with triangular ears that are always erect, thick fur, and a sickle-shaped tail. Among the spitz breeds, the Japanese spitz (pronounced supports) is distinguished by its pristine white color. The species is descended from the great German spitz and probably from a Samoyed sled dog (from Siberia). It was first presented at a dog show in Tokyo in 1921, arousing enthusiasm. He is affectionate towards his masters but very wary of strangers. It makes an excellent alarm dog...

The Shih Tzu, the lion dog

Its Chinese name, Shih Tzu, lion dog in French, is ancient. The entrance to Tibetan temples is often guarded by fabulous lions. On the Roof of the World, this small dog with long, dense, and stiff hair was traditionally shorn, leaving a disheveled mane. It was then considered a miniaturized incarnation of the legendary snow lion. In the 19th century, the species bred in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, was introduced to the imperial palace in the Chinese capital where breeders crossed it with other dogs. The British recognized it as a breed in its own right in 1934. Today, this playful pet wears long whiskers instead, always with great dignity.

The Tibetan Mastiff, an intimidating mastiff

This mongrel with strong jaws impressed Marco Polo. In an account of his trip to Asia written in 1298, the Venetian merchant described it as "as big as a donkey and with a voice as powerful as that of a lion". The animal is in fact smaller than a donkey, but it's very thick coat accentuates its strong stature. Called do-khyi in Tibet, "door dog", it traditionally guarded the Buddhist monasteries. Adopted by shepherds, it also accompanied herds of yaks, goats, and sheep in transhumance on the high plateaus and foothills of the Himalayas. Imported in Great Britain in the 19th century, the species was named Tibetan Mastiff (from the English dog). But it is undoubtedly, since Antiquity, at the origin of many mountain dogs of Europe.

The Pekingese, an imperial animal

According to a Chinese legend, it would be the fruit of a monkey and a lion! This dwarf spaniel with a beautiful mane and a camel face, i.e. crushed, has a bit of both mammal... Known since Antiquity, the pet with hanging ears and tail in plumes populated the Forbidden City of Beijing (literally "capital of the North") from the 18th century, under the emperor Qianlong, who belonged to the last dynasty (of the Qing). Some colors, called "the three flowers", were particularly appreciated at court: the red forehead, the eyes circled with black, and the muzzle surrounded by white hair. Known in France since 1923, the Pekingese is known for its imperious character and its sulking. Would its genetic heritage keep the memory of the life of the castle?

The Korean Jindo, an exceptional nose

The Korean Jindo is a hunting dog with ears that are always erect. It has been bred for several centuries on the island of Jindo, in the southwest of the Korean peninsula. Gifted with many qualities, it also has a powerful sense of smell. It could recognize some 30.000 different smells!
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