Canines of various sizes, bred for many purposes, make up the dogs of Asian ancestry registered with the American Kennel Club. Many of these breeds are comfortable with their own human family, or pack, but might be shy or suspicious of strangers. The majority of Asian breeds were rarely seen in the West before the 20th century.
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If you looking for a dog who can't shed -- because it doesn't have hair -- consider the Chinese crested. There's also a variety with hair, known as the powderpuff. These small, affectionate dogs mature between 11 and 13 inches tall at the shoulder. The Pekingese sports lot of hair. This brachycephalic, or short-nosed, breed was prized by Chinese royalty. Under AKC standards, adult Pekingese can't exceed 14 pounds. The lhasa apso hails from Tibet, where he was known as the "barking lion sentinel dog." An excellent watchdog, this long-haired canine matures between 10 and 11 inches high, weighing between 12 to 18 pounds. The shih tzu, possibly resulting from a cross between the Pekingese and the lhasa apso, makes a fine companion but his long coat requires considerable maintenance. Full-grown shih tzus weigh between 9 and 16 pounds, standing between 8 and 11 inches high. The Japanese chin actually originated in China. This good-natured little dog, also a brachycephalic breed, matures between 8 and 11 inches high.
Medium Size Breeds
Once known as the holy dogs of Tibet, Tibetan terriers make good companions and watch dogs. Adult Tibetan terriers stand between 14 and 17 inches tall and weigh between 18 and 30 pounds. The Shiba Inu was bred as a hunting dog in Japan and requires a lot of exercise. When full grown, he weighs between 17 and 23 pounds and stands 13.5 to 16.5 inches tall.
In his native Japan, the Akita is well known as a hunting and working dog. A superb guard dog, the Akita is best paired with an experienced dog owner. This double-coated breed matures between 24 and 28 inches high. The chow chow served as an all-purpose working dog in his native China. Besides his thick double coat, this breed is noted for his black tongue. Chow chows stand between 17 and 20 inches tall at maturity. The wrinkly Chinese shar-pei is among the most unusual looking dog breeds. Their wrinkles require regular cleaning to prevent skin infection. Shar-peis weigh between 45 and 50 pounds at maturity, standing between 18 and 20 inches tall. While the Korean jindo makes a good guard dog, his strong prey drive makes him unsuitable for sharing a household with cats or small canines. Jindos mature between 30 and 50 pounds and stand between 18 and 22 inches tall. The tremendous Tibetan mastiff was born to guard and is extremely protective of his person. Full grown, these dogs stand at least 24 to 26 inches tall, although they can be larger.
Did American Dogs Originate in Asia?
It's possible that American dog breeds have Asian roots. In a 2013 study published by the Royal Society of Biological Sciences, researchers found that many "American" dog breeds, including those as varied as the Chihuahua, sled dogs and xoloitzcuintli, or "Mexican hairless," share DNA with Asian canines. Scientists speculate that the ancestors of these dogs accompanied humans across a long ago land bridge linking North America and East Asia.
By Jane Meggitt
American Kennel Club: AKC Recognized Breeds
The Jindo Project: The Benefits and Challenges of Owning a Jindo
Archaeology: American Dog Breeds Originated in Asia
The Royal Society of Biological Sciences: Pre-Columbian origins of Native American Dog Breeds, with Only Limited Replacement by European Dogs, Confirmed by mtDNA Analysis
About the Author
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.