The Chinese New Year will begin on January 23rd and this year will be the Year of the Dragon. Everyone by now knows that the Chinese use animals to represent their years, unlike the Western world who use Zodiac signs to represent months. But did you know that the Chinese also regard dogs of Chinese origin to be of particular good luck and protection? People tend to have dogs in their houses for comfort, company, to get them outdoors, and to have something to love.
The Chinese however, believe that dogs bring a special positive energy into the home, a good ‘yang’ and can even influence mythology, representing some important symbols of good fortune and luck and protection. There are many types of Chinese dog breeds, including the Pekingese, Shar Pei, Formosan Mountain Dog and much more. We are going to talk about three breeds which are the most commonly owned Chinese breeds in this country. They are the Shih Tzu, Pug, and Chinese Crested Dog.
Otherwise known as the ‘Lion Dog’, they range from 8 to 16 lbs and are typically less than 12 inches tall. Surprisingly, the Shih Tzu is thought to be a direct descendant of the wolf, specifically, an ancient Chinese wolf known as the Senji. Very popular with celebrities in the States, the colours of a Shih Tzu’s coat can vary from black, white, brown, liver, and blue, bi-colored, including black and white, liver and white, silver and white, brindle and white, and black and gold.
Their coats can grow quickly and can be either long or short, depending on how the owner wants them. The average lifespan of a Shih Tzu is around 13 years with some fortunate ones reaching the ages of 16 to 20. They can suffer from certain hereditary diseases however, such as Intervertebral Disk Disease or IVD, hip dysplasia, Hypothyroidism, and can be prone to breathing problems. These dogs make excellent companions as they are playful and get on with other animals well. Despite their small stature they are very brave and always on alert so would make a good watchdog.
Chinese Crested Dog
There are two types of Chinese Crested Dog: Hairless and Powderpuff. Powderpuffs have a long, soft coat that will look different, depending on how the owner grooms them. Then you have the hairless variety – actually, there are two varieties of hairless crested: true hairless and hairy hairless. True hairless dogs have practically no fur at all, whilst hairy hairless dogs have patches of hair on the head (crest), paws (socks), and tail (plume).
The average lifespan of the Chinese crested is around 12 to 14 years, but, as with all dogs, there are health problems to take into consideration. Ocular and dental problems can be common, as well as allergies and immune disorders. Weirdly enough, the dental issues are far more common in the hairless variety. The Chinese Crested are very affectionate, charming and lovable dogs and as such, make great family pets. It is important however, that children are gentle with the puppies, as they do not have the protective fur that other pups do and can get injured more easily as a result of this.
Apparently, the pug resembles the ancient Chinese mythical creature, called a Fu Dog. Legend has it that Fu dogs were imperial guardians and able to transform themselves into dragons. You can actually see statues of these animals placed at the doorways of Chinese businesses and in the home for protection against burglars and evil spirits. Pugs are renowned for their short muzzles and scrunched faces.
They weigh in at around 14 to 18 lbs and have a curved tail and predominant wrinkles that cover the face and head. Pugs can come in a variety of colors, including black, white is rare, fawn, apricot fawn, silver, and brindle, but the standard ones are black and fawn. The average lifespan of a pug is around 12 to 14 years, but they can suffer from obesity if they do not get enough exercise. They are also prone to Pug Dog Encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), hip dysplasia, reverse sneezing, and overheating. Pugs are great family dogs as they are very even-tempered, love to please their owners and rarely aggressive.