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4 Chinese dog breeds Americans love

Chinese dog breeds hold the record as the oldest breeds in the world, and many of them have quietly gained popularity in the United States—in fact, two of the most popular U.S. dog breeds are Chinese in origin. Chinese breeds range from small, snuggly lap dogs, to fierce livestock protectors and guard dogs. If you are considering a new family pet, or looking for a dog to help protect your home, give these breeds a thought.

Shih tzu dog breed

#1: Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu is one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States. A favorite companion of the historic royal, rich, and elite Chinese households, these small-but-mighty companions will make every owner feel like the most important person in the world. They are a lovable lap dog, with an endearing, curious expression that is sure to melt your heart, while their goofy, outgoing personality will bring a smile to your face. The Shih Tzu’s signature feature is their regal coat, which can grow long enough to cover their feet, providing the illusion that the dog is floating along the ground rather than walking. The coat requires daily upkeep and regular grooming to prevent matting.

Their coat may require extra attention, but Shih Tzus have low exercise requirements, and are well-suited for apartment life. Happy to romp around the backyard or go for a short walk around the block, it doesn’t take much to burn off their extra energy. After a walk, a Shih Tzu will be happy to spend the rest of the day snuggled up on your lap.


Japanese Chin - Trupanion Dog Breed Guide

#2: Japanese chin

Wait—the Japanese chin is Chinese? It’s true. Although the breed has a complicated history, it’s widely accepted that the Japanese chin of today was gifted to Japanese nobles 500 to 1,000 years ago. The nobles cultivated the breed, which is undeniably regal, with a distinctive upturned nose and proudly held head. Although they make affectionate, loyal lap dogs, Japanese Chins are often described as “cat like,” because they enjoy perching in high places and often groom themselves like cats. They are more independent than other toy breeds, and can be stubborn and occasionally mischievous. They require more exercise than Shih Tzus , but still make wonderful apartment dogs with some daily exercise. Their long, luxurious coat looks high-maintenance, but requires only a weekly brushing. Their short noses, which add to their distinctive appearance, make them intolerant to temperature extremes. They are also prone to dental disease.


Chow Chow dog breed Trupanion

#3: Chow chow

This breed holds the distinction of one of the oldest dog breeds in the world. Chow chows have a large, unmistakable fur ruff around their necks and shoulders that has earned them the affectionate nickname, “Puffy Lion Dog.” Bred in Mongolia and the northern Chinese regions, these loyal companions were used for hunting, pulling sleds, and guarding property. Modern Chow Chows have retained many of their ancestors’ personality traits, and the average Chow Chow today is independent, loyal, and devoted. They, too, are often described as “cat-like,” because they don’t mind spending time alone, they are independent and stubborn, and they can be difficult to train. Although they often distrust strangers, they make friendly pets for families with older children who understand how to respect the dog’s boundaries. Because Chow Chows need space, care should be taken to ensure their personal space around small children. Their distinctive coat requires regular brushing, and their undercoat sheds seasonally.


Pug - Trupanion Dog Breed Guide

#4: Pug

Ranked 28 on the AKC’s list, this fun-loving, snuffly dog is the second-most popular Chinese breed in the U.S. Like other flat-faced Chinese toy breeds, the pug was a cherished companion to royal and elite Chinese households. Most pug owners form a lifelong dedication to the breed after they get a taste of their larger-than-life goofy personalities. Pugs make ideal pets for owners in many different situations—they’re perfect in an apartment or a farmhouse in the country, as a single pet or part of a pack, and they’re equally happy with small children or a quiet, older owner. Thanks to their short noses, however, pugs do best in moderate climates. Their large eyes are endearing, but pugs are prone to breathing problems and certain health conditions such as “corneal” ulcers.


Dogs originally bred in China share particular traits that make them unique, and they are highly valued for their personalities and companionship. If you’re considering a family addition, you may find what many other households have discovered already—a Chinese breed may be your perfect dog.

Thinking of adopting a Chinese breed into your own family? Make sure they’re protected and learn more about how Trupanion’s dog insurance can help in the event of injury or illness.