Containing 48 counties and over 4.8 billion people, Asia is the world’s largest and most populated continent. It’s a continent of ancient wonders, a place of many cultures, and home to a wide variety of dog breeds.
Over the centuries, there have been many breeds of dogs developed in Asia, some native to their lands and others bred specifically to aid humans with various tasks and activities. Many of these breeds have gone on to become immensely popular the world over, while others have been scarcely heard of outside their home country.
There are literally hundreds of breeds that have originated in Asia, far too many to include in a single article. But to give you an idea of the wonderful dog breeds that this enormously diverse continent has produced, here’s an alphabetical list of 22 of our favorite Asian dog breeds.
1. Afghan Hound
The Afghan Hound is an elegant and tall dog, with long legs and a thick, fine, and silky coat. Considered to be one of the most visually striking of all dog breeds, the Afghan Hound is a unique and ancient dog whose origins date back thousands of years.
Originally used as a hunting dog, Afghan Hounds are built for speed and endurance and noted for their independent spirit. The breed was first exported from Afghanistan to the United Kingdom during the 1920s, before later being taken into Europe and the United States.
2. Akita Inu
The Akita Inu is a large and powerful breed of dog that hails from the mountainous regions of Japan. Originally bred for hunting, the breed was for a time also used as a fighting dog during the 1600s.
Today, there are two separate varieties of Akita, the Akita Inu or Japanese Akita, and the American strain known simply as the Akita or American Akita. In all countries except the United States, the two strains are considered to be different breeds. However, in the United States, they are officially considered the same breed with differences in type.
3. Black Russian Terrier
The Black Russian Terrier was developed at a secret location in Moscow in the 1930s by the Soviet government, which set up a specialized breeding kennel, known as the Red Star Kennel, to develop a create a super dog for the Russian army.
The result is a large and powerful working dog that is known for their intelligence, courage, and confidence. The breed was put into service by the Soviet government patrolling Russia’s borders and guarding political prisoners in Starlin’s prison camps. During the 1950s, when the Stalin-era prison camps began to close, the military began selling excess dogs to the civilian population, and many of the military officers also returned home with their K9 partners. Eventually, the breed spread across the USSR, then into neighboring countries and eventually, other parts of the world. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1994.
The Borzoi, also known as the Russian Wolfhound, is a Russian sighthound that resembles a large, long-haired greyhound. The breed has been a part of Russian national culture for over 900 years and was often bred by aristocratic Russian families and used as a royal hunting dog.
Physically, these dogs look elegant and regal, but in truth, they are a strong and incredible fast dog that was used for hunting small to medium-sized game. They are known to be quite stubborn and at times, aloof, a trait that makes them notoriously difficult to train.
The Chippiparai is an Indian short-haired sighthound that was developed in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The breed is well known in their homeland for its speed and hardiness, as well as their hunting prowess and gentle nature toward humans.
Like many Indian breeds, the Chippiparai has declined in popularity in recent times, and the breed is in imminent danger of extinction.
6. The Chinese Crested
The Chinese Crested, also known as the Chinese Hairless Dog, is believed to have originated in either Africa or Mexico and was bred to be much smaller in size by the Chinese.
Like many hairless dog breeds, the Chinese Crested comes in two varieties, one of which is the Hairless. The other has hair and is known as a Powderpuff. Both dogs are the same breed, and both Hairless and Powderpuff dogs are often born in the same litter.
This toy-sized dog is a popular companion animal and show dog and is known as an alert and happy breed that adores human company.
7. Chow Chow
The Chow Chow is an immensely popular Chinese breed that is admired throughout the world. They originated in northern China, and their Chinese name, Songshi-Quan, translates into “puffy lion dog,” which is an apt description of the breed.
The Chow Chow is an extremely old breed that is believed to have originated about 2,000 years ago. They are extremely loyal dogs and are known to be wary of strangers and fiercely protective of their owners and their property. However, the breed is best known for their unique purple/blue-black tongue, a trait that they share with just one other breed, the Shar-Pei.
8. Dosa Mastiff
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The Dosa Mastiff, also known as the Korean Mastiff, is a colossal yet dignified and good-natured dog that loves to be with people.
The breed has a unique appearance, with a loose wrinkly coat that looks like it is several sizes too big for their frame. Unlike most Mastiff breeds, the Dosa Mastiff is not at all aggressive and makes for a fantastic family pet. They are excellent with children and other pets but can be a little wary of strangers.
The Dosa Mastiff was originally developed in South Korea. Despite their excellent nature, the Dosa Mastiff is not popular and is officially considered to be one of the rarest breeds in the world.
9. Indian Spitz
The Indian Spitz is a small dog with a foxlike face, pointed ears, and a white coat that resembles a large Pomeranian.
Developed as a family pet, the Indian Spitz is a popular dog in many urban areas throughout India. The breed is known for their intelligence and is easily trained. They enjoy the company of their human families but can be a little aloof and need to have their own space to which they can retreat when they feel the need.
10. Japanese Chin
Despite their name, the exact origin of the Japanese Chin is unknown. However, they are believed to have originated from either China or Korea sometime between 500 A.D. and 750 A.D. At some point after that, the Chin made their way to Japan, where they were highly valued by the ruling dynasties and afforded significant respect in the imperial court.
Japanese Chins are small, happy, and energetic dogs that have a long silky coat and a feathered tail that plumes over their back.
Since the early 20th century, the breed had been in decline throughout Japan. However, recent efforts to revive the breed have been successful, and there are now thousands of Japanese Chin registered in Japan, as well as many hundreds in other countries around the world.
11. Japanese Spitz
The Japanese Spitz is, like the Indian Spitz, a small, white fluffy dog with a curled tail and foxlike ears.
They are extremely active, intelligent, and brave dogs that are often described as being a big dog in a little dog’s body. They make excellent family pets and will defend their family and home from any threat without any fear or concern for their own safety.
The Japanese Spitz is a breed that thrives on human contact and will happily follow their owners around the house all day and are excellent with children of all ages.
12. Kintamani-Bali Dog
The Kintamani-Bali Dog is a dog that is native to the Indonesian island of Bali. The breed is the only dog that is native to Bali and is a popular family pet and companion dog with the local Balinese people.
In appearance, the Kintamani-Bali Dog looks like a cross between a Samoyed and an Alaska Malamute. However, they are actually an exceptionally old breed that has lived on the island for thousands of years.
The breed is known to be a fiercely independent dog, although they are loving and loyal toward their families. However, it is their love of climbing that stands them out from most dog breeds. While most dogs are happiest on the ground, the Kintamani-Bali Dog can often be found climbing across the roofs of small Balinese houses or sleeping atop walls like a cat.
13. Korean Jindo
The Korean Jindo is a South Korean hunting dog that is highly acclaimed for their loyalty and bravery. Used mainly for hunting and as guard dogs, the Korean Jindo is a native of a small island off the southwest coast of South Korea.
The breed is a medium-sized dog that has lived freely on the island for thousands of years. The Jindo is a popular dog in South Korea and was officially recognized by the nation as a national asset in 1962. In the United States, they are recognized as a foundation breed by the American Kennel Club.
Korean Jindos are not great family dogs, but rather are one-owner dogs that will form a close bond with a single person, to whom they will be exceptionally loyal and protective.
14. Lhasa Apso
The Lhasa is a small dog that was developed as a watchdog in the Buddhist Monasteries of Tibet to alert monks to any intruders. The breed is named after Lhasa, the capital of Tibet.
Independent yet always eager to please, these small dogs have a keen sense of hearing, and as they have been bred to do for centuries, they will bark to alert their owners of the presence of any stranger.
Due mainly to their long flowing coats that need considerable grooming and upkeep, the Lhasa Apso is quite a high-maintenance dog. However, to avoid hours of bathing and brushing, many owners choose to keep their dogs in a short puppy clip, which is considerably easier to manage.
The Pekingese is a popular toy dog that originated in China. The breed was a favored lap dog and companion of the royal members of the Chinese Imperial Court.
Loyal, affectionate, and quite strong-willed, Pekingese make surprisingly good watchdogs and will become quite vocal in the presence of any intruders or perceived danger. They are quite delicate little dogs, though, so aside from their bark, they are unlikely to be of any real use as a guard dog.
Pekingese can be good dogs for apartment living but can become nuisance barkers if left unchecked. They are good with other animals and children; however, care should be taken to ensure that young children don’t drop them or accidentally injure them during play.
The Pug is a small dog with a distinctive wrinkled, short-muzzled face and a short curly tail. Originally from China, the breed was taken to central Europe in the 16th century and from there, were later taken to all corners of the world.
Pugs are friendly and gentle dogs that thrive on human companionship. They are great pets for those living in apartments and need only a small amount of activity each day. They are not great when left alone for long periods and will pine for their families while they are away.
The Pug also makes for a great family pet; however, due to their small size and fragile nature, care needs to be taken with them. Young children should not be allowed to carry them around unsupervised, as they can be seriously injured if they are dropped or fall from the furniture.
The Samoyed is a working dog that was originally bred as a hunter and sled dog in their native Siberia. Although strong-willed, they are gentle and friendly dogs that make great family pets and over the years, have developed a popular following.
Samoyeds are medium-sized dogs with a thick snow-white coat. They were bred to survive in some of the coldest and harshest conditions on Earth, yet they are adaptable to most climates. Samoyeds need to be kept busy with plenty of mental stimulation and physical activity, as left to their own devices, they will become bored and will entertain themselves by digging and chewing shoes or furniture.
18. Siberian Husky
The Siberian Husky is an extremely old breed that was developed centuries ago by the nomadic Chukchi people in the Arctic coast region of Northern Siberia, who used them as sled dogs, watchdogs, and companions. The breed was first brought to Alaska as a sled dog during the early 1900s and soon found fame in that role.
Over the years, the Siberian Husky has become an immensely popular breed and can be found in homes across the United States and the world. Like the Samoyed, they are highly active dogs that need plenty of mental stimulation and physical activity. They love to run, and when set loose, they have been known to run for miles without giving any thought to where they are going. For this reason, the Siberian Husky should always be walked on a leash when in public and needs a large and secure yard from which they can’t escape.
19. Shih Tzu
The Shih Tzu is a lap dog that was developed hundreds of years ago by breeders working in the palace of the Chinese emperor. Believed to be the result of crossing the Lhasa Apso and the Pekingese, the Shih Tzu quite literally sat on the lap of Chinese royalty for centuries.
Today, this once royal breed can be found in homes around the world, but that hasn’t always been the case. Until the 1930s, the breed was virtually unknown outside China and rarely ever seen outside palace walls.
Perhaps the original lap dog, Shih Tzus have little interest in going outside for a walk or playing games in the yard, preferring instead to curl up on your lap while you sit and watch TV.
20. Shiba Inu
The Shibu Inu is a Japanese breed that was originally bred for hunting. An ancient breed that dates back to around 300 BC, the Shibu Inu has survived a great deal over the centuries.
As recently as the end of World War II, the Shiba Inu was almost extinct. However, a resurgence of interest in the breed and a robust breeding program has seen this breed recover to a point where they are again one of the most popular breeds in Japan.
The first Shiba Inu in the United States came into the country with a returning military family in 1954.
21. Tibetan Mastiff
The Tibetan Mastiff is another ancient Asian breed that hails from Tibet. Known as the guardian of the Himalayas, these imposing dogs have a special place in the hearts of the Tibetan people, who believe that these dogs contain the souls of monks who did not live a good enough life to be reincarnated as humans.
Traditionally used to guard livestock grazing in the mountains and as personal watchdogs, these dogs are exceptionally strong, highly intelligent, and extremely stubborn.
In the late 1950s, two Tibetan mastiffs were sent to the United States from Tibet as a gift to the U.S. President; however, according to the American Tibetan Mastiff Association, these dogs were taken to a farm where they vanished from the public eye and never heard of again. It wasn’t until 1970 that more Tibetan Mastiffs were imported into the U.S. from Tibet.
22. Thai Ridgeback
The Thai Ridgeback is a strong and muscular, medium-sized dog that was originally bred as a Hunting dog in Thailand. Once unknown outside of Thailand, the breed is starting to gain a following in other countries, although to date, it is not all that popular in the United States.
They are intelligent and protective dogs, and with the right socialization and training, they can make excellent family pets.
Featured Image Credit: No-longer-here, Pixabay
- 1. Afghan Hound
- 2. Akita Inu
- 3. Black Russian Terrier
- 4. Borzoi
- 5. Chippiparai
- 6. The Chinese Crested
- 7. Chow Chow
- 8. Dosa Mastiff
- 9. Indian Spitz
- 10. Japanese Chin
- 11. Japanese Spitz
- 12. Kintamani-Bali Dog
- 13. Korean Jindo
- 14. Lhasa Apso
- 15. Pekingese
- 16. Pug
- 17. Samoyed
- 18. Siberian Husky
- 19. Shih Tzu
- 20. Shiba Inu
- 21. Tibetan Mastiff
- 22. Thai Ridgeback