The Unique Dogs of Russia, Korea and China

Analysis by Dr. Karen Shaw Becker

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Story at-a-glance -

  • Russia has several native dogs, including the Black Russian Terrier, a breed developed in the former USSR to be military and working dogs
  • China is also home to several original breeds, including the distinctive Chow Chow
  • A native breed of Korea is the Korean Jindo, a highly intelligent breed developed for its outstanding hunting ability

Dogs Originating in Russia

Russia boasts almost two dozen native dogs, including:


Russian Spaniel


Russian Tracker

Caucasian Shepherd Dog

Russkiy Toy

Central Asian Shepherd Dog

Russo-European Laika

East Siberian Laika

Sakhalin Husky

East European Shepherd


Hortaya Borzaya

Siberian Husky

Karelo-Finnish Laika

South Russian Ovcharka


Sulimov Dog

Moscow Watchdog

West Siberian Laika

Moscow Water Dog

Yakutian Laika

Also native to Russia is the Black Russian Terrier, which despite its name is not a true terrier. Believe it or not, there may have been as many as 17 breeds involved in its development. The breed originated in the former USSR for use as military and working dogs. Breeds used in its development include the Giant Schnauzer, Airedale Terrier, Rottweiler, Newfoundland, Caucasian Shepherd Dog and others.

Russian black terrier

The Black Russian Terrier was bred solely by the state-owned Red Star Kennel in Moscow until 1957, when some puppies were sold to civilian breeders. In time, the breed spread to the other parts of USSR, then to Finland and other European countries, and finally to the U.S., Canada and Australia. This is a large-to-giant breed dog, with adult males weighing between 110 and 130 pounds, and females, 100 to 110 pounds.

The Black Russian Terrier is known to be a calm, confident and brave dog who is very intelligent and easily trained. Because the breed was developed to guard and protect, these dogs are alert, instinctively protective, fearless and loyal to their human family.

The Dogs of China

China is home to over a dozen original dog breeds, including:


Miniature Shar Pei

Chinese Chongqing Dog


Chinese Crested


Chinese Imperial Dog

Shar Pei

Japanese Chin


Kunming Wolfdog

Xiasi Dog

Also native to China is the ancient Chow Chow breed. In China it’s called Songshi Quan, which means "puffy-lion dog,” as well as the Tang Quan, "Dog of the Tang Empire.” The Chow Chow is believed to be one of the dogs used as the model for the Foo dog, which is the traditional stone guardian placed in front of Buddhist temples and palaces.

Chows have a very distinct appearance. They’re very sturdy, with a broad skull and an incredibly dense, fluffy double coat that can be smooth or rough. The coat is extra-thick around the neck, which makes the Chow appear to have a ruff or mane, like a lion.

chow chow

Also distinctive about these dogs are their tongues and lips, which are a blue-black or purplish color, their unusually straight hind legs and their tails, which are covered with thick hair and curl over onto their backs.

In terms of temperament, Chow Chows are known to be fiercely protective of their humans, and often become overly attached to and protective of one or two family members. While generally quiet and well-behaved, Chows can be difficult to train, so it’s important to begin positive reinforcement behavior training when they are puppies.

Since they have a tendency to be aggressive and over-protective as adults, it’s also important to continue to socialize Chows throughout their lives, and be extra-diligent when they’re around same-sex dogs, especially other Chows, cats and small dogs.

Dogs Native to Korea

Dog breeds that originated in Korea include:

  • Donggyeongi
  • Jeju Dog
  • Nureongi
  • Pungsan Dog
  • Sapsali

Another native breed is the Korean Jindo, a hunting dog that originated on Jindo Island in South Korea. The breed is celebrated in its native land for its fierce loyalty and brave nature. There are many theories regarding the origin of the Jindo Dog, one of which holds is that it’s a cross of Mongolian dogs.

In 1962, the government of South Korea designated the Jindo the 53rd “Natural Treasure” and passed the Jindo Preservation Ordinance. Because of the breed’s special status, it’s very difficult to export a purebred Jindo outside of Korea.

white jindo dog

The Jindo is known for his outstanding hunting ability, courage and cunning behavior. In Korea the dogs have mainly been used to hunt deer and boar, but there’s also the often-told story of three Jindos that killed a Siberian tiger. Traditional Korean hunters didn’t use guns, so a pack of well-trained Jindos was very valuable.

Like all very smart dogs, Jindos can be high-maintenance pets. These dogs think for themselves, and the same intelligence that allows them to learn commands and tricks very quickly can be a bit too much for a novice dog parent. They make great companions as long as they receive adequate mental and physical stimulation. They also need lots of interaction with people or another dog in the family, and if left alone for long periods, they’ll find their own entertainment.

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