The Chinese Chongqing Dog (pronounced Chun-Ching) is a multipurpose working breed native to the Chinese regions of Chongqing and Sichuan. Although the ancestry of this breed remains a mystery, it is considered to be one of China’s oldest breeds with a history that traces back at least 2,000 years. The Chongqing Dog was originally primarily used as a hunting dog, but in modern times is better known as a guard dog and companion animal. As a result of persecution by the Communist Party, the Chinese Chongqing Dog nearly became extinct during the middle of the 20th Century and is still considered one of the rarest dog breeds in the world. In China, the breed is known by many names including Chuandong Dog, East Sichuan Hunting Dog, Bamboo Ratter, Mountain Dog, Mountain Dog, Hechuan Dog, Pak Tin Par Dog, and Linshui Dog.
Although dogs are very frequently depicted in Chinese artwork, they are very rarely mentioned in Chinese literature. Even more problematic is the fact that until very recently, there was almost no interest in canine historical research in China until the last 15 or so years. This lack of evidence makes it nearly impossible to make any definitive statements on the history of the Chinese Chongqing Dog, or any of China’s breeds for that matter. This makes anything said about the Chinese Chongqing Dog’s history prior to the 1980’s little more than speculation, although enough evidence does exist to make some general statements. What is clear is that the Chinese Chongqing Dog was developed in China many centuries ago, and that it has always been associated with Chongqing and Sichuan. Based on a number of physical and temperamental features such as a solid blue-black tongue and facial wrinkles, the Chinese Chongqing Dog is almost certainly closely related to two other Chinese breeds, the Chow Chow and the Shar Pei.
Dogs were either the first domestic animal in China or one of the first two along with the pig. It is unclear how the dog was introduced to China and there are three competing theories. Some claim that the dog was first domesticated in China, and that all dogs are the descendants of small population of Chinese wolves. Others claim that the dog was first domesticated in Tibet, India, or the Middle East and subsequently spread to China through trade and military conquest. Still others believe that the dog was domesticated simultaneously in China and another location in Asia and the two populations eventually merged. Regardless, the dog was present in China for as long as the Chinese civilization has existed. Dogs were definitely kept by the first Chinese farmers, and almost certainly by their nomadic hunter-gatherer ancestors. The first Chinese dogs probably served the same roles as their counterparts elsewhere in the ancient world, as guardians, hunting aides, companions, and sources of food and hides.
It is unclear what these first Chinese dogs looked like, but most experts agree that they were virtually identical in appearance and temperament to a number of primitive breeds found throughout the world including the Dingo of Australia, New Guinea Singing Dog of Papua New Guinea, and the Carolina Dog of the United States. In fact, dogs which could be classified as Dingoes are still sometimes found throughout Southern China. These early dogs were probably descended from the smaller, less aggressive wolves of southern Asia and were best adapted to life in tropical and subtropical climates. In order to adapt to life in the frigid climates found in mountainous regions and Northern China, the first Chinese Dogs were almost certainly crossed with the larger, more-heavily furred wolves found in those regions. The resulting cross-bred dogs are known in the West as Spitzen. At a somewhat later date, the Tibetan people developed two distinct types of dogs, probably as a result of crossing the early dogs with Tibetan wolves. One was a very large and powerful guarding breed which became known as the Tibetan Mastiff. The other was a small and affectionate companion animal. Both types were brachycephalic, meaning that they had short, pushed-in faces, and possessed wrinkled faces. Trade and conquest eventually introduced both breeds to China where they became well-established. These four types of dogs, primitive Dingo-like dogs, Spitz-type dogs, Mastiff-type dogs, and Pug-like companion breeds, were regularly crossed resulting in all of today’s Chinese breeds.
At some point, the Chinese developed a unique type of dog, probably by heavily crossing all four ancestral types. This type was typified by loose, wrinkly skin, medium size, a curled tail, a low-set stocky body, and a blue-black tongue. Although it is unclear, these blue-black tongued dogs were almost certainly multipurpose dogs, used for hunting, property guarding, and sources of food. This new type was very well-established throughout China by the time of the Han Dynasty, which ruled China from approximately 206 B.C. until 220 A.D. These dogs were very frequently depicted in Chinese artwork, especially statues, and are known as Han Dogs do to their popularity during that time. These pieces show a dog that is remarkably similar, if not identical, to modern day Chow Chows, Shar Peis, and Chinese Chongqing Dogs. There is substantial dispute among fanciers of all three breeds as to which of those three breeds the Han Dog represents, but the full truth will probably forever remain a mystery. In the opinion of this author, the Han Dog exhibits characteristic features of all three dogs and probably actually represents a common shared ancestor which was subsequently developed into a number of new breeds.
Until 1997, the city of Chongqing and its immediate surroundings were part of the ancient Chinese province of Sichuan, which has long served as Tibet’s eastern border. Sichuan is famous for its mountainous terrain, unique culture and cuisine, and speech, which is either a unique dialect or language depending on the expert. A unique dog breed developed around Chongqing, which is considered one of the most important, wealthy, and powerful cities in China. This breed was different from all other Chinese dogs for a number of reasons, including possessing a straight, hairless tail known in Chinese as a bamboo tail. Each valley and municipality had a unique name for the breed, and the Chinese Chongqing Dog has probably been called dozens of different names throughout the centuries. Chinese dog breeders were much less involved than their European counterparts. The Chinese Chongqing Dog was not deliberately bred, although a fair amount of indirect selection was conducted (only those dogs which were most favored were kept alive to breed). This meant that most of the Chinese Chongqing Dog’s development was the result of natural pressures, and also that the breed was considerably less inbred.
The farmers of Chongqing and Sichuan lived very difficult lives, and they often did not have enough food to feed their families. These men and women could not afford to keep a dog unless it served several purposes. The Chongqing Dog was primarily used for hunting. The breed was used to hunt most of the region’s species including deer, rabbits, antelope, wild goats, boar, ground birds, and even tiger. Unlike most breeds which either hunt alone or in a pack, the Chinese Chongqing Dog can hunt either way. The Chinese Chongqing Dog not only helped provide its owners with meat and hides, but also allowed them to kill and drive off predators which would otherwise have killed their valued livestock. At night, the Chinese Chongqing Dog was used as a guard dog, protecting its home and family from both wild beasts and ill-intentioned humans. The breed also served as a pet for local families, providing companionship and affectionate. Those breed members that were not skilled at performing the various tasks assigned to them were usually eaten as food themselves, providing a valuable and rare source of protein.
The Chinese Chongqing Dog became very well-known around the city of Chongqing and throughout Eastern Sichuan. However, the breed remained essentially unknown outside of its homeland, even in the rest of China. The breed remained essentially unchanged in its homeland for centuries, continuing to serve as a multipurpose working dog. The introduction of modern technology and farming methods in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries led to a massive population boom, and by the middle of the 20th Century Sichuan province was home to a massive population which at one point exceeded 100 million people. 100 million people require a large amount of agricultural land to feed them, and most of Sichuan’s remaining wild areas were cleared to make room for farming. This left little land for the Chinese Chongqing Dog to hunt on, and the breed began to be kept primarily as a guard dog and companion.
After a protracted and bloody civil war which was interrupted by World War II, the Communist rebels under the leadership of Mao Zedong took control of mainland China. Official Communist thought held that dogs were the useless playthings of the rich and that keeping pets was an unnecessary strain on resources. The keeping of pet dogs was outlawed throughout China and untold millions of dogs were deliberately killed. Pet dogs essentially disappeared from Chinese cities and vast areas of the countryside. This purge resulted in the total and complete extinction of most Chinese breeds. Most Chinese Dogs which managed to survive were those such as the Chow Chow and Pekingese which had already become established in the West prior to the purge or those from Tibet such as the Tibetan Mastiff which were specially protected in the autonomous region. It is believed that only two breeds managed to survive on mainland China. One was the Shar Pei, which was saved by breeders in Hong Kong, which was actually a British territory until 1999. The other was the Chinese Chongqing Dog. The Chinese Chongqing dog was saved from extinction by a combination of two factors. The first was that it was primarily found in a remote mountainous region where governmental control was comparatively weak. The other was that it was kept as a working dog and was therefore exempt from the worst excesses of the slaughter. A small number of owners in remote Sichuan Valleys continued to breed these ancient animals, although they were kept essentially entirely as working dogs.
By the late 1980’s, Mao Zedong had died and China’s new leadership had slightly different ideologies. China began to initiate a number of reforms designed to produce a more effective and free-market economy. The keeping of pet dogs was once again allowed after more than 30 years of being banned. The Chinese also began to conduct more research into their nation’s historical past. Numerous statues of Han Dogs were discovered in archaeological digs throughout Sichuan. A few researchers noticed that the local dogs of the region were very different than other Chinese breeds, and were nearly identical to statues of Han Dogs. By the early 1990’s, pet ownership had become very popular in Chinese cities such as Chongqing. Because the only source of dogs at the time was the countryside, many dogs were imported from rural regions. The Chinese Chongqing Dog became increasingly popular in the city of Chongqing and breed numbers began to grow for the first time in decades. Some Chinese Chongqing Dogs were crossed with other varieties, which may have introduced new colors into the breed such as black.
In 1997, the Chinese government decided that Sichuan Province had become too populous to serve as a single province. The city of Chongqing and surrounding parts of Eastern Sichuan were separated to form a new province, Chongqing. The Chongqing Pet Association took a major interest in the region’s only native breed. In order to end confusion as the breed’s name, the Chongqing Pet Association officially renamed the dog the Chinese Chongqing Dog in the year 2000. In 2001, the Chinese Chongqing Dog Promotional Committee was founded. The group’s aim was to promote the breed and increase its population throughout China and the world. The group met with Western experts to develop a written standard which was officially published in 2001 on the group’s website. This website was the breed’s first introduction to the rest of the world and significantly increased global interest in the breed. The Chinese Chongqing Dog Promotional Committee carefully hand-selected a number of breeders in the United States, European Union, and Canada to export their dogs to. Additionally, a number of breed members were acquired by fanciers throughout China.
The breed was beginning to show signs of recovery until disaster struck once again. In 2003, a SARS outbreak spread throughout China. In order to combat the deadly disease, the Chinese government killed most of Chongqing’s canine population, including the majority of Chinese Chongqing Dogs. This most recent purge almost resulted in the breed’s extinction. Today, the Chinese Chongqing Dog is considered to be one of the rarest breeds on earth. The breed’s total global population is slow low that it is thought that there are fewer purebred Chinese Chongqing Dogs on earth than there are Giant Pandas, another creature that has only survived until the present day by hiding deep in the Mountains of Sichuan and Chongqing. There are currently well under 2,000 purebred Chinese Chongqing Dogs remaining, the vast majority of which are owned by a small number of breeders and fanciers in the city of Chongqing and its suburbs.
Although breed numbers remain very low, the future of the Chinese Chongqing Dog is looking brighter. In addition to increased interest around the world, there is substantial and growing interest in the breed throughout China. This growing interest closely corresponds to a growing Chinese interest in native breeds. Chinese dog owners covet purebred Chinese breeds as symbols of national and cultural pride. This reached its peak when a Tibetan Mastiff (which the Chinese consider a native breed, much to the chagrin of the Tibetans) sold for more than $1,000,000 in United States currency. This national interest is starting to seep down to the Chinese Chongqing Dog which is becoming desirable across China. In 2006, the Chinese Chongqing Dog Breeding Centre (CCDBC) was founded in the Beijing, the Chinese capital. The CCDBC collected the finest available specimens from around Chongqing to use in its breeding program. Luckily for the Chinese Chongqing Dog, it now has four separate organizations designed to protect and promote the breed around the world, the CCDBC, Chongqing Pet Association, Chongqing Kennel Club, and Chinese Chongqing Dog Promotional Committee. Although this breed does not yet have many fanciers and owners, those that it does have tend to be extremely dedicated. It is hoped that breed numbers will dramatically increase in the near future and that the breed will become very well-established throughout the entire world.
Until the last 30 years, the Chinese Chongqing Dog was kept almost exclusively as a working dog, especially during the period which lasted from 1949 until the late 1980’s. Prior to the 1950’s, the breed’s primary role was as a hunting dog, but very few breed members are still used for that purpose today. The modern Chinese Chongqing Dog serves two primary functions, companion and guard dog, although many individuals perform both tasks. Those few individuals living outside of China are virtually all kept as companion animals, especially by those interested in rare pets. As interest in dog shows and pet dogs grows throughout China, the Chinese Chongqing Dog will probably become primarily a companion animal and a show dog, which is where the breed’s future most likely lies.
The Chinese Chongqing Dog has one of the most unique appearances of any dog breed and is completely unmistakable to those familiar with this animal. The Chinese Chongqing Dog is the epitome of a medium-sized dog. Males usually stand between 16 and 19½ inches tall at the shoulder and weigh between 44 and 54 pounds. The noticeably smaller females usually stand between 14 and 16 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh between 33 and 44 pounds. This is a very squarely proportioned breed although some individuals are slightly longer from chest to rump than they are tall from ceiling to shoulder. In general, this breed is quite stocky and compact, but not to a great extreme. Most breed members possessing a body type very similar to that of a working-line American Pit Bull Terrier. The Chinese Chongqing Dog is a very muscular breed, whose athleticism and tone is clearly visible beneath its short coat. This breed does have somewhat loose skin, but not to the extent where it diminishes the muscular appearance.
The tail of the Chinese Chongqing Dog is perhaps the breed’s most unique feature. These dogs possess what is known as a bamboo tail. This tail is naturally short to medium in length and set high on the dog’s body. The tail is usually carried completely straight without any curve. When the dog is in motion, the tail is usually carried slightly upright at approximately a 45 degree angle from the back. The tail is incredibly thick at the base but tapers to a very sharp point at the end. Perhaps most interestingly, the tail of the Chinese Chongqing Dog is almost completely hairless.
The head and face of the Chinese Chongqing Dog are also quite unique. The head of this breed is large for the size of the body, and clearly exhibits immense power. The skull is flat on top and possesses well-pronounced cheek muscles, making it look like the dog has a square head. The muzzle is quite distinct from the rest of the head and connects to it quite abruptly. The muzzle itself is quite short, but very broad and deep, giving a square profile. The top lips of this breed completely cover the lower lips but should always be tight fitting. The mouth is another key breed feature. Like the Chow Chow and Shar Pei, the mouth and tongue of the Chinese Chongqing Dog are primarily blue-black in color. While it is preferred that both be solidly blue-black, mixed blue-black and pink markings are also acceptable. The nose of the Chinese Chongqing Dog should be large, black, and slightly higher than the rest of the muzzle. The face of the Chinese Chongqing Dog is covered in wrinkles. These wrinkles should not be excessive like those of the Chinese Shar Pei or Pug, but are usually comparable to those of pet-quality English Bulldogs and English Mastiffs. The eyes should be dark brown in color and neither sunken nor bulging. The ears of this breed are another key characteristic. They must be small-in-size, triangular-in-shape, face directly forwards, strongly erect, and either completely hairless or nearly so. The overall expression of most Chinese Chongqing Dogs is intense, wise, and somewhat primitive.
The coat of the Chinese Chongqing Dog is very unique, with only the Shar Pei possessing a similar one. The coat is short, flat, not dense, and very harsh to the touch. Ideally, the coat should be visibly glossy. Many breed members have coats that are so sparse that they are nearly hairless, although complete hairlessness is not seen in this breed. The ears and tail are usually completely hairless, and sometimes the muzzle, face, neck, chest, and belly are as well. The back of this breed also typically has less hair than the rest of the body. The Chinese Chongqing Dog should be solidly colored, ideally brown, dark brown, or reddish brown. A small white patch on the chest is acceptable. The black skin of this breed is often clearly visible, making some dogs look as though they have black muzzles, faces, chests, tails, backs, and ears. In recent years, a few additional colors have been noticed in Chinese Chongqing Dogs from Chongqing such as solid black, but most experts believe these animals are actually cross breeds.
It is difficult to make many generalizations about the temperament of the Chinese Chongqing Dog because the breed seems to exhibit drastically different temperaments when kept as a working dog versus when kept as a companion animal. All agree that this breed is intensely devoted and loyal. This is a dog that forms an extremely close bond with its family. Breed members raised by an individual have a strong tendency to become one person dogs. Chinese Chongqing Dogs raised by a family will usually form close attachments with the entire family, but will often select a single person to be closest to. When properly trained and socialized, most breed members are trustworthy with their own family’s children. However, many breed members are not willing to engage in rough housing, and some breed members remain suspicious of strange children. To those it knows well, the Chinese Chongqing Dog can be quite affectionate, but this is definitely not a fawning breed. Because this breed can be quite dominant, it is not a good choice for a novice dog owner.
This is definitely a dog that prefers the company of its own family to that of strangers. This breed has been kept as a guard dog for at least two millennia, and is usually highly suspicious of strangers. When properly trained and socialized, most breed members will be tolerant and polite with new people, but they will usually remain very aloof. Such training is of the utmost importance for this breed in order to prevent aggression issues from developing. This breed is highly protective, intensely territorial, and constantly alert, making it an excellent watch dog that will scare off most potential intruders with its fearsome appearance and loud displays. Although very intimidating, the bite of this breed is definitely worse than its bark. Chinese Chongqing Dogs are peerless guard dog and personal protection animals that will defend their homes and families to the death. Anyone intending on entering a Chinese Chongqing Dog’s home unwelcomed or injuring its family will certainly have to get past a completely determined, very athletic, and incredibly powerful animal to do so.
Until very recently, Chinese Chongqing Dogs were bred primarily as hunting dogs, and this breed definitely knows it. This breed has a very strong predatory drive, and almost all of these dogs are compelled to chase, attack, and kill any non-canine animal which it senses whether that creature is a bear or a cricket. These dogs are capable of killing fish from the water, birds from the air, and anything that moves on the ground. When raised with cats and other pets, some breed members will tolerate them, but many never will. Chinese Chongqing Dogs have a mixed reputation with other dogs. When raised alongside other dogs, this breed usually forms very close bonds with those individual dogs. However, most breed members, especially males demonstrate moderate to high levels of aggression towards strange dogs. Proper training and socialization can greatly reduce such issues but they cannot eliminate them entirely. Most breed members do best either as only dogs or with a single canine companion of the opposite sex.
Reports are quite varied as to the Chinese Chongqing Dog’s trainability. Most that have worked with the breed claim that they are highly trainable, and are capable of learning much more and much quicker than is the case with other Asian breeds. However, almost all that have worked with this breed fall into one of two categories: highly regarded and successful dog trainers with decades of experience with many breeds and Chongqing farmers who have kept the breed for untold generations. For the vast majority of potential owners who do not meet these criteria, the breed may prove somewhat challenging. All agree that this is an incredibly intelligent and adaptable breed that can be taught a great deal. However, this breed also tends to be somewhat dominant. Many Chinese Chongqing Dogs, especially males, will regularly challenge their owner’s authority, requiring owners to maintain a constant position of dominance. This breed also tends to be somewhat stubborn, preferring to do its own thing rather than follow someone else’s orders. Owners of these dogs must take extra time and effort to work with them to get the desired results. Proper training is especially important for this breed in order to keep its natural hunting and protective instincts in check.
The Chinese Chongqing Dog is a moderately active breed with similarly moderate exercise requirements. Most dedicated families will be able to meet this dog’s needs without being overly burdened. This breed requires at least 30 to 45 minutes of vigorous exercise every day to prevent behavioral issues such as aggression, destructiveness, hyper activity, and over excitability from developing. However, the Chinese Chongqing Dog can be a much more active dog if provided the opportunity, and most breed members will adapt completely to their family’s activity level. This breed is more than capable of taking long hikes through the mountains, running around off-leash for several hours, or going on long jogs or bicycle rides.
The Chinese Chongqing Dog is known to be a very quiet breed. These dogs do bark, and quite loudly, when confronting an intruder, sounding the alarm, or when on the hunt, but generally do so much less than most breeds. This quietness, combined with the breed’s moderate exercise requirements and medium size make it a good choice for urban and suburban dwellers. Although this breed does best with at least a small yard, it can also adapt surprisingly well to apartment life. The Chinese Chongqing Dog is not especially given to roaming but does require a very secure enclosure. This breed will attempt to pursue whatever potential prey it sees. Additionally, these dogs are powerful, intelligent, and athletic enough to easily escape from most enclosures or break right through them if no easy escape route is available.
The Chinese Chongqing Dog has minimal coat care requirements. This breed should never require professional grooming, only a regular brushing. This breed should be bathed only occasionally to prevent the loss of important natural oils. There do not seem to be many reports on the Chinese Chongqing Dog’s shedding. It is probably fair to assume that this breed does shed, but not very much due to its thin coat. This does not mean that the breed is a good choice for allergy sufferers, as the similarly-coated Shar Pei is known to be among the worst breeds for those with allergies. Owners of Chinese Chongqing Dogs must clean the dog’s facial wrinkles on a daily basis. Otherwise food, water, and other particles may get trapped in them, leading to irritations and infections.
It does not appear as though any health studies have been conducted on the Chinese Chongqing Dog which makes it impossible to make any definitive statements on the breed’s health. However, reports from China and those few dogs in the West seem to indicate that this is a very healthy breed. The Chinese Chongqing Dog has been bred almost exclusively for working ability, and until recently almost all breeding was conducted without human intervention. This means that the breed is considerably less inbred than most breeds, even those with far greater populations. Any genetic defect would have been quickly eliminated from this breed, as impacted dogs would either have died naturally or been culled by their owners. There are no known genetically inherited defects in this breed, a situation which breeders are dedicated to continuing. The unique coat of this breed does seem to be somewhat vulnerably to skin conditions, but most are not overly serious. The good health and medium size of the Chinese Chongqing Dog combine to give the breed one of the highest life expectancies of any breed. Barring accident, communicable disease, or injury, most breed members live to the incredibly advanced age of 17 or 18.
The Chinese Chongqing Dog does have a few special care requirements. Like many ancient breeds, the Chinese Chongqing Dog is intolerant of most modern commercially produced dog foods. To stay healthy, these dogs should be fed only the highest grade dog foods and would preferably be fed human grade foods. The shortened face of this breed also makes it somewhat more difficult for them to take in enough oxygen. Some breed members may be highly sensitive to heat as a result because they cannot take in enough air to cool themselves off. Extra precautions should be taken with these dogs when the temperature rises such as limited the duration and type of outdoor play and the provision of extra water. The short coat of this breed also creates a few unique needs. This dog has virtually no protection from the cold. When the temperature drops, these dogs should be provided coats and booties to prevent frostbite, disease, and freezing to death. The lack of hair, particularly that found on the back, tail, ears, and face, also makes this breed vulnerable to sunburn. Owners should limit the amount of time these dogs spend outdoors, and should regularly apply sunscreen if they are to be in the sun for any length of time.
Although skeletal and visual problems are not thought to occur at high rates in this breed it is highly advisable for owners to have their pets tested by both the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF). The OFA and CERF perform genetic and other tests to identify potential health defects before they show up. This is especially valuable in the detection of conditions that do not show up until the dog has reached an advanced age, making it especially important for anyone considering breeding their dog to have them tested to prevent the spread of potential genetic conditions to its offspring.
Although health studies have not been conducted for the Chippiparai, a number have been on similar and closely related breeds. Some of the problems of greatest concern hound in those breeds include: