New Year, Ancient Breed
By Jessica Freni
“Gong hei fat choy” or “Xīnnián hǎo” it is the Lunar New Year! February 1st, 2022, marks the Chinese New Year and Year of the Tiger. In honor of the Lunar New Year we are spotlighting a distinctly Chinese breed of dog. Everyone is familiar with the popular and well established AKC breeds originating in China such as, the Pug, Pekingese, Chow Chow and Shar-pei, but a far less well known breed, but equally as old, is the Chongqing dog.
The Chongqing dog is a rare breed whose ancestry can be traced back to the Han Dynasty. The Chinese Chongqing Dog Mihua Tang Kennel describes the breed as,
“A landrace breed, with more than 2,000 years of genetic origin, genetically adapted to the conditions of the local environment, not the product of formal or institutional breeding programs, therefore with extremely reduced systematic selection, development and improvement by breeders. This is the Chongqing Dog.”
In essence the Chongqing dog was a regional dog of all purpose, a true functional working dog with drive. This is a powerful farm and property dog performing tasks, including primarily hunting, but also as a watch dog. The quarry of the Chongqing dog is largely dependent on which of the three size/ height varieties of the dog, with the smallest hunting primarily rabbit and the largest capable of game such as boar or deer.
Efforts are underway to establish a formal breed standard, since originally pairings were based on workability resulting in varied, often inconsistent type. However, during attempts to formalize the breed standard, the breed was actually divided from one breed, with three sizes, into two separate breeds due to the distinct difference in function and head type- Chongqing Dog and the Chuandong Hound. Physically, the Chongqing Dog “are mid sized dogs with a compact muscular body, naturally erect triangular shaped ears, and an erect bamboo-shoot like tail.” This bamboo-shoot tail is a characteristic breed trait. The Chongqing Dog Project, describes the breed as:
“They have strong character with an outgoing temperament, confident attitude, strong prey drive, combined with a wonderful quirky fun-loving playful twist. They make adventuresome and fun family dogs, love children, and will also serve as an alert and faithful family guard dog. Chongqing Dogs have high prey drive and excellent scenting abilities. Chongqing Dogs can hunt alone, or in a pack, for prey ranging in size from rabbits through badgers, foxes, boar, goats, deer, and small bear. They tend to have a long lifespan of up to 15 years.” (http://www.chongqingdog.com/#breed)
The Chongqing Dog is a primitive breed with a confident, strong temperament best suited for an experienced handler (they can have DA (dog aggression)) and are typically aloof with strangers.
Combined global efforts are underway to preserve the Chongqing Dog, without hypertype and extremes. Dogs for the purpose of establishing the breed have been brought to the United States imported from China. There is a breed standard with the CKU China Native Breed Conservation Club (http://old.cku.org.cn/nativedog/hound.html?fbclid=IwAR0FmcceeFqnz_TIEEMocvJETNMSR5LUofKRDqepSmyIOd7BwZd4kYo4IYo) Currently, there are efforts underway to get further registry recognition for the breed, including in the US. Brandi Miller (Mt View Cane Corso) is an amazing resource and point of contact for this breed in the US.