I’m still on my imaginary, time-traveling quest for the perfect dog. Today, I am headed to Ancient and Medieval China.


I am going all the way back to The Qin dynasty, the first dynasty of Imperial China, lasting from 221 to 206 BC. Named for Qin state, where it began, the dynasty was founded by Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor of Qin. The Qin Dynasty unified China and created The Great Wall of China and the Terra Cotta Army. 

During the Qin Dynasty, the Shar Pei appeared. Shar Pei were bred as fighting dogs and continue to be used as guard dogs today.

Photo by Tiago Vasconcelos on Unsplash

Around this time, pugs were a prized bread too. We know the breed originated in China hundreds or even thousands of years ago. Some sources say that Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi had all records of pugs destroyed to protect the breed’s secrets. 


Fun Fact: Did you know a group of pugs is called a grumble?  

Photo by Sneaky Elbow on Unsplash

Next, I discover the Chow Chow, around 150 – 200 BCE. These lion-like, blue-tongued dogs served as hunting and sled dogs and may be the model for the stone lion at the entrances to Buddhist temples. They have been around since the Han Dynasty or even earlier.  Some even claim that they date back to the 11th century BC/BCE!

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Fast forward to the 8th century, where I find Pekingese, but only in the homes of royalty. Common people were not allowed to have these little lapdogs. Folklore says that they are a cross between a lion and the marmoset monkey. 

Photo credit: Emir Hoyman on iStock

Finally moving forward to the late 1300s, I am in the time of the Ming dynasty. The Great Ming was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644. Shih Tzu were the favorite lapdog of Ming Dynasty nobles but nearly went extinct. At one time, there were only fourteen left of the breed. Today, the breed has made a full recovery. 

Photo credit: Przemysław Iciak on iStock

Stay tuned for History – Gone to the Dogs! (Part 3)

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