A short History of Dogs in China

Dogs have been present in Chinese culture and history for thousands of years. There is evidence of dogs being domesticated in China as early as the Neolithic period – around 12,000 years ago. Dogs were likely originally domesticated for hunting and guarding, and they quickly became valued for their loyalty, intelligence, and ability to work with humans.

Dogs appear in many early Chinese texts, including the “Shang Shu” (Book of History); one of the Five Classics of Chinese literature. In this text, dogs are described as being used for hunting and as guard animals. Dogs are also mentioned in the “I Ching” (Book of Changes); an ancient Chinese divination text, and in other early Chinese texts, such as the “Laozi” (The Way and Its Power); where they are depicted as loyal and wise animals.

Throughout Chinese history, dogs have played various important roles in Chinese society, including as pets, working animals, and symbols of loyalty and devotion. Today, dogs remain an integral part of Chinese culture and are beloved by people all across the country.

Dogs in Chinese Mythology

Dogs have long been an integral part of Chinese culture, with their presence dating back to ancient mythology and folklore. In Chinese mythology, dogs are often depicted as loyal, brave, and intelligent animals and play various important roles.

From their depiction as loyal and devoted companions to their medicinal properties and heroic deeds in folklore, dogs have had a lasting impact on Chinese society. Whether as beloved pets or revered figures in myth and legend – dogs have left their mark on Chinese culture in an enduring and beloved way.

In this article, we will take a deeper look at the rich history and legends of dogs in Chinese mythology and culture – including some of the most famous dogs of Chinese mythology.

Jumping dog in Chinese Street

The Myth of the Loyal Dog

One of the most famous stories about dogs in Chinese mythology is the legend of the loyal dog. According to this tale, a Dog named “Huan” became the loyal companion of a Chinese lord – who treated him with great kindness.

When the lord was betrayed and killed by his enemies, Huan refused to leave his side and eventually died of grief. The story of Huan’s loyalty and devotion has inspired countless works of art, literature, and film in China and has become a symbol of the special bond that can exist between a dog and its human companion.

The Role of Dogs in Chinese Medicine

In traditional Chinese medicine, dogs are believed to have a number of medicinal properties. The meat of certain breeds of dogs, such as the “Shar Pei” – is thought to have warming properties that can help to improve circulation and boost the immune system.

Dogs are also believed to have potent anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects, and their fur is sometimes used in the treatment of skin conditions.

Dogs in Chinese Mythology and Folklore

In Chinese folklore, dogs are often depicted as powerful and wise animals who can help humans to navigate the world of spirits and demons.

In some stories, dogs are said to be able to see ghosts and other supernatural beings and are able to protect their human companions from malevolent spirits. In other stories, dogs are depicted as brave and heroic animals who are willing to risk their own lives to protect their human companions.

Some famous dogs of Chinese mythology include:

  • The White Dog: In the legend of the White Dog, a faithful dog helps a young boy to defeat an evil dragon and save his village.
  • The Dog of Fo: The Dog of Fo is a deity in Chinese mythology who is associated with the Chinese New Year and is often depicted as a loyal and protective guardian.
  • The Jade Dog: The Jade Dog is a mythical creature that is said to have the ability to heal any injury or illness.

Chinese guardian Lion in Forbidden City, Beijing, China
Dog of Fo – Guardian Lion

Dogs in modern China

In modern China – Dogs have become increasingly popular as pets. Many people in urban areas own dogs for companionship; dogs are often treated as valued members of the family. Dogs can also be found working in various capacities, such as assisting police and military personnel, serving as therapy dogs, and participating in sporting events and competitions.

In recent years, the role of dogs in China has also expanded to include roles in the service industry. For example – dogs are often used as guide dogs for the blind, and they may also be trained to assist people with disabilities or medical conditions. Dogs are also frequently used in search and rescue operations, and they may be trained to detect illegal substances or assist with disaster relief efforts.

Despite the important roles that dogs play in modern China, they also face challenges. There have been instances of animal cruelty and neglect; some people may still view dogs as primarily working animals rather than companion animals. However, there are also many organizations and individuals working to improve the lives of dogs in China and promote responsible pet ownership.

Overall, the role of dogs in modern China is diverse and multifaceted, and they play important roles in many aspects of society.


Dogs have played a significant role in Chinese mythology and culture for centuries, and their influence can be seen in a variety of areas – from medicine and folklore to art and literature.

These legendary animals have left a lasting impact on Chinese society and continue to be beloved companions and revered figures in Chinese culture.

Read also “The Role of Dogs in Mythology”


Marco Heitner

Hello, my Name is Marco. My family has had pets since I can remember. Today we have a large aquarium and, since recently, a four-month old Labrador. I am the owner of this website, and it is my great pleasure to provide helpful knowledge about pets. Our team is constantly working hard to publish well-researched reports here.


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