Dogs in China are getting really popular — almost every Chinese family now owns a cute dog!
Having a dog is becoming a lifestyle. You will notice tiny white or brown puddles on every corner.
So, what are the most popular breeds people choose?
And what do they call them in Chinese?
Let’s explore the top 5 most popular dog breeds in this article.
If you’ve been to China, you’ve probably noticed puddles on the streets. They are so cute, tiny and fluffy!
Puddles can be white, grey or black, but the most common is a brown puddle.
Chinese name for a puddle is 贵宾犬 (guìbīnquǎn), which literally translates as “a distinguished dog”. But Chinese people also have a nickname for these cuties. They call them 泰迪 (tàidí), which is a calque from the English word “teddy”, like a “teddy bear”. These dogs, with their soft fur and cute muzzles, look like cute little toys. No wonder they are so popular!
Puddles are extremely intelligent and easy to train. You can buy a little teddy bear like that at any pet shop in China, and the price is really cheap – around 2000 yuan or less. That’s a low price for a dog! And this might be one of the reasons why they are so popular now.
#2: Bichon Frise
The second most popular breed in China is that white cuteness with a head that looks like a dandelion. It is so furry and fuzzy, you almost get a feeling as if a little wind can blow it away. It’s Bichon Frise dog, or 比熊 (bǐxióng), which is a loanword from English — so it’s so easy to remember. They are intelligent and well-behaved, but it’s difficult to keep them white and clean, especially in a rainy weather. It’s really worth the effort though!
Then comes, of course, one of the most popular dog breeds all over the word. With the help of social networks, corgis (柯基 kējī) have become famous all over the globe for their cuteness, funny muzzle — and, of course, their butt! If you ever get a chance to browse Taobao for the key word ‘corgi’, you’ll see lots of corgi-shaped merchandise: hair clips, pajamas, bags. Chinese people find them adorable, and it’s impossible to disagree.
Many places sell corgis. The price is relatively low for such a popular breed: around 4000 yuan. Quite cheap, isn’t it?
#4: Golden Retriever
When it comes to larger dog breeds, the most popular one is, of course, the golden retriever (金毛 jīnmáo). Their Chinese name can be translated as “golden fur”. Makes sense! Their fur shines so bright in the sun, it’s easy to believe that it’s made from pure gold! They’re also very smart and obedient.
#5: French Bulldog
If you want an exotic and strong dog, French bulldog is your best choice. They are very popular among Chinese people, especially among the younger generation (while the elderly prefer puddles or bichons).
Bulldog’s official name in China is 法国斗牛犬 (fǎguó dòuniúquǎn). It’s easy to understand and remember, because 法国 fǎguó means “France’ or ‘French”, 斗牛 dòuniú means “bullfight”, and 犬 quǎn means “dog” — the last one being a more scientific word for 狗 (gǒu), used in official breed names.
But Chinese people have a shorter name for it. They call them 法斗 (fǎdòu), which is easier to pronounce.
This breed is quite expensive; the price is about 5000 yuan.
Bonus: China-Native Breed
There is one more breed that originated in China. Guess which one?
It’s the Pekingese! This ancient breed of toy dogs, also called “lion dogs” (狮子犬 shīziquǎn) for their fur, resembles a lion’s mane — and looks like Chinese guardian lions.
Pekignese dogs’ official name is 京巴狗 (jīngbāgǒu), but they are also called 北京狗 (běijīnggǒu), because they were a luxury enjoyed only by China’s royal family in Beijing. They first appeared in Europe, when Western armies pillaged the Summer Palace in Beijing and stole several of the royal’s dogs during the second opium war in the late 1850s. The breed has changed to be an exotic luxury and were favorite at dog shows.
But today Pekingese dogs are a rare breed in China. There are only a few buyers for this breed. So there almost no pure local Pekingeses left now, and if you want to buy one, the only option is a crossbreed foreign dog. It’s a bit sad that a dog with such aristocratic background is no longer popular in the country of its origin.
Bonus: Just A Few More
Because of China’s large population, it’s very expensive to buy an apartment, especially in big cities. Very few people can afford to buy a large apartment or a house where they can keep a large dog; that’s why small breeds are so popular in China.
Apart from those top 5 breeds we mentioned in this article, you will notice 3 more small breeds: chihuahua, pomeranian and maltese.
Their Chinese names are easy to remember, as they all are loanwords from English.
Chihuahuas are called 吉娃娃 jíwáwá. It’s interesting to note that the first character 吉 jí means “lucky”, and the last two characters 娃娃 wáwá mean “baby, child”. So it can be translated as a “lucky child”. Malteses are called 玛尔济斯 mǎěrjìsī, a calque from English. And Pomeranians called are 博美 bóměi, where the second character 美 měi means “beauty”. They are really beautiful, aren’t they?
And when it comes to large breeds, the most popular breed is the golden retriever; then comes labrador and samoyed.
The word for Labrador is really easy to remember, since it’s a calque from English: 拉布拉多 (lābùlāduō). So as the word for Samoyed dogs, 萨摩耶 (sàmóyē). I wish Chinese was always that easy.
How about you? Do you like dogs?
Or perhaps you have a dog too! If that’s the case, do you know that’s it called in Chinese?
Let us know what you think in comments below – or tweet us at @thatsmandarin 🐶