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Celebrate with man's best friend

Dog lovers have an extra reason to celebrate as the Lunar New Year ushers in the Year of the Dog

Published: 14 February 2018
Chow Chow

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Celebrate Year of the Dog with these breeds

As any owner will tell you, dogs are renowned for their loyal and loving natures and people born in the Year of the Dog are reputed to possess these traits.

“Dogs don’t care if their owner is wealthy or not, they just want to be loved. The Chinese regard the dog as an auspicious animal and, if a dog comes to a house, it symbolises the coming of fortune,” says Councillor Linda Cooper, Chair of the Regulatory Committee.

With 96,000 registered dogs in Auckland, it could be an auspicious year for many households.

Cooper encourages Auckland dog owners to celebrate with their pooches and other owners.

“We don’t see this event again until 2030 so use the Year of the Dog to create new connections and build some fantastic memories.”

And, if you’ve been considering bringing a dog into your family, Auckland Council Animal Shelters always have dogs looking for their forever homes. Check out the Facebook page for profiles on adoptable dogs.

Celebrate with man's best friend
Councillor Linda Cooper and Chardon from the Henderson Animal Shelter, with adoptable puppies Obsidian and Quartz.

Best of breed

Almost 7 per cent of Auckland’s 96,000 registered dogs are Chinese breeds. These include the Shih Tzu, Pug, Pekingese, Chow Chow, Chinese Crested and the Shar Pei.

The most popular breed is the Shih Tzu, with 4,241 registered in Auckland. 

A recent study revealed that the Shih Tzu is one of the 14 oldest dog breeds, and dog bones found in China have proven that dogs were present there as early as 8,000 BC.

Auckland has just over 1,000 registered Shar Pei dogs, a breed known for its folds of loose skin and wrinkles. The Chinese Shar-Pei originated in the southern provinces of China where they were valued as hunters, herders, guardians, and fighters.

The third most popular Chinese breed is the Pug. It may come as a surprise that this toy breed originated in China where its deep and distinct wrinkles were prized because they resembled good luck symbols.  

Another well-known Chinese breed is the Pekingese, and there are almost 200 registered in Auckland. This small companion dog was originally bred to be the cherished companions of the imperial family of China.

According to Chinese legend, a lion once fell in love with a marmoset, a type of monkey. To wed his love, the lion begged Buddha to reduce him in size but let him retain his great lion heart and character. Buddha consented, and from the union of the two descended the dogs of Fu Lin, the lion dogs of China. Whether that’s true or not, DNA evidence shows the Pekingese to be one of the oldest dog breeds.

One of the more unusual looking dogs is the Chinese Crested Dog; a hairless dog with typical tufts of hair on the head, feet and tail. There is also a Powderpuff variety which has hair. There are 183 of this breed registered in Auckland, so chances are good that you’ll spot one.

This breed is believed to have come from an African or Mexican breed that was reduced in size by the Chinese. The Crested is believed to have accompanied Chinese sailors on the high seas as early as 1530, hunting vermin during and between times of plague.

The Chow Chow, of which there are 67 in Auckland, is one of the most ancient breeds with records going back 2,000 years. It has a lot going on, with the mane of a lion, a black tongue and a thick coat of fur.

What’s in a name?

In China, it is still popular to name dogs Wàng Cái (财). It means “prosperous wealth” and comes from dogs’ barking sounds (旺旺—wàng wàng).

Here in Auckland, the majority of Shih Tzu owners have named their little-lion Bella while Gizmo is the second most popular name. There’s clearly some connection between Star Wars fans and Shih Tzu lovers given the amount of themed names including Ewok, Wookie and Chewbacca.

When it comes to naming a Pug, most owners go for a solid, human-sounding name such as Bella, Lola, Frankie, Alfie or Doug.

Read more:

Chinese New Year Dogs