Dogs In Ancient China

Dogs In Ancient China

Ellen Britt for CNT #wooftips

The ancient Chinese had a complicated relationship with dogs. Even though dogs were their earliest domesticated animal, they both revered dogs and used them for work and even for food.

The Pekingese, an affectionate, compact toy dog with a rolling gait, was developed for ancient China’s ruling class, dating back to the 8th century and the Tang Dynasty. They were called Lion Dogs, because despite their small size, they are very muscular and are fiercely loyal. 

Lion Dogs could be owned only by royals and were kept inside the emperor’s palace. To steal one of these dogs would result in the death of the thief.

Sacrifice, Work and Food

But the Chinese also used dogs both as sacrifices as well as a food source. Dogs’ blood was an important part of sealing oaths and allegiances. During the Shang dynasty, some sources state that every completion of a palace, tomb or other royal building was marked by dog sacrifices.

Eventually, the practice fell out of favor and straw dogs were used instead of living animals.

But for the common man, the dog was not seen as a companion, but as a worker. They were bred to be guard dogs, for transporting goods and for hunting and herding and also they themselves were used as food, being a major source of protein.

A Place Of Honor

Dogs held a place of honor in the Chinese zodiac system, serving as the 11th sign. People born under the Dog sign are intelligent, loyal, energetic and honest. They have many friends who are attracted to their loyalty and their warmth.

By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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By Ellen Britt

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