Dog Breeds

7 Korean Dog Breeds

January 5, 2024
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7 Korean Dog Breeds

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Korea has some of the most ancient and exotic dogs in the world. Korea is an East Asian region consisting of two sovereign states, North and South Korea.

Experts believe the first dogs in Korea came from Mongolia in the 13th century, when the Mongols invaded. The ancient version of the Bankar dog came along with the invading Mongols. This Bankar dog is the most likely ancestor of the Korean dogs that we see today.

The Korean Kennel Federation represents itself as the canine organization of the Republic of Korea. It was established in 1945, and it operates under the Ministry of Agriculture & Forestry in Korea. It is responsible for the preservation and promotion of native Korean dogs.

The following seven dog breeds are all considered Korean breeds. Keep reading to learn more about these mysterious and amazing dog breeds.

1. Nureongi Dog

Korean Dog Breeds

No one knows the exact origin of these dogs, but some believe that they are an ancient Korean landrace, ancestors of the Jindos. They are athletic and used to be used as hunting dogs because of their agility and intelligence.

The Nureongi dog is a Spitz-like breed, slightly smaller than the Jindo mentioned later but similar in appearance.

The Nureongi dog weighs about 40 to 55 pounds and stands around 20 inches tall. They do have a low-maintenance, dense coat, pointed ears, and an ever-friendly face.

2. The Korean Mastiff (Dosa/Tosa Dog)

There are no breeder records or historical records to pinpoint the sources of the Korean Mastiff or Dosa/Tosa dog. Most Korean breeders agree that this is a modern breed of dog developed in the early 1900s. Some Korean dog experts say that the Tosa Inu from Japan and the Dogue de Bordeaux were the foundation dogs for the Dosa. Some even believe that the Dosa also has Bloodhound in its genes.

The Dosa dog has a wrinkly face and a very sweet nature. They make excellent companion dogs because they have a natural ability to behave well around other animals and children. They are often used as show dogs in Korea.

The Korean Mastiff weighs between 132 and 154 pounds and stands around 28 inches tall from the shoulder down. They are also known as dooling dogs.

3. Sapsali

Korean Dog Breeds

During ancient times, the Sapsali were the dogs of royalty. They have the appearance of lions due to their shaggy fur. The Sapsali is a lucky Korean charm, bringing about good fortune since their theoretical beginning in the first century A.D. During the time of war in Korea in the 1900s, the Sapsali reached the brink of extinction. However, they have now been protected through national monument status.

Their laidback temperament and good-natured, comical ways keep them a favorite family breed to this day. They need a lot of exercise and consistent grooming to keep their fur clean and free of tangles.

The Sapsali is a medium-sized breed, weighing between 40 and 55 pounds. They stand at around 20 inches, but their fluffy fur makes them look much larger.

4. Korean Jindo

Hailing from the Korean island of Jindo, this breed has become rather popular in the West and is one of the most common dogs in South Korea. The Jindo was even given status as a national treasure of Korea. After this, the government in South Korea listed them as their 53rd national monument, and protections were established to enhance the breed.

They are typically white, brown, or cream-colored. Jindos are a Spitz-like breed who specialize in pack hunting, with or without a hunter at their lead. They weigh 40 to 55 pounds and stand at a maximum of 22 inches from their shoulders.

With a Korean Jindo, you can expect unflagging loyalty and bonding, especially with one person in particular. They are highly active pups and need plenty of exercise to remain satisfied. They are gentle dogs who are kind and affectionate with their owners. They have a high prey drive and don’t do well living around other animals unless they receive high-quality and early socialization.

5. Donggyeongi Dog

Korean Dog Breeds

The Donggyeongi is a protected breed in Korea. These dogs are famous for their short, bobbed tails. The history of these dogs involves the Japanese nearly destroying them during their colonial period in Korea. They are an ancient Korean breed, but they closely resemble the Komainu in Japanese figurines.

These dogs excel at hunting, which is their main purpose. They can be brown, black, cream, and sometimes white. Their ancient bloodline holds onto a wild streak in them that can make them challenging to train as house pets.

The Donggyeongi dog weighs between 40 and 55 pounds but stands a bit taller than average at about 22 inches. They have a small but muscular frame that gives them great agility. In a pack, they function seamlessly.

6. Pungsan Dog

Korean Dog Breeds

The Pungsan dog came to South Korea as a gift from the leader of North Korea. In return, North Korea received a gifted Jindo. They are well-loved in North Korea and have become a staple of similar standing to the Jindo.

The Pungsan dog is always alert, is a pack hunter, and works well in hunting conditions without assistance from humans. They are wonderful companion dogs because of their loyalty and intelligence. With that being said, they are rare to see outside of Korean borders.

Pungsan dogs are another spitz or “pointed” breed, with a square-shaped body and erect ears. They are a similar size, weigh between 40 and 55 pounds, and stand about 20 inches tall. They have a muscular and agile build.

7. Jeju Dog

Korean Dog Breeds

The Jeju dog was originally bred on Jeju Island off the southern coast of Korea as far back as 5000 years ago, which is how they obtained the Jeju name. They were originally introduced by the Chinese many centuries ago but almost drove them to extinction by the Japanese between 1910 and 1931.

Most of the dog breeds we have discussed are similar in size, but the Jeju dog is one of the largest Korean dogs. They are wary of strangers and always alert to their surroundings. The combination makes them excellent guard dogs.

These are another Spitz-like or pointed-type dog that looks similar to a white or gray wolf. They are a taller and more muscular dog, weighing around 55 pounds and standing at a maximum of 25 inches from the shoulder.

Final Thoughts

Korea is home to some of the world’s most pure and ancient bloodlines of dogs. Most of these dogs are not well-known outside of Korea’s borders, and several of them are facing extinction, even as organizations around the country work to bring back their bloodlines. Korea has recognized this over the last 40 years and has established restoration groups for many of these breeds.

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Amy Towry is a Certified NAVC Pet Nutritionist and pet lover. She is the proud owner of two rescue cats and a rescue dog and her love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care, nutrition, and product reviews.
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