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Dogology: Dogs PawPrints in History Part 2

Updated on January 13, 2013

Dynasties and Dogs

Famous and Legendary Dogs in Ancient Times

♦ Historic Moments and Dogs Were There (Part II)

From Ancient China to the New World, the oldest breeds began to travel across the world and through time to witness historic moments. As early history began to unfold, dogs shared the lives of the famous, of the royal and noble families, and of ordinary dog lovers in ancient times that left their indelible paw prints in the events of the past. Read on for to learn a little bit about history and a lot about dogs.

Looking back, we can see Asia was one of the earliest protectors and breeders of dogs. The Pekinese,and Pugs originally came from Imperial China, going back to the Han Dynasty around 206 BC - 220 AD. The Han Dynasty is known for the development of trade with the West. Even Confucius, (551 BC- 478 BC), wrote about little dogs like the Pekinese.

The Emperors and those people close to them, were the only people who were allowed to own Pekinese. So if you own or know a Pekinese, chances are very good that their ancestor lived in the palace of a Chinese ruler, where only the nobility who were close to the Emperor, and of course the Emperior themselves could own these fine dogs.

The Pekinese can be found in many of the dynasties that ruled ancient China. Buddhists had a lot to do with promoting the Pekinese breed who were well pampered by the Chinese Imperial rulers. The Pekinese dogs even had their servants, and even guarded by soldiers because they were such prized possessions of the Chinese Emperors.

Anyone who stole this dog would be put to death as a punishment. These dogs were thought to be keeper of the spirits and highly treasured by their owners. Pekinese got their name from the city in China called Peking, according to DNA tests show the Pekinese through evolution, has hardly changed its genetic similarity to wolves,(as hard as this may be to believe), which backs up the theory that the Pekinese is an ancient dog breed.

Pekinese is One of the Oldest Breeds of Dogs

Chow Chows are one of the Oldest Breeds

The Tang Dynasty (618 A.D. - 907 A.D.) marked the highest peak of Chinese civilization. They had statues that are modeled after the Pekinese and Pugs. Pugs were often given as gifts to Korean and Japanese royal leaders. Other dogs that started to develop around this time were the Shar-Pei, Spitz like dog, and Chow Chow. A Tang emperor, in the 8th century, was known to have had about 5,000 chows. Chow Chows served as guard dogs and also accompanied huntsman. Chows are one of the oldest dog breeds.

Dogs Were Thought to Bring Good Luck

Pugs (possibly called Lo-sze) are another ancient dog who lived among the royalty. These dogs were considered hunting dogs who after the day of sport may have been carried back to the palace in the royal chariot. During the Sung Dynasties (960- 1279 A.D.) pugs
One of the highest honors paid to a Chinese ruler, was when his dog’s portrait was painted on a scroll and put into a book. The dogs found in these books, resemble Pekinese, Pugs, and Shih- Tzus.
In the Buddhist Monasteries in Tibet , Buddhist monks are said to have bred Lhasa Apso and Pugs as guard and companion dogs.
It is believed that during all the dynasties of China, and with the tremendous amount of trading that was done, dogs sailed on the boats that went through the trade routes. The dogs were kept on board as protection, to guard the goods, and as companions for the sailors.
In the 12th century, theShar-pei breed traveled with Mongolian armies as they invaded other countries including China. They were guard dogs for Buddhist temples. The Shar-pei breed made excellent hunting dogs for the Cantonese people. They were herders and protectors mostly for the peasants who farmed the countryside. Shar-pei were not part of the royal family, nor did they live in the Imperial Palaces of Emperors.
One of t;he oldest known dog breeds is the the Maltese dog. It is thought to originate approximately 300-600 BC. In China one of the original breeds is called the Chinese Chongqing dog. and existed around the time of the Han Dynasty. Dogs became part of the royal imperial families in China. The Emperor Ling Ti in the years, 156-189, gave royal titles to the dogs who resided in the palace. He called them imperial guards and viceroys. These dogs were often given as token gifts, a sort of ambassador from China to other royalty in other countries. The Pekinese, Shih Tzus, Chow Chows, and Pugs were popular dogs that were given as gifts. The Japanese Chin originated in China before 59 A.D, but took their name from Japan, where they were given as gifts from Chinese Royalty to the Japanese Emperors. Originally, the Japanese Chin, also known as the Japanese Spaniel, was owned by the rulers of Korea and gifted to the Emperors of Japan during 700-1000 CE and were kept by the nobility for centuries.
In Tibet, the Dalai Lama is associated with the Lhasa Apsos breed. These dogs lived in the monastery with the monks and the Dalai Lama. During the Manchurian Dynasty, about 1583, no Lhasa Apsos were allowed to be sold, someone could only get one as a gift from the Dalai Lama and they were specifically and only given to the noble class and men who were considered sacred. These dogs observed the world as watchdogs and treasured pets. They were viewed and valued for their high intelligence and the companionship they offered. They were believed to be good luck charms to people who owned them. Some of these dogs traveled around the world.

Genghis Khan and Attila of the Hun used dogs in their invasions

The Historic Moments Dogs Were There

In Ancient Asia, Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun, Tibetan Mastiffs accompanied them on their journeys towards war. Legend has it that two of these Tibetan Mastiff's accompanied every army of Genghis Khan as sentries. They were not attack dogs. These dogs saw historic battles against the Greeks and Romans, the Assyrians, Persians, Mongols, and Huns. These dogs were watchdogs for the armies, and used as messengers. The Tibetan Mastiff is the ancestor of the European Mastiffs.
Papillions probably traveled with Marco Polo on his trade routes.

Your Dog's Ancestors Could Have Been Part of History

So the next time you see one of these breed of dogs, think about their ancestors and the part of history they may have helped form, whether it was making an emperor happy, guarding and protecting the palace, fighting in a war, or helping the peasants farm the land and feed the people.
Ancient Asia helped develop an extensive variety of dog breeds we know today. They were sacred and beloved part of the early development of China, and it is fascinating to think that they traveled across the world as it was being discovered.
Look for Part III, Pawprints in History:  Dogs were there as Europe’s history unfolded.

Japanese Chins and Pugs are part of China's History

My Japanese Chin. His name is Pretty Boy Floyd
My Japanese Chin. His name is Pretty Boy Floyd | Source
My Pug. His name is Al Capone
My Pug. His name is Al Capone | Source

Have you thought about your dog's ancestry and the part of history they may have seen or been part of??

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    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 6 years ago

      Hi, thanks for your interest in my tribute to dogs in history. By the way, the Japanese Chin and the Pug are mine. I also have a golden retriever featured in a different hub. Part 3 is in the making. It takes time to create, research, and make sure it is not boring. Thanks for your encouragement.

    • profile image

      stessily 6 years ago

      Fantastic series! I'm looking forward to part 3.

    • daydreamer13 profile image

      daydreamer13 7 years ago

      Interesting! So glad I read this!

    • minnow profile image

      minnow 7 years ago from Seattle

      great hub--I enjoyed it very much. thumbs up.

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 7 years ago

      Paw prints in history has several hubs starting with Paw Prints in the time of Alexander the Great and King Tut's dogs. I hope you find all the Paw Prints in History series interesting.

    • GetInTheKnow profile image

      GetInTheKnow 7 years ago

      Wow! A great read for a dog lover like me! I would have never known half of this. You tend to not think about the fact that dogs definitely were around in years past and that they had important roles throughout history!

    • Mercredi profile image

      Mercredi 7 years ago

      A great history of man's bestfriend. It's interesting to see how the various breeds developed over the years and that the earliest was in china...Seeing that man/dog relationships have sort have been on the decline...Meaning that as opposed to being a pet a canine may end up on the buffet.

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 7 years ago from Massachusetts

      This was a very beautiful read for me, Thanks!

      I owned two beautiful Pekinese dogs years ago they are also known has the little lion dog and they do have the heart of a lion has well. Great hub!!!

    • fortunerep profile image

      fortunerep 7 years ago from North Carolina

      great interesting hub, enjoyed it


    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 7 years ago

      Glad you liked the concept. If you liked this article check out my other Paw Prints in History hubs.

    • justom profile image

      justom 7 years ago from 41042

      I don't think I've ever thought about this topic. Interesting hub, nice work! Peace!! Tom