- Written by Tammy Ahn
Bet you can't guess what the BEST dog breed ever is!
Meet the beautiful and under-appreciated Jindo dog! A medium sized (30-40 lbs) northern-type breed indigenous to the Jindo island in Korea for thousands of years. These days, they are becoming more and more common in Los Angeles and anywhere with a heavy Korean population, and as a relatively rare and misunderstood dog, they are being mis identified, mis-handled and euthanized in shelters every day.
As a devoted Jindo lover, allow me to tell you why I adore this breed.
Okay now the bad stuff:
In 2006, news reported a female lion, that was abandoned as a cub, and a Jindo dog had become good friends. The lioness, named "Soonee," (which means tame in Korean) rejected all male lions the zoo tried to introduce her to. Then the Jindo came along. After letting the dog live near Soonee's cage for a month, the zookeepers let him enter her cage under supervision. The two animals became friends and now look after one another.
In 2002, a 3-year-old male Jindo named Baekgu touched the hearts of those who had witnessed the dog protecting his dead masters body. The faithful dog showed his loyalty by refusing to let anyone near his master and did not partake in food or water for 3 days. The body was finally retrieved through a window and Baekgu, the devoted Jindo's story lives on.
In 1993, a five year old female Jindo (also named Baekgu) who was raised on Jindo Island was sold to someone on the mainland who lived 300km away. The dog, unable to forget the warmth and love of her master and family, returned to her original owner 7 months later haggard and in skin and bones. Her master, amazed at her honing ability and loyalty, kept her until she died at the age of 13. The emotional yet mysterious return of Baekgu who has wondered over mountain and seas to return home is renown in the Jindo community.
Jindos are very intelligent and refine their thinking and problem solving abilities. For instance, they can generally find ways to slip out of regular collars and can discover weaknesses in almost any fence. Therefore, we recommend no-slip collars or harnesses and a solid fence at least 6 ft tall. Jindos are very cat-like in their movements and are agile enough to jump most fences if they really want to. When bringing a Jindo home, we recommend supervising them when outside until they become acquainted with their new surroundings.
Most Jindos tend to be aloof with strangers and are generally cautious around people they don’t know. Jindos tend to have dominant personalities, as with any Spitz breed. Because of this, obedience training and proper socialization are important. If your Jindo has an alpha personality, as many Jindos do, it is important to acquaint yourself with alpha dogs and how to handle them with proper leadership, training and socialization.
Jindos develop a strong sense of territory and will let you know when intruders are present. Un-welcomed animals inside a Jindo’s territory will likely be met with extreme displeasure. As indoor dogs, Jindos are generally not overly hyper. However, if they get loose, they are quick and will give you a run for your money. Regular, daily exercise makes for a happy Jindo. Jindos can be stubborn and willful. Owners must have patience and an appreciation for their independence. On the flip side, they very much want to please their owners and are among the most loyal and devoted dogs you can find.
The Korean Jindo is a rare, primitive breed originating from the Jindo Island in Korea. Jindo Gae literally means “Dog of Jindo Island”. Isolated from the rest of the world for thousands of years, the Jindo was not commonly found in Korea until the 1970’s when a bridge was finally built connecting Jindo Island to the mainland. The Jindo is protected under Korean Law as the 53rd National Monument. Exporting Jindos out of Korea is prohibited. However, in the 1980’s Korean-Americans started bringing Jindos to the U.S. despite the ban. In 1998, the Jindo was accepted into the United Kennel Club.
Jindos began to be seen in the Los Angeles area in the mid 1990’s. Since then, Jindos seem to be more common in Korean-American communities in the U.S. The Jindo is a rare breed and revered in Korea, yet there are hundreds, if not thousands dying in animal shelters across the United States every year. Currently, Southern California is the most common area to find Jindos in shelters. Jindos also appear with regularity in shelters in Northern California. Jindos are now appearing in shelters in Oregon, Washington, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Georgia, North Carolina and Texas. One even was found in a shelter in Canada. It won’t be long before this treasured breed is unnecessarily being killed in shelters throughout the U.S.
The Jindo is a magnificent breed, but is not for everyone. Dog experience and knowledge is strongly recommended for anyone considering owing a Jindo. The Jindo Project believes based on our experience, that the main reason for so many unwanted Jindos is that people are unknowingly breeding Jindos indiscriminately. It is very common for people to breed Jindos for profit and sell them to anyone who can pay for the dog. In the Korean culture it is also common to breed dogs and give the puppies away as gifts. While this is a gesture of good will, the recipient of the dog may not always want the dog but they don’t want to refuse the gift. Sadly, many Jindos given as gifts end up living a life confined to the back yard with little human interaction, shelter, food and water.