Information about the Korean Jindo Dog

The Korean Jindo Dog is a breed of hunting dog known to have originated on Jindo Island in South Korea. Brought to the US with Korean immigrants, it is celebrated in its native land for its fierce loyalty and brave nature. The Jindo breed became recognized by the United Kennel Club on January 1, 1998 and by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale in 2005

Jindos are medium-sized, double-coated spitz-type dogs. Much as the Dingo developed in Australia, the Jindo Gae is the natural or feral dog of a particular island of Korea. Distinguishing the Jindo breed from mixes and other breeds is often done by close examination of cranial and facial features and by analyzing the proportion of the head to the body. In addition, the breed exhibits sexual dimorphism with females having more angular heads than males. The keen and alert appearance of the Jindo gives the impression of intelligence, strength, and agility. Their posture and build is similar to the akita. It also shares similar physical traits (e.g.: fully perked ears,smooth coat, etc.), though noticeably different in size.

Korean Jindo owners have traditionally divided Jindos into two body types:

Tonggol or Gyupgae: This type is more muscular and stocky with the Korean National Dog Association (KNDA) recognizing an equal proportion of height at the withers to length (10:10). The depth of chest is approximately equal to one-half the height at the withers. The loin is also typically shorter.

Hudu or Heutgae: This type is more slender with a somewhat less depth of chest and a slightly longer loin. Moreover, other physical features tend to have an increased length, such as the ears, muzzle, and head. This results in
an appearance that is longer than tall with the KNDA recommending a height at the withers to length ratio of 10:11.

The KNDA also recognizes a third body type called Gakgol which is a gradually emerging combination of the two traditional types, retaining the length of body of the Hudu and the depth of chest of the Tonggol.

In regards to the Jindo’s body appearance, the United Kennel Club currently states, “The squarely built Jindo has a chest that is moderately deep but not too broad. At its deepest point the chest reaches to, or just above, the elbow. The brisket is well developed and the ribs are well sprung. The back is strong and straight and the loin is well muscled, taut, lean and narrower than the ribcage. There is considerable tuck up.”

Jindos come in five colors:

  • White (baekgu)-This color is actually an off-white or ivory shade with tan or light brown around the tips of the ears, the back of the hind legs, and the tip of the tail. Some whites may have a subtle tan stripe running from the head, down the top line, to the tail.
  • Fawn (hwangu)-The color of well-ripened wheat.
  • Gray-This coat looks gray from a distance but is actually made up of individual white, black, and fawn colored hairs.
  • Black and tan-Black head and upper body with tan on the muzzle, belly, and paws, and an eye-shaped tan spot over each eye.
  • Brindle-Also known as “Tiger” pattern. Thin, dark brown or black stripes like a tiger’s on a fawn base. These stripes appear at an early age.

Some Jindo Island residents value black, black/red, and red/white Jindos as good hunters. The United Kennel Club recognizes six different coat colors: white, red, fawn, grey, black, black and tan, and brindle (tiger pattern).

The feet are of medium size, round in shape, with thick, strong tan pads. Nails are hard and may be black, cream or gray.
The Jindo moves with strides of moderate length.
It is a quick, light, elastic trot which enables the Jindo to travel quickly over any terrain.
The forelegs and hind legs are carried straight forward, with neither elbows nor stifles turned in or out.
At a normal walking speed, the Jindo tends to lower its head.

The top skull of an adult dog should be broad and rounded between the ears and free from wrinkles.
The under jaw is well-developed and helps give a round or octagonal shape to the head when viewed from the front. Coarse hairs stand away from the cheeks.
The ears are triangular and upright (leaning forward past vertical). The inside of the ears should be well-furred. Ears on puppies normally lie flat until they are past 5-6 months.
The eyes are almond/round. They should be a shade of brown (a dark reddish-brown being preferred). Some dogs have light brown eyes but this color is not desirable. Jindos should not have blue eyes.
The nose should be black on non-white dogs. White dogs may have mottled portions of tan or pink in the center of the nose.
The muzzle is well proportioned without being bulky. The lips should be taut and black. The preferred color for the tongue is solid pink. Jindos can have blue-black tongues like Chows and Sharpeis but is not common.
The Jindo has a complete set of evenly spaced, white teeth with a scissors bite.
Typically, males have larger heads and females have more fox-like features.

The Korean Jindo Dog is well known for its unwavering loyalty and gentle nature. Because of this, there is a misconception that a Jindo will be loyal only to its first owner or the owner they bonded to when young. However, there are many examples of older Jindos being adopted out of shelters in the United States and becoming very loyal friends to their new owners. They are highly active and are certainly not indoor-only dogs. Jindo dogs need reasonable space to roam and run. Jindos require a lot of care and attention. If kept in a yard, the fencing must be at least 6 feet high due to their strong hind legs that enable them to jump high.

Because the Jindo is an active and intelligent dog, it requires frequent interaction with people or another dog in the family. For some the Jindo may even be too intelligent, for it will commonly think for itself. The same intelligence that allows the dog to learn commands and tricks very quickly can be a bit too much to handle. If left alone for a long stretch, it finds its own entertainment. A young Jindo may attempt to climb over a fence or wall, even by way of a tree or digging under, or tear up the house if confined indoors. Because of this many Jindo dogs are found in animal shelters, abandoned by owners who often did not know what they were getting into when accepting the responsibility of a Jindo.

Jindos serve as excellent watchdogs, able to distinguish family from foe, friends from strangers. The Korean Army is known to use Jindos as guard dogs at major bases. Because Jindos rarely bark aggressively, especially in familiar environments, an owner may lend special credence to the warning of his/her pet. Many Jindos do not take any food from anyone other than their owners.

Some Jindos display a curious aversion from running water and avoid situations that might get them wet. They let themselves be washed, although with great reluctance. Some may even be afraid of going out in the rain, which could lead to some difficulties.

People adopt Jindo dogs because of their beautiful appearance, high intelligence, loyalty, and sometimes for their fighting spirit, then quickly realize that raising a Jindo dog to be a well-behaved member of the family takes a lot of effort and time. Potential owners who are prepared and determined to have an intelligent, loyal, but independent companion can adopt a Jindo dog from shelters.

Desirable height at maturity, measured at the withers, ranges from 19½ to 21 inches(or 48 cm to 53 cm) for males and 18½ to 20 inches(or 45 cm to 50 cm) for females.

Weight should be in proportion to the height, giving a well-muscled, lean appearance without being too light or too heavy. The typical weight range for a male Jindo in good condition is 40 to 60 pounds or 18 to 27 kilos; for a female, 35 to 55 pounds or 16 to 25 kilos.

The tail is thick and strong and set on at the end of the top line. The tail should be at least long enough to reach to the hock joint. The tail may be loosely curled over the back or carried over the back in a sickle position. The hair on the underside of the tail is thick, stiff, abundant, and twice as long as the coat on the shoulders, which causes the hair to fan outward when the tail is up.