If you spend enough time on the internet, especially if you’re reading about dogs a lot — which is probably true, since you’re reading this — chances are that you’ve recently seen some pictures of a unique and beautiful, albeit strange dog.
If you’re not familiar, here is the short version: the Red Cantonese Bear Dog, as it came to be called, is a previously unknown dog breed that looks almost like a mythical fairytale creature that is a red-colored cross between dog and cat. Seriously!
As you might have expected, this teddy-bear-like dog quickly became a viral sensation and its images spread all over social media, particularly on Twitter and Reddit. Soon it became a hot talking point between people simply admiring their looks and those questioning their authenticity.
Some people claimed that they are not a real breed, but rather just an internet hoax created simply to garner attention or maybe even to scam people for money. Others were convinced that it’s 100% true and that this new rare breed really exists somewhere in China, and it just hasn’t reached the rest of the world yet.
So, let us try to clear some of the doubts and misconceptions about this viral phenomenon. Let’s dig deep into the question at hand: what’s the deal with the Red Cantonese Bear Dog?
What Is The Red Cantonese Bear Dog?
If we try to define the Red Cantonese Bear Dog breed from the pictures and information currently available online, we would have to dig very deep.
Simply put, there isn’t a lot of info about them on any reputable sources, including the official American Kennel Club website, as well as other kennel club websites, veterinary blogs, etc. All the usual places that you would go to to learn more about an exciting new dog breed that you haven’t heard of before — has nothing on the Chinese Red Dog.
Basically, all of the details that are available have come from social media and various pet-related blogs, and most of those seem to be circulating the same facts over and over again, including the same set of grainy images of these red dogs.
According to some of those sources, this is a medium-sized dog from the bear dog breed, with a long, straight coat of a reddish-orange sort of color. Adult dogs supposedly grow up to about 32 inches (81 cm) in height and have a life expectancy of 11 to 12 years.
Where Did It Come From?
They apparently originated from China, or more specifically, around the city of Guangzhou in the province of Guangdong. The Cantonese variant of the Chinese language is prevalent in this province, hence the dog breed was dubbed the Cantonese Bear Dog.
There are also other names that people sometimes use for it, for example, Chinese Red Dog, Hong Kong Mastiff, or Cantonese Mastiff,
Ever since their pictures started getting serious traction online, multiple people have come out stating that they are Cantonese Bear Dog breeders.
If these pooches were so attractive, you would figure we would already know about them, right? In fact, there are already many world-famous dog breeds that have come from China, so how come we’ve missed this one?
Well, that’s what we’re here to tell you.
Is The Red Cantonese Bear Dog Real?
Unfortunately, the Red Cantonese Bear Dog probably isn’t a real dog breed.
You will probably be disappointed with this answer — we know that we were — given how beautiful they look in the pictures, and how popular they became with people on social media. A lot of folks were probably instantly rushing to Google to find out where they can adopt one of these cute red puppies.
However, given that there is practically no fact-checked information on these dogs on any reputable sources, we tend to think that it’s all just an internet hoax.
Therefore, all those people that were posing as breeders online would most likely sell you a completely different breed, if any at all.
When Did The Red Cantonese Bear Dog First Appear?
The first time that this red Chinese dog appeared was in 2016 when a picture of a man with a fluffy red dog taken at the Hong Kong airport surfaced online.
That photo started the storm of rumors, half-baked facts, and photoshopped images that fuelled the virality of this “breed” all over the internet. All these years later, it seems that the debate over whether it’s real or fake has not yet fully died down.
The Chow Chow Rumors
One of the theories that circulated online was that the Chinese Red Dog was actually a Chow Chow. So, is that true?
Well, no, but also yes, kind of…
The thing is, among people who believe that the Red Cantonese Bear dog is fake, a lot of speculation has been made about how the hoax was actually made. They were asking questions like who was behind it, how did they do it, etc.
Sure, a lot of those pictures that were circulating on the internet were probably photoshopped and made to look like genuine photographs, but some of them don’t have any visible traces of being tampered with.
That has led some people to think that the hoaxers would simply groom other, similar-looking dog breeds in a certain way that would make them look like a red bear dog. Quite an imaginative method, you’ve got to give it to them.
One of the most obvious possibilities for that was Chow Chows.
Chow Chows were an immediate assumption because of their coat and because they are so common in China where the hoax seems to have originated. Chow Chows come in a range of different colors, including a red/orange tint, and you can see how their hair could be groomed and styled to make it look like those viral images.
So, while they are not actually Chow Chows, you could say that the alleged Red Cantonese Bear Dogs are, in a sense, Chows in disguise.
Mini Chow Chow Is The Actual Teddy Bear Dog Breed
Speaking of Chow Chows, let’s briefly touch on something here and forget about the Red Cantonese Bear Dog for a second. If you really want a dog that looks like a plushy little teddy bear, then we have the one for you!
The Mini Chow Chow is a pocket-sized ball of fluff that you will simply not be able to resist. To learn more about these adorable little creatures, you can read our extensive article dedicated to them.
Adopting A Red Cantonese Bear Dog
A general rule of thumb when adopting any dog is to only use the most reputable breeders that are available to you. Always check their background and ask any other dog owners who might have bought a puppy from them.
Given all that, adopting a Chinese Red Dog doesn’t look like a smart move, does it? Even if you cannot 100% confirm that this alleged dog breed is in fact a hoax, you would struggle to find a breeder that produces them with a proven background and a track record of satisfied customers.
Most of the so-called breeders that claim they are selling purebred Red Cantonese Bear Dog puppies online are limited to a few questionable photos, and if they happen to have reviews, they are usually quite generic and probably fake.
As we already said, it is possible that this hoax was started as a way of scamming people by tricking them to pay money for a dog that might not even exist.
Speaking of money, some of the prices quoted online were unbelievably high. They ranged from $1,000 to over $2,500 for a single Red Cantonese Bear Dog puppy. That is a lot of money!
Are There Other Red Dogs That I Can Adopt?
If you’re dead set on getting a red dog for yourself, but you don’t want to risk it with all this controversy surrounding the Red Cantonese Bear Dog, there are a few other breeds that you can look into.
Both purebred dogs and mixed breeds can actually come in various shades of red naturally, and we at Pupvine have already written dedicated articles about some of them. These are all verifiably existent dog breeds that have a history of breeding.
Below are a few examples.
These little dogs are a favorite all around the world, and they do occasionally come in red! A red-colored coat can appear in both types of Corgis (Pembroke and Cardigan), although they aren’t always considered up to the breed standard by the American Kennel Club.
Red Poodles have been quickly gaining in popularity in recent years, and when you see how they look, you won’t need any explanation as to why. They are simply too cute!
Another thing that is great with Poodles, in general, is that they are famously hypoallergenic, so if you tend to suffer from allergies but still want a dog — consider adopting a Poodle.
Red Doberman Pinschers
The classic black-and-tan Doberman combination is so iconic that we sometimes forget that they come in other colors too. The red Doberman Pinscher is a particularly beautiful one.
Red Shih Tzus
When it comes to color variety, very few breeds in the world can rival the Shih Tzu. However, among all of their different hues, the gorgeous red-coated Shih Tzu stands out as special.
Poms are another dog breed that is popular with a wide spectrum of dog owners. Their adaptability and fun-loving personality make them great pets for both families and single people.
But did you know they come in red? It’s more of an orange/red combo if we’re splitting hairs here, but still — it’s a thoroughly adorable doggy.
Red Golden Retrievers
Golden Retrievers can be red? Is this another hoax? Nope!
Unlike the Red Cantonese Bear Dog, they are 100% true, and you can verify that in many different, credible sources. However, this type of Golden is very hard to come by and you need to find the most reputable breeders around. Luckily, we have the perfect list for that.
Are There Actual Bear Dogs?
With all the controversy around the Chinese Red Dog, it’s important that we don’t forget that there are real Bear Dogs out there.
The Karelian Bear Dog is a long-known dog breed officially recognized by the AKC as part of their Foundation Stock Service breed group. They are medium-sized spitz-type dogs with an average height of up to 23 inches (58.4 cm), a weight of up to 50 pounds (22.7 kg), and a typical lifespan of around 11 to 13 years of age.
They are known for their incredible loyalty and courage, which makes them great hunting dogs and watchdogs. In that regard, they have some similar traits to other traditional guard dogs such as Shar-Peis or German Shepherds.
In their native country of Finland, they are practically considered a national treasure and are loved dearly. And Karelians definitely don’t hold back when it comes to returning that love.
They grow attached to their owners very quickly but are no strangers to socialization with other humans, dogs, and even other animals.
The Final Word
Whether you thought that the Red Cantonese Bear Dog is a real dog breed or you already had your suspicions, we hope that this article has helped to shed some light on that ongoing debate.
If you were hoping to find some final confirmation that the breed is 100% real, perhaps because you were excited to adopt one for yourself, then we are sorry to disappoint you.
Sometimes, things can look too good to be true. And in this case, we think they simply are not true. And that is sad, since the idea of a massive, red ball of cuddly fluff does sound incredibly appealing.
However, we always want to present you with double-checked facts and information, especially when it comes to touchy subjects like this one. Red Cantonese Bear Dog prices were going sky high in some places on the internet, so we urge you to do your research before making any major decision.