What, ask you, is South Korea’s 53rd National Treasure?
Kim Jong-un’s right ear? Nope – its this guy. This delectably adorable lil’ derpface is the Jindo Dog.
Photo Source: Nicole Plus Traveling
Can you blame them?
So, what do you need to know?
1. They’re kind of a big deal
The Jindo Dog, named for the coastal island to which it is native, received its national treasure status in 1962, and has been further safeguarded under the Cultural Properties Protection Act. Jindo dogs have become so iconic as a part of the Korean national identity that they marched out during the opening ceremonies of the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye even has a Jindo of her own.
2. They’re extremely loyal pups
Jindo dogs are beloved and renowned for their unwavering loyalty and devotion to their masters. Originally bred as hunting dogs, these pups travelled in packs, catching and standing over their prey while one returned to guide their owner to the same location. They are still known to do this – some owners report being awoken and summoned in the night to be led to a stray squirrel. Or a very, very delicious sock.
3. They have a famous mascot
No where is the Jindo dog more famous than in the 300-home village of Dongri-Ji on Jindo island where etched visibly into a mountainside is: “Homecoming White Dog Village.”
The obsession with these dogs is rooted in the recent legend of Baekgu, a Jindo dog who, after being sold to a new owner 160 miles away from its original home (across a water barrier, mind you!) returned 7 months later, exhausted but delighted to reunite with his original owner. He remained at his mother’s side until he passed away, and was later memorialized in the village with a tombstone, a bronze statue and a stone monument inscribed with “Growing children should learn from the loyal white dog.”
4. They’re ADORABLE
These fuzzy faces come in a number of colors, though the snow-white fur is best known and more popularly regarded as a government-recognized “Jindo.”
5. They have to deal with high standards of “pawfection”
You think you have to be pawfect? Try being a Jindo dog.
Due to the breed’s growing popularity, the Korean’s government has become tremendously committed to keeping the Jindo bloodline pure.
Specifically, if a dog is deemed Jindo based on an assessment of the dog’s ear, legs, tail and head, they are registered with the government, and a microchip is placed in their shoulder for proof of purebred status.
More, the over 30,000-50,000 puppies that are brought to Jindo island every year arrive sterile to prevent inter-mix breeding, and cannot leave the island without a permit.
6. They want to find their furr-ever homes!
In villages like Dongri-Ji, breeding Jindo dogs is a way of life, as each dog can sell for up to $1000. As a consequence of rapid breeding, many purebred and interbred mixes that are deemed "imperfect" are left without a home. But you can help!
Organizations like Treasured K9, a NYC-based Jindo dog rescue group, pairs with organizations in Korea, and works to find Jindo dogs furever homes in the US with the pawfect parents.
Intelligent and fiercely devoted, as long as the Jindo has ample oppawtunity to run and play with frequent cuddles, “these dogs barely bark and often ‘housetrain themselves’ says Treasured K9’s founder, Kristen Edmonds.