The Jindo Dog, named after the coastal island where it was born, was designated as a national treasure in 1962 and is now protected under the Cultural Properties Protection Act. Jindo dogs have become so famous as a part of Korean national culture that they marched out during the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul's opening ceremonies.
Jindo dogs are well-known for their unwavering devotion and loyalty to their owners. These puppies were bred to hunt in packs, capturing and standing over their prey while one returned to lead their owner to the same spot. They're also known to do it; some owners claim to have been awakened and called in the middle of the night to be led to a stray squirrel. Alternatively, a delectable sock.
The Jindo dog is most popular in the 300-home village of Dongri-Ji on Jindo island, where the words "Homecoming White Dog Village" are carved into the mountainside.
The recent legend of Baekgu, a Jindo dog who, after being sold to a new owner 160 miles away from his original home (across a water barrier, mind you!) returned 7 months later, tired but happy to see his original owner, explains the fascination with these dogs. He stayed by his mother's side until he died, and the village honoured him with a tombstone, a bronze statue, and a stone memorial inscribed with "Rising children should learn from the faithful white dog."
These furry faces come in a variety of colors, but the snow-white fur is the most well-known and widely accepted as a government-recognized "Jindo."
Because of the breed's increasing popularity, the Korean government has made a firm commitment to preserving the Jindo bloodline's purity.
If a dog is determined to be Jindo based on an examination of its ear, legs, tail, and head, it is registered with the government and a microchip is implanted in its shoulder to prove purebred status.
Furthermore, the sterile puppies that are brought to Jindo island every year to avoid inter-mix breeding arrive sterile and are unable to leave the island without a permit.
Breeding Jindo dogs is a way of life in villages like Dongri-Ji, where each dog can sell for up to $1000. Many purebred and interbred hybrids that are considered "imperfect" are left without a home as a result of rapid breeding.
In 2009, the Los Angeles police department decided to adopt and train a pair Jindo puppies as K9 cops, but they didn’t make the cut. The reasons were because their loyalty to their trainers made them too easily distracted, and their hunting instincts made them forget their missions. One trainer, Sgt. Doug Roller said.
The police department gave up after a year of intensive training, and the dogs were finally adopted by families in Los Angeles.
What's the bottom line? The Korean Jindo is a lovely, knowledgeable dog with an interesting past. If you're thinking of getting a Jindo or a Jindo mix, make sure you're familiar with the breed's characteristics. Jindos make wonderful companions with proper training and socialization.