A recent fad among pet owners in China is the “panda dog” – but these familiar-looking animals are not what they seem.
These so-called “panda dogs” are not a new breed of dog or panda, but a common chow which has been groomed and colored to resemble the distinctive pandas native to the region.
Pet shop owner Hsin Ch’en told the media that demand is high for the service which transforms a dog into a “panda.”
“Ten years ago the natural instinct of a Chinese person was to eat a dog. Now we are like westerners and want one as a companion. The cute breeds like French bulldogs and Labradors were the favorites, but now it is the panda dog.”
The makeover lasts about six weeks, at which point the dog must be brought in for touch-up work.
It takes approximately two hours to completely groom and dye a chow’s hair in order to create a proper “panda” appearance.
Hsin Ch’en noted that there were no “chemicals or cruelty” involved in the process, but that it does increase the grooming cost “significantly.”
“People don’t mind paying the extra though. They like the fact that heads turn in the street and they can tell their friends, ‘I have a panda dog’.”
Although the “panda dog” craze was heavily reported in the media in mid-2014, the practice pre-dates those reports. The Telegraph published a report back in 2010 in which pet owners were dying their dogs to resemble pandas and even tigers.
A fad in China consists of the grooming of dogs to resemble pandas. The makeover lasts about six weeks. The practice of grooming dogs to resemble other animals has been rising in popularity for about five years.
Updated April 6, 2015
Originally published May 2014