Panda Dogs – 7 Dog Breeds That Look Like Pandas!

A dog that looks like a panda bear.

Have you ever heard of dogs that really look like pandas? If not, you might be surprised to find out that there are several breeds that really do look like bears. It would be easy to mistake some puppies of these brands for actual bear cubs. So let’s go ahead and take a look at some of the types of dogs that can look the most like panda bears.

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Panda Dog Breed 1: The Tibetan Mastiff 

At first, the panda dog phenomenon started in Asia with a breed called the Tibetan Mastiff.

Tibetan Mastiff staring into camera

Photo: Newsweek

If you have ever seen this type of breed, you might have mistaken the animals for big teddy bears. Their bulky fur and droopy eyes can really look like the type of bear you might win at a carnival game.

But that isn’t the only type of bear that the Mastiff resembles. Some dog lovers also think that their thick pelt of fur can make them look like lions. The immense size of the Mastiff does actually allow it to take on large animals such as tigers, bears, and wolves when they are found out in the wild. 

You’ll find these dogs all over Asia, in countries that might include Tibet (not surprisingly!), India, Mongolia, China, and Nepal. Usually, you’ll see black, red, and grey specimens of these animals. However, because of the high demand, many breeders have now managed to produce them in a gold shade also. The gold is sometimes pale enough to appear almost white.

In terms of panda dogs, some individual Tibetan Mastiffs now also have large white markings, which can be identified as one of the origins of the panda dog craze. Soon, many Mastiff owners began painting their dogs with the black and white patterns that you expect to see on real giant pandas.

Panda Dog Breed 2: The Chow Chow 

Dog breeds wanted to get in on the panda dog craze too.

The Chow Chow standing in grass

Photo: Pet Finder

Soon, pet owners of other

The Chow Chow, which was first encountered in northern China, is another breed that has become a good candidate for a panda dog. You can find Chow Chows in all kinds of colors, like red, black, and brown, but even in stranger hues such as blue!

In addition to the single shade dogs, they can also be multicolored. However, PETA and most similar organizations consider Chow Chows with patchy coats to be the standard type. The Chow Chow breed is an ancient one. Like the Tibetan Mastiff, the cuddly Chow Chow can often look like a teddy bear. They have squished eyes, square faces, and furry manes, so they can definitely look like pandas. This encouraged many Chow Chow owners to clip, groom, and even dye their dogs to make them look even more like panda bears. 

Panda Dog Breed 3: The Maltese Poodle 

The Maltese Poodle is a hybrid breed that can often resemble a panda.

The Maltese Poodle on a floor

Photo: Animal Corner

In Japan, a dog called Columbo quickly became famous as a Maltese Poodle panda dog. The owners applied safe and non-toxic dog-specific black hair coloring to some of Columbo’s fur, and the remaining parts were dyed white. Soon, the Maltese Poodle’s coat began to look like the striking pattern of a panda. 

As might have been expected, Maltese Poodle owners all over the world quickly began jumping on this trend and snapping pictures of their dogs for quick laughs and other likes on Instagram, Facebook, Weibo, and other social media. A dog like this can quickly become an Internet superstar, so be ready for a lot of attention if you are a Maltese Poodle owner.


Panda Dog Breed 4: Bichon Frise

Other fluffy dog breeds, like the smaller Bichon Frise, have also been turning up transformed into mini-Pandas — and they are very popular.

Bichon Frise

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

These dogs just need a bit of careful grooming and coloring, and it is possible to turn them into panda dogs in about two hours. Then the look will stay with the Bichon Frise for about six weeks until the owners bring them back to the parlor for some touching up.

Keep in mind that a Bichon Frise is a popular breed and it can end up costing you between close to $2000 to buy one. The exact price depends mainly on where you get the dog because accredited breeders generally cost much more than home-based breeders. However, you get more peace of mind that the dog has been treated humanely. Other factors, like the age and purity of the breed, can also help determine the eventual price tag.

Panda Dog Breed 5: French Bulldogs

Cute breeds like French Bulldogs and Labradors were originally the favorite breeds of dogs to be transformed into mini-Pandas.

French Bulldogs in grass

Photo: Pretty Pup

And the French Bulldogs generally took quite well to their new look. It became pretty common to see plenty of these roaming the streets of small Chinese villages.

Although the nose of the French Bulldog doesn’t exactly look like a bear’s nose, that can easily be overlooked if the dog is painted the right colors and patterns for it to look like a panda dog. The ones with the big ears can be the most striking when they are painted in black and white.


Panda Dog Breed 6: Labradors

Again, cute breeds like French bulldogs and Labradors were originally the favorite breeds of dogs to be transformed into mini-Pandas.

3 different colored labradors

Photo: K9 Research Lab

While French Bulldogs were generally more common in China, many Westerners seemed to favor Labradors because these are dogs that they already had.

Lots of Labradors are a very dark shade of black already, so then it is simply a case of getting some dog-friendly white dye and painted around your dog’s eyes and perhaps also the ears. These loyal dogs are very popular as family pets and they are usually great around children.

Panda Dog Breed 7: Other Panda Dogs 

Although all panda dogs are canines, certain dog breeds tend to look more like bears than other ones.

Hsin Ch’en in grass

Photo: New York Post

In China, particularly, many aspiring dog owners have been known to line up for many hours outside a pet store in Sichuan Province. The owner of that newly famous pet store, Hsin Ch’en, put many hours of effort into transforming Chow Chow pups into panda dogs. We’ll talk more about the ramifications of this event a little later in the article.

Many other pet stores all over the world are now also adopting this technique. If you are a determined buyer, you can often get a panda dog in as little as two hours. Unlike ordinary-looking breeds, the panda dog will end up costing you more. However, the bragging rights and the envy of your friends can seem to be worth it. 

For some breeds, a perfect panda appearance can take a long time to achieve. But nothing about the procedure is harmful to the dog, regardless of the breed. Pet store owners all over the world claim to neither use harmful chemicals nor subject the dogs to any type of cruelty.

PETA and Panda Dogs 

When The Cute Pet Games cafe opened in Chengdu in the south-west Sichuan province of China, home to a large proportion of the endangered bear species, six fluffy chow chows dyed white and black painted prompted widespread criticism over the treatment of the pets. Many people expressed concern for the animals and they wanted to know if the dying procedure was safe.

While most pet shop owners might be all for the panda dog treatment, many animal activists like these certainly have their reservations. They warn dog owners against the poisonous effects that some types of dye can have on their pets. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has already documented a case like this. Certain dog owners put human hair dye on their dog’s bodies, which resulted in severe burns. 

We fully agree with PETA that you need to protect your dog from unnatural dyeing procedures like that. We have also heard stories of pet stores in China selling dogs with dyed fur that made them look like miniature tigers. In cases like these, many of the tiger dogs don’t survive longer than a week because of the poison in the dye.

A Few Other Questions 

So if you are really more interested in looking after your panda dog, be sure not to buy it from a disreputable breeder and not just any pet shop owner. You need to care for panda dogs just as you would for any other canine. Caring for a canine companion involves providing them with breed-specific and age-specific training, which is readily available online and can be easily shared on social media.

For example, some breeds must receive socialization training when they are puppies. If they don’t get that, those dogs will never get along with other animals. Other breeds require special obedience classes. Not getting those might lead to a naughty canine who doesn’t listen to you at all. 

Don’t let any puppy get away with bad behavior, like biting or barking. Unchecked aggression can cause major problems for you and your family when the pet dog gets bigger. Remember that all pet dogs are going to require some type of exercise — and that includes both physical and mental exercise. Give your panda dog lots of attention and at least a daily walk or another type of regular exercise.

In addition, always feed your dog high-quality dog food. The first few ingredients should be some kind of meat, not a meat by-product. Feed your dog on a regular schedule, at least twice a day. Figure out the proper amount you should be feeding your dog daily and avoid giving your dog a large amount of food. This can easily lead to weight gain and other health problems. Check out some other helpful ways you can care for your pet dog here.

Lots of dog owners have started feeding their dogs organic, natural products. Although the options for healthier food products have grown, what is new is the extent to which these natural choices have now become part of the dog care process.

In addition to all-natural meals, treats, medicines, and supplements, dog owners can choose to buy natural products when they are looking for pet bedding and litter, grooming options, flea and tick prevention products, dog toys, and much more.

Also, pet care has become far more high-tech. Many pet owners now use apps to arrange dog daycare, pet grooming, pet sitting, or even to find the most pet-friendly destinations for travel. Pet care businesses of all types know how important it is to offer mobile-friendly services and to maintain personalized online profiles for dog owners and their pets.

The visual effects of the panda dog grooming process generally last for about six weeks. After that, you will need to bring your dog back to the groomer for a quick touch-up. Just as is the case for a human makeover, the amount of grooming that makes a panda dog attractive can quickly become expensive, so be very sure of your commitment to the dog before you decide to adopt one. 

Buying a panda dog of your own can easily cost $1000 or more. And grooming costs for this medium-sized dog are about $100 each time. Chow Chow dogs, as an example, can have a life expectancy of about 12 to 15 years, so keep in mind that your total panda dog health care costs could add up to almost $15,000!

Basically, any dog that is considered to be a cute breed could be a good candidate for a panda dog. Other breeds that are often transformed into the cutest panda dogs are the Beagle, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Golden Retriever, Dachshund, Bernese Mountain Dog, Yorkshire Terrier, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and many others. Panda dogs look really cute, and they will probably be around for a long time too.

Keep your eyes open for the range of new tech-based pet products that are reaching the market, such as video camera systems that allow you to monitor your panda dogs, robotic, self-cleaning litter boxes, and microchip-enabled pet doors. There are also wearable tech options for pets, like Bluetooth-enabled smart leashes that can monitor your activity levels while you are out walking your pet.

Loving Your Panda Dog

So, you see, the panda dog isn’t just a new breed that was recently discovered. Panda dogs might be a fairly new phenomenon around the Internet, but they are really just ordinary dogs that have been dressed up a little and made to look as cute as possible. There is nothing wrong with admiring cute panda dogs as long as they have been ethically treated.

Recent studies have shown that the relationship between dogs and humans is similar to the relationship between babies and their parents. One study noted that dogs often run to humans when they are scared, whereas other animals run away.

That is something that shows how much dogs actually depend on humans to help them when they are scared. So we are certain that some (if not all) dogs see their human masters as positive, protective beings in their world. You, as a dog owner, have an enormous responsibility to respect that trust and to do all you can to ensure the safety and wellbeing of your animal.

All of this knowledge will help you realize that most of the popular panda dogs that you will see online are so cute either as the result of grooming — such as the Bichon Fraise — or as a product of both grooming and breeding, such as the pale gold Chow Chows. Just like with many other dogs, always try to be nice and kind to these animals and they will be loyal to you for the rest of your life.

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Sarah Brady

Sarah Brady is an animal lover and the proud dog-mom of a Golden Retriever named Brody and an Italian Greyhound named Jessup. Unfortunately, Jessup developed serious allergies to many different types of dog foods and ingredients when she was just a puppy. Meanwhile, Brody could eat seemingly anything and carry on as healthy as could be. Sarah spent hours of time researching and testing different foods and brands before finding something that worked for little Jessup. She wants Dog Food Care to simplify this experience for future dog-parents who face food allergy or tolerance issues of their own.