Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Dog Teeth For Sale in Chongqing and Online

Roughly between the center of the Jiefangbei shopping district and Chaotianmen in Chongqing, one day I noticed a woman selling some interesting items.

woman selling wolf-dog teeth and heads in Chongqing

Two days later in the same area, I saw a man selling similar items.

man selling wolf-dog teeth and heads in Chongqing

I asked the woman if those were dog heads in front of her, and she said they were. I asked the man if those were wolf heads in front of him, and he said they were. Both followed up their answers with comments that left me a bit confused though. After some online research, I believe they were explaining that the heads and teeth for sale in front of them were from wolf-dogs, an animal which I did not know much about at the time.

Wolf-dogs, as their name suggests, are a mix of wolf and dog. Wolf-dogs can have varying degrees of "wolfness" and "dogness" in terms of genes and behavior, and there are disagreements over what should be labeled as a wolf-dog. One type of wolf-dog, the Kunming Dog, was bred in China. PetYourDog has a description of the breed:
The Kunming Dog is a wolf dog that originated in China in early 1950s. The purpose for its development was to create a military dog for the Chinese army. Several breeds of dogs as well as several cross breeds were involved in this dogs' gene pole but most of the breeds used are unknown. . . .

It has exceptional and proven working capabilities and the dog is gaining popularity among common people as a family companion. This rare dog needs early age socialization and obedience training. A well trained and socialized Kunming Dog will make very good family pet; one that gets along well with children and treat them as its masters. This breed generally gets along well with other dogs and pets in the family. With proper training and socialization, this rare breed of dogs can be an exciting addition to a family.
The Dog Breed Info Center says that Kunming Dogs can "make excellent pets".

So it is possible what I saw came from animals that I suspect many people would consider to be dogs, even if it is technically accurate to describe them as wolf-dogs.

News articles about people in China selling items similar to what I saw can be found here, here, and here (all in Chinese and all include images). In those cases, the teeth are described as coming from dogs. The articles explain that some people believe dog teeth ward off evil spirits. Also, sellers can be concerned their products will be perceived as fakes — a reason to display dog heads.

If you want to buy dog (or wolf-dog or wolf) teeth, you do not need to visit a seller in person. It is easy to find sellers online. For example, on Alibaba's Taobao, a Chinese website similar to eBay, one seller offers jewelry made with teeth from the Tibetan Mastiff, a domestic dog. page selling Tibetan mastiff dog teeth

And Alibaba's related site which targets online buyers outside of China, AliExpress, also offers plenty of dog teeth options, including one seller offering "vintage fashion". page selling "Vintage fashion dog teeth amulet Lovers pendant necklace"

Want to instead use a U.S. online site to buy your dog teeth? eBay has a few options, including a bracelet.

eBay page offering "Real Tibetan Mastiff Teeth Bracelet"

I don't know whether the sellers I've mentioned are selling what they say they are. But given how often I see restaurants in China with dog meat on the menu, I wouldn't be surprised by genuine dog teeth being readily available.

Many questions come to mind, but I don't plan to dig more deeply into dog teeth sales, something I have come across far less often in China than seeing people with their pet dogs. However, one day I will get around to commenting on the practice of eating dog meat and sharing some of what I have seen.

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