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Everything We Know About Pungsan Dog – The Latest Gift to Vladimir Putin

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Have you ever wondered what world leaders gift each other? Well, they often strive to give something that shows their power, authority, and position. Take the latest example of North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un giving Russian President Vladimir Putin a rare dog breed. The Pungsan Dog is the national dog breed in North Korea.

N Korea people see this canine as a companion. The dog’s torso is small compared to other dogs in the West. Yet, the canine is quite intelligent, agile, and persistent.

According to historians, this canine is a possible ancestor of the famous Japanese Akita Inu and Shiba Inu breeds.

Loyal to its owner, and vicious when attacked, these dogs attack and bite the victim in the throat when they feel a threat.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gratefully accepted the two hunting dogs. According to the Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov, the dogs have not been named yet. But it is a known fact Putin is a fan of dogs.

Now, let’s talk more about the famous North Korean dog breed. What is so significant about it?

History of the Breed

As with all things considering North Korea, information is scarce. The Encyclopedia of Korean Culture by the Academy of Korean Studies claims that the dog was first recognized as a national symbol during the Japanese colonial period.

Here is a fun fact. Some historians also believe that the Pungsan dog breed was used in Russia for hunting tigers, bears, and boars.

During the 2000 inter-Korean Sumit, it was leader Kim Jong-il who gifted two dogs to South Korean President Kim Dae-jung. In return, the South Korean leader gave two Jindo dogs.

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History says these two dogs were born at the Pyongyang Central Zoo, and were originally Named Dangyol and Jaju. The names mean Unity and Independence. Yet, they were later renamed to Uri(meaning WE) and Duri (Two).

Kim Jong Un has a history of giving these dogs as gifts. In 2018, at the Pyongyang summit, he gave two of them to South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Some historians have labeled these dogs as “peace gift puppies”.

How Pungsan Became a Symbol of Proud Spirit

In North Korea, people believe Pungsan dogs are pure, spontaneous, and loyal to their leaders. That is just what a good North Korean should be.

Propagandists present them as symbols of the country’s virtues. In movies and literature, these dogs are often a point of envy for evil foreign characters.

Let’s take a look at how they became the national symbol. It all began in the 1960s and 1970s. At the time, North Korea stuck to the revolutionary idea, typical of the early Soviet Union and Maoist China. It was an idea that tradition should only be embraced when related to the current system.

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Yet, when the country began to turn to the outside world in the 1980s, leadership wanted a different approach. North Korea rushed to republish classic novels, produce fairytale-based animations, and hold folk song performances.

In the 2000s, the country wanted to promote its national dog. If you take a look at the surroundings of North Korea, every country has its national dog. South Korea has the Jindo dogs, and Japan has the Akita Inu and Shiba Inu dog breeds.

According to propaganda, dogs of the Pungsan region were a unique, special breed, native to North Korea. As time passed, the propaganda machine began to use the new dog discourse and interweave it with fantasy. They started creating myths.

In North Korea, dog meat is a nutritious source of food. People do not know much about dog breeding. So, Pugsan dogs were easy to market.

It is worth noting that no international Kennel Club recognizes Pungsan dogs as a distinct breed. These dogs have not even made it to the North Korean Police. The army uses German Shepherds, who came to the country thanks to the Soviets.

Let Us Live Like Pungsan Dogs

In 2017, Paek Myeong Kil released the novel, Pungsan Dogs. The core idea of the novel is “let us live like Pungsan dogs”. Set in Pungsan during the Japanese colonial period, it tells the story of local hunters who survive by hunting with the local dogs.

From there, the story continues how Japanese authorities try to exterminate all Pungsan dogs. Yet, they fail thanks to the efforts of a young hunter, Myeong U, and his fiancé. The couple manages to hide the last few remaining puppies away in the mountains.

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In the novel, the author talks about the dog’s unwillingness to mate with foreign breeds as patriotism. He makes a couple of parallels between the dogs and the Korean nation. He says both are imbued with national purity, spontaneity, and loyalty to their leaders. So, he says, “Let us live like Pungsan Dogs”.

Physical Appearance

Now let’s talk a bit about what the Poongsan dog looks like. Thanks to gifts to other leaders and some pictures online, we have a better understanding and idea of the rare breed.

They look like a typical Spitz breed. We can see physical features like a plush coat, wedge-shaped face, prick ears, and a curled tail. These dogs usually have dark almond-shaped eyes that are always on alert.

Prized for its luxurious double coat, these dogs have a harsh outer coat and a soft undercoat.

They stand between 20 and 23 inches, weighing 40 and 65 lbs.

Pungsan Dog Temperament

As you might think by now, these dogs are loyal and brave. They love spending time with their people and family. And while they get along with other dogs, they do not like outsider breeds. And Pungsan dogs are wary of strangers.

Due to their protective nature, they make great guard dogs. They need proper training and socialization for safety.

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Pungsan dogs are dominant and try to get things their way. But they are always protective of their loved ones and territory. Similar to other independent breeds, Pungsan dogs thrive under the hand of a firm and loving dog owner. They need someone to set rules and stick with them.

How to Train Pungsan Dogs?

Training is important for every independent breed. Vladimir Putin will have someone to train his puppy for him. These dogs mature into sensible and well-rounded adults. Without proper training, they can become hostile, and unpredictable, and create their own rules.

Are Pungsan Dogs Healthy?

Since there is no official recognition by the American Kennel Club, we have no idea how long they live. We can only refer to documents from Korean history and books. There, we see they live between 13 and 14 years.

While healthy, they can suffer from problems like hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, entropion, and bloating. The first two conditions are quite common within dogs, especially medium-to-large breeds.

Entropion is a condition where eyelids roll too far inwards and scrape on the eye’s surface. Over time, that can lead to corneal scarring and painful eye infections. The road to recovery is through surgery.

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