During Korean dynastic rule, intellectuals at odds with the King were exiled to Jindo Island, a fate worse than death. On the upside, it is also the ancestral home of the Jindo Gae, or Dog of Jindo Island.
The Jindo, now a symbol of Korea, fell under the protection of Korean law in 1962 when it was named National Monument #53. It is Korea’s most popular breed, and as much a part of the culture as rice and kimchee. Korea means business when it comes to protecting the purity of this breed’s bloodline. Any dog whose pedigree cannot be proved, or that fails to come up to breed standard, is immediately exiled. Any dog coming onto the island (even a returning Jindo) must have official permission, and then be neutered. “We protect the breed by not letting registered dogs off the island and not allowing others in without a government permit,” said the head of the Jindo Dog Research and Test Center, Cha Jae-Nam. He adds, “It’s not common for people to conduct a paternity test on their newborns, but we do for all puppies at birth.”
Puppies are given a birth certificate if they match the DNA of their parents, and if they don’t, they must leave the island. When a puppy becomes six months old, it must undergo a strict evaluation of its conformation before being allowed to be microchipped, and dogs that fail this evaluation are removed. Those that pass muster join the ranks of 6,000 + registered National Treasure status Jindos on the island. Such rigorous controls, Koreans feel, ensure that all Jindo dogs are purebred. Those that fall short, it’s rumored, end up as meals in a country where South Koreans are believed to consume somewhere between 1.5 and 2.5 million dogs every year (this static was provided by an animal rights group, for what it’s worth).
For all this, the Jindo is not recommended for first time dog owners. They are very protective of their family, and have such a strong prey drive that walking off lead is not recommended. The Jindo is a strong willed and independent dog that likes things its own way.
The Jindo was put on the list of AKC FSS breeds in 2008.
Jindo dog photo by Canarian – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53803031