The Sapsali - A Charming Yet Lesser Known Korean Dog

The Sapsali - A Charming Yet Lesser Known Korean Dog

There are many lesser known dog breeds in the world and although some are very rare, others have stood the tests of time and are now being bred in countries other than their native homelands. One of these dogs is the Sapsali, a gorgeous looking character that's native to Korea where they are believed to get rid of evil spirits and ghosts.

A Little Background History

The Sapsali is also often called a Sapsaree and described as a Lion Dog because of their strong looking legs and upper bodies. Not a lot is known about how these charming dogs first appeared on the scene although there is some evidence of them being around as early as 37BC when they were the much loved companions among Korean royal families. Much later, the breed became popular with the common people, but then nearly disappeared altogether during the First World War and then again when the Korean War broke out.

However, the breed was saved from extinction by a few Korean professors who in the sixties made it their mission to save these lovely dogs from disappearing off the face of the earth altogether. The Sapsali today, is considered to be a national treasure in their native homeland although they remain pretty much unknown in other parts of the world.

Lovely Even Temperaments

These lovely dogs are famous for their wonderful natures and the fact they are incredibly patient characters whether they are around people or other animals. In their native Korea, they are renowned for their loyalty and courage. However, although they form very strong bonds with their owners, the Sapsali can be a little wary of strangers until they are told that things are okay that is.

Because they form such strong bonds with people and their families, these dogs can become a little protective and will keep strangers away by barking although they are not known to be overly aggressive. With this said, they need to be well socialised when young to avoid any dominant or more aggressive behaviours developing. They can be a little aggressive towards other dogs, but they adore being around children.

Lovely Coats & Personalities to Match

A Sapsali's coat is quite lovely and not too disimilar to that of a Bearded Collie. They can be black, brown, grey or golden. Dogs can have solid coats or they can be mixed, sometimes peppered, but they are always nice and shaggy looking with hair that falls down over their eyes and lovely large beards which gives them the same kind of look as an Old English Sheepdog. Some dogs have curly long coats whereas others boast straight hair, but this all depends on their breeding lines.

Male dogs can stand at anything from 20 to 23 inches at the shoulder and they typically weigh in at between 40 to 62 lbs. Females, on the other hand are generally a bit shorter and lighter, standing at 19 to 22 inches at the shoulder and weighing 35 to 55 lbs.

Keeping Their Coats Looking Good

The Sapsali need frequent and regular brushing because otherwise their long shaggy coats risk become knotted and tangled. Regular grooming sessions also means you get rid of any loose hair dogs might be shedding bearing in mind that the breed is known to shed quite a lot throughout the year and not only during the spring and the autumn.

Early Training is a Must

It's really important for these dogs to receive basic training from a young age, followed by a more intensive training programme with positive reinforcement being the preferred method. The Sapsali is highly intelligent and quickly learns things which makes them highly trainable. However, because they are so smart, they can easily pick up some bad behaviours pretty quickly which means they are not the best choice of pets for first-time dog owners.

Health Issues Associated with the Breed

Because these lovely dogs were rescued from the brink of extinction, it meant there was a very small gene pool to draw from. As such, the Sapsali is known to suffer from a few of the more common hereditary and congenital health disorders which includes things like hip dysplasia, congenital heart defects as well as other conditions like bloat, allergies and heart disease. With this said, the breed when well cared for and fed a nutritious diet to suit the different stages of their lives can live anything from 10 to 12+ years.


The Sapsali has a reputation for being a wonderful family pet and guard dog back in their native Korea. The breed almost disappeared, but was brought back from the brink of extinction by some Korean professors back in the thirties. Today, breeders can be found in other countries of the world, although the Sapsali still remains one of the lesser known breeds on the planet. With this said, they are a great choice as family pets because they are such even natured dogs although wary when they are around strangers when they always look to their owners for guidance.

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