Wolves in Sheep's Clothing: The Badass Roots of 5 Sissy Dogs

There's nothing sadder than a tiny dog in a purse. That really has to be the lowest possible point in evolution. After all, if these yipping purse dogs were meant for anything else, we'd see wild packs of them taking down antelope during Discovery Channel's menacing "Chihuahua Week." Right?

Well, there's more to the story. It turns out a lot of these ridiculous breeds were once designed for all manners of badassery.

#5. Pekingese

What They're Known For

The Pekingese are recognizable by a snub-nosed muzzle that highlights their mopey stare. They are considered a willful breed, difficult to housebreak and train, but all of that is forgiven since they have inspired so many fine works of needlepoint:

Their long coat and confident gait make them common dog show fodder. Running in that tiny ellipse is about all the exercise they need since their foreshortened muzzle makes them susceptible to heat exhaustion. The health problems don't stop there courtesy of suspect spines and infection-prone eyes. However, if you like bug-eyed dustbunnies that are prone to flatulence, this is the breed for you.

What They Should Be Known For

That aforementioned stubborn streak and confidence was part of the breed standard for a good reason. On top of being a companion for emperors in Imperial China, the Pekingese served as personal guard dogs. The smallest, most ferocious ones were actually called "sleeves" because they could be carried inside large-sleeved garments to be unleashed for short-range attacks. Imagine it as a hairy canister of mace that didn't stop chewing on the eyes until commanded to do so.

They were employed by kings and courtiers alike. They were known as Fu Lin, or the Lion Dog of China. Unfortunately for them, their size and cuteness factor were just too undeniable, even back then. They became known as an extravagant fashion accessory, matching their coats to specific wardrobes. At least that time around they were purses with a taste for blood.

#4. Corgies

What They're Known For

Corgies are a bit thick to be purse dogs, so they spend most of their time serving as a near-lethal tripping hazard. They are generally gregarious and compelled by human interaction, so they happily travel in small orbits around your feet in hopes of toppling you for face-to-face greeting. For those unfamiliar with this breed you can simulate the experience by finding a stocky, fluffy dog of normal proportions and sawing its legs in half.

Once the stumps heal, you have a DIY corgi at little expense. You can pass on the savings to corgi accessories designed to make crazy cat ladies look dignified and sensible:

They are considered good family dogs, both for their spirited nature and how they easily stow under a bed or sofa when space is at a premium. Because of their unique body structure they have a high incidence of back disorders as well as progressive retinal apathy and glaucoma.

What They Should Be Known For

As early as the 10th century, the corgi served dual functions of herding and guard dog in British farmlands. Their small size shamed them into tremendous overcompensation, building a ferocious prey drive towards vermin. However, they were better known for their ability to herd domestic fowl, sheep and even cattle. Let's not gloss over that last bit--all 27 pounds of the corgi was used to motivate 1,300 pounds cattle to follow its lead. They may have had a Napoleon complex but at least it came bundled with a bravado and intuition that allowed them to lead like him as well.

#3. Dachshund

What They're Known For

Referencing the "dachshund" in general conversation is likely to elicit a blank stare, forcing you to provide the unenviable alias of "wiener dog." This may well remain the most embarrassing dog moniker until breeders fashion a designer dog that's vagina shaped.

These walking phalluses thrive in family environments, preferably in Mormon families where there aren't a lot of dick jokes being cast about. They are a popular breed for that reason, which inevitably means that profiteers churn them out with little respect to breeding standards. As a result they are increasingly prone to basic flaws like snappiness and larger problems like spinal and hip issues.

So they're both ridiculous and defective, meaning they wound up with the shittiest hand nature could deal them (other than extinction, though even that is debatable).

What They Should Be Known For

The name dachshund translates from German to mean "badger dog." They were bred in the early 1600s in an attempt to create a dog as long as it was fearless, so that it could dig into badger burrows and fight them to the death. This is no small feat. Badgers are surly, vicious little mothers. Even the benign-sounding honey badger consumes porcupines and venomous snakes between honey fixes.

It should be no surprise the dachshund was also used to hunt wild boar in some instances. Hell, drag them to Africa and take them on a big cat safari. They just don't give a fuck. It is a good day to die.

#2. Poodles

What They're Known For

The name poodle is synonymous with flamboyant dog show excess to most. It conjures images of uber-groomed monstrosities, sporting bouffant and leg-warmer hybrids best left to rot in the 1980s:

Poodles are a perfect breed for the persnickety. They come in three size categories and as shown, the owners can sculpt their shape as they desire. Poodles are also a big hit with the asthmatic/immuno-spastic types because their coat is hypoallergenic. Basically that puts the ideal owner at the crossroad of finicky and feeble. These are not bullet points on the resume for ideal drinking buddies.

What They Should Be Known For

Some of the poodle's early history is most faithfully detailed in war memoirs, even by Napoleon himself. The poodle's role was primarily that of a morale-boosting mascot, but multiple accounts captured the breed in acts of gallantry that makes Lassie's attendance to Timmy in the well glorified babysitting.

There was a particularly rich history about a poodle named Moustache who was not only credited with detecting an Austrian spy (saving his company from surprise attack), but freeing the regimental colors from a mortally wounded ensign in order to deliver it in triumph to the front lines. Michael Bay would cream himself getting to capture something that bold and evocative on film, provided he was allowed to release a towering napalm explosion in the background.

Speaking of Michael Bay abortions, immediately following the WWII attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. military selected the poodle among a very limited set of breeds to augment day to day defenses (guarding forts, munitions plants, etc.) and even solicited help finding them:


Be All That You Can Be, Fluffy

The poodle's roots run just as deep as a hunting dog, as their speed and keen senses made them particularly valued as bird hunting companions. The now stylish "Poodle clip" complete with pom-poms of fur was an evolution of a cut done by hunters to help the dogs move through the water more efficiently. Earlier iterations weren't quite so fanciful:

The patches of hair left on the body are meant to protect vital organs and joints which are susceptible to cold. It also draws attention from the shame in the poodle's eyes and appeals to the hunter's seldom indulged metrosexuality.

#1. L'hasa Apso

What They're Known For

Straight from the American Kennel Club's mouth, the breed is described as "Gay and assertive, but chary of strangers." We're not so oblivious to miss that they are referring to the agreeable nature of the breed when they say "gay," but when you have a dog that commonly looks like this you might want to reach for alternative descriptors:

With their little, round faces and big, soft eyes, the puppies of this breed embody many of the desirable features in human babies. It's likely why batshit-insane people comfortably anthropomorphize them with such gusto. Even chatroom discussions on the breed degenerate into a faux first-person commentary from the dogs themselves.

The classically groomed L'hasa Apso's mane conceals the eyes and even the legs, giving it the profile of a lopsided Roomba. While they might be smart enough to act as a service dog, their aesthetic makes them more readily accessible as an ottoman.

What They Should Be Known For

The L'hasa Apso originates from the rugged climate of Tibet, a region known to be as godawful in the cold as it is in the heat. They are called Abso Seng Kye, the "Bearded Lion Sentinel Dog" because their primary station in life was to guard the interior of Buddhist monasteries and dwellings. Their breeding specifically targeted finely-tuned hearing and the ability to quickly distinguish intimates from strangers, unlike the modern version that interminably yips at foreboding coat racks.

These dogs were so prized that they were never sold. The only way to receive one was to get it as a gift. Further, it was believed that the bodies of the L'hasa Apsos could be entered by souls of deceased lamas while they awaited reincarnation into a new body. This empowered the lamas to finally seek all of the belly rubs they had yearned for in their previous life.



Ian will happily dispense all of the "dogs can lick their own balls" jokes he passed on here at his site, InternetSensation.com.

Read about some animals that are still genuinely terrifying in our rundown of The 5 Most Horrifying Bugs in the World, and then read about some that are only terrifying once it's too late in The 6 Cutest Animals That Can Still Destroy You.

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