Here is a neat pull-out spread of the global “Community of Dogs 走狗展覽” that appeared in the Shanghai-based pictorial magazine, The Young Companion (Liangyou 良友), no. 78 (1933), pp. 25-6. Pardon the seam; the reprint volumes are too large to fit on the scanner at once. Vintage photos are always nice, but the setup and captions here are what make this article for me, particularly in the occasional differences between the Chinese and the English.
I should start by mentioning that the title translates more literally as “Exhibition of Running Dogs.” The term zǒu gǒu 走狗 is usually highly pejorative, meaning a lackey or a stooge. In modern context, it’s a politically loaded term to label someone who toadies to foreign interests. In semicolonial Shanghai, where public expression was policed under the official KMT policy of appeasement (especially the Japanese, who had the military wherewithal to bomb the hell out of the port city as indeed they had, barely a year prior), the term could be loosely slung at anyone who indulged in the cosmopolitan allures of the city without minding the dire national situation.
This context might affect how you view this article, and what kind of details ruffle the surface.
Liangyou Dogs of the World, page 1
Original text transcribed below in bold, a few revealing discrepancies retranslated in italics, and commentary in normal font.
The English [sheep]dog, white and tousled.
The Greyhound noted for its smooth elegance.
The obscure old character for this type of dog doesn’t even show up in any of my dictionaries??
Long-haired dachshunds are the elegant cavaliers among dogs.
Head of a young Chow Chow.
小犬餓矣！ The puppy is hungry!
The Borzoi with its aristocratic charm.
A little symphony in white.
Can anyone tell what kind of dog this is? A Pyrenees or Samoyed pup?
The hairy and lively Skye Terrier.
The Chinese points out the hair all over the dog’s body and says nothing of its liveliness.
Liangyou Dogs of the World, page 2
Three Duchshunds [sic] are listening to something.
Three more long-bodied, short-legged “hunting dogs.” The term for hounds or any terrier is an XX liè quán 獵犬, or literally “hunting dog,” of which there were several different types native to China — most of them not shaped like these guys.
Gazing in a sad amazement at a world in which so much is forbidden.
兩狆犬之愁苦眼光，瞻望這不自由的世界。 The sad and melancholic expressions of two Zhongquan, gazing at this unfree world.
These dogs which are basically what we’d call pugs are named in Chinese as zhòng quán 狆犬. Apparently, usage of this term changes over time, so any Pekingese type which was called a zhong dog back then is now strictly known as a Japanese Chin, whereas the international “Pekingese” has been reinserted into the standard lexicon as the Beijing dog (北京狗). I need to confirm this with further research.
At any rate, it’s not clear to me which “community” these zhong dogs are supposed to represent, especially when coupled with that cryptic caption — just what is forbidden to whom? Or more literally, what keeps them from being truly “free”?
Ready, aye, ready! The Alsatian.
Get ready for… what?
Young but with serious eyes.
Again, why the focus on the youth and the silent gaze of the Chinese-typed dog?
The aristocratic Pekingese dog from the Chinese palaces.
See my note above about the zhongquan. I do find this nice-looking Peke to be very unlike the mop that dusted off the Crufts Best in Show trophy in 2003.
The English Bulldog, the national symbol, is all concentrated, massive, steady power.
The hairy Bobtail.
The Old English Sheepdog.
The Scotch Terrier is a jolly fellow.
蘇格蘭獵犬，蠢蠢欲勭。 The Scottish Terrier, wriggling and feisty.
Another hairy Skye Terrier.
This final caption sticks out to me the most.
Two Japanese Chins.
兩日本小犬，瞧牠的小器的陰險的神氣！ (Chinese text found on first page)
Two little Japanese dogs. Check out their mean, treacherous demeanor!
It seems obvious from the selectively truncated English translation that someone didn’t feel like going where the Chinese caption went. However, what is also notable to me is this: outside of Japan, nobody else saw the Nihon ken as distinctively Japanese dogs — yet. What gets codified here as a “Japanese” dog is the toy of dubiously foreign origin, whose fragile, bug-eyed, brachycephalic visage is almost the complete opposite of what would later become enshrined as the native, more lupine “ideal.”
In fact, the concept of canine primitiveness doesn’t even seem to factor into the construction of this layout at all. It’s less important that the Chow Chow looks the most wolf-life of any of these featured breeds than it is that the Chow is described as a hungry puppy. The most wild-looking creature is meant to evoke instant pity, even as it seems incredibly out of place with the rest of the gallery. Contrast this to the Chin pups, who are labeled as inherently suspicious (and also opposed to the “young but serious” Peke puppy), and the editors’ agenda is as exposed as Chiang Kai-shek’s forehead.
Sometimes mere frivolity is the only way to let off steam.