The Chinese regard the dog as an auspicious animal and for many it symbolizes the coming of fortune. Poodles, especially black poodles, are said to bring more luck.
Unlike in the west however the dog can itself be unlucky and end up on the table, though the eating of dog meat is becoming less popular.
The youngest dogs were born between 29th January 2006 and 17th February 2007. Those born under this sign are believed to be faithful and courageous in their career and love.
They inspire confidence in others and are said to be able to keep a secret. They are also believed to make good leaders.
Like the animal itself dog people are honest, faithful and sincere. Furthermore they are often righteous and may be the first to speak out against injustice.
Dog people may be agreeable companions when in a good mood. They can turn nasty and just like their namesake bark until they are tired. Indeed they can go a little crazy at times and may be worriers.
Usually very generous and loyal they may still have romantic problems throughout their life, leading to possible emotional instability and anxiety.
There are several well known leaders born under the sign of the dog. Amongst them are Winston Churchill, Benjamin Franklin, Bill Clinton, Sun Quan (King of Wu in China’s Three Kingdoms Period 220 - 280), Li Yuan (the first emperor of the Tang Dynasty 618 - 907), and Zhou Enlai (the first Premier of People’s Republic of China). Prince William, set to be the future King of England, was also born under the sign of the dog.
The French writer, historian and philosopher François-Marie Arouet, more often known by his nom de plume Voltaire, was a dog as was Confucius, the Chinese teacher, editor, politician, and philosopher. Socrates, the classical Greek philosopher, and credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, was also a dog.
Less philosophically inclined other famous dogs include the singers Michael Jackson and Madonna, the actress Jennifer Lopez, and George Gershwin, the American composer and pianist.
Many dog idioms are rather disparaging referring to dumb dogs, sly dogs and cold-blooded animals.
For instance láng xīn gǒu fèi (狼心狗肺), literally wolf heart dog lung, is used to describe someone as brutal and cold-blooded.
Another idiom which perhaps puts down the dog is huà hǔ lèi gǒu (画虎类狗) which translates as “draw tiger like dog”. In an attempt to draw a tiger one ends up with the likeness of a dog, thus it is used to describe something as a poor imitation.
Gǒu zuǐ lǐ tǔ bù chū xiàng yá (狗口里吐不出象牙) is yet another idiom which paints a rather bad image of the dog. Translating as “dog mouth not emit ivory” it suggests that a filthy mouth cannot speak decently. It could perhaps be likened to the English idiom “a cracked bell can never sound well”.
Indeed if someone is talking rubbish, someone might say they are uttering “dog farts” or gǒu pì (狗屁).
Zhū gǒu bù rú (豬狗不如), to be lower than a pig or dog, again looks down on our canine friend and is used to describe someone who is inferior.
Dǎ luò shuǐ gǒu (打落水狗) meanwhile is the Chinese equivalent of “to kick someone when they’re down.” The Chinese phrase translates as “To beat a dog that’s fallen in the water” however.Not every idiom is entirely disparaging however. Lǎo gǒu wán bù chū xīn bǎxì (老狗玩不出新把戏) translates almost identically, and means the same as the English idiom “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”
One thing the dog should apparently never be doing is catching mice. Gǒu ná hàozi duō guǎn xiánshì (狗拿耗子多管闲事) suggests that a mouse-catching dog steps on the cats' paws and is used to refer to someone who is too inquisitive and sticking their nose into affairs that don’t concern them.
In the West we often say every dog has his day, though in most Chinese idioms the dog fares badly and if cornered may, in desperation jump over wall, or as they might say in China gǒu jí tiào qiáng (狗急跳墙).
Indeed “a dog that’s lost its home” or sàng jiā zhī gǒu (丧家之狗), used to describe a hopeless situation, may feel just such desperation and jump over the wall.
And with that rather sad note we leave the dog. Next time we look at the pig.