Sapsali

He is not recognized by the F.C.I.

Origin
Republic of Korea
Translation
Francis Vandersteen

A brief presentation of the Sapsali

The Sapsali is a medium-sized, shaggy dog that is not particularly well known in North America, but has been considered a good-luck charm by the Korean people for thousands of years for its alleged ability to dispel evil spirits. These dogs tend to have a very loyal and protective character, and develop extremely strong bonds with their owners and families. The breed was endangered in the mid-1980s, reduced to just eight reproducible dogs, but brought back from the brink by an aggressive but carefully executed breeding program. No kennel club in the Western Hemisphere has yet recognized the breed, but the Korean Kennel Club has, and it was declared Korean National Treasure Number 368 in 1992.

History of the Sapsali

According to early records, the Sapsali dog, also known as the Sapsaree, has been part of Korean history for at least 400 years - both as a symbolic soldier and a valued companion of royalty. Later, this charming and devoted dog became available to citizens as well as royalty, and thrived among the general population until the First World War. During the rule of colonial Japan, these mild-mannered dogs were rounded up and slaughtered to make coats for invading soldiers, with reports indicating that over 100,000 were sacrificed each year during this period, and the poverty that followed the wars that devastated Korea further reduced the Sapsali dog population. In 1969, several Korean professors, realizing that the breed was on the brink of extinction, located as many Sapsali dogs as they could, amounting to some 30 dogs, which by 1985 had plummeted even further to just eight viable dogs. Ha Ji-Hong, the son of one of the project's first teachers, put all his efforts into restoring the breed. All his money, land and considerable education went into the project. In order to succeed, Ha Ji-Hong resorted to carefully planned inbreeding programs. In around five years, the population grew to around 500 dogs. DNA samples were then used to eliminate as many diseases and disorders as possible. The breed was designated Korean National Treasure number 368 in 1992. Today, around three thousand members are registered with the Korean Sapsaree Association.

Appearance of the Sapsali

Sapsali dogs are a medium-sized breed, measuring just under two feet at the shoulder and slightly longer than their waist. This breed is well known for its particularly strong and voluminous corpuscles, as well as for its rather large paws. Because of these characteristics, they have often been referred to as lion dogs. Their feet are distinguished not only by their size, but also by their particularly thick, hard pads, which enable them to traverse long distances over difficult terrain with ease. The Sapsali has a large globular skull with a well-balanced muzzle, although the abundant hair in the facial region often gives the impression that the muzzle is shorter than it actually is. Their medium-length ears are well-haired and usually lie close to the cheeks. Their large, round eyes can be almost any shade of brown, but are usually masked by their long, thick fringe. The Sapsali's long, dense coat can be straight or wavy, and can come in many colors, including brown, yellow, gray, blue and red.

Temperament of the Sapsali

The Sapsali is an extremely loyal and protective dog that is both affectionate and sensitive towards its owner or family. While they tend to be somewhat cautious of new individuals, they will readily accept those that their family accepts, quickly becoming warm and friendly. They are highly intelligent and socialize early enough, tending to be friendly with other animals, as long as they don't threaten. These dogs are eager to learn and eager to please, which makes them very easy to train, even for the novice dog owner. They are also particularly well suited to therapy work, as they are naturally gentle and well-mannered, while being very accepting and open with their affections. Although this breed is generally extremely well-mannered and gentle, it also has a strong protective streak. It is extremely rare for a Sapsali to start a fight, but it is unlikely to back down in the face of a real threat and will generally react decisively and without mercy.

Needs and activities of the Sapsali

This breed is not as active as some of the other working breeds, but it does need at least forty-five minutes to an hour of vigorous exercise every day. These dogs are highly intelligent, which means they'll also need mental stimulation throughout the day to prevent negative behaviors from developing, and can enjoy other activities such as agility training, advanced obedience training or even acrobatic canine dancing. With more exercise and attention, they can adapt to a smaller home, such as an apartment, but in most cases, these dogs are much happier in a larger home with a fenced-in yard.

Maintenance of the Sapsali

This dog has a particularly thick, double coat that tends to require more grooming than the coats of many other dog breeds. Although bathing is only necessary a few times a year, brushing should be a daily exercise, as the long hair of the Sapsali breed is heavily entrenched and prone to tangling and rubbing. It's essential to take your time with this coat, as the long outer layer of fur can hide the tangles and matting that occur in the undercoat, which can lead to skin damage and even infection. It's also important to regularly monitor the Sapsali's hanging ears to ensure they remain free from moisture and contamination.

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