Probably around since the 2nd century BC, the breed comes from China. Since the Chow Chow is the only other dog with the black tongue, there is probably some shared lineage. They excelled at guarding, boar hunting and dog fighting. With the communist revolution, the breed was nearly wiped out, as most dogs were killed off. Only a few rural specimens were able to survive. Thanks to Hong Kong, the breed came back and was exported to the rest of the world. An article in the early 70s touted the dog as the world’s rarest and the breed boomed with people trying to get one.
Self possessed is a wonderful description for this breed. They are not overly demonstrative, although they are loyal. You just have to look for it. It can be protective of the family and will chase small animals. Not a good companion for the family cat. This is a dog that isn’t going to clown around for you. It is a working dog, in essence and is serious about most things.