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Appearance - Body

The Context

In this century, it is typical for dogs within a breed to be bred to a prescribed breed standard. For example, if a dog was taller than specified in a standard, breeders would eliminate the dog from the breeding program, or breed the dog to a smaller mate in order to bring down the size of the next generation. In this way, the individuals within a breed maintained a particular look that made it easy to identify as a member of one breed and no other.

How is a breed standard determined? Sometimes the breed standard is based on observations on what is the ideal form for a particular man-made job or function. To put it in very simple examples, a thin body as found in the sighthounds was more ideal for running down hares. A substantial body as found in mastiffs was more effective in stopping poachers and robbers. Thus evolved the saying "Form follows Function."

As people started to own dogs as pets that were no longer used to performed a function, the idea evolved that if a particular form was maintained, the dog or its descendants could theoretically still perform its function if they were ever asked to. Therefore, elaborate and sometimes unfounded explanations were written in order to maintain certain features. The immediate fallacy of this idea of "Function follows Form" is that it omits the mental component that is needed to perform a function. Of what use would be a thin body if there is no desire to hunt hares? Of what use would be a substantial body if the dog cowers around intruders? The long-term fallacy of believing in "Function follows Form" is that it leads to extremism among the unwary and can lead to the physical determent of the individual dog.

Extremism occurs when competitive breeders go one step beyond "Function follows Form" with "If a little of this is good, then more of it must be better" and they never test out their theories by working their dogs. Their motivation changes from "preserving the breed" to "improving the breed." This can lead to overangulation of legs, underangulation of legs, overabundance of coats, too frail of a frame, too heavy of a frame, and so forth.

How does this situation relate to the Jindo breed and the Jindo breed standard?

In order to preserve at least the form of the Jindo, it's important to recognize the foundations. The Jindo is often described as nature-made and not man-made. For example, many of their owners never dictated that all Jindos must hunt fleet deer, or must hunt dangerous boars. Instead, Jindos hunted animals the Jindos themselves picked and in a hunting style they themselves decided on. Some Jindos learned by trial and error which prey animal they were best at catching and the manner which is the best for their build.

Therefore, being a hunter is not the sole driver of why Jindos appears as they do although it is the most easy to track. There are many other pressures which are not necessarily issues in man-made breeds:

-Ability to cope with incliment weather while wandering
-Ability to deal with the flora and fauna of their environment
-Ability to discriminate among mates (females rejecting inadequate or related males)
-Ability to defend and maintain territories
-Ability to birth naturally
-Ability to efficiently wander long distances over variable terrain and then find their way back, etc.

Therefore lies the dilemna of those writing standards for the breed.

-How to be inclusive of Jindos but not so inclusive that it allows extremisms or deficiencies?
-How to best reflect the Jindo's origins of being molded by nature?
-Should the standard describe a master hunter of a particular style or should it amount to describing Jindos as "jack of all trades but master of none"?

For these reasons, there are many different standards for the Jindo within Korea, and some specify one style while others specify several. All should attempt to strive to "preserve the breed" as nature made it and not "improve upon it" as man might whimsically decide.



1. Throatline
2. Withers
3. Shoulder
4. Prosternum
5. Forechest
6. Brisket, ribcage
7. Loin
8. Croup
9. Tail
10. Flank
11. Belly
12. Groin
13. Underline
14. Chestline
15. Shoulder joint
16. Upper arm
17. Elbow
18. Forearm
19. Wrist
20. Pastern
21. Forefoot with toes
22. Paw
23. Nails
24. Upper Thigh
25. Stifle joint
26. Lower thigh
27. Hock
28. Rear pastern
29. Hindfoot with toes
30. Dewclaws

Overall Body

Most Korean Jindo owners can pick out two body types for the Jindo and colloqually use the terms gyupgae and heutgae.  Gyup literally means folded and heut means scattered.

The heutgae is usually easy to pinpoint, with their racier, leaner build.  They tend to have less depth of chest and a slightly long loin (space between the ribs and the hips), resulting in an appearance that is longer than tall.   They tend to have longer features... longer or slighter head, longer ears, longer muzzle, etc.

The gyupgae is widely acknowledged as being stockier and more muscular than the heutgae.   They give the impression of power rather than speed.

Gyupgae body type

photo by Mr. Im, In Hak

Heutgae body type

photo by Mr. Im, In Hak

The Korean National Dog Association uses relatively new terms such as Tonggul (equivalent to gyupgae), Hudu (equivalent to heutgae), and Gakgol (blend of the two).

Tonggol body

photo by Mr. Woo, Mu Jong

Gakgol body

photo by Mr. Woo, Mu Jong

Hudu body

photo by Mr. Woo, Mu Jong


Ideal proportions for a Jindo will vary depending on each organization's point of view. Some organizations pick only one set of proportions while others allow for differences between the heutgae and gyupgae.   The proportions for the gyupgae is especially diverse.  For instance, the KNDA recognizes that for gyupgaes, proportions are 10:10 and for heutgaes, proportions are 10:11.  Another source, a Jindo Island evaluator, differs and says that gyupgaes have exactly the same proportions of heutgaes (100:110) with the only difference being the heavier bones and increased muscle mass on gyupgaes.

Desired heights will vary per organization as well, but it cannot be emphasized enough that this ambiguility about height does not give free-rein to breed whatever sized Jindo a person wants.  Many breeds have suffered from fads... going to miniature to giant size.  The Jindo, in recent years, has not been immuned to people who think smaller is cuter or bigger is better.  However, true fanciers of the Jindo breed realize that the Jindo is foremost a natural breed.  The Jindo is the size it is because it needed to have a body size large enough so that could hunt for prey on its own but small enough as to not waste energy in maintaining bodily functions.  Breeding away from this natural state makes a Jindo no longer a Jindo.

Narrowing down weights is slightly less complicated.  A gyupgae and a heutgae might have the same height, but their weights are expected to be different due to the gyupgae's bigger bones and corresponding increased muscle mass.   Looking at the condition of the dog, whether the animal is pure, mixed, underfed, overweight, or in peak condition overrides any absolute weight criteria.

Different organizations have set different ranges of what they would consider desirable height/weights in Jindos.  The following is just a sample.

Table from the KJCCA website

HanKook JinDotGae ChukSanHyupDongJoHap
"Korean Jindo Dog Livestock Raising Cooperation" (roughly trans.)
45~58  43~52  .
HanKook JinDotGae HyupHei
"Korea Jindo Dog Association"
49~55  45~50  100~110
DaeHan JungThong JinDotGae HyupHei
"The Traditional Jindo Dog Association" (roughly trans.)
49~53  47~49 100~110
HanKook AeWanDongMoor BoHo HyupHei
"Korean Pet Protection Association" (roughly trans.)
50~55 45~50 100~110
HanKook JinDotGae JoongAngHei
"Korea Jindo Dog Centrel Committee Association"
52~55 48~53 100:110~115

Table compiled from other sources

Korean National Dog Association Male 49-53 cm (19-21 in)
Female 48-51cm (19-20 in) 
. GyupGae 10:10
HeutGae  10:11
United Kennel Club (U.S.A.)
(based on the KNDA standard, before revision)
Male (desired): 19.5-21 in. 
Female (desired): 18.5-20 in. 
35-45 lbs
30-40 lbs 
GyupGae 10:10
HeutGae  10:11
Federation Cynologique Internationale
Males: 20 - 22 in.(50 - 55 cm), 
ideal 21 in. (53 - 54 cm) 

Females: 18 - 20 in. (45 - 50 cm), 
ideal 19 in. (48 - 49 cm) 

18 - 23 kg. 

15 - 19 kg 

HanKook JinDoGae HyulThong BoJon HyupHei Males: 48 cm ~ 53 cm
Females: 45 cm ~ 50 cm
. 100:110
Official Jindo Island Standard 
(before revision, from their old website)
White Male: 48.98cm +/- 4.16cm 
Red Male: 47.62cm +/- 4.07cm 

White Female: 45.15cm +/- 3.13cm 
Red Female: 45.39cm +/- 3.21cm 
20-30 kg (44-66 lbs)

under 20 kg (44 lbs)



When viewed from the side, the Jindo's topline consists of curves rather than sharp angles.  There is a two-fold reason for this... function and astethics pleasing to Koreans.   The functional reason will be explored under the Movement section.

It's been said that the Jindo gives the impression of being drawn with a brush, while the Japanese breeds are drawn with a pen.  Curves and gradual transitions makes the Jindo "natural" to the Korean eye.

For the readers who are more attuned to comformational terms, the following describes the curves in the Jindo pretty well.

"The topline inclines very slightly downward from well-developed withers to a strong back with a slight but definite arch over the loin, which blends into a slightly sloping croup. The ribs are moderately sprung out from the spine, then curving down and inward to form a body that would be nearly oval if viewed in cross-section. The loin is muscular but narrower than the rib cage and with a moderate tuck-up. The chest is deep and moderately broad. When viewed from the side, the lowest point of the chest is immediately behind the elbow. The forechest should extend in a shallow oval shape in front of the forelegs but the sternum should not be excessively pointed. "
                                                                                                  --from the original United Kennel Club Jindo Standard

Although one Jindo book states that Jindos have a straight, level back rather than the aforementioned topline, this opinion seems to be in the minority.  Certainly, it is not desirable for a Jindo to have a swayback though.


The neck is thick, relatively short and muscular without loose areas.   It's desired that a Jindo be dry-skinned... skin is tight against the rest of the body.

When walking or standing, the neck is normally carried low like a wolf.


The shoulders are moderately laid back, with moderate angulation and well-developed muscles. The forelegs are shoulder-wide, straight and muscular, with heavy bone and strong, moderately short, slightly sloping pasterns. The shoulder blade and the upper arm are roughly equal in length. The upper arm lies close to the ribs but is still very mobile, with the elbow moving close to the body.

legs line up with shoulders
(borrowed from Shiba Inu diagrams)

photo by Mr. Woo, Mu Jong



The thighs are very muscular but the muscles are long and well-defined. The rear legs are moderately well angulated at stifle and hock joints.  The upper thigh is long and the lower thigh is short. The hocks are tough, elastic, and well let down. Viewed from the rear, the rear pasterns should be parallel to each other; from the side, they should be perpendicular to the ground.

rear pasterns parallel to each other
(borrowed from Shiba Inu diagrams)

undesirable legs

rear pasterns perpendicular to ground

photo by Ann Kim


The feet are of medium size, round in shape, with thick, strong pads. Toes are short, well arched and tightly closed.  Floppy rear dewclaws are usually removed if present at birth.

rear feet

front feet

photos by Ann Kim


The shape of the feet is extremely important, especially in light of how Jindos had to travel for days sometimes when they had to hunt for food on the island.  A poorly constructed foot would cause the dog to go lame after traveling only a short distance.

photos by Ann Kim


There are some Jindos that are born with rear DOUBLE-dewclaws.  The double-dewclaw is not at all desirable and it was the conclusion of one judge that saw them that it negatively affects the movement of the dog.  (Dog compensates by turning legs outward, which creates inefficient motion and adds stress to the hips.)

undesirable rear dewclaws


The tail is thick and strong and set on at the end of the topline. The tail should be at least long enough to reach to the hock joint. The tail may be loosely rolled over the back or carried over the back in a sickle position. The tail fur is long, harsh, and straight.

If the dog has a curled tail, the tail should held straight up and then roll into a curl.  Some dogs have physical discomfort when their tail is manually unrolled due to the tightness of the curl but the length of the tail should be long enough to almost touch the hocks of the dog.  The curl is held above the body and  fur outside of the curl (usually lighter or white) is obviously longer than the inside of the curl. Tightly curled tails that are resting entirely flat against the body and of somewhat even, short fur lengths are frowned upon.   A proper curled tail should evoke the image of a hand fan held upright rather than a donut laying on the flank or back.  According to a breeder of champion Siberian Huskies, an overly tight tail negatively affects the movement of the dog when traveling for long distances.   It makes sense that the same applies to Jindos which had to travel long distances in order to hunt for their food.  Some organizations further divide this catagory into right, center, left, curled, and hooked.

Examples of fur on the outside of curl being white.

photo by Johnathan Lee

photo by Patty Etherington


The sickle tail is preferred for hunting Jindos as people like to believe  it is a throwback to wolves.  The tail can be pointed straight up like a sabre-sword or forward like a farmer's sickle.

In some circles, the curvature of the tail is also believed to be influenced by how the puppy is raised. Constant use of the tail for balancing is believed to loosen the tail muscles before setting into its adult form.

Examples of saber tails that point straight up.
An example of a tail that resembles a farmer's sickle.

Photo by Jhun Kim

photo by Johnathan Lee



The anus is an unusual topic to include, however, many Korean descriptions will specifically mention it. Perhaps it is reflective of the strength of the dog's digestive trait and the ability to constantly process bone matter?

It should be large and muscular on a Jindo, reminiscent of a closed fist.  Black skin on a Jindo is desired.







last updated on 12/27/08