Sapsali

35-60 lbs
19-23"
Korea
Sapsaree, Sapsal Gae, Ghost Dog

The Sapsali is a shaggy, medium-sized dog that is not particularly well-known in North America but has been considered as good luck charm by the Korean people for thousands of years for their alleged ability to dispel evil spirits. These dogs tend to have a very loyal and protective nature, and they develop extremely strong bonds with their owners and families. This breed became endangered by the mid-1980s, reduced to just eight breedable dogs, but was brought back from the brink due to an aggressive but carefully executed breeding program. This breed has not yet been recognized by any kennel clubs in the western hemisphere but they are recognized by the Korean Kennel Club and were declared to be Korean National Treasure number 368 in 1992.

Purpose
Companionship, Good Luck
Date of Origin
Unknown
Ancestry
Unknown

Sapsali Health

Average Size
Male Sapsali size stats
Height: 19-23 inches Weight: 35-60 lbs
Female Sapsali size stats
Height: 19-23 inches Weight: 35-60 lbs
Major Concerns
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Canine Hip Dysplasia (Chd)
  • Congenital Heart Defect (CHD)
Minor Concerns
  • Entropion
  • Distichiasis
  • Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV) or Bloat
  • Third Eye (Cherry Eye)
Occasional Diagnoses
  • Skin Allergies
Occasional Tests
  • Skin Evaluation
  • X-rays or other radiographic imaging
  • Eye and Ear Examination

Sapsali Breed History

According to early documentation, the Sapsali breed dog, also commonly referred to as the Sapsaree, has been part of Korean history since at least 400 AD as both symbolic soldiers and as cherished companions to royalty. Later, this charming and devoted dog became available to the citizenry as well as royalty and they thrived in the general populace as well until World War I. During the rule of colonial Japan these sweet-natured dogs were rounded up and slaughtered in order to make coats for the invading soldiers, with reports indicating that over 100,000 were sacrificed per year during that time, and the poverty that followed the wars that devastated Korea reduced the population of Sapsali dogs even further. In 1969, several Korean professors, realizing that the breed was close to extinction, located as many Sapsali dogs as possible, a yield of around thirty or so dogs, which by 1985 had dropped even further, to only eight viable dogs. Ha Ji-Hong, the son of one of the original professors on the project, put everything he had into restoring the breed; all of his money, his land, and his considerable education went into the project. In order to achieve his success Ha Ji-Hong utilized carefully planned inbreeding programs, and within approximately five years, the population was increased to around 500 dogs. DNA samples were then used to help weed out as many diseases and disorders as possible, and the breed was designated as Korean National Treasure number 368 in 1992. Today there are approximately three thousand members registered with the Korean Sapsaree Association. 

Sapsali Breed Appearance

Sapsali breed dogs are a medium-sized breed, just under two feet tall at the shoulder and slightly longer than they are tall. This breed is well known for their particularly strong and bulky upper bodies as well as their sizeable paws and they were frequently referred to as Lion Dogs due to these traits. Their feet are notable not just for their size, but also for the pads that are particularly thick and hard, making it easier for them to traverse long distances over challenging terrain. Sapsalis have large, globular skulls with well-balanced muzzles, although the abundant hair in the facial area often makes the muzzle appear shorter than it is in relation. Their medium length ears are well-furred and typically lay close to the cheeks, and their large, round eyes can come in nearly any color of brown, but they are typically hidden by their thick, long bangs. The long, dense coat of the Sapsali dog may be either straight or wavy, and it can come in several colors, including brown, yellow, gray, blue, and red. 

Eye Color Possibilities
brown Sapsali eyes
Brown
Nose Color Possibilities
black Sapsali nose
Black
brown Sapsali nose
Brown
Coat Color Possibilities
gray Sapsali coat
Gray
red Sapsali coat
Red
brown Sapsali coat
Brown
isabella Sapsali coat
Isabella
black Sapsali coat
Black
Coat Length
Short Medium Long
Coat Density
Sparse Normal Dense
Coat Texture
Sapsali straight coat texture
Straight Wiry Wavy Curly Corded

Sapsali Breed Maintenance

This canine has a particularly thick double-layer coat that tends to require more grooming than the coats of many other dog breeds. While bathing is only needed a few times a year, brushing should be a daily exercise as the long hair of the Sapsali breed sheds heavily and is prone to tangling and matting. It is essential to take your time with this coat as the long outer layer of fur may conceal tangling and matting that is occurring in the undercoat, which can lead to skin damage and even infections. It is also important to pay attention to the hanging ears of the Sapsali on a regular basis in order to ensure that they stay free of moisture and contamination.

Brushes for Sapsali
Pin Brush
Comb
Nail Clipper
Brushing Frequency
Sapsali requires daily brushing
Daily Weekly Monthly

Sapsali Temperament

The Sapsali dog is an extremely loyal and protective canine that is both affectionate and tender towards their owner or family. While they tend to be somewhat cautious around new individuals, they will readily accept those who their family accepts, quickly becoming warm and friendly. They are highly intelligent and with proper early socialization, tend to be amicable towards other animals, as long as they remain unthreatening. These dogs are eager to learn and eager to please making 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 behaved as well as being very accepting and open with their affections. While this canine is usually extremely well-mannered and gentle, they also have a strong protective streak. It is extremely rare that a Sapsali breed dog will start a fight, but they are unlikely to back down in the face of a true threat and will typically respond decisively and without mercy. 

Sapsali Activity Requirements

This breed is not as active as some of the other working breeds are, but they do need at least forty-five minutes to an hour of vigorous exercise each day. These dogs are very intelligent, which means that they will also require mental stimulation throughout the day to prevent negative behaviors from developing, and they may enjoy alternate activities such as agility training, advanced obedience training, or even canine freestyle dance. With extra 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 securely fenced yard. 

Activity Level
Low Medium High
Rec. Walk Mileage Per Week
7 miles
Minutes of Activity Per Day
45 minutes

Sapsali Food Consumption

Cups Per Day
2.5 cups
Daily Cost
$1.20 - $1.40
Monthly Cost
$34.00 - $45.00

Sapsali Height & Weight

6 Months
Male Sapsali size stats at six months
Height: 18 inches Weight: 33 lbs
Female Sapsali size stats at six months
Height: 18 inches Weight: 33 lbs
12 Months
Male Sapsali size stats at 12 months
Height: 20 inches Weight: 43 lbs
Female Sapsali size stats at 12 months
Height: 20 inches Weight: 43 lbs
18 Months
Male Sapsali size stats at 18 months
Height: 21 inches Weight: 47 lbs
Female Sapsali size stats at 18 months
Height: 21 inches Weight: 47 lbs

Sapsali Owner Experiences

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