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狗年 The Year of Dog 2018

Now that 2018 is upon us, it is also nearing the time of a new lunar year on the Chinese calendar, and just like in the West, the Chinese also follow their own zodiac system for each year. There are 12 Chinese zodiac characters named after a different animal, and they follow a 12-year cycle, taking turns each year. The belief is that each animal imparts a different characteristic to the twelve months they are assigned, and for the coming Lunar New Year, the next animal will be the dog.

The Reason for 12 Chinese Zodiac Animals

In ancient times, to make people easily remember the years, our ancestors came up with an idea – why not use different animals to represent the years? This would make it easy for people to remember, distinguish, and date each year in a 12-year cycle. We call the zodiacs “十二生肖” (shí’èr shēngxiāo). They represent a cyclical concept of time, rather than the Western linear concept of time. These Twelve Animal Signs are a popular folk method which reflects the Chinese cyclical method of recording years. Every year is assigned an animal name according to a certain order: Rat(鼠shŭ, Ox(牛niú, Tiger(虎, Rabbit(兔, Dragon(龙 lóng, Snake(蛇 shé, Horse(马, Sheep(羊 yáng, Monkey(猴 hóu, Rooster(鸡, Dog(狗 gŏuand Pig(猪 zhū. After twelve years, the cycle is over and a new one begins in the same order.


2018 is the Year of the Dog

The Dog is the eleventh animal in the 12-year Chinese zodiac cycle. We call the Year of Dog “狗年” (gŏu nián). Other dog years include 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030, 2042. This way, if you know someone’s Chinese Zodiac sign, you can even calculate his/her age! So, if you’re concerned about people knowing your age, be careful about revealing your Chinese zodiac sign!

We all know that Chinese New Year’s Day is held on a different day every year on the western calendar. This is because Chinese Zodiacs are based on the Chinese lunar calendar. But what is common between Western and Chinese zodiacs is the belief that the year of a person’s birth is the primary factor in determining that person’s personality traits, physical and mental attributes, and their degree of success and happiness throughout their lifetimes.

So, what are the characteristics of a dog, and what kind of year can we expect this year to be?

People born in the Year of Dog

The dog is one of the most popular animals among people. That’s why the dog is called “man’s best friend.” It’s as if the dog can understand can understand the human spirit, and gives it devotion whether the human it is with is wealthy or not. Dogs are considered honest, friendly, and faithful to those they love. For the Chinese, if a dog happens to come to a house, it symbolizes the coming of fortune. In a famous Chinese legend, the invincible God called 二郎神 (èrláng shén) used a loyal wolfhound to help him capture monsters. There are many Chinese families who would like to have their children born in the year of the dog.

People who were born in the Year of Dog take on the characteristics of this animal. They are considered to be loyal, faithful, and true, and they can become your best friends. They are diligent and hardworking, inspire confidence in others, and are always willing to help those in need.


The luck of the Chinese Zodiac – dog

There is another reason why the Year of Dog is considered popular. This is because of the dog’s bark. In Chinese, we call the onomatopoeic word of barking sound as 汪汪 (wāng wāng). There is another Chinese word also pronounced the same way, 旺(wàng), but with a different tone. Its meaning is “prosperous, lucky or booming.” So, when a dog barks at you, what it is saying is 汪汪汪(wāngwāngwāng), but it can be interpreted as旺旺旺(wàngwàngwàng). It is as if they are saying “lucky, lucky, lucky” to you! It’s like a benediction of good fortune.


Chinese Dog Proverbs

Here are some common Chinese proverbs about dogs that show their positive traits:

I. 老狗叫,是忠告。(lăo gŏu jiào, shì zhōnggào.)

If the old dog barks, he gives counsel.This proverb means that when those who are older and more experienced speak, what they are saying has value.

II. 儿不嫌母丑,狗不嫌家贫。 (ér bù xián mŭ chŏu, gŏu bù xián jiā pín.)

A son never thinks his mother is ugly, and a dog never shuns its owner’ s home however shabby it is. This Chinese saying is used to educate people to be grateful to those who love them or have been loyal to them, so these people should not be judged.

III.  吠犬不咬人。 (fèi quăn bù yăo rén.)

Barking dogs seldom bite.This one means that seldom do those who threaten you take action.


I hope this article gives you a better understanding of Chinese Zodiacs, and especially of the Year of Dog. I wish everyone good luck! As we Chinese say: 狗年吉祥 (gŏu nián jíxiáng)!

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Spring Zhang

Spring Zhang (张云梦) earned her Master' s Degree from Beijing Language and Culture University in 2016. A 7- year studying experience majoring in Teaching Chinese as an International Language provided her with a solid and professional foundation as a Chinese teacher. During her time as a student, she also had 4-year experience teaching overseas students in universities, which makes her understand her students' difficulties better. She now lives in Singapore and she devotes herself to Chinese Language education.

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