Monkey the Sapsali: Korean Ghost Dog

I had been planning to do a post about the Sapsali, another breed of dog from Korea, ever since I wrote about Dewey the jindo. Sapsalis are medium-sized sheepdog-looking dogs. They also appear to have some terrier-like qualities. Koreans like having them around the house because they are loyal and believed to be able to chase away evil spirits. I wanted to use my brother’s dog Monkey for source material, but Monkey unfortunately passed away a few days ago.

Monkey was a little under four years old when he suffered from a seizure and succumbed to the kidney problems that had been plaguing him for the past year. I’m sorry to say that I didn’t get to know Monkey very well. I met him exactly one time – when he was a tiny, nervous, all-black puppy. To be honest, almost everything I heard about Monkey as he grew older – and brownish/grayer – was pretty negative: He was dumb and skittish, he barked at everyone (including my brother and his wife), and he bit quite a few of our family members. My brother got him from a breeder in Pennsylvania for free, so I’m sure a lot of his behavioral and health problems could be explained by inbreeding.

Despite all the bad behavior, Monkey loved other dogs. When I moved to my current apartment, I had my brother and his wife take care of my (now deceased) Chihuahua/Maltese mix Bobo for a few weeks while I settled in. Bobo was old and virtually incontinent and was never into sharing spaces with large, loud dogs, but she really brought out a new side of Monkey. Monkey, not used to having other dogs dislike him, would sneak bits of food from his raised eating area down to Bobo’s level in a desperate attempt to win her favor. This pleased Bobo, as she was on a special diet of incontinent-old-dog food that I’m sure she was tired of by that point. The two settled into an uneasy, yet civil, friendship for those few weeks.
As little as I knew Monkey, I am sad to hear of his passing. He made my brother and his wife very happy and brought a sense of purpose to their lives that any dog person can understand (especially those living in suburban New Jersey). I wish I had gotten to know him better. I leave you now with a Youtube tribute to Monkey. This was created by my brother’s wife with admittedly low production values but the very best of intentions.

Farewell, my Sapsali friend. May you chase ghosts for all eternity.



Filed under dogs

5 responses to “Monkey the Sapsali: Korean Ghost Dog

  1. Pingback: The Ahn Family Meets the Rottweiler Family | kissthegook

  2. Just met a Sapsali. Darling. 3 months old, friendly, beautiful. Had never heard of this breed. Owners said he was easy to train. Thanks for the video.

  3. linda mellor

    Hi i would appreciate if any could point me in the right direction as to where i may able to contact someone, who may breed these beautiful dogs i dont ask lightly as after just watching the film a christmas tail featuring Chilly the sapsali it brought back many happy memories when my husband and my self rescued a small puppie from our local rspca which had all the characteristics as Chilly. we have had dogs for 40 years and would truley love to find a sapsali to give a forever home many thanks to anyone out there that can help us in our quest xx

  4. Katie

    Loved the video. I am interested in getting a dog of this breed, but find it difficult to locate. I am in New Jersey.

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