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YOUTUBE/Россия. Кубань

Chow Chows are undeniably one of the most visually stunning dog breeds on the planet.

These big furry creatures look more like bears than regular domestic dogs.

Knowing this, a scam artist in Russia attempted to exploit tourists by disguising a Chow Chow puppy as a panda.

The sneaky photographer had dyed the dog black and white to resemble a panda cub, and was inviting tourists in Sochi to have their picture snapped with the animal.

Locals were shocked that a vulnerable panda cub was being exploited in such a manner and raised the alarm with the police.

Witnesses claimed that the cub, which was only 30 centimetres long, was noticeably uncomfortable in the scorching 40-degree Celsius heat.

However, when officers arrived on the scene they soon discovered that it was actually a poor little puppy that had been made up to look like a panda.

Images of 'Sochi pandas' were shared on social media in July, but it cannot be determined if this was the same dog.

A Russian news channe also reported on the story on 5 July.

There is also this Instagram post from July 2015 of a Sochi Panda Chow but given its small size it is unlikely to be the same dog that was seen just a few days ago.

In 2014, The Independent reported that an Italian circus owner had his pack of Chow Chows seized after they were painted to look like pandas.

This craze for making dogs look like pandas is believed to have begun in China, the original home of the breed.

Hsin Ch'en, a pet shop owner in Chengdu tapped into a craze in 2014, when he begun painting Chows to resemble pandas and sold them on to wealthy middle class owners.

However, The Daily Mail quote Hsin denying any cruelty to the dogs.

I perfected the technique here and now it is spreading across the country. With a bit of careful grooming and colouring it is easy to turn a chow into a panda dog in about two hours. 

Then the look will stay with the dog for around six weeks and the owners bring them back for some touching up.There are no chemicals or cruelty involved.

As of 2016, pandas are no longer classified as an endangered species and have been lowered to the level of vulnerable.

The most recent survey from the World Wildlife Fund for Naturereports that the species has increased by 16.8% since 2003 and that 1,864 pandas are now living in the wild.

HT Daily Mail, Metro, Newshub, WWF

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