Teri Wilson
July 21, 2015 1:48 pm

Distinguishing bears from dogs seems to be getting more and more complicated. I mean, for a while there it was pretty easy to tell these two species apart. Case in point: Winnie the Pooh, bear. Lassie, dog. Zero confusion.

Then recently, a well-meaning guy in China adopted two puppies only to discover (two whole years later!) that they were actually bears. Which is like, OK, accidents happen, I guess.

But now there’s a sweet, super cute fluffball of a creature named Tonkey taking the Internet by storm and we’re not all that sure if she’s a cub or a pup. Consider the lines officially (and adorably) blurred.

First of all, yes that is an actual living, breathing animal. Hard to believe something that cute exists outside of a toy store, right? But sheesh, what is it? A dog or a bear?

Even Tonkey herself seems unsure. Take for instance, the following post from Tonkey’s Instagram page, which is captioned, “Help — identity crisis,” followed by alternating dog and bear emoji faces. Um, adorabe.

The answer is hidden in the hashtags. (Come on you guys, hashtags never lie.) Tonkey is most definitely a dog. Specifically, she’s a shar pei, which is a breed originating in China and is related to the chow chow. Most Shar Peis are known for their short hair and super adorable wrinkly skin as puppies. As they grow older, they grow into all that extra skin. (For the most part, anyway.)

Tonkey, however, isn’t like most shar peis. She has what’s called (for obvious reasons) a “bear coat.” A puppy is only born with a bear coat when both parents carry recessive coat genes, which sounds a little complicated. Basically, it just means that bear coat shar peis are pretty rare. And might we add, MAJORLY adorable.

We’re not sure we can handle this level of cuteness. If you think you’ve got what it takes, take a look at Tonkey giving upside-down winky-face. Proceed with caution. This is cuteness at defcon level ten million.

If you haven’t melted into a puddle by now, we’re impressed. But wait, there’s more. Behold Tonkey getting a bath.

I’m pretty sure that image could end all wars and create everlasting world peace. It’s that precious.

But oh no, what is THIS?

Tonkey, don’t worry. It’s only a costume. You’re not an elephant. Or a bear. You’re a dog. We promise.

Not that it matters. Whatever you are, we heart you. Keep on being you, Tonkey. Because you’re perfect just the way you are.

Related reading:

Munchkin the dog has gone full Ewok — and it’s as adorable as you’d expect

Let’s debrief about the new animal terminal(!) at JFK

[All images via @bearcoat_tonkey on Instagram.]

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