Chow Chow Dogs
An Affectionate Yet Independent Dog Breed!

A very ancient breed, Chow Chow dogs have their history rooted in China. Originally the Chow was used to fulfill a number of jobs including hunting, guarding, herding and sled pulling.

Chow Chow Dog up close

Occasionally, it was also a food source and its skin was made into clothing. The breed nowadays is seldom seen in China and lives his life primarily as a popular companion dog. He is also a frequent participant in the show dog arena.

This is one the oldest dog breeds according to recent DNA analysis. While its development is not clear, many believe it includes artic and mastiff type dog breeds. One could easily envision how the Chow's coat could have developed in the arctic regions!

The appearance of the Chow is both stunning and formidable - the main impression being a squarely built, well-balanced dog of considerable power.

A unique feature that is shared with just one other dog breed, the Shar Pei, is a blue-black tongue. As puppies, they look like puffy teddy bears - in other words, adorable!

Chow Chow Stats and Care

Weight: 45 to 70 pounds
Height: Ranges between 19 to 20 inches
Coat Colors: Most frequently seen are black, tan, cream, blue and red. They may be solid or contain some lighter shading around the neck, tail or feathered areas.

Chow Chow dogs have a double coat that can be rough or smooth. The rough coat has a coarse texture, is very dense straight and stand-offish, while the undercoat is soft and woolly. It contains an abundant ruff around the head, framing the head and giving it a lion-like appearance.

The smooth coated variation is hard in texture and quite dense. It does not have a ruff or feathering about the coat.

Maintenance for both coat types requires brushing several times a week to keep the coat in its best condition and free of mats. It is important to take special care when brushing the ruff to avoid stripping it. The puppy coat needs daily attention to prevent tangling as well as to assist in proper development of the adult coat.

Products for routine grooming of your Chow, include:

  • High quality oval pin brushes for using on the longer hair. Not only do good brushes last longer, but they make grooming easier on the pet and the owner! A 27mm is a good size.
  • For the shorter hair, Slicker brushes are the way to go, one regular style plus a triangle shaped one for difficult to reach places.
  • Combs to use around the face, legs and paws. It's ideal to have both coarse and fine-toothed ones. Here's a fine and coarse buttercomb that includes both kinds of teeth.
  • To get the best out of your brush work, use a detangling and conditioning spray. This one, which also contains sunscreen, will get out those mats and tangles while protecting the hair from breakage.
  • A little extra care. If you have a show dog, or want your Chow Chow to look like one, Thick-N-Thicker is an excellent conditioner that will leave the coat looking soft and full and like it was just professionally groomed.

Characteristics of Chow Chow Dogs

Although you may have heard some disparaging comments about Chow Chow dogs, they're really quite agreeable and dignified fellows in the right hands.

Unfortunately many people get a dog without much thought or information about the breed, so it's not surprising that these people do not train their dogs properly either! Or, even worse, don't train them at all! Sadly, it's often the dog that get the blame.

Granted, there are some dogs with an inherited bad temperament, but responsible breeders will strive to avoid this by careful selection in the mating process.

There was a time in the not too distant past when this dog was irresponsibly bred due to its popularity, so it is possible to have some unwanted traits from this era handed down to present-day dogs.

While a chow has a more aloof demeanor, he still prefers being in close company with his family pack. He is not a dog to be left outside and definitely never tied up. He will be fine left alone inside, quietly guarding the home for a few hours at a time until you return.

Chow Chow Dog Training

Chow dogs belong in the hands of confident - yet low key - owners and they need to be trained early.

They are independent, intelligent thinkers and will enjoy creative training techniques that are not repetitive or boring.

Owners need to establish themselves in the alpha position and gain their respect with a firm and consistent appproach, coupled with lots of praise and positive feedback.

A Chow will not respond to harsh treatment - he must be trained in a loving manner that respects his dignity. Early socialization is most important plus getting him used to being handled from a young age.

The Chow Chow dog usually bonds most closely with its master and other family members if those members are seen as authority figures.

When it comes to strangers, it is best to let them take their time to assess newcomers.

Health Notes

Some Chow Chow dogs can have health issues related to their eyes, plus elbow and hip dysplasia.

Acquire your Chow through a responsible professional breeder who should provide you with full health information and tests carried out on the parents.

Selecting a reliable vet early on to confirm your Chow's health status soon after you acquire one, is a good idea not only for his on-going care, but also to get him accustomed to being handled in this setting.

Activity Level of the Chow

Left to their own devices, Chows can become a bit fond of the couch. Like all dogs, they need a decent walk each day for both mental and physical health.

Out of respect for their heavy overcoat, try to take them out during the coolest hours especially during the summer months.

When they are outside free-roaming in a yard, a shady area with access to water is a must.

Ideal Living Space

Chow Chow dogs can do okay in house or apartment if daily walks and other exercise is provided.

Outside areas should have plenty of shady spots and availability of water as their coat does makes them heat up much faster than most breeds.

On warm days, a Chow Chow dog prefers to be air-conditioned.

Does The Chow Enjoy Children?

This breed is very powerful and can be stubborn.

Although families have noted their affection for children, temperaments within the breed can be quite variable. So take this into consideration.

Finding a responsible breeder who can attest to temperament is highly recommended to those considering the Chow as a family companion.

Seniors or Less Active Families

Chow Chow dogs can be good companions for active seniors with confident, forthright personalities and those who can manage his daily walks.

Would not do well with a meek or passive owner.

Share Your Chow Knowledge

  • Do you own a Chow Chow or have previously owned one?
  • Would you like to share what you know about the breed?
  • Or, is this breed just one of your favorites and you'd like to make some comments about this interesting dog?

We invite any and all dog lovers to make a post about this breed, or their favorite breed and we'll publish your comments on a webpage along for others to enjoy. We'll even add your name if you'd like the recognition.

Visit this page where you'll find a text box to post your comments. You'll also be able to read stories that others have written about their favorite dogs. Go on, give it a try!

Further Reading

Chow Chow Dog Breed Book
Chow Chows - The Owner's Guide

A very useful guide book providing great insights into Chow Chow dogs from puppy to old age.. Recommended for new owners or prospective owners to help them gain a clear understanding of this unconventional dog breed and its needs.

Includes - Buying, Caring for, Grooming, Health, Training and Understanding Your Chow Chow Dog or Puppy.

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Top photo by G Costa

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