You look at a Chow Chow, and you shouldn’t be surprised that this breed requires someone strong, patient, as well as a true pack leader for an owner.
It is their cornerstone trademark, the mane around their head and shoulders, that gives this dog the appearance of ancient significance.
As one of the oldest and few ancient breeds around today, the Chow Chow has come a long way from its hunting days in China.
Today, they are seen as an elegant choice, but what else makes this dog so popular?
Here is what you need to know about the Chow Chow.
The Chow Chow is considered a dog that is medium sized and energy, which belongs to the American Kennel Club’s “Non Sporting Group.”
But well before they were first registered in 1903, they were carving out a name for themselves as far back as the Hans Dynasty. That’s what many believe.
In fact, scientists date the dog back 3,000 years ago, and some believe even further. Historians claim during the 11th century BC. a heavily built dog with many of the same characteristics, including their blue/black tongue were described then in scriptures and documents.
Alternatively, some even claim the Chow Chow isn’t originally from China, but rather the ancient Mongols.
Much of the history recorded with this breed is established with the Chinese, who used this dog for guarding and hunting. The Chinese needed a dog that could withstand certain weather conditions, and thanks to their thick coats, the Chow Chow held its own.
Moreover, the breed was used for pulling sleds or freight, hunting pheasants and wolves, herding bigger game along, and guarding property from invaders. They also, if needed, consumed humans.
A popular choice among emperors, the Chow Chow eventually found its way into England around 1780. With their unique features, and good sense of smell and herding abilities, the Chow fell into favor with the royal class including Queen Victoria.
The United States saw the emergence of the breed in 1890, when it is said the first dog appeared at the American Kennel Club’s Westminster Show and took third place in the Miscellaneous class. This gave the dog even more prominence and they were eventually registered with the club in 1903. Three years later, the Chow Chow Club of America was formed.
Some historians believe that the Samoyed and Tibetan Mastiffs are accountable for this breed’s gene pool. However, another belief is that this breed may have existed before those two aforementioned and that the Samoyed and Mastiff could be from the Chow Chow.
Today, the breed is better known for their companionship among many households. Chow Chows are ranked 74th most popular among the American Kennel Club’s registered breeds.
The American Kennel Club lists this breed as a medium size dog. The average height standard should be between 17 to 20 inches.
Chow Chows can range between 45 to 70 pounds.
Although the Chow Chow has quite the history being an active hunting and guardian breed, they don’t necessarily require a tremendous amount of space like some breeds. In theory, the dog could survive living in a smaller living space such as an apartment or condo. As long as the breed gets a walk or two per day, they should be fine.
Aloof or standoffish is often used to describe the Chow Chow. That doesn’t mean you’ll get that in return as a master. They are very dedicated to their owner and loyal. With family, this breed is determined to be affectionate, but they may make you earn it.
It will take a dog owner with experience to handle a dog with this type of demeanor. The Chow Chow tends to take to a single person rather multiple masters. This made the dog extremely popular among certain emperors in history, including Rear Admiral, George Dewey, whose dog never left his side.
Early socialization and training is the best formula to a friendly dog including the Chow. You may need to reiterate with this breed, and patience is certainly a virtue with an independent dog like this.
Strangers can be a hit and miss with this breed. They possess territorial instincts and can be very protective of their home and family. This breed isn’t recommended with smaller children or other pets.
While they are listed as medium energy, this isn’t a very active breed. They are happy at home and lying around with their master. That said, they aren’t a dog you want becoming bored. Plenty of attention, affection from their master is key to a non destructive dog.
The Chow Chow is a serious and quiet type of breed. They will bark, but only if it necessary.
The Chow Chow lives an average life expectancy rate of 8 to 12 years.
When you buy from a breeder, you definitely want to make sure you’re getting clearances and the proper documentation for this breed. They can come with a plethora of health concerns. Regular visits and a mutual health plan with the veterinarian will help go a long way for you getting the most out of your Chow Chow.
Most of the issues affecting the Chow Chow seems to be with the eyes, that can be affected by Autoimmune diseases. They do have a relatively high rate for Elbow Dysplasia at 40 percent.
According to a Michigan State University, the Chow Chow was found to suffer from Hypothyroidism 14 percent of the time.
Breeds like Samoyed and Chow Chows are found to suffer from Glaucoma more than other breeds. 40 percent of those affected will become blind within the first year. Symptoms like redness and dilated pupils can be indicators.
Cataracts, a cloudiness of the eye lens, which can lead to opacity, is often found in dogs like Boston Terriers and Chow Chows. Other issues affecting this breed’s eyes are Entropion, when the eyelid rolls in and causes infections and irritation, as well as Ectropion, which is the reverse affect, but just a painful as the latter.
Canine Oral Melanoma is commonly found in dogs with darkly pigmented gums or tongues, which should be something you watch out for considering the Chow Chows blue or black tongue.
Autoimmune diseases or skin diseases involving ulceration and crusting of the skin, which can lead to a formation of cysts and skin lesions that harm skin tissue of the gums are found with this breed.
Deep chested dogs are at risk for gastric torsion, also known as Bloat. This overabundance of air that distends the stomach and twists inside can be deadly.
Persistent training and early socialization is crucial for this breed. They are known to have a bit of an aggressive side to them, and if they aren’t led by a strong master, then the Chow Chow can become the leader as a result. This will help your dog integrate better with smaller children, pets, and strangers.
The dog is intelligent, and most often, some Chow Chow owners believe they don’t need to train their dog. Quite the contrary, the breed needs a firm and consistent leader, who will back up his training with positive reinforcement and won’t play too hard of a hand. They may be easy to train, but because of their independent mentality, the dog can be hard headed and doesn’t like being told what to do. This is why you must lay down the law with them early on.
They can be impatient with smaller children, who do not understand or know how to treat an animal. This can lead to retaliation and a dog bite, which was quite common with this breed during the 70’s and 80’s. If you must have another dog, you should consider a dog of the opposite sex.
Daily walks are a good idea, one or two. They don’t need a ton of bathing, as a matter of fact, you could get by with two to four baths per year or as needed. Trimming the nails will prevent splitting and cracking, as well as overgrowth, which can cause discomfort and pain.
You will also want to watch this dog in the heat and with high humidity levels. This breed doesn’t respond well with muggy climates and prefers a colder to mild region. If they start panting or wheezing, then you will want to react right away.
One of the bigger concerns with the Chow Chow is their skin problems. You don’t want to overfeed them a lot of meat. They do need a diet consisting of protein, and consulting with your veterinarian about a healthy nutrition plan will help.
Many Chow Chow owners have reported success with veggies, eggs, and rice. Rice is great for their coat, but it is also easier on their digestive system.
You can feed the Chow dry food, but you will want to make sure you’re feeding them quality kibble. Watch out for filler and kibble full of preservatives. Chicken and stew is a popular choice for the breed.
This breed can eat up to four cups per day. You may choose to break that up in the morning and then feed them again in the evening. This helps cut down the chances of your dog suffering gastric torsion.
As always, you should have fresh, drinking water for your Chow Chow.
A Chow Chow has a nice smooth yet thick double coat, that is rather dense. There will be regular grooming involved with this breed, as their coats tend to mat and tangle up. You will want to go slow and gentle during brushing. Two to three times per week is suggested to keep up with their busy coats.
The American Kennel Club lists the Chow Chow as a breed with five accepted coat colors. These colors are: Black, Blue, Cream, Red, Cinnamon. There are no accepted markings for this breed.
Fun Chow Chow Facts
- Chows have been called “Tang Quan” in China, which means, “Dog of the Tang Empire.” They’ve also been named “Puffy Lion Dog,” or in Chinese, “Songshi Quan.”
- President Calvin Coolidge owned a Chow Chow while he was in office.
- An unfortunate study by the Journal of the American Veterinarian Medical Association found that 8 of over 230 deaths due to dog bites were result of this breed. The study measured between 1979 to 1998.
- Many celebrities love their “Puffy Lion Dog” including, Martha Stewart, who oddly named one of her Chows after Genghis Kahn. Stewart often brought her Chows on the show she hosted.
- Sigmund Freud owned a Chow Chow named, So-Fi. So-Fi would attend his therapy sessions, because Freud believed a dog had special senses that could be somehow beneficial for his cause.
- Janet Jackson named her dog “Buckwheat,” and Elvis called his, “Getlow.”
From the dark blue tongue, to the teddy bear image, the Chow Chow is an acquired taste of breed that will require a good deal of patience and a steady hand.
However, if given the right opportunity, along with the breed’s natural sensing, herding, and protective abilities, the Chow Chow can be a wonderful asset and valuable addition for any good family in need of an intelligent and reliable dog.