Chow Chow Guide

Non-Sporting Dog Breeds

The chow is an Arctic-type dog, powerful, squarely built and sturdy with heavy bone and strong muscular development. It is a breed suited for a number of tasks, rather than specializing in one, and its build reflects its ability to hunt, herd, pull and protect. It can have either a rough coat, which is straight and off-standing or a smooth coat, which is hard and smooth; both coat types have wooly undercoats, providing ample insulation from the cold. The characteristic straight angulation of the hind legs produces a short, stilted gait unique to the breed. The scowling expression and black tongue are essential components of breed type.

Dignified, even lordly, the chow chow conducts itself with reserve. It is not very demonstrative, even with its family, and is somewhat suspicious of strangers. It is independent and stubborn. It can be aggressive toward other dogs but is generally good with other household pets. It is serious and protective, devoted to its family.

AKC RANKING 60

FAMILY spitz, Northern (companion)

AREA OF ORIGIN China

DATE OF ORIGIN ancient times

ORIGINAL FUNCTION guardian, cart puller, food source

TODAY'S FUNCTION companion

AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 17-20 Weight: 45-70

AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 17-20 Weight: 45-70

OTHER NAME none

Play Chow Chow
Watch Video

Energy level Low energy

Exercise needs Low

Playfullness Not very playful

Affection level Somewhat affectionate

Friendliness toward other dogs Shy

Friendliness toward other pets Friendly

Friendliness toward strangers Shy

Ease of training Easy to train

Watchdog ability High

Protection ability Very protective

Grooming needs High maintenance

Cold tolerance High tolerance

Heat tolerance Low tolerance

Play Chow Chow
Watch Video
This is an alert breed that needs regular, but not strenuous, outdoor activity. It does not do well in hot humid weather. Its needs are best met with casual morning or evening walks in warm weather or several short play sessions throughout the day. It can live outdoors in temperate or cool weather, but it is best allowed to stay inside during warm weather. The smooth type needs brushing once weekly; the rough type needs brushing every other day, and daily when shedding.
• Major concerns: CHD, entropion
• Minor concerns: elbow dysplasia, cataract, distichiasis, PPM, gastric torsion, stenotic nares, patellar luxation, elongated palate
• Occasionally seen: renal cortical hypoplasia
• Suggested tests: hip, elbow, eye
• Life span: 8 – 12 years
Play Chow Chow
Watch Video
The chow chow has some spitz characteristics. Because of this, it has been proposed that the chow chow either descends from spitz forebears or is itself an ancestor of some of the spitz breeds. Unfortunately, the origin of the breed has been lost in time, but it has been known in China for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Its original purpose may have been as a hunting dog, sniffing out and even pointing birds for the nobility. The breed declined in quality and numbers after the imperial hunts were ended, but a few pure descendants were kept in isolated monasteries and wealthy households. Other accounts contend that the breed was a source of fur pelts and food in Manchuria and Mongolia. One of the most distinctive features of the breed is its black tongue, which was also the basis for its more common names in China. Only when dogs were brought to England along with other Chinese importations in the late 1700s was the name chow chow adopted. The name is probably derived from a term simply meaning Oriental knickknack and assorted curios, and may have come to be applied to the dogs because they were lumped into a ship's log of cargo. These early imports were, in fact, looked upon as curios. Not until the late 1800s was the breed imported to England and then America in earnest. Queen Victoria's interest in these dogs helped draw attention to the breed. AKC recognized the chow chow in 1903. The breed's distinctive noble look has always attracted fanciers, but in the 1980s the breed soared in popularity among pet owners, as well, ultimately peaking as the sixth-most popular breed in America.
Play Chow Chow
Watch Video