Chow Chow

Type: Northern Breed

Height: 17 - 22 inches

Weight: 45 - 75 lbs.

Life Span: 8 - 15 years.

Litter Size: 3 - 6 puppies.

Country of Origin: China

Activity: Low to moderate.

Watch-dog: Yes. Chows original use was for guarding temples; they are very alert.

Guard-dog: Yes - excellent. They are haughty, and will guard food, bones, toys and their areas of the house. They will attack if provoked.


Description: The Chow is a member of the spitz family and has been native to China for more than 2000 years. They are a masterpiece of beauty and dignity, unique in their blue-black tongue, a common trait in Asiatic bears that lived near the development of the Chow. Chows carry a reputation of being aggressive, but this is slightly undeserved, for they are a tenacious fighter only if provoked. To their owners and family they are faithful and friendly, but sometimes reserved. Therefore strangers beware, they remain an excellent guard dog. They are quite aloof to most people, and with good reason. In Mongolia and Manchuria this suspicious canine was a delicacy. They are a sturdy breed, thick in skin and fur, and greatly resembling a bear. Their ears are pricked and short, with almond shaped eyes. Their expression is scowling when mouth is closed, and jolly when the mouth is open. Because of their thick coat they are unsuited for hot climates, and humid climates can be lethal. New owners should be prepared for coat care and socialization of their new Chow puppy. Chow Chows should not be left alone in the backyard.Chow Chow

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Other Names: Hei She-t'ou (black tongued), Lang Kou (wolf dog), Hsiung Kou (bear dog), or Kwantung Kou (dog of Canton)

Colors: Black, red, blue, fawn, cream, tan, silver grey or white (rare). Any solid color.

Coat: Rough, abundant, dense and coarse with a pronounced ruff around head and neck. Smooth, has a hard dense outer coat with a soft undercoat with no ruff or feathering on their legs and tail.

Temperament: Chow Chows are alert, independent, and strong-willed. They are mostly friendly towards family, but have been known to be reserved even around loved ones. They are very reserved and aloof around strangers, and sometimes suspicious. They are excellent guard and watch dogs, always defending their turf. They are dignified and intelligent, but can be independent and stubborn. They are serious, protective, and usually a one-person dog. Like terriers, they have a tendency to snap. An encyclopedia described them:

With Children: With mature children only. With socialization and training they should be good with children.

With Pets: No. May be aggressive toward other dogs and cats; supervision is required. Chows have done poorly with other animals in the past.

Special Skills: In the past, a hunting dog. Today, a family pet.

Care and Training: Regular grooming of the Chow is necessary because of their dense coat to prevent matting. Extra care is needed during shedding. Dry shampoo when necessary. Professional grooming is suggested to give Chows the lion clip look. Chows have a tendency to be lazy but will be a healthier dog if given regular exercise like a good daily walk. They can be a challenge to train because of their strong-will. Training should begin early as a puppy, and is suggested for firm handlers.

Learning Rate: High. Chows are very intelligent. Obedience: Low. Trainability: Good, if positive reinforcement is used.

Special Needs: Grooming, socialization and training.

Living Environment: House with a fenced yard; daily exercise and attention. The Chow Chow needs an experienced, firm handler who can train him from puppyhood. Chows are versatile in living conditions (other than hot weather), and are best suited with an experienced firm owner living in a rural, suburban or city home.

Health Issues: Entropion (in turned eyelids), hip and elbow dysplasia, patellar luxation and heat sensitivity. Other health concerns include anesthesia sensitivity, cancer and bloat (gastric torsion). Bloat is a health issue to most dogs, being the second largest killer of dogs other than cancer, but Chow Chows can be particularly susceptible to it because of their deep chests.

History: The name Chow Chow has two different theories behind it: one theory being that it came from the Chinese word "chou", meaning "edible". The other, more common, theory of the name was the pidgin-English word that sailors used for various miscellaneous knick-knacks on ships, "chow-chow". Chows were commonly used as food and were probably imported elsewhere in the world through ships, thus earning them their name. Developed by either the Siberians or Mongolians, they probably began when primitive spitz-type dogs were crossed with eastern Mastiff-type dogs. Regardless, Chows have been known throughout Asia for as long as 2000 years. During the Han dynasty 150 B.C., bas relief and pottery art showed images of dogs that much resembled Chows. The dog was also referred to as the Tartar dog, or Dog of the Barbarians, because of the 11th century Tartar hordes that invaded China, although information on this theory was not easily attainable, considering how art and literature was often destroyed during emperor successions. But in 700 AD the T'ang emperor advertised a kennel of 5000 Chow Chows. Chows were originally used as temple guard dogs. They later became favored as a hunting dog of the Chinese emperors, and then as the delicacy all across Mongolia and Manchuria. The blue-black tongue Chows appeared in Great Britain by the late 18th century in 1760, and the first was exhibited in the London Zoo as the "Wild Dog of China". In the late 19th century the first of its kind was imported into the U.S., with good timing too. Due to political powers, China soon declared dogs a "useless commodity" and had most of the Chows and other dogs destroyed. Today the Chow thrives in America as well as other countries.

First Registered by the AKC: 1903

AKC Group: Non-Sporting

Class: Non-Sporting

Registries: AKC, ANKC, CKC, FCI (Group 5), KC (GB), UKC