Easy to recognize for its lion-like regal appearance with a puffy smooth coat, the Chow Chow is a powerful and sturdy medium-sized breed that is of ancient northern Chinese origin. Primarily serving as an affectionate and devoted companion today, Chow Chows are currently ranked as the 69th most popular dog breed in the United States according to registration with the American Kennel Club. If you are considering opening your home to welcome a Chow Chow, the following is a complete breed description to determine whether this precious powder-puff is the right match for your family.
|Size Type||Medium Dog Breeds|
|Breed Group||Non-Sporting Breeds|
|Life Span||9 - 15 years|
|Temperament||Independent, Loyal, Quiet, Aloof|
|Height||Male: 19–22 inches; Female: 18–20 inches|
|Weight||40 to 70 pounds|
|Colors||Fawn, Black, Cream, Red|
|Puppy Price||Average $600 - $1200 USD|
As a medium-sized sturdily built dog that is square-shaped in profile, the Chow Chow has a large and broad head with a flat skull and deep muzzle. The dogs have small ears that stand erect high on the head in triangular shape and rounded tips. The breed has teeth that meet in a scissors bite, almond-shaped eyes that are dark brown in coloring and deep-set in the skull, and a broad deep chest. Besides its puffy coat, two of the most distinctive features of the breed are its bluish-black tongue and nearly straight back legs that make the dogs walk stilted. Set high on the back, the tail is heavily feathered with hair and is curled closely over the back. Male Chow Chows are typically between 18 to 20 inches at the shoulder height with a weight ranging from 55 to 70 pounds, but the females are slightly smaller at 16 to 18 inches and weighing 45 to 60 pounds.
The most common coat colors exhibited by Chow Chows are solid black, cinnamon, cream, red, blue, tan, grey, and fawn. While the dogs may have various lighter and darker shades throughout their coat, the breed standard does not accept patchy or multicolored coats with distinguishable markings.
With the enormous ruff behind the head resembling the mane of a lion, the Chow Chow is well-known for its very dense double coat that comes in two varieties. The coat can either be rough with straight and off-standing coarse hairs or smooth. Regardless of coat type, the breed always has a thick wooly undercoat that serves as ample insulation for Arctic cold weather.
|Good with Kids|
In order to maintain the lifted, standing-out look of the coat in good condition, it is highly important that the long coat is brushed regularly. Although the Chow Chow does not require extensive trimming, the dog does need a few hours of brushing to retain the lordly appearance. It is normally recommended that owners use a small fine-toothed comb, slicker brush, and pin brush when brushing their dog on a sturdy grooming table. Since the breed is a seasonal heavy shedder, extra brushing care will also be needed when the dog is shedding its dense undercoat. Bathing should be done each month, but it can be done as often as once a week without drying out the coat. In addition, veterinarians suggest that toenails are trimmed on a weekly or bi-weekly basis to make sure the Chow Chow is not uncomfortable with damage to the feet.
Thought to be one of the oldest recognizable breeds, research indicates that the Chow Chow is one of the first primitive breeds to have evolved from the gray wolves. Although the exact origin of the breed is unknown, it is believed that the dog originated in the high steppe regions of Mongolia and Siberia as temple guards throughout ancient China. With pictures on Chinese pottery looking like the Chow Chow as far back as 206 BC, the breed is speculated to be an ancestor to the Chinese Shar-Pei as well as the Samoyed, Norwegian Elkhound, Pomeranian, and Keeshond. In its early history, the dogs were bred as a general-purpose working breed used for hunting, guarding, herding, and pulling sleds or carts.
However, as the centuries passed, the Chow Chow became much more than just a working dog and protector of homes across China. Considered a delicacy in the Far East, the dog’s fur was used for making human coats. In times of famine in the rural lands, it also was and often still is one of many dog breeds fattened up and eaten by peasants. By the late 1800s, the first Chow Chows were brought to England by merchants and exchanged for their guarding talents. Soon after, Queen Victoria owned a Chow Chow and it is believed that the original teddy bear was modeled after her puppy. In 1903, the breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club and today approximately 10,000 Chow Chows are registered with the club each year.
Somewhat suspicious of strangers, the Chow Chow is often described as being protective, loyal, devoted, independent, stubborn, dignified, and reserved. When Chow Chows are properly socialized and trained with firm authority in puppyhood, the dogs generally are quite well-mannered with children, cats, and other household animals. Since the breed has a reputation for being lazy, the dogs must be taken for a daily walk to work off excess energy, but care should be taken in the heat. The dominant breed requires a dominant owner that will maintain the alpha position to avoid behavioral problems, such as aggression, jealously, overprotection, and guarding. However, Chow Chows that are raised by an owner with natural authority will be polite, well-rounded, and patient as an excellent family companion.