The Chow is categorized in the Northern and Non-Sporting groups.
CKC, FCI, AKC, UKC, ANKC, NKC, NZKC, APRI, ACR
While the Chow Chow is known to come in solid red, cinnamon and cream, black or blue, it can also be found in tan, gray and sometimes even white.
18-22 inches or 46-56 cm
45-70 pounds or 20-32 kg
18-22 inches or 46-56 cm
45-70 pounds or 20-32 kg
The Chow is said to do well in apartment sized living spaces with sufficient exercise but will likely do much better with a small yard in which to patrol his or her perimeter. Chows should not be left in direct sunlight in the heat of summer. They will need an area of extensive shade and plenty of cool water.
Standing at a foot and a half or more at the shoulder, the Chow Chow is commonly recognized for the massive amount of fur that seems to encase its body and its distinctive blue black tongue. The Chow can come in light or dark shades of red, black or tan and is also occasionally found in white. Chows also come in what is called a smooth coat. This coat is less dense than the rough coat and comes in the same aforementioned colors. The thick ruff behind the head of the Chow is often said to resemble that of a lion's mane.
The head of a Chow is rather broad with perked, rounded ears and a wide rounded muzzle. The eyes are deep-set in a heavy brow that always conveys an expression of deep thought. The Chow is also recognized for its hind legs that are nearly straight, giving it a unique and distinguishing walk. At anywhere from 45 to 75 pounds, this type of dog is markedly stocky. Originally born and bred in the high steppe areas of freezing Siberia, Mongolia and Northern China, the dog is able to withstand tremendously cold weather conditions.
While a good choice for companionship, the Chow is sometimes said to exhibit the autonomous nature of a cat. Completely loyal to members of their own family, they can be somewhat cautious of strangers and other unknown animals. Although this is what made them quite valuable as temple guard dogs back in the day, present day settings oblige owners to socialize their Chow from an early age. While some exhibit a willingness to please, Chows are more known for doing their own thing. This makes them a rather easy breed to care for, especially for those who do not want or need a demanding dog.
Though mostly recognized for their rough coat that makes them resemble miniature bears or lions, the Chow can also come in a smooth coat. Chow puppies will move into an adult coat over the course of several months as they mature. The coat consists of soft dual layers meant for protecting the Chow's body from extreme cold weather conditions. This type of coat has a tendency to mat rather easily if not properly cared for.
Originating in the frigid northern steppes of Mongolia, Siberia, and China, the Chow is noted to be one of the oldest species of dog still around. The dog was bred for pulling sleds, hunting, guarding temples and in some cases, they were used for meat and fur in resource barren regions. While there is some debate as to how the breed ended up with the name Chow Chow, their original name is known as Songshi Quan, translated quite literally to 'puffy lion dog'. Their DNA shows an ancient line that indicates the breed to be one of the first to become domesticated from wild wolves. They are also believed to be relatives of the Spitz, Akita and Shar Pei breeds.
The Chow breed later made its way across the ocean in the cargo holds of merchants in the spice trade. There is also much in the way of legend as to how the breed got its blue tongue. Accordingly, as the gods painted the sky blue and drops of paint were spilled, a faithful Chow Chow followed close behind licking up the drops. The dog breed has consistently been a favorite with many distinguished personalities, including well known world leaders.
The temperament of the Chow is one that seems to be full of inconsistencies. While they can at times be quite aloof, they are also a great family pet who loves children. In a single 60 second period, they can go from being joyful and eager to please to stubborn and utterly obstinate. Despite all this, they make for a wonderful pet and many people will keep not just one but two Chows. Owners love them so much that, upon the passing of their Chow, they will immediately go out and replace their companion with yet another. It is a breed that has a definite following in the public.
Their temperament is said to extend from their days in China and Mongolia where they were not only used as working dogs but also as meat and fur since resources in the region were few. Because of this, Chows were not considered pets or given the benefit of a single owner as the attachment would make them harder to kill. This accounts for their somewhat self governing nature. They did, however, become quite useful as guard dogs for temples, aligning themselves with temple masters and aggressively rejecting all other unknown persons and animals. Over the years, breeders have successfully worked to bring forth a Chow with a family focused nature.
While the Chow can be somewhat willful they are still a refined, sophisticated breed. They will take an aggressive stance when guarding their home or family but do not tend to resort to full on aggression unless pushed. In cases where they do rush to aggression, it is often found they have not been properly socialized. When directed to do or not do something, it has to make perfect sense for the Chow; otherwise, they are likely to balk at the command. These dogs are generally not the types who do tricks for the fun of it, although this is not true in all cases. The Chow can do well with other animals, as long as they are introduced and raised with them from a very early age.
Unfortunately, the Chow's temperament is simply one of the most misunderstood of the canine world. It is a breed that draws his or her own needs for attention from family members and has little concern for the validation or approval of others. An owner who is like minded is likely to have the most successful relationship with the Chow breed.
For those wanting to take on the ownership of a Chow, the best plan of action is early obedience classes and extensive socialization. This is a breed that needs an owner with a firm temperament of his or her own in order to keep power struggles at bay. As always, consistency will be the name of the game. This leads to a well balanced and even tempered dog who feels secure in their own environment. Dogs that have a good sense of security are well known for making the best of companion and family dogs.
For the most part, a Chow is a healthy breed and is no more or less susceptible to the list of common dog ailments than any other type of dog. However, there is some susceptibility to specific Health conditions due to the construction of the breed's anatomy.
Entropion - a condition in which the eyelids fold inward causing the eyelashes to rub against the cornea; this can be remedied with a simple surgery
Susceptibility to extreme heat conditions
As popularity rises and falls with the Chow, unscrupulous Breeding can also result in various genetic deficiencies.
In keeping with their self assured temperament, Chows are a breed that truly like to stay clean. While there are exceptions, most very much enjoy the grooming process. While clipping the coat of a Chow can actually be damaging to the two layers of it naturally dense coat, regular weekly grooming is what keeps the breed free from mats and tangles. Regular grooming also builds a stronger bond an owner and their Chow, something that is quite necessary for this breed's temperament.
It is often recommended that grooming be done twice weekly with a good stiff bristled comb or slicker brush. Some find applying a coat dressing keeps static to a minimum and also helps to thoroughly condition the coat. Because of their special thick coat, wet bathing should take place only when needed, or not more than once per month. In fact, dry shampooing is the most recommended method of upkeep for this breed.
The Chow is one that has at least two periods of heavy shedding. While it may seem their heavy coat would be uncomfortable for summer, shaving the breed is highly looked down upon as it not only takes away the dogs natural defenses, it can also lead to sunburned skin. The recommended course of action is to be sure all dead hair is groomed out of the natural coat. With the Chow, it is always important to brush down to the skin. Otherwise dirt, debris and moisture can become trapped in the hair, which then kinks up causing bothersome skin problems.
The Chow is not one that will demand an extensive amount of exercise but to ensure good health, regular outings are a wise decision. Because Chows can weigh up to 70+ pounds it is necessary to ensure they do not give way to hip dysplasia through inactivity. Regular exercise also gets them out of their own yard or environment and maintains a high level of socialization, something this breed consistently needs. While some Chows are more tolerant of the leash than others, daily walks and romps in the park can be an ideal option. It is important to remember most Chows have a mind of their own making it essential to leave this breed on their leash at all times.
While it is commonly joked that a Chow would much rather stay inside and watch TV with its owner, there are some Chows with the type of personality that love running obstacle courses and other similar trials. Events set up specifically for this purpose are often arranged by local chapters of Chow appreciation groups. These organizations can often be found online or by calling a local kennel clubs or breeders. Information for training and entry fees are often readily available.
Training a Chow is a matter of great importance that requires a good amount of diligence. To be effective, training must start at a very early age, establishing the owner as the dominant or alpha in the relationship. As with all dogs, consistency is an absolute must. Understanding the temperament of the breed will be the number one thing that allows an owner to keep conflicts and power struggles to a minimum. While the Chow has great loyalty to its owner, it simply does not rely on anyone outside of itself for validation. They are self governing and autonomous breed, a trait that is the result of their extensive 3,000 year old history.
For successful training, only firm consistent commands will suffice. The breed simply does not respond to begging, pleading or cajoling; nor do they respond to heavy handed, harsh or inhumane tactics. In order for the breed to fully accept a command, they must know that there is a basis for the action they are about to perform. While there are many exceptions, this is not a breed known for willfully performing tricks and stunts. Though it may seem the Chow is stubborn and inflexible, in reality it is a breed with a strong sense of self. Those looking for a type of dog that is bent on pleasing its master are not a good match for the Chow.
Socialization from an early age is also a necessity for this breed. Bred throughout the centuries to be guard dogs, it is in their nature to take an aggressive stance when new situations present themselves. While they do not often carry through with aggression, socialization can help them realize not every situation needs the same kneejerk reaction. Chows can be just as loving as any other type of dog.