AKC Dog Breeds: Chow Chow

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Non Sporting Group
Height: 18-22 inches   Weight: 45-70 pounds  Color: red, cinnamon and cream, black or blue

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. While the breed was originally a working dog, he primarily serves as a companion today and is seen in show rings across the country.

General Appearance
Though mostly recognized for their rough coat that makes them resemble miniature bears or lions, the Chow can also come in a smooth coat. This lion-like, regal breed comes in five colors - red, black, blue, cinnamon and cream - and is known for its blue/black tongue and stilted gait. The ears are small and rounded and there is a huge ruff behind the head, which gives it a lion like appearance. Its head is broad and its skull is flat. The muzzle is broad near the eyes and narrows toward a black nose without becoming pointed. The chest is broad and deep and the kidney area is short and strong. The tail is thickly covered with hair and is carried over its back.


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. The Chow Chow is a dignified, faithful, and independent breed, with a serious attitude and a somewhat protective streak, which makes him an effective watchdog. These dogs are alert and intelligent, and it can be difficult to get some Chow Chows to do anything that they do not want to do, which makes them more suited to those with more experience with dog ownership and training. This breed does have territorial instincts, and needs to be socialized early on in order to ensure that he has an even temperament and stable personality. 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. Their cat-like personalities make them independent, stubborn and less eager to please than other breeds. The Chow Chow requires intense, extensive, and ongoing training in both socialization and obedience. They are relatively easy to housebreak. However, they will only perform tasks that make sense to them. They need to be taught at an early age as to who the master is or they will take over. They require firmness, fairness, and consistency.


The grooming requirements for a Chow Chow will depend on whether you have rough coated or smooth coated variety. With the rough coated Chow Chow you will need to brush the coat twice weekly, and more often during heavier shedding. You will also need to brush the smooth coated variety regularly. You may need to have these dogs professionally groomed occasionally, and you can dry shampoo when necessary. Both variations are medium shedders.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy

The life expectancy of the Chow Chow is around 8-12 years, and there are a number of health problems associated with this breed. Beware of hip dysplasia. They are prone to suffer eye irritation called entropion, caused by eyelid abnormality; this can be corrected with surgery. Other than that they are generally healthy

Activity Level
The Chow Chow has a tendency to be lazy. They prefer to stay indoors where they are relatively inactive. They enjoy a small securely fenced yard, but cannot remain outside for extended periods of time in hot weather. They benefit from short daily walks. The Chow is well suited for apartment dwelling provided they are given sufficient exercise.


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Chow Chow dog on dog encyclopedia
Chow Chow profile on dog encyclopedia