Chow Chow Dog History, Health And Care

Introduction Of Chow Chow Dog

The Chow Chow, also known as the Black-Tongue, the Black-Mouthed dog, Lang Kou (wolf dog), Hsiung Kou (bear dog), Hei She-t’ou (black-tongued) or Kwantung Kou (dog of Canton), or simply the Chow, is believed to be one of the oldest recognizable canine breeds. A lordly and aloof dog, it has become fashionable as both a guard dog and as a companion. The Chow was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1903. The Chow Chow Club of America was admitted as an AKC member club in 1906.

The average Chow Chow stands from 17 to 20 inches at the withers and weighs between 45 and 70 pounds. Their coat can be either rough or smooth, both being double-coated and judged by the same standard without preference. Chows requires regular grooming to keep their exceptionally thick coat clean and healthy. The breed standard states that “essential to true Chow type are his unique blue-black tongue, scowling expression and stilted gait.” The breed has been described as having the mane of a lion, the tongue of a bear, the fur coat of a dowager and the stiff gait of a ceremonial guardsman.

Chow Chow Dog Breed Quick Facts

Affection Level4/5
Apartment Friendly2/5
Barking Tendencies4/5
Cat Friendly1/5
Child Friendly2/5
Dog Friendly2/5
Exercise Need4/5
Grooming Needs4/5
Health Issues2/5

Chow Chow – Appearance & Grooming


The Chow Chow is a muscular, powerful breed with a stocky appearance. Their coats come in both rough and smooth varieties. The smooth coated Chow Chow looks like a small Akita whereas the rough coated Chow is the most popular and is known by his thick mane of fur that gives him a lion-like appearance. They have broad heads with wide muzzles and their ears are triangular in shape. They have bushy tails that curl over their back, which is a typical characteristic of Spitz breeds. The black tongue is a distinguishing characteristic of the Chow breed and whether smooth or rough coated, they come in red, tan, black, cream, gray, blue and sometimes white.

Size and Weight

Adult Chow Chows measure 17 to 20 inches at the withers and weigh an average of 70 pounds. Males appear more masculine and females give off a distinctly feminine appearance. Square proportions are of more importance than height and weight when showing a dog, and dogs who are not square are heavily penalized. Chows should be muscular with heavy bone structure.

Coat and Color

Chows come in two coat variations: rough and smooth. The rough coated Chow is the type that most people are familiar with. It has a thick coat that stands off from the body, with a soft and dense undercoat. Around the had and neck the hair is thicker, creating a ruff which looks like a mane and the tail is thick with fur, as well. Smooth coated chows have a thick outer coat with no ruff or feathering.

Chows of both types come in all shades of red, black, blue, cinnamon or cream. They can be solid or have light shading throughout the body. Some breeders try to wrangle more money from a potential owner by claiming to have “exotic” colors, but unless the dog is purple, odds are they are simply looking for a way to make money off an ill-informed customer.

Grooming Needs

Chows require a lot of maintenance, thanks to their thick coats. They should be brushed three to four times per week in order to keep the coat healthy and to remove loose and dead hair. Chow Chows are heavy shedders in the spring and fall, and brushing may need to be performed daily. A Chow that is brushed regularly will not develop a doggie odor. They should be brushed with a medium-coarse brush across the body, a slick brush for the legs, a pin brush for the longer sections of hair and should be sprayed with a dog-conditioner as grooming is performed. If a Chow is brushed while dry, his hear will break off. Brushing should occur all the way through the coat, down to the skin in order to prevent matting. They require monthly baths, but if the dog enjoys rolling around outdoors, more frequent bathing is necessary.

In addition to brushing and bathing, ear cleaning and tooth brushing should be part of a Chow’s weekly routine. Use only a veterinarian-approved cleanser on the ears and brush teeth weekly to prevent harmful bacteria and tartar buildup.

Chow Chow – History and Health


The Chow Chow is thought to be well over 2000 years old. The breed theoretically originated from a cross of the old Tibetan Mastiff and the Samoyed in the northern parts of Siberia, and it resembles both of those breeds. However, others note the unique blue-black tongue and speculate that this is one of the “basic” canine breeds, ancestors of the Samoyed, Norwegian Elkhound, Keeshond and Pomeranian, which are of similar type. Regardless of ancestry, the Chow Chow was for centuries a sporting dog in China much favored by emperors and wealthy sportsmen. Chows have been used as both scenting dogs and pointers, with great speed and stamina that is particularly useful in hunting birds. They also historically were used for herding, pulling and protection. In early China, the Chow was an important source of food and fur for what is described as a protein-starved culture. They were considered a dietary delicacy, and their skin was used for clothing.

Chows reportedly were first imported into England in about 1780, when a member of the East India Company brought a pair back from China as “curiosities.” In 1828, the breed developed popularity when the London Zoo recorded the arrival of some “Wild Dogs of China,” called the “Black-Mouthed Chinese Dogs.” The status of the Chow grew due to the interest of Queen Victoria, who fancied them as pets. The first English breed club was founded in 1895, and the Chow was first exhibited in the United States in 1890, taking a third place in the Miscellaneous class at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show. The American Kennel Club officially recognized the Chow Chow breed in 1903. The Chow Chow Club of America was admitted as the AKC parent club in 1906. While primarily a companion dog today, the working origin of this breed must be considered at all time.


Chow Chows have a life expectancy of 10 to 15 years. Breed health concerns may include hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia, patellar luxation, thyroid disease and ocular disorders such as entropion and ectropion.

Chow Chow – Temperament & Personality


The Chow Chow is an imposing character thanks to his bellowing bark and scowling expression. They originated in China and were used to hunt everything from pheasant to wolves, were commissioned to guard boats and pull carts of cargo. Today the Chow still makes an excellent guard dog, and when treated with love and respect, is himself a loving and respectful companion who tends to attach deeply to one or two members of his family. Chows are an aggressive breed, fiercely protective of their people and property and should only be adopted by experienced dog owners who have the time and energy to devote to proper training and socialization.

Activity Requirements

Chows are large, but only need moderate exercise to maintain health. They are most active in the winter months, and their thick coats can make them irritable in the summer. Several walks a day with an occasional run in the yard or park will meet their daily activity requirement. They can be equally happy in the suburbs or the city, and also thrive on farms where they have herds or flocks to watch over and protect. Chows should never be left off-leash or in an unfenced yard, as they can be aggressive toward strangers and other animals.


Training a Chow takes an experienced leader and is not for the first-time dog owner. Chows are dominant dogs, and will require a trainer prove their leadership before taking direction. They do not like to be told what to do, and forcing a Chow with a strong hand can lead to avoidance behaviors or even retaliation by the dog. Positive reinforcement, lots of dog treats and 100% consistency are the keys to training this breed. If they see an opportunity to manipulate a situation, Chows will take it and run with it.

Despite obedience training challenges, Chows are exceptionally easy to house train, and many Chow owners report that even as puppies, their dogs have never had an accident in the home.

Behavioral Traits

Aggression is the biggest issue with Chows, though it is a problem that can be avoided. Chows are naturally aggressive toward dogs of the same sex, and their hunting instincts can take over if presented with a small dog or a cat. Chows should be kept in a single-dog family, or raised alongside a second dog of the opposite sex and similar size.

Chows should not be raised around small children and older children should be taught proper manners when living with a Chow. They are impatient dogs, and don’t like to be teased or treated harshly, as they will retaliate. When treated with love and respect, however, a Chow will be equally loving and respectful in return.

Chow Chows need to be socialized very early and very often to allow guests into the home. They are naturally protective, and if that instinct is left unchecked can lead to aggressive behavior in adulthood.

Homeowners should check their insurance policies before adopting a Chow Chow, as the breed is often not covered.

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