Chow Chow Owner’s Guide

Reviewed By Julie •  Updated: 12/08/20 •  6 min read
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Have you ever seen a dog that looked like a cross between a lion and a bear? Then it was probably a Chow Chow! While these dogs may look snuggly with heir long fur and teddy bear looks, they are known for being somewhat more like a cat with the aloofness. Is this the right dog for you?

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In this article, you’ll find information about the Chow Chow dog breed including their characteristics, personalities and much more. Let’s get started!

What is a Chow Chow?

Chow Chows are purebred dogs and they have a very long history. In fact, Chow Chows are considered one of the oldest dog breeds in the world! The first noted record of Chow Chows dates back more than 2,000 years to 206 BC in China. That’s simply amazing!

It’s believed Chow Chows were first kept by the Mongolian people and were used for hunting, as guard dogs, pulling sleds and more. In China, Chow Chows were kept by noblemen and others as family pets.

The name of the Chow has changed over the centuries. From earliest times, Chinese called these dogs “hei shi-tou,” which means black-tongue dog (we’ll tell you why in a bit!); “lang gou,” which means wolf dog; “xiang gou,” which means bear dog, and “Guangdong gou,” which means Canton Dog.

No one is exactly sure where the name “Chow Chow” came from originally, but it’s thought the name comes from England in the 18th century. Merchants brought these dogs back from China in the 1800s in their cargo ships, and the dogs were simply nicknamed “chow chow;” now, the breed goes by this name officially.

Chows were first brought to the US back in 1890 and were accepted into the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1903.

Chow Chows & Their Characteristics

Chows have a very distinctive appearance. They have a main that strongly resembles a lion, which sits around their head and shoulders. The rest of their fur is smooth or rough and comes in a variety of colors including:

Now we can tell you why they were once called “black tongue” dogs in China! The fact is these Chows have a black tongue. We found there is a tale that explains how the Chow Chow got a black tongue. It does like this…One day, at the beginning of time, God was busy painting the sky blue. As He was painting, He accidentally spilled some of the blue paint while He worked. The Chow Chow had been following God, and when the dog saw the spilled paint, he licked it up right away. From that time to now the Chow Chow has had a blue tongue. What a lovely story!

When it comes to the eyes, you may have a hard time finding them on the Chow. This is because their almond eyes are set deeply into their face and surrounded by fur. A Chow’s head is large and broad, and they tend to have a short, but deep muzzle.

Sometimes people believe that Chows are always scowling; however, that’s not the case (at least not all the time!). Instead, Chows tend to have a wrinkly face; when combined with all their fur, the dogs may indeed look like they’re scowling.

And we forget the Chow’s tail! Chow Chows have a very distinctive tail that curls over his back. But don’t worry, you’ll definitely know when your Chow is wagging is tail at you! It’s obvious, and very cute!

Chows are considered to be medium-sized dogs, and on average stand between 17 to 20 inches, and weigh between 40 to 70 lbs. Their average life span is from 9-15 years.

Chow Chow Personality

It’s been said that Chows are a one of the cat-like dogs around. This is because these dogs are extremely intelligent and seem happy to take care of their own interests. Chows are known for being stubborn, too. You’ll need to understand that this is not a lap dog, and they like to be on their own. Chows don’t have the same urge to please their pet parents, like some other dog breeds. They’re extremely independent and have a very dignified bearing. In fact, some people have described the Chow Chow to have a very regal bearing.

In addition, these dogs are not always friendly to others. They maintain a reserved attitude, especially around strangers. They will remain suspicious of new people until the dog feels these people can be trusted. For this reason, they make excellent guard dogs.

Having said all of that, these dogs can be extremely loving toward their family. They’re also known for being very loyal.

Because Chow Chows have a history as working dogs, they need a lot of training and moderate exercise.

Training Your Chow Chow

Training and socialization of the Chow Chow should start when the dog is a puppy. They require serious training and socialization to end up as well-mannered adult dogs. Chows need pet parents who are experienced and who can be firm with the dog. We don’t mean that you’ll need to break the dog’s spirit. We do not condone this. What is meant here is that you’ll need to let the dog know you’re the leader. This is done through the use of positive reinforcement training methods and dedication to consistent training and spending quality time with your fur baby. You’ll also need a lot of patience, since Chows can be stubborn.

Chows need a moderate amount of exercise, which generally translates as nice, long walks. Keep in mind that Chows are not good running companions, and really don’t do well with rough play or strenuous exercise. Chow Chows also don’t do well in areas where it’s hot and humid because of their very thick fur. They have a tendency to overheating in these conditions.

Health of Chow Chows

Chows are known to suffer from various health issues including:

Care of a Chow Chow

Because of their thick coats, a Chow needs to be brushed at least twice a week. This keeps their fur from becoming matted and snarled and removes debris from their coat.

A Chow Chow needs to have a bath about once a month, unless they become very dirty. And you’ll want to make sure and use a hair dryer set on the cool setting to dry your fur baby’s hair.

Overall, with training and socialization from a young age, a Chow Chow can make an excellent family dog. However, as the pet parent, you’ll need to have a firm hand with them and be patient with their stubbornness. And refrain from hugging, as Chows really don’t seem to enjoy it. Keep these things in mind, if you adopt a Chow, you can end up with a loving, loyal, regal, and loof family companion for years to come!

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Julie is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, where she studied Animal science. Though contrary to the opinion of her parents she was meant to study pharmacy, but she was in love with animals especially cats. Julie currently works in an animal research institute (NGO) in California and loves spending quality time with her little cat. She has the passion for making research about animals, how they survive, their way of life among others and publishes it. Julie is also happily married with two kids.

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