The Chow Chow Dog Breed: Everything You Need to Know

The Chow Chow is an ancient breed celebrated for its unique appearance, loyalty, and protective nature. However, there’s much more to the Chow Chow than meets the eye.

In this article, we’ll explore the breed’s history, physical traits, and personality, as well as important health considerations. Read to discover everything you need to know before bringing home a Chow Chow.

History and Origin of the Chow Chow

Ancient Chinese Roots

The Chow Chow has a long and fascinating history, with its origins dating back to ancient China. The breed was initially developed to be a versatile working dog, serving as a hunter, herder, and guardian of both property and people.

Throughout history, the Chow Chow has been highly valued by nobility – the Emperor of China kept a kennel of 5,000 Chow Chows! The name “Chow Chow” is thought to come from a term used by British traders in China to describe anything of unknown or vague origin.

The Chow Chow’s Journey to the Western World

In the late 18th century, Chow Chows were brought to Europe and the United States. They quickly gained popularity and became a status symbol of the upper class. Many famous people, like Sigmund Freud and Elvis Presley, owned Chow Chows.

The breed’s popularity in the Western world led to changes in its physical appearance. In China, the Chow Chow was bred for its working abilities, but in the West, it was bred primarily for its looks. As a result, the breed became more compact and less athletic.

Despite these changes, the Chow Chow remains a beloved breed around the world. The two hallmarks that set it apart from other breeds are its thick fur and blue-black tongue.

Physical Characteristics of the Chow Chow

The most striking feature of the Chow Chow is undoubtedly its appearance. These dogs have a distinctive lion-like mane and a thick double coat that can be either rough or smooth.

Their tongues are also famously blue-black in color, adding to their unique look. Additionally, Chow Chows are built with a sturdy, muscular frame that gives them both strength and agility.

Breed Size

The Chow Chow is a medium-sized dog. Breed members weigh between 45 and 70 pounds and stand around 17 to 20 inches tall at the withers. They often appear much larger than they truly are because of their dense and fluffy coats.

Despite the medium size, Chow Chows are impressively strong and athletic. They excel in dog sports like agility and obedience, and their muscular build makes them fit for outdoor activities.

Coat Colors and Types

Chow Chows come in two coat varieties – rough and smooth. The rough coat is off-standing and straight, while the smooth coat is hard and flowing. Both coat versions have dense and woolly undercoats.

The Chow Chow’s coat comes in several color options, including cream, red, cinnamon, black, and blue. It’s important to note that some colors are more common than others, and breeders may charge more for rarer colors.

Chow Chows with a rough coat require more frequent grooming than those with a smooth coat. This is because the rough coat is more prone to matting and tangling if not regularly maintained.

Personality and Temperament

The Chow Chow is a fascinating breed with a unique personality and temperament. They have a rich history and were originally bred in China as working dogs. Today, they are beloved pets all over the world.

Loyal and Protective Nature

One of the defining characteristics of the Chow Chow is their unwavering loyalty to their family. They have strong protective instincts and act as watchdogs and guard dogs, always on the lookout for any potential threats.

Chow Chows can be reserved or aloof with strangers, but they are deeply affectionate and loving with their immediate family. They form strong bonds with their owners and are known to be fiercely devoted.

Independent and Stubborn Traits

While Chow Chows are undoubtedly devoted to their families, they are also fiercely independent. They have a strong will and can be stubborn at times, which makes training a challenge.

With patience and consistent positive reinforcement, it’s possible to train a Chow Chow to be a well-behaved companion. However, the breed is still not the best choice for first-time dog owners.

The Chow Chow has an independent nature and stubborn streak that require an experienced owner who can provide it with the guidance and training it needs.

Socialization Requirements

Like all dogs, Chow Chows require socialization from a young age to ensure they grow up to be confident and well-adjusted. It’s important to expose your Chow Chow to a variety of people, animals, and environments to prevent them from becoming overly wary or aggressive.

Positive reinforcement training methods that focus on rewards for good behavior are the most effective for this breed. Chow Chows respond well to treats, praise, and playtime as a reward for following commands.

Health and Lifespan

Common Health Issues

While the Chow Chow is generally a healthy breed, like all dogs, they are prone to certain health conditions, such as:

  • Joint Issues: The breed is prone to hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia, which cause early-onset arthritis, pain, and impaired mobility 
  • Eyelid Entropion: A condition in which the upper, lower, or both eyelids are inverted inward, rubbing the surface of the eye
  • Thyroid Problems: Some breed members have underactive thyroid glands and experience weight gain, lethargy, and skin problems 

Lifespan Expectancy

The average lifespan of a Chow Chow is between 8 to 12 years. By providing your Chow Chow with proper care, including a healthy diet, regular exercise, and routine vet visits, you can help ensure a long and happy life for your furry friend.

Regular Checkups and Preventative Care

It’s vital to take your Chow Chow to the vet for routine checkups, vaccinations, and ongoing care, including flea & tick, worms, and heartworm preventative medications.

Additionally, providing your furry friend with a healthy diet, regular exercise, and proper mental stimulation can help prevent many physical and behavioral health issues down the line.


Bringing home a Chow Chow can be a rewarding experience for those willing to put in the time and effort to properly care for this unique breed. From their ancient Chinese roots to their fiercely loyal personalities, there’s much to love about the Chow Chow.

By familiarizing yourself with their history, physical traits, personality, and health considerations, you can make an informed decision about whether a Chow Chow is the right fit for your family. With proper care, your Chow Chow can be a cherished companion for years to come.

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