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Chow Chow: Complete Dog Breed Info

Chow Chow: Complete Dog Breed Info

Golden brown fur with a powerful mane, and compact stature – a Chow Chow impresses with its majestic appearance alone. But this orginal dog breed, which is one of the oldest in the world, is not only magnificent to look. They also have quite the personality. Some say that Chow Chows have the essence of a cat rather than that of a dog due to their willfulness. Anyone who has made friends with a representative of this breed knows that the dogs have not only the appearance, but also the heart of a lion.

History of the Chow Chow

The breed comes from China, but has Siberian ancestors. The dog type itself is over a thousand years old: Chow Chows are among the ancient breeds that are genetically very different from most dog breeds today. It is believed that the animals also had an influence on the representation of the “Fu dogs”, who stand as guardians in front of many representative Chinese buildings – similar to the lion statues widespread in Europe.

In ancient times, Chow Chows were actually used as temple guards in China, Mongolia and Tibet, later they were increasingly used as hunting dogs or private guard dogs with increasing distribution and increasingly became a dog of the people. Nevertheless, some specimens of the striking breed served the imperial court as a status symbol for a long time. However, many Chow Chows may also have landed on the dinner plate of their owners, who also used the warming fur.

The modern Chow Chow

In the 19th century, the Chow reached Europe. Back in Great Britain, the first Chow Chows wasn’t admired on the neighbor’s couch, but in the zoo, where they aroused great interest of visitors. In 1865, Queen Victoria received one of the striking dogs from China and thus aroused the need for a “lion dog” as a pet. In 1895, the first lovers founded a Chow Chow club, over 10 years later a “Chow Chow Club” was also founded in the USA – but the plush dogs remained prohibitive for most animal lovers and were still considered a status symbol in the Western world for a long time.

A black and white picture of a Chow Chow
Back in Great Britain, the first Chow Chows wasn’t admired on the neighbor’s couch, but in the zoo.

Two representatives of the breed have already lived in the White House: US President (1923-1929) Calvin Coolidge called the animals Tiny Tim and Blackberry his own. Today, hardly any chow chows live in China anymore, but tend to be more in Europe and North America, where the breed in the 80s of the 20th century Century was even one of the most popular ever.

Incidentally, the origin of the extraordinary name has not been clearly clarified – there are several theories about this. One of them says that the name is simply based on the Chinese word “Gou” for “dog”. Another explanation would be the origin of the word from a variant of Pidgin English: According to this, “tschau-tschau” would be translated as “Delicious bites” – even today, the American “chow” colloquially means “feed”. Thus, today’s name still carries a reminder of the fortunately past times in which the Chow Chow also served as a meat supplier.


In China, the breed is also referred to as “plused lion dog”, “bear dog” or “blue tongue” – these names already indicate the striking appearance of the dog. The Chow Chow belongs to the group of Asian leaders.


Chow’s average height is between 17 and 20 inches tall, while the weight is between 45 and 70 pounds.

Two dogs walking in a park
Chows’ coat comes in five colors: blue, red, cinnamon, black, and cream. These colors can have some type of shadings or they can be solid.

Chows can have two types of coat, smooth and rough coat. The smooth coat is dense, hard, and smooth without long hair on the dog’s legs, tail, or ears. 

On the other hand, the rough coat is dense, thick, and more abundant, comprised of an outercoat and undercoat. The undercoat is woolly, soft, and thick.

Chows’ coat comes in five colors: blue, red, cinnamon, black, and cream. These colors can have some type of shadings or they can be solid.

Why do Chow Chows have a blue tongue?

A special feature of this breed is revealed when the mouth is open: tongue, palate and lefzen are blue. What would be cause for concern in other breeds – blue tongue and oral mucous membranes can indicate an oxygen undersupply – is part of the breed standard for representatives of this breed and not a sign of health problems. Incidentally, there is no clear scientific explanation for color, but legends revolve around the blue tongue, for example this: In the creation of space and the fortification of the stars to the firmament, blue pieces crumbled from the sky tent to earth. She was allowed to lick the Chow Chow. Fewer mythological explanations assume a connection with blood circulation or temperature control.

Personality & Temperament

Chow’s personality is similar to cats. They are dignified, independent, reserved, stubborn dogs that are rarely shy or aggressive. 

Chows will do their thing, play with their owners with little regard for other people and animals. However, if you are entering their territory without an invitation from their owner, Chows will challenge you.

Like any other dog breed, Chows will benefit greatly from early socialization and exposure to other people, animals, dogs, and sounds.

The “lion dog” is a rather cozy four-legged friend who otherwise radiates great peace and serenity. Walking without a leash is not possible with every Chow Chow due to the immense hunting instinct of the breed.

Health & Lifespan

This breed has a tendency for skin eczema, intrusions of the eyelids and dysplasia of the hip and elbow. Regular preventive examinations and appropriate treatment can often slow down the course of the diseases. Due to the genetic dispositions, it is particularly advisable to pay attention to appropriately tested parents when buying puppies: Serious breeders only use healthy animals. Their life expectancy is between 12 to 14 years.

Caring for the Chow Chow


Chows need moderate exercise and regular daily walks. Usually, a play with toys and a couple of daily walks will satisfy their needs. Avoid high-difficulty exercise and exercise during hot summer days.


The lion’s mane needs to be cared for: Owners of long-haired chow chows should reach for the brush at least two to three times a week, preferably daily. Thorough weekly combing and additional – less intensive – brushing once a day is recommended. Especially behind the ears and on the ruffle, the fur tends to matt.

Bathing should be avoided, unless the four-legged friend has become so dirty that it can no longer be combed out. However, some advise a monthly bath. If you need to bathe the animal, pay attention to natural substances and a mild dog shampoo, for example with chamomile. This reduces the risk of allergy.

In summer, you should keep an eye on the pressure points of your dog’s skin. Skin irritation can quickly develop here. The shorthair variant is far less care-intensive.

A dog being walked on a leash next to a lake
In summer, you should keep an eye on the pressure points of your dog’s skin. Skin irritation can quickly develop here.


A balanced diet contributes to a long, happy dog life. Each fur nose has an individual nutrient requirement, which cannot be set as a flat rate for all dogs. Many factors such as state of health, weight and age play a role here. If you are unsure about the nutrient needs of your four-legged friend, the veterinarian you trust can provide you with information. The dog food should mostly be made of high-quality meat. In addition to feeding dry and wet food, the nutritional method BARF (biologically species-appropriate raw feeding) can be used. The four-legged friends are mainly fed with raw meat. In addition, offal, fruits, vegetables as well as vitamin and mineral supplements are fed. Remember to offer your darling enough fresh water.


Chows are very intelligent dogs, but they are also stubborn. Therefore, these are dogs that are capable of learning new things fairly quickly, but sometimes they just don’t want to do that. To properly train your Chow, you will need a lot of patience and persistence. 

Commonly Asked Questions

Are Chows dangerous dogs?

Chow is highly territorial. Therefore, it can be dangerous if you enter his territory uninvited.

Are Chows good family dogs? 

Chows can be good family dogs if you socialize them while they are still puppies. However, this dog won’t suffer rough play or abuse. Therefore, they are not ideal dogs for families with small children.