Chow Chow Dog: Origin, Characteristics, Temperament & Lifespan

The Chow Chow dog is a beautiful breed of dog originally from Northern China. In it’s native area the breed is referred to as Songshi-Quan, which translates to “puffy-lion dog“. The breed is also simply called as Chow.

The Chow Chow has been identified as a basal breed that predates the emergence of the modern breeds in the nineteenth Century.

One writer proposed that the Chow Chow dog originated in China about 2,000 years ago or possibly originated in Arctic Asia 3,000 years ago and then migrated to Mongolia, Siberia, then to China.

One Chinese legend mentions large war dogs from Central Asia that resembled black-tongued lions. One Chinese ruler was said to own 5,000 Chows.

The Chinese also used Chows to pull dog-sleds, and this was remarked upon by Marco Polo. One author states that the Chow-Chow was also bred for human consumption.

Currently, AKC (American Kennel Club) registers approximately 10,000 Chow Chow dogs a year. And the Canadian Kennel Club registers approximately 350.

And today the Chow Chow dogs rank 64th in popularity among the 155 breeds and varieties recognized by the American Kennel Club.[1]

Chow Chow Dog Characteristics

The Chow Chow dog is medium to large in size and is very beautiful. It is a sturdily built dog, square in profile, with a broad skull and small, triangular, erect ears with rounded tips.

The breed is known for a very dense double coat that is either smooth or rough. The fur is particularly thick in the neck area, giving it a distinctive ruff or mane appearance.

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The coat may be shaded/self-red, black, blue, cinnamon/fawn, or cream. Not all these color varieties are recognized as valid in all countries. Individuals with patchy or multicolored coats are considered to be outside the breed standard.

Eyes of the Chow Chow dogs are typically deep set and almond shaped. The breed is unique by it’s purple/blue-black tongue which no other breed has except Shar Pei, and has very straight hind legs, resulting in a rather stilted gait.

The bluish color extends to the Chow-Chow’s lips; this is the only dog breed with this distinctive bluish color in its lips and oral cavity (other dogs have black or a piebald pattern skin in their mouths).

Another distinctive feature of the Chow Chow dog is the curly tail. The breed has thick hair and lies curled on it’s back.

The nose of these dogs should be black, but blue-coated Chow Chow can have a solid blue or state-colored nose.

The Chow Chow is a medium to large sized breed. Average body height of the mature dogs is between 17 to 22 inches at the withers. Average live body weight of the mature dogs is between 18 and 41 kg for the males, and between 16 and 39 kg for the females.

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Temperament

Some people compare the Chow Chow’s disposition to that of a cat. Aloof, reserved, dignified, independent, stubborn and intelligent.

Despite it’s scowl, a good Chow Chow dog should never be aggressive or shy. Chows tend to mind their own business and don’t usually start trouble.

They will play with their people, but strangers are of no interest to them unless they are approaching the Chow Chow’s home without invitation from it’s owner (in which case it will challenge the trespasser). It will however, let strangers touch it if introduced by one of it’s owners.

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These dogs must be extensively socialized. Introducing to new people, dogs and many other situations are great ways for socializing these dogs.[2]

Lifespan

Average lifespan of the Chow Chow dog is between 11 and 13 years.

Feeding

How much a mature dog eats depends on it’s size, age, build, metabolism and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don’t all need the same amount of food.

The Chow Chow is a medium sized dog and is moderately active. So, the diet of this dog should be formulated for a medium sized dog with average exercise needs. Generally 2 to 3 cups of high quality dog food will be enough for them. You can consult with a vet in your area for better feeding recommendations.

Caring

Taking good care of the animals is very important for raising Chow Chow dogs. You should always keep up with your dog’s regular veterinary checkups to detect any health concerns early.

These dogs can adapt to a variety of homes, from places to apartments. But they should always live indoors with their people, not stuck out in a backyard or kennel. They don’t tolerate heat well, so keep them indoors when the weather is sweltering.

The Chow Chows are pretty active dogs. And the adult dogs need daily exercise to stay healthy and happy. They will be satisfied with a couple of 15 minute walks daily or one longer walk.

Chow breed will heavily shed their fur in the seasons of spring and autumn, which requires more grooming attention than other seasons. It is important that owners use the correct tool to avoid harming the skin and facilitate grooming.

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Health

The Chow Chow dogs are generally healthy. But like all other dog breeds, they are also prone to certain health conditions.

Their common health problems include canine hip dysplasia and entropion. Always try to keep good contact with a vet in your area.

Breed Name Chow Chow
Other Names Also known simply as Chow
Breed Size Medium
Height Between 17 to 22 inches at the withers
Weight Between 18 and 41 kg for the males, and between 16 and 39 kg for the females
Good as Pets Yes
Climate Tolerance All climates
Color Black Blue Cream Cinnamon (light tan to brown) Red (light gold to deep red-brown)
Lifespan Between 11 and 13 years
Good for Children Yes
Rarity Common
Country/Place of Origin China