Chow Chow

Chow Chow

Chow Chow originated in China, where it was known as Lang Gou (wolf dog) or Xiong Gou (bear dog). The breed is known to have been in existence 2,000 years ago but might be even older. Some experts say that the breed resulted from a cross between the Tibetan Mastiff and the Samoyed, although other experts claim the Chow Chow is one of the founding breeds of dogs and is the parent breed for Samoyeds, Keeshonds, and several other similar breeds.

The Chow Chow is a sturdy dog, standing 17 to 20 inches tall and weighing between 50 and 75 pounds. The head is carried high and is large with almond-shaped eyes. The ears are small and upright. The tail is carried over the back. Both the rough and smooth coats have a thick, dense undercoat. The rough coat Chow Chow is straight and stands out from the body. There is an abundant ruff around the head and neck. The tail is well-feathered. The smooth coat Chow Chow is shorter, with no ruff, and is hard and dense. Coat colors include red, black, blue, cinnamon, and cream.

Grooming the Chow Chow requires some work. The undercoat on both coat types does shed and can shed a lot! Thorough brushing is needed at least every other day, although when shedding is at its heaviest, daily brushing is better. The Chow Chow is not an active breed. A walk morning and evening will suit this breed quite well. Chow Chow puppies appreciate a couple of playtimes throughout the day.

The Chow Chow is a dignified breed, aloof and reserved. Early socialization is needed so that the dog can connect with people. During socialization, he should meet people of all ages, especially children. Early training should be firm and structured yet fun and upbeat.

The Chow Chow does better with an experienced dog owner who understands the breed’s temperament. With socialization, he can be good with kids who treat him with respect. He may not be good with other dogs or pets. Health concerns include hip and knee problems, eyelid defects, and sensitivities to anesthesia.


5 replies on “Chow Chow”

This dignified, serious dog with the lion-like ruff and scowling expression is a true introvert.
Chow Chows must be accustomed to people at an early age so that their territorial instincts are properly discriminatory.
Naturally clean and easy to housebreak, quiet and mannerly in the home, he is an impressive companion if you can establish a relationship of mutual respect, i.e. admiring his strong-willed independent character while consistently enforcing household rules so that he respects you, as well.
With his bulky build and stilted gait, he is not built for strenuous jogging. He does well with daily walks. However, the Smooth-coated Chow is often more active (and more outgoing with strangers) than his Rough-coated brother.
Though he usually minds his own business unless provoked, many Chow Chows can be aggressive with other dogs of the same sex. Some have strong hunting instincts and can be predatory with cats and tiny dogs.
Obedience training will go nowhere if you use “jerking” methods — this proud breed will either shut down or retaliate. Chow Chows cannot be forced to do anything. Methods that emphasize food are more productive.

My soul mate was a GSD/Chow, or as I liked to say, a “purebred Shepow!” Otto was THE most intelligent animal I’ve ever known and I was fascinated by his “Chow-ness”. After he passed (sniff sniff), I went looking for a Chow and found Miss Pearl in Lockhart, TX when she was 8 weeks old. It was love at first sight/sniff.

The future “Queen Empress of the Universe” (you may bow…). She is a feisty little warrior dog who takes no prisoners be they rats, squirrels, or horribly squawking Grackle birds. She has 2 older and much larger brothers who she wrassles with everyday (and frequently takes both on at once). Afterward, they all collapse in a heap and snooze together. She loves her life! Her big brothers love her and think of her as their personal squeaky toy.

I have taken all of my dogs through obedience classes (at Joyce Morgan’s Austin Canine Central), and obedience for agility. Pearl ROCKED the agility class leaving all the other dogs in the dust! She is by far the most intelligent dog at the center and learns instantly! I love how smart she is and we “chat” everyday– she likes to speak– not a whimper or whine, but her own language which I have learned to mimic and understand for the most part (“please hand me my squeaky toy”– she loves squeaky toys-or rather she loves ‘de-squeaking’ them!; “I think it’s time for our walk, please” and of course, “Are you ever going to feed me?”)

She is not a lap dog and would rather that people use hand towels than wipe their hands on her fur. Please don’t try to pet my dog if you don’t know her! I think that is awesome. When she comes to me for affection it is an honor to pet her. My motto is “Never pass up an opportunity to pet Miss Pearl”, but don’t force it on her. Consequently, we have an amazing and loving and honest relationship.

I adore my chow chow!

Read as much as you can about them. Do not EVER force them to do anything. Chows need to think there is a good reason for doing what we ask– learn how to communicate positively and they will do anything we ask of them. They are wicked smart. Don’t ever think less of them. Give them space to be dogs– err– Chows! They are fiercely independent beings. Don’t be intimidated by that; respect it!

Famed for its unique blue-black tongue, the ‘Lion Dog’ is an ancient breed of dog. Instantly recognisable with its full mane, this mysterious and oriental looking dog has retained its popularity through the centuries.

The Chow Chow is often simply called the Chow. The precise history is lost in the China of antiquity however; some experts think that the Tarters, who invaded China a thousand years before Christ, brought back to the West some middle-sized dogs that looked like “lions” with blue-black tongues. The Chow as it is known today is easily recognizable in pottery and sculptures of the Chinese Han Dynasty (206 B.C. to 22 A.D.). Other artefacts indicate that he was even a much older breed and that he may have come originally from the Arctic Circle, passing through Mongolia and Siberia to finally arrive in China. Some scholars claim that the Chow was the original ancestor of the Samoyed, the Norwegian Elkhound, the Pomeranian and the Keeshond. In more recent times, around 7th Century A.D, it is reported that one Chinese emperor kept something like 2,500 of Chow type dogs as hunting and sporting animals to accompany his reputed 10,000 followers during the hunt. Admired by emperors as well as by Western royalty, used by Chinese peasants for food and clothing, and adopted as a beloved pet of many movie stars in Hollywood in the glamorous ‘Roaring Twenties’ heyday, this dog has had a exciting history.

The Chow’s heavy head and muzzle is surrounded by an outstanding ruff of hair. Often, the words ‘lion-headed’ or ‘lion-like’ are used to describe the Chow’s head. The eyes are almond shaped and deep set giving the dog a quiet and thoughtful look. Perhaps, the most unique feature of the Chow is the blue-black colour of the tongue and tissues of the mouth, a characteristic that the Chow shares with only a few other mammals. So important is this feature that a Chow with a pink tongue or a tongue spotted with pink is disqualified under the Breed Standard and cannot be shown.

The Chow Chow can have one of two different types of coat; either rough or smooth. The most common coat is the long-haired or rough, which has an outer coat which is long and straight with coarse guard hairs which do not mat or tangle as easily as the soft, thick undercoat. The smooth coated Chow Chow has a short, hard, dense “smooth” outer coat and a definite undercoat.

There are five colours in the Chow: red (light golden to deep mahogany), black, blue, cinnamon (light fawn to deep cinnamon) and cream. The predominant colours of the Chow are red or black. The reds may be light or dark, solid throughout or shaded on the tail and legs. Less common are the so-called ‘dilute’ colours of cinnamon or fawn (a dilution of red) or blue (a dilution of black) also exist. Occasionally a cream will appear, but usually this dog will usually also have a pink or flesh-coloured nose so that it cannot be shown according to the Chow Chow Club’s Breed Standard. The cinnamons and blues are somewhat less common than the predominant colours of red or black. The tail of the Chow lies on the back and is a most notable and decorative part of the Chow contributing to the altogether noble and handsome appearance. Thick at its root, tapering off to the tip, the tail is high set on the body.

The Chow Chow is a highly intelligent and independent dog but can become quiet dominant within a household if allowed to be so, It is important early socialisation is introduced to ensure a well rounded dog is produced, as they can become ‘clingy’ and fix on one family member. They are usually quite happy to being touched and stroked by strangers if he is introduced by one of the owners and approached properly.

This is a little dog that does not really need to lead a pampered lap dog life. The quiet and refined aloofness temperament must never be confused with a fierce or intractable temperament. This is a breed that minds his own business and does not generally initiate trouble. The Chow is a loyal little dog who is noble and clever but who can be strong willed and stubborn at times.

Chows are generally quite healthy dogs who will live on average between 9-15 years. The owner of a Chow must take car in warm weather due to its thick coat and avoid a situation which could lead to heatstroke. All dogs can suffer from heat stroke, for example if left in a car on a sunny day, (not even necessarily a warm or hot day). Heatstroke can affect any dog, but is always a very serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. Once the signs of heat stroke are detected, there is little time before serious damage – or even death – can occur. Dogs cannot sweat through skin like humans can, and release excess heat through panting, their nose and their pads of their feet. If the dog is unable to do this, the internal body temperature will rise and at 106 degrees, irreparable damage will occur to the dog’s organs and internal systems.

Signs of heat stroke include increased internal temperature of over 104 degrees, hard and laboured panting, gums which are visibly red, lethargy, disorientation leading to loss of consciousness or collapsing. If you have even the slightest suspicion that your dog is suffering from heat stroke, you must take immediate action. First, move your dog out of the heat and away from the sun right away and begin cooling your dog by placing cool, wet rags or cloths on the body – especially the foot pads and around the head, taking care not to use ice cold water. It is also advisable to sponge your dogs mouth or offer cool water but do not allow to gulp water. You must at this point seek immediate veterinary attention, even if your dog appears to be better.

Chows can also suffer from Entropion, a condition in which the eyelid folds forwards. This is usually genetic in origin and can be painful so surgery is usually needed to remove and excess skin. The prognosis is usually excellent once treated.

As you would expect from a dog with a luxurious coat, the Chow needs to be brushed at least twice weekly or more if possible. Grooming is essential to keep the long, thick coat in peak, clean condition and regularly check for signs of flea infestation. Many adult Chows with the ‘lion ruff’ must be handled with care because it can be stripped away easily by too much grooming.

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