Other names: Chow
Wamiz's Top Breed
The Chow Chow is a dog with quite an unusual character. Very solitary and independent, he is devoted to his masters without ever (or very rarely) showing signs of affection. Naturally wary of strangers, he makes a good watchdog. Discrete, quiet and neither playful or active, he has a very calm way of life. Armed with a strong temperament, this dog is not for novice owners as he can be difficult to train.
Key facts about the Chow Chow
Life expectancy :
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Origins and history
The Chow dates back a very long time, but his precise origins are unknown. Previously used as a war dog in China, he later became a sled dog, watchdog and in the end, a dog destined for the butchers (people liked the meat produced from the Chow!), and fur makers. England was his adoptive country: he arrived in the 19th century and went through a thorough breeding and selection process before he was introduced into the rest of Europe.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 5 - Spitz and primitive types
Section 5 : Asian Spitz and related breeds
Physical characteristics of the Chow Chow
Female : Between 18 and 20 in
Male : Between 19 and 22 in
Female : Between 44 and 66 lb
Male : Between 44 and 66 lb
The coat is all one colour, either black, red, blue, fawn, cream or white. The colours may be nuanced, but there won’t be markings. A multi-coloured Chow Chow does not conform to the breed’s official standards.
Type of coat
The hair can be either long or short.
Long-haired Chow Chows have thick, dense, straight and loose hair. The coat is rough and the undercoat is soft and woolly.
The short-haired breed has a thick, smooth and dense coat, which is fluffy and bouncy in texture.
For both varieties, the hair is thicker and denser around the neck, which creates the famous ‘mane’ of this breed.
The eyes should be dark in colour, but other colours are accepted for blue and fawn Chow Chows, so that their eyes are aligned with the colour of their coat.
The Chow Chow is a compact dog with short, broad loins and a very proud stature, similar to a lion. This pet possesses the unique characteristic of a blue-black tongue. His facial features make him look like he’s scowling.
Good to know
Several years go, the owner of a pet shop in Chengdu, China, had the genius idea of creating a Chow Chow panda. Whether you think it’s an amazing or naive idea, people went crazy for the phenomena and the demand for it is ever growing.
The man who came up with this idea was able to execute it in two hours only, through some simple grooming and colouring of the fur.
While it is assured that no chemical product comes into direct contact with the animal, the necessity of such an act can be questioned; especially the wellbeing of this pet during the treatment, which has to be topped up every 6 weeks.
This all being said, the Chow Chow panda is not recognised as an official breed since his aesthetic is anything but the result of natural processes.
Although the Chow Chow is attached to his social group, he rarely shows any signs of affection, so he can seem cold and distant towards his loved ones.
Lacking in jovial spirits, this Chinese dog can tolerate the playing of children, for example, but he will never take part.
His proud and independent temperament make him a particularly calm and peaceful dog. Being neither playful or attention-seeking, he is the perfect companion for owners wishing to lead a quiet life, undisturbed by complaints and demands.
Formerly used for protection and even hunting, the Chow Chow’s main purpose nowadays is just as a simple pet - his natural talents are only very rarely utilised.
However, this Asian dog is still intelligent - he was once used as a wardog and also a sled dog. His previous responsibilities therefore demonstrate his notable listening and cooperation skills.
Despite a past in hunting, this dog is no longer interested in hunting prey. He can prove intimidating to certain species, but he is never predatory.
Fearful / wary of strangers
This teddy bear-like dog is very loyal and protective towards his social group, which makes him distrustful of (but not aggressive towards) strangers that enter his territory.
What’s more, his rare displays of affection are only ever reserved for his owners, never for strangers. He most certainly doesn’t appreciate strokes from people he doesn’t know, especially on his head.
This dog’s independence is so prevalent that he’s often perceived as cold and distant. He doesn’t enjoy playing with kids or adults and prefers communicating through his gaze.
This character trait typical of the breed makes him a discrete and solitary dog, rarely proving troublesome.
Behaviour of the Chow Chow
The Chow Chow is more than happy to be alone. The absence of his owners tends not to cause him any stress. An indoorsy and calm type, this dog doesn’t like to be disturbed and treasures his peace and quiet - solitude is therefore perfect for him.
Easy to train / obedience
Training this magnificent dog is very difficult due to his hard-headed temperament and sometimes complete ignorance towards human interaction. He will naturally try to override his owner’s orders.
To overcome this issue, it will be necessary to begin training early and to employ a firm approach.
However, note that firmness does not equate to cruelty! To succeed in fostering a good relationship between this dog and his master, softness, patience and consistency will be very necessary tools.
Only with a relationship based on trust and mutual respect will you be able to effectively train this dog.
This pet very rarely barks, which only reinforces his calm and discrete temperament.
Tendency to run away
The independence of this dog can lead him to explore on his own, if his environment is such that he is able. Nevertheless, since he is very loyal and protective of his social group and territory, he will never leave home for long.
Calm, peaceful and perfectly fine alone, the Chow Chow is not at all destructive. He can spend a long time alone without causing any damage.
Greedy / Gluttony
The Chow won’t ever refuse his daily ration, but it doesn’t go further than that - food isn’t a motivational point for him, notably with regards to training.
Despite the distance he puts between him and members of his social group, he is still very attached to them and has a strong protective instinct.
His loyalty to his loved ones makes him a very good guard dog, knowing how to deter intruders from invading his familiar territory.
Furthermore, he barks so rarely that when he does, his owners will know it is for good reason, and so will alert them.
This Chinese dog is not to be placed under the care of anyone and everyone - novices will not be able to look after such a breed.
His lack of playful and greedy nature means that it’s harder to soften him, so effective training requires a thorough knowledge of the breed, as well as the right method and attitude.
His strong (sometimes aggressive) temperament, as well as his independence and strength are all things to take into account before adopting him.
For first-time adoption, it might be preferable to adopt a more manageable breed.
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Chow Chow in a flat
Life in a flat or house is the same for this dog, since he can easily acclimatise to any situation, as long as his needs and calm lifestyle are accommodated for.
Furthermore, since he very rarely barks and isn’t fazed by solitude, being indoors in an urban environment suits him perfectly well.
Nevertheless, he will also be very happy in a house with a garden. As long as he’s comfortable, the Chow Chow will be ok anywhere.
Need for exercise / Sporty
Despite his past as a hunting and sled dog, this pet isn’t very active. He should be walked daily, even more frequently in a flat, but the walks shouldn’t be too long.
This pup only needs a moderate level of physical activity, since he gets tired quickly. However, daily outings are necessary to keep him in shape.
Travelling / easy to transport
At first glance, his size can seem impressive, but it’s mostly his thick fur that gives him this impression. In reality, the Chow isn’t a large dog.
His medium size therefore allows him to be transported relatively easily. However, be aware that proper training and early socialisation will be necessary to ensure that the journey goes smoothly.
Moreover, it will also be necessary for him to get used to a transport cage before travelling by plane or car. When travelling by train, a muzzle and leash will be necessary. Therefore, his owner should prioritise positive reinforcement of the wearing of a muzzle, of a leash without pulling, as well as good behaviour when stationary.
Chow Chow and cats
While people say that the Chow Chow shares many characteristics with the cat, he will rarely get along with them. It’s better to keep them separate when it comes to living arrangements.
However, if they’re brought up together from a young age, there shouldn’t be any problems. They are likely to create a mutual understanding, or perhaps just tolerate each other - but they won’t ever be friends!
Chow Chow and dogs
With a feisty nature, the Chow Chow doesn’t have much time for his canine counterparts. Be aware that if your Chow is an unneutered male, it is not a good idea to have another unneutered male dog in the house - the situation could quickly degenerate.
He should go through early socialisation to get him used to other dogs - however, you shouldn’t assume that it will always work!
Chow Chow and children
This teddy-like dog can comfortably live in the presence of children, but you should be careful if they are very young. The Chow Chow doesn’t appreciate noises or a lot of excitement going on around him.
Even if everything seems fine, children should never provoke him, as he won’t tolerate it. House rules need to be established and respected to ensure the safety of everyone.
Chow Chow and the elderly
The calm temperament of the Chow Chow as well as his limited need for exercise and attention makes him very suitable to the lifestyle of inactive people. That said, his owners still need to be capable of training and socialising this dog to be able to walk him a minimum amount without any difficulty.
The price of a Chow Chow varies depending on his origins, age and sex. You should budget on average £1455 for a Chow registered with the KC.
An average budget of £50 a month will be necessary to meet your Chow’s necessary dietary and care requirements.
The maintenance of thick-haired dogs is very important, notably for dogs with long hair.
Regular brushing, even daily during periods of shedding, will be necessary to avoid the formation of knots and maintain the quality of his coat.
His eyes should also be regularly monitored and tended to, as this dog’s eyes frequently leak.
Chows lose a significant amount of hair, particularly during spring and autumn. However, this loss is proportional with the volume of his majestic fur.
Nutrition of the Chow Chow
Often suffering from eventual stomach problems, this Chinese dog’s diet is very important.
Whether shop-bought, homemade or raw, his food should be of premium quality. You should therefore avoid buying biscuits from large stores and supermarkets.
He should be fed several times a day to split up his daily ration, in order to make sure he doesn’t eat everything all at once.
The Chow Chow puppy will require all the nutrition necessary to properly develop.
Health of the Chow Chow
His lifespan is estimated at around 10 years.
Strong / robust
The Chow Chow is a robust dog, but he pays the price today for overly strict selective breeding. However, his thick fur and undercoat provide him with good protection against the weather.
Easily becoming breathless due to his thick skin and heavy fur, the Chow doesn’t deal well with the heat.
His double-layered fur provides him with a good protection against the cold and humidity.
Tendency to put on weight
Often affected by obesity due to his adversity to exercise, it is important to provide this fluffy dog with a diet that is adapted to his age, physical condition and health state.
Frequently asked questions
What are Chow Chows known for?
Chow Chows are a very unique breed! Firstly, they are nicknamed the "lion dog" due to the fluffy coat around the face which resembles a lion's mane. Secondly, they are born with 44 teeth instead of 42, and finally, their tongues are blue! Sadly, Chows have a reputation for being aggressive, but they're actually very loyal companions.
Learn about another adorable Chinese breed: the Shar Pei!
Why are Chow Chows banned in some parts of the world?
Chows have a reputation for being aggressive because they are very protective of the ones they love. They can also be difficult with other dogs of the same sex. Due to their stubborn streak, they are tough to handle for some owners - and this inevitably leads to bad behaviour. The Chow is not a first-time owner dog, but, with the proper training and socialisation at an early age, aggression should not be an issue.
Find out what to do if your dog is aggressive.
Are Chow Chows aggressive?
As mentioned above, Chows are protective, stubborn, and not overly social with other dogs. Aggression is completely avoidable though, as long as the Chow's owner devotes themselves to training and socialisation.
Find out how to socialise your dog!