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Chow Chow Dog

About the Breed: Chow Chow


This beautiful, loyal breed is cat-like: charming, smart, strong-willed, and independent.


More than 2,000 years old, the Chow was bred to be an all-around working dog capable of surviving in a hostile environment. Hunting, herding, guarding, pulling sleds, the Chow could do it all. 


First kept by fierce Mongolian tribes in China as a hunting and guard dog, the Chow was also used for their meat and fur. 


The true origin of the breed is unknown; some historians believe it descends from ancient Roman Mastiff-type dogs crossed with Spitz types. Others believe the Chow is the ancestor of the modern Spitz group of dogs as well as the Akita and Shar-Pei.


Chows make exceptional house pets despite their size.  They are very quiet, naturally well-behaved, not diggers or barkers and aren’t usually destructive.  They’re one of the easiest breeds to housebreak. They manage the hours you are at work very well, but want to be with their human pack members when you are home.  They do not do well as “outside” dogs. 


Chows do, however, have a very different personality than other dogs.  They can be cat-like in their attitudes:  aloof, reserved with affection, independent, dignified and stubborn.  Although their soft fur is ripe for hugging, they don’t always enjoy being fussed over by children or strangers.  For people who want a cuddly lap dog who will instantly love all their friends, the Chow is a bad match.  


Chows must be given time to “warm up” to new people. They are often wary of strangers and, if approached too quickly by someone they don’t know, they will frequently respond with a growl and/or curled lip.  It is important to always allow your Chow to approach new people in their own time, rather than forcing them through quick introductions.  


However, their reputation as a one-man dog is misunderstood. Although they take to one person, they will readily accept other members of the family. When rehomed, they will learn to trust their new owner with a bit of patience.


  • Calm and well-behaved.

  • Fiercely loyal and protective.

  • Easily housebroken and fastidiously clean.

  • Can be left alone without being destructive.

  • Cat-like in their independence.


  • Cat-like in their independence.

  • Can be overly protective of family and wary of strangers.

  • Can be deceptively calm and well-behaved as puppies.

  • Can be aggressive with other dogs, especially same gender.

  • Children are usually not assertive enough to manage a full-grown Chow.

Best With

  • A family experienced with large, dominant breeds.

  • Owners committed to training.

  • People who enjoy grooming.

Not For

  • Families with small children.

  • Owners with same gender dogs.

  • Those who do not like fur bunnies dancing about their house.

More Information





Average 18-20 inches at the shoulder, and roughly 45-55 pounds.


Average 19-22 inches at the shoulder, and roughly 55-70 pounds.



Colors include Black, Blue, Red, Cream and Fawn. The 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 containing long, straight, 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.

Energy Level:


Laid back.

Life Expectancy:

On average, 8-12 years.



Chows are not recommended for families with children under 5.  Chows do not see toddlers as small adults. They generally don’t understand the topsy turvy wobbly little person who steals their toys, splashes in their water bowl, squeals into delicate canine ears, grabs sensitive tails, and ker-flops onto full snoozing canine tummies. If you plan on having children after you get your Chow, you will have to make sure that your Chow is properly and continuously socialized around babies and toddlers. The cute, little Teddy bear puppy quickly grows into a muscular, strong-willed adult.  Children are usually not assertive enough to manage a full-grown Chow. Children and dogs should never be left alone and unattended regardless of breed.

Other Animals:


Chows are most compatible with dogs of the opposite gender, especially if it’s another Chow.  They do best in homes where there is only one other dog, or where they are the only dog.  Chows are typically not as playful as other breeds, so compatibility will vary greatly from dog to dog.  Adopting an adult Chow when you already have a playful young lab is a recipe for disaster.  Due to their basic hunting instincts they will chase, and if in a pack (2 or more) will kill sheep, squirrels, cats or anything else given the opportunity.



Looking beautiful; protection.



The Chow’s thick coat requires a lot of care. The puppy coat is very dense and soft, easily tangled and can take several hours a week to groom.  The transition period from puppy to adult coat may take several months and your Chow needs to be groomed almost daily during that time.  Adult coat is easier to care for but will still need at least an hour or two a week to look its best and prevent matting. Chows shed seasonally, not daily.  Once or twice a year they shed their coats and you’ll literally be filling trash bags full of hair at that time!  Although the smooth coated variety would seem to be less work it also sheds seasonally and needs regular, thorough grooming.


Generally Chows are healthy and stoic up to old age.  Genetic health disorders which can occur in Chows include: Heat Exhaustion, Entropion, Canine Hip Dysplasia, Cataracts, Elbow Dysplasia, Hypothyroidism, and bacterial skin infections.  Entropion — where the eyelid turns in and causes the eyelashes to rub against the cornea—is the most common of these issues.

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