Dog Breed Spotlight: Chow Chow

Chow Chow

Resembling that of a teddy bear, the Chow Chow is a distinctive and loyal breed with a fascinating history. Originally bred to hunt and guard sacred temples, Chow Chows typically have strong work ethic when it comes to protecting their guardians. Due to the Chow Chows unique characteristics, many have described them to have catlike personalities and even compare their puffy manes to that of lions. Let’s explore the history, temperament, appearance, health concerns, and other interesting facts of the Chow Chow breed.

Chow Chow History

The Chow Chow, being one of the oldest of all canine breeds, dates all the way back to early 206 B.C. in ancient China. Early depictions of this breed, seen guarding temples and hunting, are featured in paintings from the Han Dynasty. Much later in the 18th century, these “bearlike dogs” were discovered to be in British merchants’ cargo. Queen Victoria fell in love with the breed soon-after which boosted the Chow Chows popularity in the late 19th century.

The first Chow Chow to make an appearance in America was at the Westminster Kennel Club show in 1890. Chow Chows were later recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1903. The breed was primarily owned by the rich and famous throughout the early 20th century, however, Chow Chows are now owned by all classes and is the 64th most popular canine breed worldwide.


Chow Chows are not overly affectionate, although, they are fiercely loyal to their family and play well with other household pets. They are known to be excellent watchdogs and are historically effective protection dogs, without barking too excessively. While these dogs are known to be incredibly independent, they are perfect for families who want a low-key and low-energy companion. While often stubborn and not necessarily snuggly, Chow Chows thrive in a large home with lots of ample space to rest on their own. Chow Chows generally don’t respond well to strangers and are historically difficult to train. While not recommended for first time dog owners, experienced dog parents will find Chow Chows highly rewarding to care for.


The Chow Chow is a stout medium-sized breed with a large head, a short muzzle, and a curly tail. They have long fur, a mane, small ears, and deep eyes which makes it appear as if this “lion dog” was scowling. Chow Chows can have either rough or smooth fur, both of which are dense double-coats. The breed’s coats can vary in color from red, black, cinnamon, blue, or cream. Shared with the Chinese Shar-Pei, Chow Chows have unique blue-black tongues, lips, and gums. Besides excessive shedding, many owners love how Chow Chows are naturally clean and odor-free.

Health Concerns

Regular grooming is essential with this breed, as Chow Chow’s large double-coat needs to be brushed and bathed on a bi-weekly basis. Besides the common fur matt, common health issues in Chow Chows include hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, thyroid issues, allergies, and eyelid entropion. Regardless, Chow Chows are generally seen as healthy dogs and should live up to 15 years old if regularly taken into the veterinarian for health checks.

Interesting Facts About Chow Chows

  • In 18th century England, the term “Chow Chow” meant “knick-knack”.
  • Chow Chows are not particularly fans of water, as their thick coats will absorb water and weigh them down.
  • Walt Disney gifted his wife a Chow Chow puppy.
  • Once ancient Chinese ruler loved Chow Chows so much that he bred nearly 5,000.
  • Sigmund Freud, Martha Stewart, Elvis Presley, and Janet Jackson all owned Chow Chow dogs at one point.

Caring for Chow Chows

Regularly check your Chow Chow’s skin for irritations or other apparent issues. Be aware that some low quality commercially available pet foods can cause skin allergies and various digestive issues. Consult your veterinarian to measure the correct amount of pet food your Chow Chow should eat depending on their body weight and other traits. Originally formulated to help performance dogs reach their maximum potential, Canine Ultimate Fitness & Health is a delicious, concentrated nutritional powder, providing a balanced blend of 55 nutrients your German Shepherd needs for better health, increased activity, maximized performance, the prevention of age-related diseases, and ultimately a longer, healthier, and more enjoyable life.

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