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The Chow-Chow (sometimes simply Chow[1]:7–8) is a dog breed originally from northern China,[3] where it is referred to as Songshi-Quan (Pinyin: sōng-shī quǎn 鬆獅犬), which means "puffy-lion dog".

Chow-chow in Tallinn.JPG
Other namesChow, Chowdren
Weight Male 40–90 lb (18–41 kg)[1]
Female 35–85 lb (16–39 kg)[1]
Height 17 to 22 inches (43 to 56 cm)[1]:4–5
Coat Thick and coarse
  • Red (light gold to deep red-brown)
  • Cinnamon (light tan to brown)
  • Black
  • Cream
  • Blue
Litter size 4–7
Life span 11–13 years[2]
Classification / standards
FCI Group 5 Spitz and Primitive dogs, Section 5 Asian Spitz and related breeds #205 standard
AKC Non-Sporting standard
ANKC Group 7
CKC Group 6
KC (UK) Utility standard
NZKC Non-Sporting standard
UKC Northern Breed standard
Domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris)


A Chow-Chow in 1901.
A Chow-Chow in 1915.

The Chow-Chow has been identified as a basal breed that predates the emergence of the modern breeds in the 19th Century.[4] One writer has proposed that the Chow-Chow originated in China 2,000 years ago or originated in Arctic Asia 3,000 years ago and then migrated to Mongolia, Siberia and then to China.[1]:11

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.[1]:11 One author states that the Chow-Chow was also bred for human consumption.[5]

A legend says that the original teddy bears were modeled after Queen Victoria's Chow-Chow puppy. It's said that she carried the dog everywhere she went. Her friends disapproved, claiming that it did not befit a Queen to be seen everywhere with a dog, so they paid a dressmaker to make a stuffed version of the animal for her.[1]:7–8

Today, the AKC registers approximately 10,000 Chow-Chows a year. The Canadian Kennel Club registers approximately 350.[1]:4–5


A close-up of the Chow-Chow's characteristic blue-black tongue.

The Chow-Chow 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.[1]:4–5 The fur is particularly thick in the neck area, giving it a distinctive ruff or mane appearance. The coat may be shaded/self-red, black, blue, cinnamon/fawn, or cream.[1]:4–5[6] 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. Chow-Chow eyes are typically deep set and almond shaped. The breed is distinguished by its unusual blue-black/purple tongue and very straight hind legs, resulting in a rather stilted gait.[1]:4–5 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).[1]:4–5 One other distinctive feature is the curly tail.[1]:4–5 It has thick hair and lies curled on its back. The nose should be black, but blue-coated Chow-Chow can have a solid blue or slate-colored nose. According to the American Kennel Club breed standards, any other tone is not acceptable for contests.[7] FCI countries, however, do allow a self-colored nose in the cream.[8]

The blue-black/purple tongue gene appears to be dominant, as most mixed breed dogs that come from a Chow-Chow retain that tongue colour. However, the blue-black/purple tongue can also be found on the Shar Pei. This is not to say that every mixed breed dog with spots of purple on the tongue is descended from Chow-Chow, as purple spots on the tongue can be found on other purebred dogs.[9]


Chow-Chows of different coat colors.

Most commonly kept as pets, Chow-Chows tend to display discernment of strangers and can become fiercely protective of their owners and property. The American Kennel Club standards, however, consider an all-too aggressive or all-too timid Chow-Chow to be unacceptable.[7] For that reason, some owners have attributed a cat-like personality to the Chow-Chow.[10][11]

Chow-Chow are not excessively active, meaning that they can be housed in an apartment. However, a Chow-Chow living in an apartment will need daily exercise to prevent restlessness and boredom. Upon realizing that exercise is a daily occurrence, Chow-Chow will tend to be more assertive with owners in anticipation of such activities.

This breed of dog has many strong loyal bonds with friends and family, but the Chow-Chow dog is usually overly protective of one or two main family members.[12] It is in the breed's nature to be quiet and well-behaved, but it is also resistant to training. Chow-Chows become very stubborn and attach to certain individuals as they age. This makes training them when they are puppies crucial, because they gain respect for those who care for them.

To avoid aggression and over-protectiveness as an adult, continuous socialization as early as possible could allow the dog to adjust. When a Chow-Chow reaches adolescence it rejects authority from any owner who failed to earn its admiration. Aggression can be one distinctive behavioural characteristic in this breed, though while some are of an aggressive nature, many are known to be easy-going in nature – sometimes adopting an aloof disposition to individuals other than their owners. Aggression when it does appear is often towards other dogs of the same sex, especially Chows. Due to their strong hunting instincts, it is recommended that these dogs stay fenced, leashed, and away from cats and small dogs. This is why it is crucial that they are socialized early and consistently to act appropriately with strangers. At first, chow-chows are very hesitant in interacting with strangers. However, this problem can be avoided if the owners train the chow-chow at a young age.

Owning a Chow-Chow can raise the cost of homeowners insurance because some companies consider them high-risk dogs.[13] In a study in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Chow-Chow were responsible for 8 out of 238 fatalities related to dog bites from 1979 to 1998.[14]


The Chow-Chow can suffer from entropion,[15][16] glaucoma,[17][18] juvenile cataracts,[19] lymphoma,[20] hip dysplasia,[21] diabetes mellitus,[22] canine pemphigus,[23] and gastric cancer.[24] Chow-Chows are a high risk breed for autoimmune disease[25] and are at a predisposition for skin melanoma.[26]

Notable ownersEdit

A Chow-Chow competing in Dog Agility.

Konrad Lorenz an Austrian zoologist, ethologist, and ornithologist, winner of the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine[27] who is often regarded as one of the founders of modern ethology, had a Chow-Chow mix named Stasi.[28] He wrote about his dogs in his book King Solomon's Ring.

Georgia O'Keeffe, an American artist, owned at least 6 chow chows in her lifetime. O’Keeffe wrote about her dogs in letters to friends and family, took photographs of them, and sketched them. She was a member of The Chow Chow Club, Inc. and kept various veterinary papers, club notifications, feeding schedules, and correspondence relating to her dogs.[29]

Sigmund Freud had a Chow-Chow named Jo-Fi Ling who attended all of his therapy sessions because he felt that dogs had a special sense that allows them to judge a person's character accurately, and admitted he depended on Jo-Fi for an assessment of a patient's mental state.[30]

U.S. Navy admiral George Dewey acquired a Chow-Chow in Hong Kong in 1898 and named it Bob. Bob rarely left the admiral's side and had the run of the cruiser USS Olympia. Bob died in 1899 due to eating chocolates given to Dewey by well-wishers upon Olympia's arrival in New York City.

Martha Stewart owns several chows, which are frequently seen on Martha's shows.[31] One of them is named Genghis Khan.[32]

President Calvin Coolidge and his wife owned a black Chow named Timmy.[33]

Elvis Presley and his girlfriend Linda Thompson had a Chow-Chow named Getlow.[34]

Vanna Bonta[35][36] has a cream Chow-Chow named Sky, a blue Chow-Chow named Seraph, and a red Chow-Chow named Beowulf, who was immortalized as a fictional dog in the book ‘’Flight’’.

Janet Jackson had a Chow-Chow named Buckwheat.[37]

Italian footballer Mario Balotelli bought his girlfriend two Chow-Chow puppies in the UK.[38]


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. Three kinds of brushes that owners can use on their Chow-Chow are a medium-coarse brush for the larger parts of the body, a slick brush for smaller areas, and a pin brush to maintain the longer strands of hair.[39] Chow-Chows are known to have either short and smooth coat, or a rougher and longer coat. Both create a thick woolly layer, as it gets closer to the skin. They should be brushed four times a week; however shedding seasons may require daily grooming. Also, a spray conditioner can help avoiding breakage and tearing to the thick coat of hair. Lastly, a monthly bath is required to avoid fleas and keep a clean coat of fur.[40]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Wilcox, Charlotte (April 1, 1999). The Chow Chow. Capstone. ISBN 978-0-7368-0159-1.
  2. ^ "Chow Chow Health & Care Information". AKC. Retrieved February 11, 2017.
  3. ^ Case, Linda P. (2005). The Dog: Its Behavior, Nutrition, and Health (2nd ed.), p. 23. Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 0-8138-1254-2.
  4. ^ Larson, G (2012). "Rethinking dog domestication by integrating genetics, archeology, and biogeography". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 109: 8878–83. Bibcode:2012PNAS..109.8878L. doi:10.1073/pnas.1203005109. PMC 3384140. PMID 22615366.
  5. ^ Calvin W. Schwabe (1979). Unmentionable Cuisine. University of Virginia Press. p. 168. ISBN 978-0-8139-1162-5.
  6. ^ "Colours and coat types". Chow Chow Club. Retrieved December 16, 2012.
  7. ^ a b American Kennel Club (January 1, 2006). "AKC MEET THE BREEDS: Chow Chow". American Kennel Club. American Kennel Club (AKC). Retrieved July 10, 2012.
  8. ^ (June 9, 1999). "The FCI Breed Standard". Alle Rechte vorbehalten. Archived from the original on August 11, 2012. Retrieved July 10, 2012.
  9. ^ Kathy Welsh; Anna Wallace; Vicki DeGruy (2001–2010). "The Truth About Those Black Tongues". Chow Chow Information and Adoption Center. WisconsinChow Chow Rescue. Retrieved July 10, 2012.
  10. ^ The Chow Chow Club, Inc.'s Welfare Committee (1997). "Chow Chow Temperament Evaluation, Handling & Placement Tips for Animal Shelters". Chow Chow Information and Adoption Center. Wisconsin Chow Chow Rescue. Retrieved July 10, 2012.
  11. ^ dogtime. "Chow Chow". dogtime. DogTime Media Network. Retrieved July 10, 2012.
  12. ^ Breed. (n.d.). "Chow Chow.". Retrieved April 3, 2013[unreliable source?]
  13. ^ "Will Your Canine Affect Your Homeowners Insurance Policy?". Archived from the original on October 14, 2012. Retrieved July 10, 2012.
  14. ^ J. Sacks, Jeffrey; Sinclair, Leslie; Gilchrist, Julie (September 15, 2000). "Vet Med Today: Special Report – "Breeds of dogs involved in fatal human attacks in the United States between 1979 and 1998"" (PDF). JAVMA. 217 (6). Archived from the original (PDF) on April 11, 2015.
  15. ^ "Chow Welfare – Entropion".
  16. ^ "Vet Info – Entropion".
  17. ^ "Animal Eye Care".
  18. ^ "VetInfo – Breed Specific Problems".
  19. ^ "VetInfo – Juvenile Cataracts in Dogs".
  20. ^ "Vet Info – Dog Lymphoma Symptoms".
  21. ^ "Canine Hip Dysplasia".
  22. ^ "Diabetes Mellitus". Archived from the original on October 2, 2011. Retrieved July 2, 2011.
  23. ^ "Vet Info – Pemphigus".
  24. ^ "Positional Cloning of the Gene(s) for Gastric Cancer in the Chow Chow". Archived from the original on October 2, 2011. Retrieved July 2, 2011.
  25. ^ "Establishment of a Genetic Database for Disease Association Studies in the Major Histocompatibility complex for Purebred Dogs". Archived from the original on October 2, 2011. Retrieved July 2, 2011.
  26. ^ "Canine Skin Melanoma".
  27. ^ "Konrad Lorenz – Biographical, The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1973s". Nobel prize, The Official Web Site of The Nobel Prize. 1973. Retrieved February 11, 2017.
  28. ^ Konrad Lorenz (1961) King Solomon's Ring Translated by Marjorie Kerr Wilson. Methuen, London. 202 pages. ISBN 0-416-53860-6
  29. ^ [1]
  30. ^ Coren, Stanley (1997). What Do Dogs Know?. Free Press. p. 128.
  31. ^!
  32. ^ The Paddock Play Continues – The Daily Wag – Pets – Archived September 24, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. (September 20, 2013). Retrieved October 23, 2013.
  33. ^ Atkinson, James (1988). Chow Chows, p. 5. Barron's Educational Series. ISBN 0812039521.
  34. ^
  35. ^ "Vanna Bonta is into Genes!".
  36. ^ "Vanna Bonta Gets Her Dog a Lion Fur-Do".
  37. ^ "Canine Aristocracy". Archived from the original on October 2, 2011. Retrieved July 2, 2011.
  38. ^ Smart, Gordon. "Mario Balotelli loves his chow". The Sun. London.
  39. ^ Chow Chow Dog Breed | Information on Chow Chows. (n.d.). Pet Information | Online Resource for Pet Owners | PetWave. Retrieved April 3, 2013, from[unreliable source?]
  40. ^ Chow Chow Dog Breed Information, Pictures, Characteristics & Facts. (n.d.). "DogTime is the place for dog breeds, pet adoption, pet insurance and expert pet advice". Retrieved April 3, 2013

External linksEdit