With a fluffy coat, blue tongue, and rounded triangular ears, Chow Chows are incredibly bright and dignified dogs. These dogs are compact and clean, as they’re easy to housetrain and can be as fastidious as cats. Chows are also rather adaptable dogs and can take to many lifestyles! However, they’re not great for an active home, as their squished faces can make it difficult for them to breathe at times.
Standing 17-20 inches tall and weighing 50-75 pounds, these medium-sized dogs have a curled tail and lionesque mane around their head. Like shar pei, chow chows are a bit wrinkly (although it’s hidden under their thick coats) and a blue-black tongue. There are two types of coats on this breed, a rough and smooth coat, and both have a dense undercoat. The rough coat is longer and what most are familiar with while the smooth coat is shorter. Generally, Chows have red or black coats but any solid color is accepted.
Originally from northern China, this breed is one of the most ancient dog breeds and some estimate the breed goes back 2,000-3,000 years. In fact, even Marco Polo wrote about chows in his travels. These fluffy dogs were working dogs and were used to hunt, guard, pull sleds, and even herd cattle at times. While the breed is from China, the name is not and ‘chow chow’ is a pidgin-English term that meant anything that came from the East in the 18th century.
As far as health problems, chows are usually pretty healthy but are prone to issues like hip problems, entropion (a type of eye irritation caused by an eyelid abnormality), hot spots, and ear infections. But regular vet visits and good care at home can help keep these dogs healthy! Make sure to regularly clean their ears in addition to other types of grooming. Because of their thick, double coat, Chows will also need weekly brushing sessions for most of the year and extra brushing as they shed their winter and summer coats. Additionally, their short muzzles mean these dogs often snore and can be sensitive to heat and warmer climates.
For training and exercise, these dogs are smart and stubborn couch potatoes that would be more than happy to be at home. Daily walks, whether a few short ones or a single long walk, are great for this breed and a securely fenced yard is an added bonus. With training, Chows are easily housetrained and do really well with positive reinforcement. These dogs are smart and loyal so it’s possible to teach them tricks at any age as long as you’re firm and kind. Socialization is also really important with Chows, as they can be very loyal to their people but rather aloof and wary of strangers and other dogs. They can do well with older children that can be gentle and understand boundaries, as Chows don’t tolerate much rough and tumble play. They can also be a bit aggressive towards other dogs of the same sex (particularly if they’re both unaltered males) but understanding dog body language and proper training/socialization can make a big difference.
Chows are pretty adaptable as far as living spaces and do well in apartments and houses alike. While they do shed quite a bit, these dogs are otherwise extremely clean and as mentioned, easy to housetrain. As far as temperament, Chows are independent but devoted to their families, stubborn, and dignified. If you’re looking for a running partner or a lap dog, a chow may not be a good fit for you. But with daily walks, regular grooming and care, and a firm owner, Chows can be a wonderful dog to have around.