Chow Chow

Not all prospective dog owners are searching for a cuddly, social dog. For people and families seeking a more aloof personality-type, the Chow Chow may be the perfect pet. Most people consider Chows to be a bit snobby and their behavior is commonly described as "cat-like". Like cats, they are probably content to exist in the same house or room but don't need constant attention or coddling. Yet, though they appear standoffish in some respects, they can be extremely loyal pets. Most often they will bond closely with one or two family members and can be an extremely devoted, if subdued companion.

In a properly bred Chow Chow, their aloofness with strangers should never evolve into any type of aggression. While not necessarily friendly with strangers, Chows should accept a new person easily, especially if they are properly introduced by their owner. It is especially important that Chows receive proper socialization at a young age. They need to meet new people, dogs, and experience a variety of sights, sounds, and smells. This is will help to prevent any future problems. A Chow Chow can be a stubborn dog and is not particularly easy to train. But, patience and consistency will pay off and a Chow can be a wonderful, gorgeous companion for an owner who appreciates a quieter lifestyle.

Key Breed Stats

Alternative names: The Chow Chow breed is also commonly known by the names Chow.

Popularity: Moderately popular

Life expectancy: 8 - 14 years

Breed group: Non-Sporting Dogs (AKC), Utility Dogs (KC)

Size: Large

Male Female
Height 17 - 20 in 17 - 20 in
Weight 49 - 71 lbs 44 - 64 lbs


Colors: Black, Red, Brown, Blue, Cinnamon

Key Breed Facts

Shedding: Not a heavy shedder at all

Grooming requirements: Very high

Good with children: No

Good with other pets: No

Intelligence / Trainability: Low

Exercise needs: Low

Tolerates being alone: Yes

Hunting drive: Low

Suited as Guard dog: Average

Sensitivity: Not really

Good for novice owners: Not really

Hypoallergenic breed: 3

Drooling: Moderate

Barking: Rare

General health: Below average

Cost to keep: High


The Chow Chow is considered to be one of the most ancient breeds, but like many dogs with a long history, that history can become muddied over time. They are thought to have originated in Mongolia and Northern China. They would have slowly moved south, traveling with the nomadic Mongolian tribes.

Ancient Chows were used as hunting and guard dogs and pottery and paintings dated to the Han Dynasty of 206 BC to 22 AD feature dogs that resemble the Chow Chow. One Chinese emperor is thought to have owned have owned more than 2,500 pairs of Chows for hunting.

In China, the breed went by several names: black-tongue dog (hei shi-tou), wolf dog (lang gou), bear dog (xiang gou), and Canton dog (Guangdong gou). They are thought to have been given the name Chow Chow by late 18th century British merchants who carried bear-like dogs resembling the Chow in their cargo. The sailors considered them to be "miscellaneous" items that were commonly referred to as "Chow Chow".

Queen Victoria, well-known for her love of many different breeds of dogs, began importing Chows in the 1800s and in 1895, the first Chow Chow breed club was formed in England. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the breed in 1903, and the first Chow registered with the AKC was named Yen How. Chows reached peak popularity in the U.S. in the 1920s, when even the President kept one in the White House.


The Chow Chow is a sturdy dog and easily identifiable by a distinct blue/black tongue and their aloof personality.
Typical characteristics are:

  • A large, proud head, deep-set eyes eyes, small, triangular ears, and an alert, dignified, independent expression.

  • Medium sized and compact.

  • A high-set tail.

  • Both the smooth and rough coat varities have a double coat. The smooth coated variety has a less abundant outer-coat.

  • Colors: red, black, blue, cinammon, and cream.



Chow Chows are not known for the intelligence and can be somewhat difficult to train. Their stubbornness requires consistency and patience from a knowledgeable trainer. They may not be suitable for first-time owners.

Early leash training is important, as this dog will grow to be quite large and any pulling behaviors should be dealt with as soon as possible.


Chows require 30 minutes of exercise per day. That is enough to keep your dog healthy and happy. They are not generally excitable and are quiet and low-energy when indoors. However, a lack of outdoor exercise and mental stimulation can lead to undesirable and even destructive behaviors like chewing and barking.

Chow Chow puppies are susceptible to certain bone disorders. Keep your puppy on soft surfaces like grass and keep play on hard surfaces to a bare minimum until your puppy is at least two years old.


Chow Chows tend to be aloof and are often considered to be "cat-like". However, they may bond strongly with a single family member. Despite their independence, and though they may not be demonstrative or cuddly, they still enjoy the presence of their human family.


Chow Chows can become strongly bonded to their family members and be protective and territorial. They are calm and watchful but will let you know if there is an intruder and will most likely defend those people they view as part of their "pack". Proper socialization is extremely important to ensure that they become used to meeting new people.

Living Conditions

Chow Chows can adapt to a variety of living situations, even apartments and small homes if they are given enough attention and exercise. Because of their thick coats, they do not adapt well to hot temperatures and will need a cool space in warm weather and climates.

If your Chow is outside in the yard, be sure that it is securely fenced to prevent him from wandering.

Children and Other Pets

Chow Chows get along well with children, especially if they are raised with them. But, they are unlikely to tolerate a lot of ear pulling and other child annoyances, so they do best with older children. It is extremely important that children learn to interact correctly with any dog, but especially a dog of this size and temperament.

  • Young children may unintentionally invade the personal space of your dog and are unable to interpret the warning signals of your dog.

  • Dogs consider the family as a pack, and may consider the younger children as subordinates and may try to correct them.

  • Young children are very time-consuming. They may take away from the time you have to spend with your dog and he may become bored or frustrated.

Keep in mind that all children should be taught how to interact correctly with ANY dog and should never be left unsupervised.

Chow Chows can live peacefully with other dogs and pets, especially of they are raised with them. A lack of proper socialization can lead to aggression with other dogs. This is especially true with same-sex dogs.


The average life expectancy of a Chow Chow is between 8 - 14 years. Like all breeds, the Chow Chow is prone to certain hereditary health conditions. A responsible breeder will only breed with dogs that have been cleared for these conditions. A Chow Chow is prone to these diseases:
  • Entropion (hereditary)


Chow Chows come in both rough and smooth coated varieties, and the rough coat is most readily associated with the breed. Both coat types are fairly high maintenance and require brushing at least three times per week and during the heavy shedding months, their coats will need even more attention.

Bathe your Chow once a month to keep it clean. When you bathe them, make sure to use a dog-specific shampoo that maintains the skin's natural PH balance.

Ears should be checked regularly for dirt, redness or a bad smell that could indicate an infection. Clean your dog's ears when needed with an ear cleaner made specifically for dogs.

Some dogs wear their nails down on their own with exercise, but many do not. Long nails will require regular clipping and all puppies should be introduced to nail clipping early on so that it will be easier when they are older.

Consider brushing their teeth with a soft toothbrush and dog toothpaste two or three times a week. Daily is even better. All puppies should become accustomed to having their mouths and teeth checked regularly.


Recommended amount: 2-3 cups of high-quality, dry dog food fed in two daily meals is a good starting point, but other factors need to be taken into consideration. Higher quality dog foods may require less food, as more of the food is digested properly. In addition, higher energy dogs will require more food, while more sedentary dogs may require less.

Puppies have special feeding requirements. Use food specifically designed for large breed puppies. Adult dog food contains too much calcium, which will increase the risk for hip and elbow dysplasia. Don’t overfeed your puppy, as overweight puppies also have an increased risk for dysplasia. Puppies need to be fed 3 to 4 times a day. This might seem like a hassle, but it will help when it comes to housebreaking. A puppy’s digestive system works very fast. Five to 30 minutes after his meal, he will need to go out to do his business.

Just like any other breed, they need to have free access to fresh, clean water at all times.

Older dogs, like puppies, might need a diet adapted to their needs. In some cases, it is advisable to feed them smaller portions 3 to 4 times a day.

When changing your dog’s diet, it’s recommended to do it gradually over a period of a few days to avoid stomach problems.

Avoid exercise 1 hour before and after the meal, to reduce the risk of gastric torsion (bloat).