Common names: Chow


  • Dog Breed Group: Working Dogs

  • Life span: 12-15 years

  • Weight: 40-70 pounds

  • Height: 17-20 inches


Affection Level
Apartment friendly
Barking Tendencies
Cat Friendly
Child friendly
Dog friendly
Exercise Needs
General Health
Shedding level
Social Needs
Stranger Friendly
Watchdog Ability

These deep eyed and large headed fluffy dogs are one of the few ancient dog breeds. They are believed to have originated in Mongolia and Northern China. Over the centuries they were trained to hunt, guard, pull sleds, and sometimes herd cattle. Their ancestors were even a food source in the distant past; a theory behind the origin of the name Chow Chow which the Cantonese word for “edible”. A more popular and less brutal explanation of the breed name goes back in the late 18th century where the British merchants included some of the bearlike dogs in their cargo. At that time, “chow chow” were the pidgin-English term to the miscellaneous items and those odd-looking dogs British traders acquired in China were included on the ship’s cargo. The name eventually was stuck to the breed.

Despite his cuddly toy appearance, the Chow Chow is not a lovey-dovey kind of dog. Chow Chows are not excessively active, meaning that they can be housed in an apartment. Some owners have associated a cat-like personality to the Chow Chow: independent, aloof, intelligent, and stubborn. The Chow is highly territorial; it is aggressive toward dogs and sometimes suspicious to strangers making them a good watchdog. It’s said that the Chow combines the nobility of a lion, the drollness of a panda, the appeal of a teddy bear, the grace of a cat, and the loyalty and devotion of a dog.

The Chow Chow stands 17 to 20 inches at the shoulder and weighs 40 to 70 pounds. The breed is known for its very dense double coat that is either smooth or rough that comes in five colors: red, black, blue, cinnamon and cream. The most memorable feature is its blue-black tongue. According to Chinese legend, the tongue got its bluish color at the time of creation, when a Chow licked up drops of the color as the sky was being painted. It has a stiff-legged way of moving because of its almost straight rear legs. Chow Chow eyes are typically deep almond shaped.

Chow Chows are generally healthy, but like other dogs, they are prone to certain health conditions. Health issues in the breed include entropion, glaucoma, juvenile cataracts, lymphoma, hip dysplasia, diabetes mellitus, canine pemphigus, and gastric cancer. Owners should keep tabs on their dog’s overall condition and consult their vet with any questions or concerns that may arise.

The Chow sheds heavily twice a year. It comes in two coat types: rough and smooth. Both types have an undercoat and a top coat. Grooming requirements depend on the type of coat; for the smooth coated Chow, a good going-over with a stainless steel Grayhound comb weekly is ideal, meanwhile those with a rough coat should be brushed every other day to promote fine hair growth. A spray bottle of diluted coat conditioner for misting the coat while brushing will help in preventing dryness. Like other dogs, nails should be trimmed regularly. Eye and ear care also should be included.

Like any dog, an adult Chow Chow needs daily exercise to stay healthy and happy. It’ll be satisfied with a 15-minute walks daily or one longer walk. It is not speedy, but he has excellent endurance and can be a good walking companion. Avoid exercising in during hot weather as it does not tolerate high heat.

These dogs are recommended to have a daily amount of 2 to 2 ¾ cups of high-quality dry food a day. However the quantity of food depends on its size, age, build, metabolism and activity level. High active dogs will need more food than a couch potato type. The quality of dog food also assists the growth of the dog- the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing the dog and the less quality it contains the more amount is needed to fill into the dog’s bowl. Some dogs are prone to being overweight, therefore calorie consumption and weight level should be monitored often and clean fresh water should be available at all times.

  • The only two AKC registered breeds who have this uniquely colored blue-black tongue are the Chow and the Chinese Shar-Pei.
  • The American businesswoman Martha Stewart has owned several Chows. She often featured them on her TV show. She even had a champion named Genghis Khan (GK to his friends) who competed at Westminster.