Chow Chow

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45-70 lbs
Chow, Chowden

The Chow Chow’s most distinctive feature is its blue-black tongue. However, the breed also features a stilted gait unique to Chows, as well as a lion-like “mane” around its neck. The Chow is related to the Spitz family of dogs and is thought to have been bred in the cold, northern region of China. It was used for hunting, herding, pulling a cart (or any other vehicle), and guarding the home. The Chow is a medium-sized dog with a deep muzzle and broad head; small, triangular ears sit above the double coat on its neck. The Chow may be red, black, blue, cinnamon or cream.

guardian, cart puller, food source
Date of Origin
ancient times
tibetan mastiff

Chow Chow Health

Average Size
Height: 17-20 inches Weight: 45-70 lbs
Height: 17-20 inches Weight: 45-70 lbs
Major Concerns
  • Entropion
  • Hip Dysplasia
Minor Concerns
  • Stenotic Nares
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Distichiasis
  • Gastric Torsion
  • Elbow Dysplasia
  • Cataract
  • Elongated Palate
  • Persistent Pupillary Membrane
Occasional Tests
  • Eye
  • Hip
  • Elbow
  • Hip X-Rays
  • Eye Examination
  • Physical Examination

Chow Chow Breed History

Most likely descended from Tibetan Mastiffs, the Chow Chow can actually claim to be an ancient breed. Fossilized bones have been found that can be linked to the Chow, and in 2004, a study was done to establish “genetic fingerprints” of 85 breeds; the Chow Chow was one of fourteen breeds determined to be part of an ancient group. The Chow Chow’s likeness was found on a bas-relief from the Han Dynasty (approximately 150 BC). He had an impeccable scenting ability and was often used to hunt game birds. Unfortunately, he was a food source as well as a great working dog. The dog’s name likely comes from the Chinese words that referred to a variety of miscellaneous items. (The ship’s cargo was a miscellany of items: knickknacks, curios, and the dogs.) However, it is also thought that the Chinese word for edible “chou” also had some influence on the name of the dog. In 1880, Queen Victoria took an interest in a zoo exhibit titled “Wild Dogs of China” which featured the Chow Chow. They first appeared in the United States in 1890. The American Kennel Club first recognized the breed in 1903. 

Chow Chow Breed Appearance

The Chow Chow appears to look “square,” with post-like straight legs that contribute to the stilted gait distinctive to the breed. The ears are erect and short; its skull is broad, and its most original feature is its blue-black tongue (the tongue will be pink at birth, but change around six months of age). The Chow Chow has two coat types; most people are familiar with the rough, longer coat. A Chow Chow puppy with this type of coat often looks like a fuzzy teddy bear. The smooth coat is also shorter. No matter what type of coat the Chow Chow has, he will also have a dense undercoat. Any solid color is acceptable, but most Chows are red or black. Chow Chows do not come in “rare” colors. Any breeder that tries to charge more for a color other than red (on the premise that color is rare) is not being truthful, and this should alert you to anything else the breeder could be falsifying. These colors range from a light golden red to a deep mahogany, black, blue, light fawn to deep cinnamon, and cream. The ruff (the thick hair on the neck) may have lighter shading as does the tail and feathering. The tail of this attractive canine often curls up over its back and is thickly furred. Its facial wrinkles often give the dog a scowling expression. 

Eye Color Possibilities
Nose Color Possibilities
Coat Color Possibilities
Coat Length
Short Medium Long
Coat Density
Sparse Normal Dense
Coat Texture
Straight Wiry Wavy Curly Corded

Chow Chow Breed Maintenance

A rough-coated Chow Chow needs daily grooming in order to keep his coat free of tangles. Their smooth-coated counterparts need only weekly brushing to maintain their coat. It is important to keep the eyes and facial folds clean as their coat (and the wrinkles) can retain dirt well. Chow Chows should always live inside with their family. They can adapt to a variety of homes and may be placed in a fenced-in yard for exercise. They are a breed that is more easily housebroken. Crate training is encouraged as the Chow Chow may chew on your furniture or other inappropriate items while you are away. They do not like to be left alone for long periods of time. 

Brushes for Chow Chow
Pin Brush
Nail Clipper
Brushing Frequency
Daily Weekly Monthly

Chow Chow Temperament

Contrary to popular belief, a Chow Chow can be excellent with other animals and children. However, they must be socialized from a young age to ensure best results. Training should begin when the Chow is a puppy; they need firm, consistent authority from their handlers. The breed tends to be dominant, so their owner should be gentle, but firm with the dog from a young age. The Chow often maintains an alpha position, and will attempt to be the alpha even among its human pack. The Chow Chow can be overprotective and may be stubborn at times. They are often a “one-person” dog, but they are immensely loyal. They are not very outgoing dogs; they tend to be hesitant around strangers and may be aggressive with strange dogs.

Chow Chow Activity Requirements

Activity Level
Low Medium High
Rec. Walk Mileage Per Week
8 miles
Minutes of Activity Per Day
45 minutes

Chow Chow Food Consumption

Cups Per Day
3 cups
Daily Cost
$1.2 - $1.4
Monthly Cost
$34 - $45

Chow Chow Height & Weight

6 Months
Height: 14 inches Weight: 27 lbs
Height: 14 inches Weight: 27 lbs
12 Months
Height: 16 inches Weight: 47 lbs
Height: 16 inches Weight: 47 lbs
18 Months
Height: 18 inches Weight: 57 lbs
Height: 18 inches Weight: 57 lbs

Top Chow Chow Breeders

Check out who made our list for the most reputable Chow Chow breeders of 2017.
RHR Chow Chows
Ava, Missouri
D & M Farm Kennel
Fairborn, Ohio
Forestway Chow Chows
Monroe, Michigan
Cherub Chow Chows
Vader, Washington
Eastway Chows
Plymouth, Massachusetts
Thunderbolt Chows
Jacksonville, Florida
Pendleton Chows
Longmont, Colorado
FlamingStar Chow Chows
Hodgenville, Kentucky
Halliday Kennels
Harrod, Ohio
Bowens Chow Pals
Loganville, Georgia

Chow Chow Owner Experiences