Chow Chow

45-70 lbs
17-20"
China
Chow, Chowden

The Chow Chow is an adorable and unique breed due to its blue-black tongue and the lion-like mane around their neck. They’re one of the oldest dog breeds in the world but today still remain one of the most popular, making wonderful pets for the right family. 

In this guide to the Chow Chow, you’ll learn:

  • The Chow Chow tongue is a blue-black color, although it’s pink when they are born 
  • They’re described as having a lion or bear-like appearance due to their thick fur
  • They were once a working dog used for hunting and herding 
  • They tend to be a ‘one-person’ dog— very loyal but sometimes overprotective 


Chow Chow breed overview

The Chow Chow is a Chinese dog. As well as their unique colored tongue and mane of fur, they’re also known for their walk — they have a stilted gait due to their straight back legs — and a distinctive scowl. 

The average Chow Chow price will depend on whether you rescue and rehome a dog or buy a puppy. Rescuing a Chow Chow dog will typically cost you $150 to $600; this usually includes everything from vaccinations to microchipping. 

If you have your heart set on buying a Chow Chow puppy then you should always go to a reputable breeder. For this, the cost can be up to $6,000, with the most expensive being those from a champion bloodline.

The lifespan of a Chow Chow is 8 to 12 years, although some have been known to live up to 15 years. 



The last thing you’ll want to be thinking about is your Chow Chow having any health issues. But, if you browse and compare the best pet insurance plans today you’ll have peace of mind that you are covered should anything unexpected happen. 




purpose Purpose
Guardian, Cart Puller, Food Source
history Date of Origin
Ancient Times
ancestry Ancestry
Tibetan Mastiff

Chow Chow Health

Sketch of Chow Chow
Average Size
Male Chow Chow size stats
Height: 17-20 inches Weight: 45-70 lbs
Female Chow Chow size stats
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

The Chow Chow is believed to have descended from the Tibetan Mastiff (although this isn’t confirmed) and was bred in the cold, northern region of China. They’re an ancient breed that dates back to the Han Dynasty (approximately 206 BC).

They had an impeccable scenting ability and were often used to hunt game birds, as well as herding, pulling carts and guarding temples. 

During the Tang dynasty, this breed was kept as royal protectors. Emperor Ling bred Chow Chows and treated them as members of his royal household. They had their own servants, slept on fine carpets and were awarded courtly titles. Another Emperor was believed to have over 5000 Chow Chows. 

Unfortunately, this pup was a food source as well as a great working dog. It’s thought that the Chinese word for edible — ‘chou’ — had some influence on the name of the dog. It’s also believed that the name comes from the English word used to describe miscellaneous cargo from the Far East. In China they are called Songshi Quan, which means ‘puffy lion dog.’

In 1880, they were featured in a zoo exhibit titled, ‘Wild Dogs of China’ and became popular when Queen Victoria got a Chow Chow. They first appeared in the United States in 1890. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1903.

Chow Chow Breed Appearance

As mentioned, this breed has a unique appearance. The Chow Chow tongue is their most distinct feature. Interestingly, their tongue is pink when they’re born and only becomes the blue-black color they’re known for when they’re around six months old. 

The Chow Chow size is medium. The breed appears to look square due to the straight legs that contribute to the stilted gait, which is another distinguishing feature. They have a deep muzzle and broad head with small, triangular erect ears. The deep facial wrinkles often give the dog a scowling expression. 

A full-grown Chow Chow dog can reach a weight of 70 pounds and a height of 20 inches. 

The Chow Chow has two coat types. Most people are familiar with the rough, longer one. A 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 your furry companion has, they’ll also have a dense undercoat. 

This breed is a solid color and most are red or black. But Chow Chow colors can range from a light golden red to deep mahogany, light fawn to deep cinnamon, as well as blue and cream. This breed does not come in ‘rare’ colors. So it’s important to remember that if a breeder tries to charge more for a color other than red. 

A double coat on the neck is what gives the look of a lion-like mane. This thick hair, known as the ruff, may have lighter shading, as does the tail and feathering. The tail often curls up over the back and is thickly furred.


Appearance of Chow Chow
Eye Color Possibilities
brown Chow Chow eyes
Brown
Nose Color Possibilities
black Chow Chow nose
Black
Coat Color Possibilities
black Chow Chow coat
Black
red Chow Chow coat
Red
fawn Chow Chow coat
Fawn
cream Chow Chow coat
Cream
blue Chow Chow coat
Blue
Coat Length
coat
Short Medium Long
Coat Density
coat density
pin
Sparse Normal Dense
Coat Texture
coat texture
Chow Chow straight coat texture
Straight Wiry Wavy Curly Corded

Chow Chow Breed Maintenance

This breed has thick fur, so you’re probably wondering: do chow chows shed? The answer’s yes; they’re among the breeds that shed the most, shedding heavily all year round.

Although it won’t prevent the shedding, a rough-coated Chow Chow needs daily grooming in order to keep the coat free of tangles. Those with a smooth coat only need brushing weekly to maintain their coat. 

It’s important to keep the eyes and facial folds clean as their coat (and the wrinkles) can easily retain dirt. Their teeth will need brushing daily and the nails will benefit from a monthly trim. 

Chow Chows should always live inside with their family. As a breed they tend to be quite easily housebroken. Crate training is encouraged as this curious pup may chew on your furniture or other inappropriate items while you’re away. That being said, they do not like to be left alone for long periods of time. 

They are low-energy and love to snooze, so only require a moderate amount of exercise despite their size suggesting otherwise. They also don’t fare well in hot weather. 



Chow Chow health risks 

Chow Chows are typically a healthy breed. But, of course, like all types of dog breed, there are a few health conditions you need to be aware of. These include:

  • Entropion 
  • Hip Dysplasia

There is also a chance of stenotic nares, patellar luxation, distichiasis, elbow dysplasia, elongated palate, cataracts and persistent pupillary membrane as well as gastric torsion — although these are only minor concerns.  

Does your pet insurance cover these conditions? Browse and compare top pet insurance providers to ensure you have the best cover for your Chow Chow. 

Entropion 

Entropion is when the eyelashes rub against the eyeball because the eyelids are inwards. This can affect both eyelids but is usually the lower one. If you notice your dog pawing at their eye or squinting, it’s best to get it checked by a vet as it can result in blindness. Surgery will be required to treat it. 

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is caused by the ball and socket grinding and rubbing together in the hip joint. This will become very painful for your pup and they may need surgery. However, physiotherapy, supplements and changing their diet can help too. 



Feeding a Chow Chow — what’s the best diet?

Chow Chow puppies need to be fed smaller meals, three to four times a day. This can be reduced as they become adults, although larger breeds do tend to stay on puppy food for longer. Youngsters should be fed on a diet specifically designed for larger breeds. 

A good-quality dry food, with protein as the main ingredient, is a good option for this breed.

Chow Chows are one of the breeds most likely to suffer from obesity. So, you need to be particularly careful not to overfeed them. Remember, a big Chow Chow should be around 70 pounds. While you can give them treats, make sure you take this into account when serving up their meals. 

You want your Chow Chow to have the best possible diet; one that’s beneficial to their health and that they enjoy the taste of, of course. Check out our friends over at Dog Food Advisor for advice including the best fresh dog food and the best natural dog food.


Brushes for Chow Chow
Pin Brush
Pin Brush
Dematter
Dematter
Comb
Comb
Nail Clipper
Nail Clipper
Brushing Frequency
fur daily fur weekly fur monthly
Chow Chow requires weekly brushing
Daily Weekly Monthly

Chow Chow Temperament

You may have heard an unfavorable rumor about this breed — are Chow Chows aggressive? They can be. This is in part due to the fact that they’re loyal, can be overprotective and tend to be dominant. They often bond very closely with just one person. 

The Chow Chow behavior is to maintain an alpha position and will attempt to be the alpha even among their human pack. They can also be stubborn at times. 

The Chow Chow personality isn't actually very outgoing, which is why they tend to be hesitant around strangers and potentially aggressive with other dogs. 

This is why training and socializing must begin when this breed is a puppy. They need firm, consistent authority. If you do this, your dog will actually get along very well with other animals (including cats) and children, although they’re better with older children than younger ones. 

Chow Chow Activity Requirements


Activity Level
low activity medium activity high activity
Low Medium High
Rec. Walk Mileage Per Week
8 miles
walk mileage
Minutes of Activity Per Day
45 minutes
activity minutes

Chow Chow Food Consumption

Cups Per Day
3 cups
cup per day cost cup per day cost cup per day cost
Daily Cost
$1.20 - $1.40
food bowls daily cost
Monthly Cost
$34.00 - $45.00
food bag monthly cost

Chow Chow Height & Weight

6 Months
Sketch of Chow Chow at six months
Male Chow Chow size stats at six months
Height: 14.5 inches Weight: 27.5 lbs
Female Chow Chow size stats at six months
Height: 14.5 inches Weight: 27.5 lbs
12 Months
Sketch of Chow Chow at 12 months
Male Chow Chow size stats at 12 months
Height: 16.5 inches Weight: 47.5 lbs
Female Chow Chow size stats at 12 months
Height: 16.5 inches Weight: 47.5 lbs
18 Months
Sketch of Chow Chow at 18 months
Male Chow Chow size stats at 18 months
Height: 18.5 inches Weight: 57.5 lbs
Female Chow Chow size stats at 18 months
Height: 18.5 inches Weight: 57.5 lbs

Top Chow Chow Breeders

Check out who made our list for the most reputable Chow Chow breeders of 2024.
Top Chow Chow breeder RHR Chow Chows
RHR Chow Chows
Ava, Missouri
Top Chow Chow breeder D & M Farm Kennel
D & M Farm Kennel
Fairborn, Ohio
Top Chow Chow breeder Forestway Chow Chows
Forestway Chow Chows
Monroe, Michigan
Top Chow Chow breeder Cherub Chow Chows
Cherub Chow Chows
Vader, Washington
Top Chow Chow breeder Eastway Chows
Eastway Chows
Plymouth, Massachusetts
Top Chow Chow breeder Thunderbolt Chows
Thunderbolt Chows
Jacksonville, Florida
Top Chow Chow breeder Pendleton Chows
Pendleton Chows
Longmont, Colorado
Top Chow Chow breeder FlamingStar Chow Chows
FlamingStar Chow Chows
Hodgenville, Kentucky
Top Chow Chow breeder Halliday Kennels
Halliday Kennels
Harrod, Ohio
Top Chow Chow breeder Bowens Chow Pals
Bowens Chow Pals
Loganville, Georgia

Chow Chow Owner Experiences

Mia
6 Weeks
3 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Just introduced her to the rest of the pack. Has that dominant streak towards the bulldog, so that's a bit of a problem. Otherwise she is cute, beautiful and clever .
6 years, 7 months ago
Bella
16 weeks
2 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Has never had a accident in the house, she goes to the door evertime and wakes me up once during the night. She's extremely smart and I have trained her to sit, stay, leave it, and stand which means stand still while I put on or take off your leash. She loves riding in the car and is gentle with the cats. I was extremely worried about aggression with the cats, but she has only wanted to play with them, she even allows them to eat out of her dish. I'm extremely happy I have her.
6 years, 7 months ago
3 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Walking
petting
2 year
The Chow chow's that I have walked have all been so lovely. They are very friendly when I have arrived them and have loved being out and about on their walks. The chow chow's have kept a slower pace to their walk, and do not seem to speed up or pull at all during the course of their walks. They have always been friendly with other dogs as well when I have had experiences walking them.
6 years, 7 months ago
2 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Chow chow is a little on the stubborn side. The one I walked walks very fast, pretty much jogged. They’re not the friendliest in the beginning and barks at strangers coming in to the home but is friendly once he warmed up.
6 years, 7 months ago
9 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Walking
Playing
barking
Chow chow’s are hit and miss breeds. They are sometimes absolute amazing dogs with no behavioral issues and then they can also be absolute terrors on the walk. I have experienced both scenarios. They are super sweet to their humans and great protectors of the home. They have always had an aggressive side to them and I do believe it’s in their breeds Blood. I’m not sure it would be my go to pet as they are 50/50 on growing into a well behaved dog. They also have had history of biting or snapping at people.
6 years, 7 months ago
12 Months
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Super sweet and loving, was timid at first but once we started walking the dog was very comfortable and had a great time.
6 years, 7 months ago
1 Year
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Quite hard to walk. they are so strong. Not reliable off the lead.
6 years, 7 months ago
7 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Walking
Cuddling
Gaurding
I grew up with two Chow Chows that belonged to my grandfather. These dogs are super cuddly but with family! Since they really weren't socialized with many people outside the family they has a little bit of a defensiveness to them. If something didn't seem right they would be the first to let you know whether it be from strong glares to loud barks. Other then that they are huge teddy bears. In the house they are very relaxed and often enjoy lounging around while observing what goes on in their surroundings. Outside alone they can be very interactive with you and bound about, but if they're with other Chows that are familiarized to them you'll really get to see that puppy playful side they have. Due to their long coats my grandfather often had them groomed to avoid any shed around the house. I would recommend these dogs to pretty much anyone who has the time to groom them as well as the time to train and socialize them at an earlier age so that they don't become overly protective about you. They can be the biggest gentle giants when raised correctly.
6 years, 7 months ago
2 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
chasing squirrels
My walking with Miss Charlie the Chow Chow was a highly enjoyable walk indeed! As we were walking through central park, she definitely kept me on my toes chasing after squirrels! I did have to keep a firm grip on the lead because of this. She was very friendly to fellow dog lovers that wished to say hello. She did not jump on them, but offered her head for all the scratches! She often tried to chase squirrels all the way up trees, such a cutie! She was so floofy and happy on our walk! She had lots of energy and even when she wasn’t eye-ing a squirrel, wanted to walk/run at a fast pace! It was a pleasure walking with this Chow Chow Floof and I would love to walk with her again soon!
6 years, 7 months ago
12 Months
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Explore the city
Playdate
Walk
Playing in the snow
Happy being around people and getting attention. Amazing looking dog. Purple tongue is a standout with a beautiful white coat. I'm not sure if this was a mixed Chow Chow because I have never seen one with a full white coat of fur. Happy with a big smile as we walked around the lower wet side. Great dog for cold climate region. Would not recommend them for hot region due to their heavy coat of hair.
6 years, 7 months ago
1 Year
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Running
My experience is with a Chow mixed with a lab. He is the sweetest dog around and though he is only one years of age, he is already displaying lots of intelligence. This dog I walked is very reserved and aloof with people but very friendly and playful with other dogs. Since I have walked him several times, he treats me as he would his owner. But he was not so welcoming in the beginning. I wouldn't say he was aggressive, just very cautious and indifferent. Definitely had to warm up and get used to me. He is the same to other people when they go to pet him. He does not shy away but there is no tail wagging or happy face when they interact with him. This chow mix is a very big dog...big boned not fat or furry at all. He is massive and thus needs proper training and cajoling to be controlled so that he doesn't pull too much. He has a healthy amount of curiosity and loves exploring everything in his surroundings. Surprisingly, he does not immediately have the urge to chase after small animals such as cats, birds or squirrels. Rather, he will just pause to intently stare them down, wait for them to leave and then go about his business. This chow mix had the defining face and characteristics of a purebred Chow Chow, with wrinkles in his face and the blue tongue. Very beautiful and sweet face. He has a cat friend at home who he gets along with surprisingly well. He is very gentle with her so he seems to be aware of their size difference.He does not bark at all, very rarely only if he is hungry or needs something. One negative aspect to this breed is its stuborness which this particular dog inherited. He tends to pull on walks and wants to go in his own direction. They definitely need training and a good amount of discipline but you will be rewarded with immense loyalty. It is scary to realize that in ancient (and probably modern) times, Chinese people would eat these gorgeous animals!! This is briefly mentioned above in the description but I feel like the subject is side stepped and not made out to be as abhorrent as it truly is. These dogs seem so very loyal to their owners, how could you possibly see them as a food source?
6 years, 6 months ago
2 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Walking
Sniffing
Chow mixed with a lab. He is the sweetest dog around and though he is only one years of age, he is already displaying lots of intelligence. This dog I walked is very reserved and aloof with people but very friendly and playful with other dogs. Since I have walked him several times, he treats me as he would his owner. But he was not so welcoming in the beginning. I wouldn't say he was aggressive, just very cautious and indifferent. Definitely had to warm up and get used to me. He is the same to other people when they go to pet him. He does not shy away but there is no tail wagging or happy face when they interact with him. This chow mix is a very big dog...big boned not fat or furry at all. He is massive and thus needs proper training and cajoling to be controlled so that he doesn't pull too much. He has a healthy amount of curiosity and loves exploring everything in his surroundings. Surprisingly, he does not immediately have the urge to chase after small animals such as cats, birds or squirrels. Rather, he will just pause to intently stare them down, wait for them to leave and then go about his business. This chow mix had the defining face and characteristics of a purebred Chow Chow, with wrinkles in his face and the blue tongue. Very beautiful and sweet face. He has a cat friend at home who he gets along with surprisingly well. He is very gentle with her so he seems to be aware of their size difference.He does not bark at all, very rarely only if he is hungry or needs something. One negative aspect to this breed is its stuborness which this particular dog inherited. He tends to pull on walks and wants to go in his own direction. They definitely need training and a good amount of discipline but you will be rewarded with immense loyalty. It is scary to realize that in ancient (and probably modern) times, Chinese people would eat these gorgeous animals!! This is briefly mentioned above in the description but I feel like the subject is side stepped and not made out to be as abhorrent as it truly is. These dogs seem so very loyal to their owners, how could you possibly see them as a food source?
6 years, 6 months ago
5 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Walk
The Chow Chow that I walked did not give one lick about who he was being walked by. When I put the leash on him he was very good about standing perfectly still and allowing me to put it on, but did not express excitement in ways that I have grown accustomed. We walked for our session together and he did very well. He didn't pull much, he did his business, he kept his head high and his body straight; overall he was very good. He wasn't, however, very good at listening to me when I suggested that he sit at corners and certainly wasn't about to show me any tricks. We had a very nice walk overall, but I did find his behavior to be pretty funny. I Brough him home and took his leash off and he just wandered into the living room without looking back. I suppose it could probably feel nice to be that independent...
6 years, 6 months ago
Champ
7 Months
5 People
House
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
My chow is a very hyper and he always bark whenever he's seing a cat. But he's very sweet and i really love him.
6 years, 4 months ago
Bella
5 Months
5 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Bella was 2 months old when we got her from breeder. She is a pure Chow Chow. From first day, she was clean and went into the garden. She is a sweet dog and likes to be treated like a baby. But she has her moments if being very hyper. Just need to make her tired. She still needs to understand to use her teeth gentle, she isn't really biting but tries to animate playing by slightly biting and barking when she is getting hyper.
5 years, 7 months ago
Kevin
8 Weeks
4 People
Apartment
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Chase
Play
They are loving and playfull. All around a fluff Ball of Joy.
5 years, 3 months ago
Noel
16 Years
5 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Walking
companionship
Noel was a Chow Lab mix with a lab personality and chow looks. We got her as a pup and she grew up with our three boys. She was lovable, would roughhouse with the boys and was highly protective of them but not aggressive. She would pull a sled during the winter and loved to play in the snow. When I was away on business she would sleep outside the boys' rooms or next to the front door ready to protect them. Her only negative was excessive shedding which drove my wife crazy. She was a lovable companion for the whole family and lived to be sixteen years old. She was indifferent with other dogs but loved to hunt rabbits. Definitely a dog which should be brought into the family as a pup and grow up as part of an attentive family. One person in the family must take the role as the pack leader.
3 years, 5 months ago
Yogi
10 Months
2 People
House
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Yogi was born May 23rd 2020. He is a pure bred chow. We like being outside alot and Yogi is always with us. We always know someone is coming at night as Yogi will sound the alarm before even he can see who it is. I've found that you can not let people Approach him first. He needs to be the approacher otherwise the trust is broken and he will not like that person and will keep a swift eye on them until they leave. We also have a shit-zu and have had no issues with aggression and yes they are both males. All in all we love our Yogi bear and he knows it. He's spoiled rotten.
3 years, 3 months ago
Animal Expert Question Icon
Question - My pet
Question

What can my dog eat and what can't he eat? His name is Rex BTW.

Answer
Animal Expert Question Icon
Question - New pet
Question

Hi, I have a chow chow and she is 6 months now. I've got confused about all the opinions about walking my chow. How many times and how long. And if they say for example 2 times, they are doing there needs, pee and poop, also only twice a day?

Answer
Book me a walkiee?
Pweeeze!
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