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Chow Chow (rough)

Country/Date of Origin: China/1st century

One of the oldest recognizable breeds of dogs. The Chow Chow is readily identifiable in northeast Asian artifacts that date before Christ. The original purpose of this large member of the spits family was as a hunting dog. A seventh century emperor of China is said to have kept over four thousand Chows in his sporting kennel. The breed gradually became more commonly used as a guard dog in temples. It was attributed with mystical, supernatural powers and its terrifying "warrior scowl" was thought to scare off evil spirits. No doubt the scowl and the Chow's willingness to back it up with action worked quite well on humans with evil intentions too. The first Chows left the Orient in the 1880s bound for England. From there, they made it across the Atlantic in less than ten years. This breed is firmly in the top twenty most popular breeds in the American Kennel Club.

Other Names Body Type Personality Coat Health Concerns

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AKC Group: Non-Sporting

Breed Club: Chow Chow Club, Inc.

Rescue Club: Chow Chow Information and Adoption Center

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Body Type:

  • Massive, compact body with a distinctive lion like ruff around the head, unusual blue-black tongue and a frowning expression
  • Height: 18-22 inches (at shoulder)
  • Weight: 45-70 pounds
  • The tail is set high and curved over the back. It is never altered
  • Small, erect ears blend into the ruff and are never altered
  • A stilted gait with a short stride is a unique characteristic of the Chow Chow


  • The Chow Chow's Keen intelligence, independent spirit and innate dignity makes the Chow an impressive breed
  • It is a Chow's nature to be reserved, he is very loyal to his family, though he may act reserved at times, even with them
  • This very independent breed requires an owner who should be a calm person who is naturally fair and firm thus the Chow Chow can develop well
  • Responsible Breeders have been working very hard to breed a Chow with a "family" temperament and have done so with much success . A well-bred and well-socialized Chow Chow can be just that - an excellent family dog


  • Dense, brush like double coat made up of a coarse outer coat and a soft, woolly undercoat
  • Permissible colors are solid black, red, blue, fawn, or cream
  • Sheds heavily in the summer
  • Significant grooming is necessary to prevent matting

Health Concerns:

  • Eye problems, especially ingrown rims and lashes
  • Does not do well in very hot climates
  • Subject to hot spots and hormonal skin disease
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Tasty Tidbits:
  • The Chow Chow got its name from English sailors who referred to it by the term the Chinese gave to miscellaneous cargo or bric-a-brac
  • Chinese at one time, used the Chow Chow for food and utilized the pelts for clothing. This is still a common practice among nomadic tribesmen in the Arctic regions where the Chow Chow is thought to have originated
  • A blue tongue is a breed hallmark. It is not unique among dogs however. The Shar Pei for instance also has a blue tongue

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