Chow Chow Dogs

True Arctic dogs, Chow Chows have a strong “pack mentality” and are considered one-person dogs, bonding intensely with their masters and close family members. However, even with masters and family members they can be reserved and serious. Chow Chows will often do and behave exactly as they please, but have an underlying patience and graciousness that is easy to fall in love with.

Chow Chow

Chow Chow Pictures

  • Chow Chow dog named Tyson
  • Chow Chow dog named Scarlet 1998-2012
  • Chow Chow dog named Sammy
  • Chow Chow dog named Leeloo
  • Chow Chow dog named Ruby
  • Chow Chow dog named Teddy
see Chow Chow pictures »

Quick Facts

  • 45 - 80 pounds
  • 16 - 21 inches

Ideal Human Companions

    • Singles
    • Experienced dog handlers
    • Couch potatoes
    • A-type personalities

Chow Chows on Dogster

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Trademark Traits

    • Soft, puffy coat
    • Round, mane-like head
    • Independent
    • Strong-willed
    • Intelligent and talented
    • Well-mannered

What They Are Like to Live With

Chow Chows are reserved with (and sometimes suspicious of) strangers. This fact, combined with their fierce protectiveness, means that they can be considered a formidable watch dog.

Not particularly active, Chows make fine apartment dogs. These are intelligent creatures, eager to please their masters. When comfortable with their environments, they’ll even learn a fun trick or two. Properly introduced and treated fairly, they can be very good companions to older children.

Things You Should Know

Chow Chows need an owner who will devote the time and attention to training and socializing them. From the puppy age, ideally, they need a firm hand to keep them from developing stubborn or over-protective instincts.

When walking a Chow Chow or having people over to visit, instruct them to be careful around the dog—Chow Chows are not mean-spirited, but they don’t take kindly to strangers forcing themselves upon them. These canines may look soft and fluffy, but they need to be comfortable with you before you’re allowed to hug them. Also, Chow Chows have poor peripheral vision: Try to approach them from the front.

Chows need regular brushing and grooming, especially during fall and spring shedding seasons. Though not the type to beg you for a jog around the neighborhood, your Chow should get a daily walk to maintain a healthy mind and body.

A healthy Chow Chow can live as long as 15 years. Common health issues include hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism and entropion (a condition in which the eyelids become inverted).

Chow Chow History

The Chow Chow originated in Siberia more than 2,000 years ago. Some believe it to be a cross between the Tibetan Mastiff and the Samoyed, while others say the Samoyed actually descends from the Chow Chow. Regardless, the dog has been a prized companion and working dog in Asia for several millennia, hauling carts, pulling sleds, and hunting sable and wolves. They first appeared in the West in the 19th century and were called “Wild Dogs of China.” After becoming the pets of royals like Queen Victoria, they rose in popularity. The AKC recognized the breed in 1903.

The Look of a Chow Chow

Chow Chows have sturdy, broad, medium-sized frames covered in dense furry coats that can either be smooth or rough. They have broad heads and muzzles, triangular ears and dark, widely set eyes that have a dignified and reserved expression. They have deep chest areas and furry tails that they carry high. They come in black, blue, red, cream and cinnamon—some tan and gray Chow Chows can also be found. Overall, the Chow Chow carries himself in a powerful and dignified manner.

Talk About Chow Chows 

The dog park sheriff

My male, Red Rough, had the title and role of being the peacekeeper of our local dog parks before he retired. He just likes to check things out, do his toilet, and play with other dogs and people. Chow chows are natural herders, and sometimes he would break up fights between other dogs.

He also knows the difference between rough play and fighting. His tactic was to go to the instigator or leader of a fight and nip its rear haunches -- just like herding. At 90 pounds, his going into the group broke it up right away. He also hates unneutered dogs, so they were pursued and had to leave the park.

At 13 he is enjoying a well-earned retirement, still chasing mice and squirrels. He travels well, rarely barks, and self-regulates his diet. He's a great pal. We share space, because he has never been cuddly and will not get on furniture or the bed. He even tells me when it's time for me to go to bed and fusses until I do! He loves a predictable daily schedule and is quite happy just to lay around watching the world.

~Peter M., owner of a Chow Chow

Understanding a Chow Chow

I have owned Chow Chows for the past 20 years and find they are a very misunderstood breed. I learned from Marjorie E. (of Charmar Kennels) that often this breed gets a bad rap for being aggressive. They keep to themselves but will alert you if someone approaches them in an incorrect manner.

A Chow Chow is limited in visual fields by the long mane of fur. This can limit their sight as some dogs cannot determine what is approaching from behind of from the sides. A Chow should only be approached from the front so they can see you and not become startled. Suddenly touching the breed from behind or coming at them from the side may startle and put them into a stressful frame of mind.

The Chow Chow's eyes are set front and center. Look at pictures of other breeds and you will notice the eyes are often offset a bit to the sides, enabling them a better perception of who and what is approaching them. A Chow Chow is very calm and intuitive to owners' needs. They do become very attached, however the dogs I have rescued transition well into a home as long as structure is maintained and the dog is given time to find its place and not thrown into unfamiliar situations with out being set up for success.

A Chow needs to have a job or a purpose and if not kept occupied will tend to become a very strong guarder be it a person, residence, or other pet. I suggest finding your Chow a job, but what is it that they can do? My Chow assists other dogs in remaining calm in stressful situations. This keeps him focused and balanced as he is aware of his purpose. Chow Chows are extremely intelligent and I suggest a strong handler who understands the importance of not putting any dog in a situation where it will fail.

~ML Kelso T., owner of a Chow Chow