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.
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 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.
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).
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.