Dog Breed 101: Chow Chow

Written by Dr. Muqeet Mushtaq DVM, MS ABG (Animal Breeding and Genetics)



Chow chows are not frequently social, outgoing dogs. They tend to be aloof with outsiders and can be aggressive with other dogs but are devoted and protective of their family.

Chow chows were raised in China primarily on grains and had an overweight tendency with too much rich food.


This Chinese breed of dog is probably the oldest dog in China. Chow Chow was a dog with many hats right from the beginning. These dogs are called hunters, livestock guarders, sled pullers, and, unfortunately for them, dinner. Chow's very name can be derived from the Chinese word "Chou" for eating rice; although most historians believe that the name is slang for curios, Chow Chow is indeed an Oriental curio.

Chow Chow reached the Western countries in the late 1800s and began to gain popularity, making him one of the top 10 kennel club breed in the USA.


Chow chow is generally not social, but these dogs become completely social and docile with proper training. They stay away from strangers and can be aggressive with other dogs. If they are not gien obedience training, Chow Chow could become a source of trouble.

Chow Chow is quite intelligent, but he has both free and stubborn lines, so it tough to train them. To perform well in competitions, they need a firm, patient trainer with a lot of creativity.


Chow Chow dedicates and protects his family. To make them a good family pet, they need plenty of early socialization, including children's visits. Chow Chow works best with training to assert his position in the family or to become dominant. Despite the challenges of training, some Chow Chow behave well with obedience and agility.

Their grooming requirement varies according to the type of coat. Coarse or rough-coated Chow Chow must be groomed daily to remove any tangles, while smooth-coated Chow Chow dogs can be groomed once or twice a week. Particular attention should be given to keeping the eyes, and facial layers clean as their wrinkled coat can retain dirt and debris.

Breed Characteristic

Weight Range:

  • Male: 45-70 lbs.
  • Female: 45-70 lbs.

Height at Withers:

  • Male: 19 in.
  • Female: 18 in.

Other Body Features

  • Face: Brachycephalic (squashed face)
  • Eyes: droopy eyes
  • Ears: upright ears (naturally)
  • Body type: wrinkles
  • Exercise Requirements: <20 minutes/day
  • Energy Levels: Medium
  • Longevity Ranges: 10-12 yrs.
  • The tendency to Drool: Moderate 
  • The tendency to Snore: Moderate to high
  • The tendency to Bark: Low
  • The tendency to Dig: Low 
  • Social/Attention Needs: Low
  • Bred For: Guardian, cart pulling, hunting

Body Coat Characteristic

  • Coat Length: Medium/short
  • Coat type: Double coat, straight
  • Coat Colours: Red, black, blue, cinnamon, cream
  • Overall Grooming Needs: High

Club Recognition

  • AKC Classifications: Non-sporting
  • UKC Classifications: Northern Breeds
  • Prevalence: Common

Chow Chow is a medium-sized lovely dog. It is a square dog with straight hind legs. These straight legs contribute to a somewhat restrained gait.

Chow Chow's have erected ears and a broad skull with tail tucked into its back. The trademark feature is, of course, the blue/black tongue. Wrinkles on the face (often blurred by the hair) indicate purebred Chow Chow.

There are two types o Chow Chow coats. Both coat types have a thick coat. We are more familiar with long coats. It's a straight, round coat that gives him a teddy bear look. The smooth skin comes with a slight variation.

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