The Chow Chow: A Complete Guide on China’s Beloved Breed

The Chow Chow is an ancient dog breed hailing from China. These cat-like dogs are deeply devoted to their families.

Feb 18, 2024By Thalia Oosthuizen
the chow chow complete guide on chinas beloved breed

Meet the Chow Chow - the adorable dog that stands out from other breeds because of their wrinkled faces and fluffy coats. Chow Chow’s aren’t just lookers, you know. In fact, there's a lot more to these adorable pups. They boast a very engaging personality and a fascinating history as China's esteemed guardians.

If you have ever seen a pic of this pup, you are already as enamored as we are, so why not learn a little more? Let's dive into the ancient roots of the Chow Chow!

Unraveling the Chow Chow's Historical Roots

Chow Chow Puppy Sitting by Wall
Image credit: Pexels

These cute furballs began leaving their paw print all over history during the Han Dynasty (206 BCE to 220 CE) in ancient China. But they weren't just adorable pals to throw the ball with; they had a serious job. We aren’t joking; these pups were actually used as guardians of the emperor’s palaces and hunting grounds.

The Chow Chow's role expanded beyond imperial duties, thanks to their unique look and lion-like mane. Soon, they were loved not only by the royals but by everyday people as well. Eventually, sailors grabbed onto the breed, and they brought them on ships as companions, spreading their charm worldwide.

Fast forward to the 1800s, and these fluffballs created a stir in Europe, becoming the favorites of royals like Queen Victoria. The Chow Chow kept changing as time rolled on, adapting to new places and becoming cherished family members. Today, their rich history still echoes in their noble attitude and distinctive appearance.

The Allure of the Chow Chow's Physical Charm

Large Chow Chow Dog Lying on Bed
Image credit: Pexels

A majestic lion's mane and the snout of a bear are the trademarks of this jaw-dropping canine. It is no wonder that people rave about the unmistakable charm of the Chow Chow. But there's so much more to this delightful breed than meets the eye, and that adds to their world-renowned royal-like elegance.

Among their defining features is also a robust build and a gracefully curled tail that rests across their back. What sets them apart even further is their luxurious double coat, which is a sight to behold. However, it's far from a one-size-fits-all scenario. The Chow Chow flaunts a diverse range of coat colors, from creamy hues to fiery reds and even bold blacks.

On top of all this, there is one more thing that adds an extra touch of charm to these already cute pups: their unique blue-black tongue! This is nothing to worry about; it’s just another thing that makes the Chow Chow stand out from other breeds.

Decoding the Temperament of the Chow Chow

Chow Chow Panting Sitting on Grass
Image credit: Pexels

They may look adorable, but if you are anything like us, a pup's appeal isn’t all about the looks; it has to do with their personality, too. The Chow Chow tends to be independent and dignified, like a canine aristocrat. But don't mistake their serious expression for grumpiness; it's just their way of being cool and collected.

They can be a little aloof, though (they’re known for being a cat-like dog breed). That’s right, they are all about getting love on their timetable, so just be prepared to get that canine love when they feel like it, not when you want it.

Don’t be discouraged because even though they are a little stubborn and a bit aloof, the Chow Chow isn’t just a stoic guardian. They're also known for being quite playful and affectionate with their loved ones. So, if you're up for a mix of independence, loyalty, and a dash of regal charm, the Chow Chow might just be your perfect furry match.

Nurturing a Well-Behaved Chow Chow

Brown Chow Chow Lying on Ground
Image credit: Pexels

Like a partnership with a wise companion, training a Chow Chow is a rewarding journey, revealing the depth of their intelligence and forming a bond that lasts a lifetime. But it won’t be done by simply snapping your fingers.

Chow Chows aren’t known for being wickedly intelligent dogs (like the Einstein Poodle), but with some patience, you can unlock their full potential.

Chow Chow Dog Sitting on Grass in Yard
Image credit: Pixabay

Alright, let's dive into the exciting world of training a Chow Chow with some tips to make it a breeze:

  • Chow Chows thrive on routine, so make sure your training sessions are regular and predictable. This helps them understand what to expect.
  • These fluffballs respond well to positive reinforcement, like treats, praise, and pats. Shower them with love when they get it right!
  • Introduce your Chow Chow to different people, places, and situations when they're young. This helps them grow into well-rounded adults and avoids common behavioral problems, like resource guarding.
  • Be the leader they can respect. Firmness is essential, but always be fair and maintain a friendly tone. It's like being their cool and confident guide.
  • Use grooming sessions as a bonding experience. It's not just about looking fabulous; it's about building trust and connecting.

Health Notes: The Chow Chow Care Manual

Chow Chow Puppy on Paving
Image credit: Pixabay

Now, let's delve into the essential world of understanding and mastering the care and maintenance of the regal Chow Chow. With its unique charm, this breed does present some challenges in both health and grooming, requiring a knowledgeable and attentive pet parent.

So, let's have a little heart-to-heart about the secrets to keeping your Chow Chow not only healthy and happy but also looking absolutely fabulous. It's like having the ultimate guide to becoming the perfect pet parent.

Chow Chows Have Some Health Problems

Chow Chow Panting with Purple Tongue
Image credit: Pixabay

When it comes to health, Chow Chows might face challenges like hip dysplasia and eye conditions, demanding attentive care through regular vet check-ups. These pups have a really calm demeanor, so reading their feelings might be a little challenging. This is why keeping your eyes out for any changes in personality or physical abilities is so important.

One of the ways to do that is to keep up with those regular vet visits (this includes staying up to date on their vaccinations). Also, make sure you keep them on a balanced diet so you can watch their weight.

Taking these steps will help protect against common health concerns. With proactive care, you're not just a pet owner; you're their health-savvy guardian.

These Dogs Have High Grooming Needs

Chow Chow Dog Playing in Snow
Image credit: Pixabay

Grooming is one of the most important things with any pet. But Chow Chows have some unique considerations because of their thick undercoat and bear-like physique.

Their opulent double coat requires special attention. Their “poof” makes these dogs prone to having mats, and matting can create skin irritation and sensitivity. So, for their coat to stay in peak condition, there has to be consistent grooming. This should be done regularly, a few times a week, to keep those mats at bay. There are also some special brushes and combs you can purchase online to keep your dog looking (and feeling) their best.

Chow Chow Standing on Grass
Image credit: Pixabay

Another way to combat those mats and to address any skin sensitivity is to make sure that their bathing routine is done with gentleness. You want to make sure that their bath time is almost like a royal affair. Only use very dog-friendly shampoos. This won't only help with skin sensitivity, but it'll help their fur coat stay maximumly fluffy.

Finally, we know the coat is important and everything, but there is one specific finishing touch that must be included in the grooming situation. To ensure the distinctive lion's mane and snout remain on point, you need to do a little bit of face cleaning, as well. Just like with little white dogs (like the Coton de Tulear), Chow Chows are prone to excessive tear production, leading to staining.

These Canines Need Tender Loving Care

Chow Chow Lying in Shade on Grass
Image credit: Pixabay

While Chow Chows may look all-knowing and wise, they're still pups. This means that your dog will thrive even more if you give them enough attention. This can include daily doses of exercise and playtime, whether that is at home or the dog park. You can provide much-needed mental stimulation by buying puzzle toys and interactive games that keep their mind engaged.

Sure, your pup may not be able to have a full-on conversation with you, but these dogs have very expressive eyes. A Chow Chow’s eyes say a lot, and picking up on subtle clues can strengthen your bond.

Chow Chow Dog at Beach in Sand
Image credit: Pixabay

Being a responsible pet parent is more than just doing the bare minimum. It's a relationship that requires engagement and understanding. If you can do this, you may unlock a lifetime of unwavering loyalty and boundless joy with your pup.

That means the key to having a strong relationship with your pup is to really pay attention to their behavioral cues. Chow Chows have no problem letting you know their likes and dislikes. For instance, if you take your dog to the park and notice signs of aggression (like growling and raised hackles), it’s time to take a break.

Understanding any dog really boils down to embracing a holistic approach to care. If you can do that, your dog, whether it be a Chow Chow or another spitz breed, will be a happy, healthy, and fabulous companion for you.

Thalia Oosthuizen
By Thalia Oosthuizen

Thalia has been a freelance writer for over a decade and a dog (and animal) lover for over 30 years. She grew up on a farm where, at one stage, she had 15 dogs. She currently has one dog, Avery - an adorable pavement special with an extra toe on each foot, and two rescue cats - Boris and Mango. In her spare time, Thalia enjoys running, cycling, swimming, and reading