Dog Cat Love

Chow Chow

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The bear-like Chow Chow hails from China where it is known as the ‘puffy-lion dog’.

Chow Chows are an ancient breed that may hail from Mongolia or Siberia, which explains their amazing, thick coat. They were bred to work, but were also eaten and were great guard dogs.

They are well-known for their unusual black tongues and curly tails, similar to the Sharpei. They can make great small-space pets and don’t require a great deal of exercise, but should be avoided in tick areas or hot climates due to that dense coat.


I don’t particularly want a family with kids and am fairly independent, so don’t need constant attention. I do like to chase cats, so my idea home is with other dogs not smaller animals.


Lifespan 9-15 years
Weight 20-32 kg
Height (at shoulder) 43-51 cm



Stubborn/strong willed – Chows are known to be a little stubborn at times. They can be easily trained if motivated and only positive training methods are used, but they will often have a mind of their own, particularly if chasing a scent.

Loyal – A Chow will often bond very closely to one person in the family and be extremely loyal. This can translate to a dog that is not suited to long periods of being alone and perhaps even a bit snappy if not socialised appropriately.


Exercise Requirements Low – 0-0.5 hours per day
Training Requirements Medium – 0.5-1.0 hours per day
Apartment Friendly? Yes


Chows have a tendency towards aggression if not socialised and trained continuously. The first 12 weeks of life is the most important period. They are independent, but do need to be kept mentally stimulated with games and activities. They do adapt well to apartment living if need be.


Trips to the Groomer No- easy care at home
Tick Friendly? No
Hypoallergenic No
Brushing High – Daily brushing required
Hair fall High Shed – you will be living with lots of hair
Coat Type Long and dense


Chows do need lots of brushing particularly when they are shedding that dense coat. Close to the skin, their coat is thick and wooly and often they will overheat in warm climates.


Good With Kids Poor –may not be good with kids (dog dependent)
Good With Other Small Pets Medium – Ok with other pets, supervision advised
Sociability Low – Okay as an only dog.


Chows are known to be independent, but are happy with other dogs and young people if socialised when young. They don’t tend to chase smaller animals and mostly ignore cats, but supervision is suggested.


Overall Expenses (Annual) Medium – $1500-$2000
Veterinary Expenses (Annual) Medium – $200-$500
Food Expenses (Weekly) Medium – $15-$20


Generally Chows are healthy dogs that don’t require a huge budget.



Entropion – in some cases the eyelids roll inwards a little, causing the eyelashes to irritate the eye and in some cases cause painful corneal ulcers and vision loss. The condition is easily corrected with surgery.

Ear infections – those small ears can mean ear infections are more common in Chows.

Alopecia X – this condition is not common, but is seen in Chows. It is a non-pathogenic condition that causes symmetrical hairloss. There are a number of theories and treatment, but it is not thought to be harmful and purely cosmetic.

Hip Displaysia – Chows are prone to hip dysplasia, and while more breeders are hip scoring in an attempt to breed out this devastating disease, in some cases it can still occur, particularly with overfeeding at a young age.


Breeders are generally fairly good at avoiding breeding from dogs with hip dysplasia and entropion, but this does still occasionally occur. If your dog has signs of either your vet can advise you whether surgery is needed.

Preventative ear cleaning may be needed to limit the risk of ear infections.


Chow Chows originated from China, with DNA that closely resembles that of the wolf, meaning they were one of the ancient breeds. According to Chinese legend, that blue tongue was due to licking the night sky as it was being painted.

Sigmund Freud’s Chow was with him during all his therapy sessions and would help him judge character.

The Chows were once used as a food source and their coats were used for clothing by the Chinese. They were also used as hunting dogs in the Han dynasty 150 BC.
Chow Chows are related to Samoyeds, Keeshounds and Pomeranians.

The name Chow Chow is thought to originate from pidgin English, not Chinese and meant knick-knacks or bric-a-brac, possibly because that was the term the English used for ornaments brought from China.



Petfinder lists all types of dogs who need homes, both purebred and mixed breeds, adults and puppies.

The ASPCA often has Chows for adoption; just do an advanced search on their adoption page.

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