Where does the Chow Chow come from?
Chow Chows come from Northern China and Mongolia. As genetic testing has proven, they belong to the oldest dog breeds in existence today. We owe the earliest records of these dogs to the artists of ancient Asia – who depicted them on vases and paintings. These records date back all the way to 206 B.C. Originally, these one-of-a-kind dogs were utilised as guardians and hunting companions for the Emperors of Ancient China. Towards the end of the 18th century, British merchants brought some of these dogs back to England, and referred to them as “Chow Chows”. Around 100 years later, Queen Victoria took a liking in this exotic new breed, and the first official Chow Chow club was founded in 1895. In 1903, the breed received its official AKC recognition.
In appearance, these bear-like dogs are built quite sturdily. Square in profile, they come with a broad head, triangular, erect ears, and the characteristic blue-black tongues. Their dense double coat can be long or short, and breed standards permit the colours Red, Cream, Black, Blue and Fawn. Adult makes can measure up to 56 cm at the wither, and weigh up to 32 kilos. This amounts to 22 inches, at a weight of 71 pounds. Females are slightly smaller and lighter.
What is their temperament like?
Whilst fiercely loyal to their owners, Chow Chows are quite independent dogs – so much so that many owners attribute a cat-like personality to their canine companions. Naturally aloof and wary of strangers, they need an experienced owner and lots of socialization, especially during the first year of their lives. When guided and trained well, every adorable Chow puppy can be raised into a reasonably well-behaved companion dog. But despite even the most extensive socialization, the average Chow will not become a people-loving dog.. Because of this, visitors should never be left unattended with an adolescent or adult Chow Chow. It is safe to say that this breed is not ideal for owners who have many people coming and going. And whilst this bear-like dogs can do well with children, they should be raised together with them from puppyhood onwards. Generally, they do not make the best dogs for families with small kids: Chow Chows are quite intolerant of being poked and prodded – either by children or other dogs. Speaking of which – same-sex aggression can be an issue with this breed, even if well-socialised.
How intelligent and trainable are Chow Chows?
Chow Chows are quite intelligent, but at the same time, remarkably uncooperative and stubborn. Training them, therefore, is a challenge – with the exception of housetraining: As they naturally clean dogs, they are very easy to housebreak. Contrary to the majority of dog breeds, Chows do not feel the need to please their owners. Or to look to them for leadership and direction. Also, Chow puppies are exceptionally cute, and look like cuddly Teddy Bears. Which is great, but for the average owner, this cute-factor makes it even harder to stay firm and consistent. And to correct negative behaviours at an early age – such as puppy-biting or resource guarding. For these reasons, it takes quite an experienced canine leader to raise and train one these dogs.
Are Chow Chows healthy dogs?
The average life expectancy of these Chinese beauties ranges from 9 and 15 years. And whilst they are generally robust and healthy dogs, they can develop hip dysplasia as well as an eye condition known as Entropion. This means the eyelid rolls inward, and irritates or even injures the eyeball. This condition has to be surgically corrected.
Exercise and Grooming Needs of the Chow
Chow Chows are a relatively low energy breed, and they have a low play- and prey drive. Which basically means that they do not require lots of exercise every single day. This is why the calm and usually very quiet Chows can make amazing apartment companions. Of course, even the most laid-back dog will enjoy leisurely walks with their owners, but for a Chow, two 30-minute-walks a day should be sufficient for exercise.
When it comes to brushing these Chinese guardians, the short-coated version requires little more than a weekly once-over with a grooming mitt, or a curry brush. The long-haired Chow, however, comes with a thick, abundant coat. This plush fur needs thorough brushing, at least three times a week – using a stainless steel comb, a pin brush and an undercoat rake. As Chows are heavy seasonal shedders, using a Furminator during shedding season is recommended.
Chow Chows are amazing dogs – loyal and devoted to their owners, but very suspicious of strangers. And whilst these attributes make them superb guardians, they are not the best fit for a family with small children and other dogs: These regal bear-like dogs from ancient China do best in households where they are the only dog. Preferably, they would have a single owner or a couple, whom they can develop a strong bond with. This is not a breed for everyone, but for the right person, the Chow can be the perfect canine companion.