THE CHOW-CHOW

chow chow dog breed

The Chow- Chow, also known as the Lang Gou (wolf dog), or the Xioung Gou (bear dog), originated from China. It is thought that its ancestors can be traced back to the Han Dynasty. Some also believe that this dog breed is a cross between the old Mastiff of Tibet and the Samoyed. The Chow is part of the UKC, Northern Group, and the AKC, Non-Sporting Group.

Brief History

The Chow- Chow was first used as a hunting dog breed for pheasant and partridge. Their name comes from the pidgin-English slang word that sailors used to describe cargo, chow- chow. There is evidence that goes back to show that the Chow has spitz-type dog breed relatives from the Norwegian Elkhound to the Pomeranian. This dog breed was used for companionship to the Chinese nobleman.

Over the centuries, the Chow-Chow were also used as guardian dogs, as well as for hunting, and hauling.  By the 1820’s the Chow-Chow was being exhibited at the Chinese Zoos as “The Wild Dogs of China.” This dog breed arrived in the U.S in 1890’s, and were registered with the AKC in 1903.

Physical Features

The Chow- Chow is a medium-sized, well-built dog. They’re sturdy, squarely built, and powerful. With a broad head and a short muzzle, this dog has prick ears with rounded tips. Their eyes are almond-shaped, and dark brown in color. Since the Chow’s eyes are deeply set, they tend to have very limited peripheral vision.

The Chow has a bluish back tongue, with a large black nose. Their tails are set plumed, high and carried close to the body at all times. Their shoulders are strong and well-muscled. Chows are double-coated with the outer coat being smooth or rough. The rough coat tends to be longer, thick, and straight.The undercoat is soft and wooly. There is a thick ruff around head, neck. There is no feathering on the tail or legs. The coat color can be red, black, blue, cinnamon, or cream. This breed is agile, quick, and very powerful.

Average Height:

17-20 inches

Average Weight:

45-70 pounds

Life Expectancy:

8-12 years

Temperament

The Chow- Chow is an aloof, yet dignified, dog breed. They also tend to be very independent and intelligent. Chows are friendly and loyal with family. They do well with plenty of socialization and positive dog training starting at puppyhood. Although the Chow-Chow is reserved with strangers, they rarely display aggression. With plenty of socialization and positive dog training this dog breed can do well with children. However, the Chow-Chow isn’t a huge fan of other dogs and animals.

This breed does best with lots of exercise and a secure garden or backyard. This is a very sensitive, yet arrogant dog breed that needs tons of positive reinforcement. They typically do well with lots of attention and affection.

One needs to earn this dog’s respect and trust before the Chow opens up to you. This is a very dominant dog breed, so experienced pet parents are often recommended for adoption. Chows may be difficult to train due to stubbornness. They also tend to be territorial, so Chow parents need to make every effort to start socialization during the first 4 weeks of puppyhood.

Special Needs

This agile dog breed does well with plenty of off-leash exercise. Early socialization with other dogs, people and animals is highly recommended. Positive puppy training classes help the Chow overcome any shyness or aggression issues. The Chow is sensitive, active and enjoys short hikes. This breed does well with an active family and enjoys most canine sporting activities.

Positive dog training for the Chow needs to be consistent and start early on during puppyhood. Chows do well with apartment city living, as they do not require excessive exercise. The Chow may have a tendency to bark a lot.

Regular walks, and off-leash trips to the dog park work well for the Chow to keep them relaxed. Extra care needs to be given to grooming issues with the Chow. The Chow needs to be kept clipped and cool during the hot summer months.

Chow Chows are also sensitive to very cold temperatures. 

Possible Health Concerns

The Chow is a healthy and active dog breed that may be susceptible to the following health conditions:

  • Hip Dysplasia: is the abnormal development of the hip joint in large dog breeds like the Chow. It is generally characterized by a loose joint, and then degenerative joint disease. 
  • Entropion: This is when the eyelids roll inward, and the eyelashes rub against the cornea. It is a painful and irritating condition for dogs. This is a heritable disorder that can be surgically corrected by your veterinarian.
  • Anesthesia Sensitivity: Chows have a difficult time tolerating anesthesia. Consult with your veterinarian prior to any surgery.
  • Heat & Cold Sensitivity: Chows need to avoid extreme heat and extreme cold. Hot and humid conditions can be fatal for the Chow.
  • Bloat: occurs often in larger breeds with narrow chests like the Chow. Left untreated, this will usually result in death. Symptoms include dry retching, vomiting, pacing, heavy panting, and enlarged abdomen. Contact your emergency veterinarian right away even if it’s the middle of the night. 
  • Persistent Pupillary Membranes (PPMs): These are remnant of a fetal structure called the pupillary membrane. This is hereditary in Chows. Blindness is associated with PPM’s. Consult with your veterinarian for advice.
chow chow dog

Exercise

The Chow needs regular exercise every day to stay fit, keep a healthy weight and maintain strong back muscles. Chows do not require excessive exercise. This is an alert and active breed that also enjoys play with interactive dog toys for mental stimulation.

All high-impact exercise needs to be avoided — especially during hot temperatures. Additionally, the Chow needs to be indoors during the hot summer months, and should only exercise during the early morning or evening hours.

The Chow most enjoys family activities with their dog parents.  Dog park playdates with other dogs, and trips to the dog beach help relax the Chow. Keep in mind that this dog breed can be aggressive with other dogs, so positive training and socialization must be ongoing to ensure that this breed is fine with other dogs, people, and children.

Nutrition

All dog breeds, regardless of size and age, need to be fed a high-quality diet. 

Chow dog parents should never underestimate the importance of healthy, high-quality, balanced nutrition for their dogs. Start by assessing your Chow’s activity level, age, breed, and any medical conditions that he or she may be prone to when selecting the best dog food.

chow chow

Grooming

The Chow has a profuse double coat that needs regular maintenance and daily grooming. Chows that enjoy playing outside in muddy conditions will need to be bathed as needed. Always check your Chow’s coat for fleas and ticks, and consult with your veterinarian as to the safest flea and tick control products.

Eyes need to be wiped daily, and ears should be checked for sensitivity, and also cleaned weekly. The Chow’s coat gets matted very easily. Chow dog parents may visit a professional dog groomer for a clipping. This also ensures that this breed does not overheat. When home-bathing, it’s best to use a cool dryer to dry the Chow.

Daily dental brushing is a must to prevent the development of plaque. Chow parents can help with canine dental care by providing “flossie- style” dental cleaning bones. Both regular dental brushing in combination with professional dental cleanings reduces the risk of gingivitis and periodontal disease. This will also prevent extraction in the long run. Daily grooming is very important for dogs like the Chow to prevent matting, and irritation of the skin. Moist and sensitive skin conditions exist beneath the matt. This leaves the skin open to bacterial infections, and even parasitic infections.

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