The Chow Chow dog breed comes from China, and it has a name Songshi Quan in Chinese language which means “puffy lion-dog.” It is also referred to as Tang Quan or the “dog of the Tang Empire”.
The Chow Chow is one of the popular dog breeds kept as family dogs and for protection. Their distinctive lion-like mane and slightly scowling expression and noble, yet reserved, nature set them apart from most family pets. But they are extremely protective, and make good guardian dogs even for apartment dwellers.
The Chow Chow dog breed is an ancient breed tracing its origins even to the wolf ancestors according to DNA evidence. They might have first appeared in Siberia and parts of Mongolia from where they were brought to China. Several sculptures dating back to the first and second BC depict a dog similar to Chow Chows. They are thought to be first used for guarding temples and later for hunting and pulling sleds.
There’s every possibility that the lion-like war dogs of the Mongolians were olden time Chow Chows. When they invaded not only China but some parts of Europe and the Middle East in the 13th century, these dogs would have had a wider distribution. They were used as hunting dogs and guardians in China for centuries, but Marco Polo mentions their use as sled pullers too.
In the 18th century, these dogs were imported to England on a large scale from China. In fact, this breed was highly favored by Queen Victoria. Their breed name is thought to have evolved during this time. The Chow Chow dog breed came to the United States from England in the late 19th century, and they have become very popular ever since. The breed was officially recognized by AKC in 1903.
The Chow Chow dog breed has a distinctive lion-like appearance due to its thick mane around the neck. Their body is square and muscular with small and triangular ears standing erect on either side of the head. The fluffy tail is curly and is carried on its back. The hind limbs are straight, giving the dog a peculiar stilted gait. Measuring up to 20 inches at the withers, theses dogs usually weigh between 55 and 70 pounds.
The blue black tongue is a signature feature of Chow Chows that it shares with a few related breeds such as Shar-Pei. In Chows, the blue black color extends to the lips too. The dog comes in two coat forms; one smooth and silky, and the other rough. The coat color may vary from cream, fawn and cinnamon, to red, blue and black.
Chow Chows are popular as house pets, and are very protective of their family and home. They become very attached to the family members, often choosing one or two among them as their main buddies. These dogs are not very active; hence they make good pets for those who live in apartments. However, they can become bored and lethargic without regular activity.
These dogs are not very playful, and may have an aloof attitude. They are not very easy to train too. Chow Chows are known to be aggressive with strangers, and have been involved in a few dog-related fatalities. Not all individuals are aggressive though; some are even too timid for a dog that looks like a lion.
This breed requires a firm, yet gentle, owner who is assertive and confident, offering definite leadership to the dog. They have a tendency to dominate in the absence of a pack leader figure, and a dominant Chow Chow without strict obedience training can be dangerous.
Grooming and exercise
The thick coat of Chow Chow dog breed understandably takes a bit of grooming. If your dog’s coat is smooth, thorough brushing once or twice a week is sufficient, but if it is rough coated, grooming every other day is essential. Heavy shedding can be expected during the two shedding seasons.
They need some daily exercise or activity, but a brisk walk on the leash may suffice. The dog does well in a cool climate. Hot and humid weather is not tolerated by Chow Chows.
Common health issues of Chow Chow dog breed
The Chow Chow dog breed is prone to a few common canine health issues such as hip and elbow dysplasia and patellar luxation. The other health problems include glaucoma, cataract and entropion. They are prone to developing a dangerous condition called gastric torsion that requires immediate medical attention. These dogs are at risk of obesity and related problems, unless special care is taken with their nutrition. Autoimmune diseases and melanomas too occur more frequently in Chow Chows. Their life expectancy is about 9-13 years.