The Chow Chow is one of the legendary dogs in China and it has been used for various roles including hunting, caravan guiding and even as food. This beautiful bear-like dog has the most distinct personality in dogdom. Surprisingly, it was never used as a pet in its country but is a popular household companion in the UK and the US. Let us study the temperament, facts and characteristics of the Chow Chow.
Quick fun facts about the Chow Chow
- The Chow Chow dog breed is very similar to a bear, and also shares the unique characteristic of having a black/blue/purple tongue just like black bears have. Sometimes, the bluish black color even extends up to the dog’s lips.
- Martha Stewart owned a Chow named Genghis Khan.
- President Calvin Coolidge owned two black Chow Chows named Tiny Tim and Blackberry. Coolidge was president when Chow Chows were famous as pets among the rich and upper class society.
- In China, the breed is also known as Songshi Quan; the word Chow Chow means puffy lion like dog. The word chow also means something edible and the dogs were used as food in China for a long period of time.
- Supporters of this breed believe that an ancient bear-like animal (which is now extinct) may be the ancestor of the Chow.
- Male Chows stand at 17-20 inches at withers and weigh between 55 and 70 pounds. Female Chows weigh between 45 and 60 lbs.
- Chows have a dense, thick outer coat and a distinctive under coat. It comes in 5 different colors including red, mahogany, black, blue and cinnamon. The light cream or beige Chows are often passed off as white Chow Chow.
Where to find a Chow Chow
If you have your heart set on a Chow Chow puppy, then the first thing you need to do is look for reputed breeders in your area. When you research several breeders, you will be able to recognize a knowledgeable and reputable one; a breeder who genuinely cares for his dogs and also wants to ensure that you are the right owner for his pup. The best place to find registered Chow Chow breeders is the official website of the Chow Chow Club of USA. Shortlist several breeders and talk to them. A good breeder will definitely have a long wait time for a puppy since he/she might allow only one litter per year.
Tips on choosing a puppy
- Observe the puppy in its litter. You definitely want one that is curious, alert and intelligent. Stay away from the shy, shrinking cowering puppy.
- It is never 100% possible to get a healthy, disease-free puppy. But an ethical breeder will show you records of medical tests done. Also ask to see the puppy’s parents so you can ensure they are of sound health and temperament.
- If the puppy’s parents or grandparents are known to be snappy or aggressive, then the puppy is likely to inherit those qualities. The puppy could even turn into a biter; which often ends up being a cause for abandonment.
This is a super independent dog breed with an air of regality, distinct personality and great intelligence. Inherently, your Chow will be wary of strangers and slightly reserved in the beginning. But once he gets to know someone, he can be quite friendly. Chows do not get along well with other dogs; they will especially not tolerate a show of dominance from fellow animals. They are good with children but you should never leave a young child unsupervised around a large Chow. A Chow is the neighbor most of us wish for: non interfering, in a world of his own and at the same time, aware of what is going on around him. This is a true blue aristocrat who will never go looking for trouble on his own. At the same time, if he feels his loved ones are threatened, he won’t hesitate to show who the boss is. If ever you come across an aggressive Chow, know that he is not a true representative of the breed. Rather, he must be a product of some indiscriminate puppy mill breeding.
An owner’s approach to training a Chow Chow should be no different that training the more responsive breeds; he only needs to be even more patient, loving and persistent. Using healthy food treats is a good way to get your puppy to behave and respond positively. Apart from healthy treats, you may want to invest in a crate. Chows, like most dogs, will love to sleep in a crate as it helps give them a secure, den-like feeling. Also, crate training and housetraining go hand in hand. A puppy will never soil his sleeping quarters, so a crate trained puppy will also get house trained easily. Based on how much time you can dedicate to training, your pet will be trained faster or sooner. If not, you can always enroll him in an obedience school near you. Here are some training tips to bear in mind when training a Chow:
- Chows are a difficult breed to train. So be patient, consistent and use only positive reinforcement.
- Make sure you socialize your pet with other dogs and humans. This way, they will be fine when they grow up around other pets or children.
These are lazy dogs so as an owner; you must ensure your pet walks at least twice a day to stay fit and healthy. Chow Chows have a thick coat which makes them more suitable for cold places. So avoid over-exercising your dog in summers. Also, a Chow Chow puppy’s bones are not fully developed until he is about 4 years old. Until then, restrict his exercise to two, 30-minute walks and do not allow him to jump from a height as that could lead to hip and joint issues.
Chow Chows need consistent regular grooming to keep their thick coat free from mats, tangles and parasites. Invest in good quality grooming tools and brush your pet daily. This will help capture loose hair and prevent it from flying all over the place. Chows shed their coat twice annually and you can literally fill two large trash bags with the hair they discard. If your pet’s hair is severely matted and tangled, you must take him to a professional groomer. Closely observe how the professional grooms your pet so you can pick up a few tips for DIY grooming. Clip your dogs nails from time to time and inspect his ears to ensure they are clean and healthy.
Common health issues
Health issues common to the Chow are eye problems, hip dysplasia, certain cancers, ear infections and hot spots. If you live in an apartment, the Chow would still be a good pet for you provided you take him for walks two to three times a day. This breed is rather sensitive to heat and cold so do take care of that. Good food, proper grooming and regular exercise can keep your Chow healthy and happy for years to come. Life expectancy of the Chow Chow dog breed is about 12-14 years.