Breed Type: Spitz
Country of Origin: China
Popular Names: Black Tongue, Chow, Black-Mouthed Dog, Lang Kou (“wolf dog”), Kwantung Kou (“dog of Canton”), Hsiung Kou (“bear dog”), Songshi Quan (“puffy lion dog”)
Height: (At the withers) 46 – 56 cm
Weight: 20 – 32 kg
Best suited as: Pet or show dog
Lifespan: 12-15 years
These large dogs are best known for their blue-black tongues. All dogs with a Chow Chow ancestor will have this distinctive trait.
They are large, square-shaped, and muscular. They appear stocky. Their broad heads, wide muzzles, triangular ears, and bushy tail that curls over the back are typical of Spitz-type dogs. The inside of a Chow’s mouth and tongue is a blue-black colour.
They come in either smooth or rough variety. Smooth coated Chows look more like Akitas, while the rough coated variety gives them a distinct lion-type look, with fur that stands straight out from the body. A ruff of longer fur grows around the head and neck of the rough-haired Chow. Both types have a dense, thick, and soft undercoat that keeps them warm in extreme temperatures. The rough coated type is more popular than the smooth variety.
Dogs of either type of coat may be any shade of cinnamon, black, red, blue, or cream.
They have what appears to be a scowling expression, and walk with a stilted gait because of straight back legs.
There is some debate as to whether the Chow Chow is a cross between a Samoyed and the Old Tibetan Mastiff, or whether this breed is one of the basic canine breeds that formed the basis of the Spitz type. In any case, this ancient dog breed has been around for thousands of years, and comes from Mongolia, Siberia, and Northern China.
They have been used as pointers and scenting dogs for hunting birds, as well as hunting companions to take down bears. They helped protect the herd from predators.They were used to guard temples, pull sleds, hunt, and in some cases where meat and other food was scarce, they were used as food for humans. Their skin and fur was used for clothing.
Recent DNA studies have shown that they are very similar, genetically, to the wolf. This indicates that they are likely one of the first domestic dog breeds.
These dogs made their way to other countries in the holds of merchant ships during the spice trade. They were looked upon as Chinese curiosities, mostly seen in zoos, until Queen Victoria took some as pets. They have been the favoured companion of many famous people, including Sigmund Freud, Martha Stewart, and Janet Jackson. Chow-Lab crosses are popular among celebrities like Drew Barrymore, Matthew McConaughey, and Selena Gomez.
The temperament of Chow Chows varies from dog to dog, and even the same dog will have varying personality features from day to day, or even minute to minute. They can be happy and playful one minute, and aloof and stubborn the next. Some love children and some do not tolerate children well at all. They all make wonderful pets, though, as long as their owners realize they will not always act like cuddly fur balls.
They are very independent and some people describe dogs of this breed to act more like cats than dogs.
They can be aggressive, and so need proper training and socialization, particularly to prevent them from becoming territorial and protective of the home. They need to be placed into situations where they meet a lot of people. They tend to be dog-aggressive, and don’t do well with cats or other small animals. They are more aggressive towards same-sex dogs.
They are impatient and can snap at children, so do not always make the best dog for a family with young kids. All children must treat them respectfully or risk a bite.
Their owners have to establish leadership ability. Training must never be harsh, because they will retaliate. They do best with consistent, firm, fair training that involves lots of treats and praise. They don’t like to be told what to do. Despite other difficulties with obedience training, they are easy to house train.
They need to be on-leash at all times, except for when they are alone in a fenced-in, secure yard. Some insurance companies have marked these dogs as being high-risk.
Care and Grooming
Most Chows enjoy being groomed, as long as the person doing it is gentle. They should never be clipped, as this can permanently damage the coat. They need to be brushed or combed every two to three days to prevent tangles and mats from forming. Dry shampoo works better than traditional bathing because of their super thick undercoat. It is very important to ensure the comb or brush goes right down to the skin to remove all debris, moisture, and dead hair. Some owners find it easier to apply a coat dressing before they brush or comb out tangles.
They shed heavily during changes of the season, and require more frequent brushing during these times, usually once a day. They also need to have their ears cleaned and their teeth brushed once a week. Monthly nail clipping as required is also necessary. They are not a high-exercise need dog, but do require daily walks. They enjoy romps in a fenced-in yard or park. Some enjoy running obstacle courses.
They are a very healthy breed for the most part, and live up to 15 years. They are prone to ectropion, entropion, extreme heat conditions, elbow dysplasia, patellar luxation, thyroid disease, and hip dysplasia. Get your Chow Chow from a scrupulous breeder to avoid problems.
Suitability As A Pet
Because of their tendency to become aggressive, only people who have the time to devote to proper socialization and training should adopt a Chow. They do best in single dog homes, or homes where there is an opposite-sex dog of similar size. Their hunting instinct makes them dangerous to have around cats and small dogs.
To avoid tragedy, it is best that they not be around small children, or children who have not been taught to respect these dogs. Only experienced dog owners should get a Chow as a pet.
Owners must also have the time to devote to regular grooming.
They make excellent home guardians.
Chow Chow Organisations in Australia
Chow Chow Club of Victoria Inc
Chow Chow Breed Rescue (Queensland)
Contact : Lesley StewartPhone : 07 4164 2241
Email : [email protected]
Chow Chow Organisations in the UK
Chow Chow Club, Inc
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