Proud and aloof, these majestic dogs have a distinctive temperament which many describe as cat-like. Though they are not the most affectionate of breeds, they make extremely loyal companions, and will love their owners without demanding too much of their attention. In capable hands, this breed makes an excellent family pet, and is likely to form an especially strong bond with its primary caregiver. Some highlights:
Chow Chows are very clean dogs by nature, and are therefore easy to housetrain.
In the hands of an experienced owner, this intelligent breed is easily trained, and capable of learning quickly.
Chow Chows make excellent watchdogs, as they are naturally suspicious of strangers.
Due to their aloof nature and independent spirit, Chow Chows are very tolerant of being left alone for moderate periods of time.
Although Chow Chows have many lovely characteristics, they are a unique breed and may not suit certain owners. Here are a few things you should bear in mind before purchasing a Chow Chow:
This breed are not a great choice for first time owners, as they need to be trained my someone who is aware of their needs, allowing their independence without overindulging them. If not properly trained, Chow Chows may begin to show their dominant side.
Chow Chow puppies are expensive to buy, and expensive to insure.
Although they make great companions, they are naturally aloof and would not suit an owner looking for a cuddly dog.
Proven through genetic testing to be one of the oldest dog breeds, Chow Chows are thought to have their origins in Mongolia and Northern China. Originally used as hunting dogs or guard dogs, Chow Chows have appeared in paintings and pottery from as far back as 206BC. In the late 18th century, the dogs came to Britain in the cargo of British merchants. Their name, ‘chow chow’, was what the merchants termed miscellaneous items, and it ended up sticking to the breed. They began to be imported on a regular basis during Queen Victoria’s reign, when the queen took a special interest in the breed and boosted its popularity. During the roaring twenties, the breed were very popular with movie stars, and their popularity has endured across the world.
With their bluish-black tongues and wrinkled faces, Chow Chows have a very distinctive appearance which endears them to their owners. They have a lion-like mane around the head and shoulders, and deep-set eyes which give them a stoic expression. Their physique is strong - though Chow Chows are large, they are compactly-built and powerful.
A Chow Chow may range in size from 43 to 51cm at the withers.
An average male Chow Chow can weigh between 25 and 32kg, and a female between 20 and 27kg.
Chow Chows come in a variety of colours — their standard colours are black, blue, cinnamon, cream and red.
As mentioned, Chow Chows make excellent guard dogs, as they are not a naturally trusting breed and will be highly suspicious of any strangers approaching the house.
Chow Chows are not hugely vocal — they will bark to let their owner know if there is someone around, or if they are unhappy with something, but they will rarely bark for no reason.
Chow Chows are highly intelligent dogs, which makes them easy to train when in the right hands. They do, however, require an experienced owner who will understand their unique temperament and not allow them to take over.
Chow Chows are not a particularly playful breed — if you throw something for them to fetch, they’re likely to look at you inquisitively as if wondering why you don’t collect it yourself. They have their own unique personality, and are likely to take slightly longer to respond to things than other breeds.
Chow Chows are not a very boisterous breed, so are unlikely to be tolerant of the kind of rough and tumble play which comes with a young child. When raised with children, they can do well, but interactions should be carefully supervised. Owners and their children should be aware that their deep-set eyes mean Chow Chows don’t have very good peripheral vision, so should be approached from the front.
Well trained and socialised Chow Chows can get along well with other pets, especially when raised with them. Prospective owners should note, however, that they get along better with dogs of the opposite sex, and may display aggression towards dogs of the same sex.
Chow Chows are not needy dogs - although they form strong bonds with their owners, they do not require huge amounts of attention, and do well with being left alone for moderate periods. As with all dogs, however, this breed should not be left alone for unreasonable amounts of time.
On the whole the Chow Chow are a healthy breed, but they can be prone to certain hereditary conditions. Prospective owners should make sure to obtain the required health checks from the breeder before purchasing.
A well-cared-for Chow Chow can be expected to live for between 9 and 15 years.
Chow Chows have a moderate need for exercise - they are not high-energy dogs, but do still require between 40 and 60 minutes a day. They enjoy being outdoors - whether that be on a walk or in your back garden (make sure, however, that your garden is well secured — if there are holes in the fence, your Chow Chow is likely to find them and make an escape).
The most common hereditary issues which affect Chow Chows are eye issues, eczema, bloating, hypothyroidism, breathing issues, hip dyplasia and elbow dysplasia. They may also be susceptible more specific diseases such as Addison’s disease, Cushing’s disease, Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (E.P.I), and Phemghigus foliaceus (PF). Owners should take their Chow Chow to the vet at the first sign of illness to ensure they get a proper diagnosis.
As mentioned, Chow Chows love being outside, so would do well in a house with a garden. That said, they are also able to adapt to apartment living as long as they have a reasonable amount exercise every day.
Chow Chows love their food, and may be prone to weight gain, so owners should make sure to carefully regulate their diet. They can also be picky about their food. The recommended amount per day is 2 to 2 3/4 cups of high-quality wet or dry food daily, divided into two meals.
Chow Chows are known to be heavy shedders (especially seasonally), and therefore need regular grooming and maintenance to avoid your house becoming overrun with their hair! They should be brushed two or three times a week.
As a rough guide in pricing: Cost to buy: roughly between £800 and over £1000 for a well-bred Chow Chow puppy Other costs (Vet, Food etc): £40-60 for food per month, £40-£50 for insurance.
You can read our general buying guide here (/advice-on-buying-a-puppy/), with the most important thing being going to view your Chow Chow Puppy, seeing it with its mother, and checking the quality of the breeder. More specifically, here is some Chow Chow puppy buying advice:
The popularity of this breed means that occasionally breeders will forgo proper breeding practise to produce their puppies. Prospective owners should rigorously check the breeder’s credentials and the puppy’s health checks before purchasing.
A big thank you to the following sources who helped to shape this article: https://chowchow.org/ https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/chow-chow/ https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/services/public/findaclub/breed/list.aspx?id=4086 https://www.thechowchowclub.co.uk/ https://chowclub.org/ccci/