Chow Chow: Get To Know the Royal Teddy Bear of Dogs

Chow Chow: Get To Know the Royal Teddy Bear of Dogs
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Do you want a companion who is always by your side? Are you looking to include a new member to your family who can keep you and your kids entertained? Well, look no further than the Chow Chow dog breed. Not only is this dog the perfect candidate to be your new best friend, but it is a great family dog too! If you ever wondered as a kid what it would be like if your favorite teddy bear were alive, then this breed is your dream come true.


These dogs are fluffy with the appeal of a teddy bear, except full of life and ready to bond with you. Besides having a fun name to pronounce, this canine also boasts a list of charming qualities. If the Chow is the pet of your dreams, read on to learn more about its traits, history, dog care tips, and more! By the time you read through, you will understand why dogs like this breed are considered man's best friend.



Chow Chow Characteristics (Physical)

Chow Chow (or Chow for short) is a dog breed with a recognizable name and an easily identifiable appearance. It may appear a bit intimidating due to its large and stocky size, but this dog is kind and loyal.


From head to toe, this dog has distinct features. The American Kennel Club (AKC) has established breed standards, which helps breeders and dog owners compare their dogs to the Club's standards. Here are the physical traits you should see in a purebred dog breed:



The head is big with deep-set eyes and fur behind its head that appears like a lion's mane. This breed and the Shar-Pei are the only dogs to have blue-black tongues. This dark color also extends to its lips and mouth.


The breed's ears are triangular and stand erect out of the mane-like fur on its head. It also has a large black nose with open nostrils. Any other colored nose, as well as floppy ears, can be seen as a fault by the AKC.


The muzzle is broad, and its face may appear wrinkly, though this isn't true for all Chows. This dog's fur is thicker along its neck area, and its neck is muscular to carry its big head.



These dogs have a compact body with a square build. They have a broad and muscular chest and strong, well-built shoulders. The topline should be straight and leveled from wither (between shoulder blades) to tail. This breed's tail is fluffy and curls inward, appearing as if resting on its back.



Another unique trait of this breed is its straight hind legs which give it a stilted gait. Its hind should be perpendicular to the floor. This breed had forequarters that are spaced out to complement its broad chest. Its paws are compact and strong and its front legs, from paw to elbow, are straight.



Chow Chow Dog Breed Size

Chow Chows are medium-sized dogs. On average, they can grow up to 17 to 22 inches at the shoulder and weigh anywhere between 40 to 70 pounds. Your dog's size can depend on eating and exercise habits, genetics, and even sex. Female Chows tend to be slightly smaller than males. Although this dog does not weigh over 100 pounds, it may be heavy for some dog owners. Always be cautious when carrying your dog.



Chow Chow Personality

One of the reasons why many people seek a dog as a pet is not only because they are cute. Dogs have personalities of their own which make them highly sought-after. This breed is no different, and it possesses strong personality traits that many potential dog owners seek.


It's upbringing also shapes a dog's temperament. Most dogs are raised in loving homes, but not all of them have that experience. A Chow adopted by a rescue may appear timid, but it can start showing more of its personality with proper care and affection.



chow chow selfie



Below are some of the common characteristics this breed known for:


Reserved Yet Kind

This dog is not one to constantly want to sit on your lap or cuddle up with you, but that doesn't mean it does not like you. Chow Chows are composed dogs but will be affectionate and protective of their owners and families.


These pups may seem indifferent to house guests stopping by for a visit but do not mind being petted, especially if they were trained. They are also great family dogs who enjoy being part of a pack.


Intelligent and Independent

This dog is smart and keen on its surroundings. It is smart enough to understand commands and training sessions. Chows might use their intelligence to get what they want, especially if the owner is passive and not fully established as the pack's alpha. They are also independent and will develop a strong bond with one person.



Most if not all dog breeds are loyal to an extent and the Chow Chow is very loyal to its owner and other family members. It is very protective of its owners and territorial too. If it deems any strangers a threat, it will attempt to scare them off. According to the American Kennel Club, this breed should be loyal but not overly aggressive.



Chow Chow Dog Breed Exercise

This breed is a non-sporting dog, so it does not have a high energy level like other dog breeds. Some people might see their Chow Chow as lazy, but in reality, they should receive daily exercise to avoid unwanted bad behavior due to lack of exercise.


You can meet this dog's exercise needs by taking it on walks or letting it run outside in a fenced yard. It might not be able to join you on long runs, but it has the endurance to go on long walks. It also enjoys dog games such as fetch or tug-o-war.


Due to its double coat, avoid having your pup exercise during hot weather, or it may suffer from overheating or heat exhaustion. This breed can adapt to living in an apartment building as long as it meets its moderate exercise requirements.


Failure to complete your dog's playtime needs might result in some of the following behavior:




chow chow treat



Chow Chow Training

Everyone wants to own a dog and expect it to already be well-behaved, but it is not that simple. Training your pup is just as important as feeding it and giving it a place to sleep. A well-trained dog will make life a whole lot easier for a dog owner.


A trained dog is a happy dog. Whether you seek Chow Chow puppies or want to adopt, you should prepare a training regime beforehand.


  • Obedience Training: These dogs have a pack mentality and require a dog owner who is firm and confident. One-on-one obedience training will help develop your bond with your Chow. With enough time and patience, your dog will be able to obey your commands to sit, stay, follow, and more!
  • Crate Training: A dog crate is an extremely helpful tool for dog owners. Crate training will teach your Chow to retreat to its crate temporarily when you have too many guests coming over. It also creates a safe place for them when they become scared from loud noises such as thunder and fireworks. Crate training is a great resource to help your dog potty train too.
  • Socialization: Dog socialization should be introduced to your adopted rescue Chow or puppy. This type of training helps Chow Chows become better assimilated to different groups of people in different settings. It also helps this breed get along better with other pets.


Patience and hard work are required for dog training. Always use positive reinforcement when training your Chow. These dogs are smart and do not like being talked down to or screamed at. One of the ways to make training your Chow a little smoother is by rewarding it with treats.



Chow Chow Dog Breed History

Some canine breeds are recent, while others have been around for over a hundred years. There is no known date of origin for Chow Chows, but historians can trace their roots to northern China and Mongolia. People have discovered pots from Ancient China dating back from 206 with images of dogs closely similar to the Chow Chow.


The Chow Chow's bone structure is also very similar to the oldest known dog fossils. During his famous expedition to the Asian territories, Marco Polo documented how Chow Chows were used to pull sleds.


Throughout history, the Chow Chow has shown how versatile it can be. It was used as a guard dog to protect animal herds, guard homes, and hunt birds. Long ago, this breed was so popular that one Chinese emperor was known to keep thousands of Chow Chows.


This dog was mostly seen in China and other surrounding countries until English traders brought these dogs back to Europe as early as 1781. Back then, tradesmen referred to miscellaneous items as Chow Chow. When these folks saw this bear-like dog breed for the first time, they also referred to them as a Chow Chow, and the name has remained ever since.


The Chinese people used to refer to this dog by different names, such as:


  • Wolf dog (lang gou)
  • Bear dog (xiang gou)
  • Canton dog (Guangdong gou)
  • Black-tongue dog (hei shi-tou)


People brought more and more Chow Chows back to England in the late 1880s, and some were on display at the London Zoo. The "Wild Dogs of China," as they called them, caught the attention of Queen Victoria, which made them more sought-after. The United Kennel Club eventually recognized this breed in 1934.


By then, the Chow Chow was already being introduced in the United States, where the American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized this breed in 1903. The Chow Chow Club of America was then founded in 1906. Since then, this dog has remained popular among the pet community to this day.



dapper chow chow



Common Health Problems Found in Chow Chows

Health issues in life are sometimes inevitable, but with the right preparation and know-how, you will be able to handle whatever health concerns your Chow Chow may have. Chow Chows have a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years.


To ensure your Chow remains healthy throughout its life span, stay informed about the potential health risks. Whether you purchase Chow puppies or adopt a rescue, here are some of the risks to look out for.


  • Entropion: Entropion is a genetic disorder where part of the eyelids is folded or inverted inward. The Chow's eyelashes rub up against the eye, causing irritation, leading to a decrease in vision. Although slightly painful, a vet can treat this condition with surgery.
  • Hip Dysplasia: This breed has unique hind legs, and hip dysplasia may affect their ability to perform everyday comment movements such as walking, running, or jumping. Dysplasia is a skeletal condition where the ball and socket joints in the hips do not fit properly. It is passed down genetically but can be treatable with joint supplements recommended by a vet.
  • Thyroid Issues: Dogs with hyperthyroidism produce too many thyroid hormones in the body, whereas hypothyroidism is when not enough thyroid hormones are produced. These thyroid problems affect a Chow's metabolism and can lead to unwanted symptoms such as loss of appetite, increased urination, vomiting, and other issues. Regardless of which thyroid issue it has, you should seek medical assistance from a veterinarian.


Another common issue with a lot of dogs is obesity. A carefree owner may be accidentally overfeeding their pet and causing them to eventually develop problems related to being overweight. With the assistance of a vet, you can apply a weight loss plan with your dog.


There are many health-related issues a Chow may experience, but it should not be something to get too concerned about. One of the best ways to ensure your pup lives a healthier life is by providing it with proper care.



How to Care for a Chow Chow

Although it costs money to care for dogs, it shouldn't cost an arm and a leg either. With the right resources, you can provide a life of simple luxury for your Chow Chow. This breed generally prefers staying inside, which is one of the reasons why they are great indoor dogs for apartments and condos.


Before you bring a Chow home, make sure you have the following things set up:


  • Designated Doggy Space: Just like people, dogs need their personal space. A crate is a great place to keep your dog's food and water bowl. A new dog bed or a couple of old blankets make great resting areas for your pup.
  • Toys: Your Chow puppy is very curious and will often explore things by trying to bite them. Invest in chewing toys for dogs. Tennis Balls, frisbees, and other toys are a great way to bond with your dog and provide it mental stimulation and exercise too!
  • Veterinarian Visits: Once or twice a year, schedule appointments with your dog's veterinarian for regular checkups. The vet can diagnose and treat any potential health-related concerns your dog may have.



Nutrition and Feeding for a Chow Chow

A dog's eating habits may depend on different factors such as metabolism, activity level, existing health conditions, age, and size. On average, feed your Chow two to almost three cups of high-quality dog food, split between two servings a day. If your dog weighs more than 70 pounds, it may be overweight.


Everyone should strive to eat healthy, and the same applies to Chows. It may seem like a daunting task to find the right food for your dog, but it is one of the easier chores of canine care. Always seek a reputable brand with a feeding chart on the packaging and all-natural ingredients. Harmful byproducts, synthetic flavorings, and artificial preservatives should be avoided.


Different brands have different dog foods made to supplement specific health-related concerns. It is not uncommon to see the same brand make food specifically for healthier coats, improved digestion, or even eye health.


Aside from dog food, these pups may indulge in some common "people food." With the assistance of a dog nutritionist, some pet owners dedicate a day out of the week to provide their Chow with a home-cooked meal. If that is an option you would like to consider, it is best to know which foods your dog may or may not eat.


Safe for Dogs

There are some fruits, vegetables, and cooked meats your Chow Chow may enjoy. These food items are rich in nutrients and essential vitamins. Your pooch will feel refreshed on a hot day if you feed it some frozen berries. Want to give your pet a treat? Chopped-up carrots make excellent snacks as well!


Eggs, chicken, beef, pork, and some fish are excellent sources of proteins to help keep your dog healthy. Avoid feeding them raw meats and instead cook them with little to no salt. If there is something you wish to feed your dog but are unsure about it being safe, check online resources or consult a dog nutritionist.


Not Safe for Dogs

Dogs do not have stomachs capable of handling all food. Please do not treat your dog like a garbage disposal, or else it can be affected by unwanted side effects such as upset stomach, gas, vomiting, or diarrhea.


Avoid feeding your dog chocolate, alcohol, chives, garlic, and onions. During Halloween, make sure your dog does not accidentally ingest sugary sweets. Unless you do not mind dealing with bad gas, avoid giving your dog milk and instead give it fresh water every day!



Coat Color And Grooming

This breed is known for its thick coat, which comes in two types: rough or smooth. The coat may be shades of solid black, blue, cinnamon, red, tan, cream, or gray. Chows also have an undercoat and a topcoat.


Related: National Black Dog Day: Another Reason To Own A Dark-Haired Pup


A Chow Chow with a rough coat has the extra fur behind the head that resembles the mane. It also has more fur on the tail, ear, legs, and body. A smooth-coated Chow is still fluffy, with the main difference being that it doesn't have extra fur behind the head, tail, and parts of its body.


Both rough and smooth-coated dogs of this breed should be brushed a few times a week. They both have seasonal shedding twice a year where chunks of fur come off. Looking good takes effort and time, and everyone loves a good-looking Chow Chow. Here are some grooming tips for this fluffy pup:


Coat Brushing

To brush this breed's coat, you are going to need the right tools. Do not use a regular brush meant for people. Instead, seek out the following brushes to keep your dog's coat looking good.


  • Pin brush: Use this brush to comb the fur on the body.
  • Metal comb: This comb help prevents mats and should be used while your pup goes through its seasonal shedding.
  • Large slicker brush: This kind of brush is useful for combing the fur on your dog's legs, tail, and head.


Avoid brushing your pet's coat when it is dry and instead use a spray bottle to mist your dog's coat. Always be gentle when brushing to avoid hurting or irritating your dog's skin.



chow chow behaving at groomers




Like people, a dog's nails never stop growing. And if left untrimmed, they may develop overgrown nails. Dogs with overgrown nails will have a harder time moving around. Aim to trim your Chow Chow's nails at least once a month. If you hear a clicking noise whenever your dog walks, it is time for a trim.


General Hygiene

No one likes a filthy dog, especially inside the house. General dog hygiene is a must for all dog owners. Dedicate some time at least once a week to check for dirt and debris in your dog's eyes and ears. When brushing its coat, look for any skin issues or parasitic bugs, especially if you came back from visiting a dog park.


Bad breath on a dog stinks, so brushing your pups' teeth can ensure good dental health. Special canine teeth cleaning tools are available in-store, or you can provide your pet with dental hygiene treats.


Fur Treatment

Dogs with thick coats should be bathed once every few months. This breed can be kept clean with special dog shampoo. Before bath time, make sure to give its coat a good comb-through. Use a blow dryer to dry your dog's coat after.


Hair trimmings are very important for this breed. It can be easy to use a hair trimmer for its coat and scissors to trim the hair around the eyes and ears. Dog grooming is a popular choice for many dog owners who prefer a more professional trim on their pup.



Children And Other Pets

Your Chow Chow should get along with children and other pets, especially if they were socialized during puppyhood. If you adopted an older dog, it is best to slowly get them used to being around children and other pets.


Avoid leaving your dog unattended with small children. Although these dogs are kind, they don't enjoy accidental roughhousing with small kids. It is also essential to teach your kids how to properly handle a pet to avoid any issues in the future.



Chow Chow Dog Rescue Groups

Trying to find the perfect puppy can take time and a lot of money. If you are seeking to have a pet now, consider adopting a dog from a rescue. The following groups are just a few rescue organizations dedicated to rehoming these lovable dogs:



Most of these groups are non-profit and transparent about the dogs' background and health information. Some locations may have more rescue groups than others.



Chow Chow Dog Breed Organizations

If you are looking to adopt a puppy, be ready to wait and save up. Chow Chows are often an expensive dog breed, with puppies costing around $2,000. You may be able to find a Chow Chow at a local rescue center, but they are not frequently seen in shelters. Breed organizations are a great place to start your search.


Two of our favorite breed organizations are the D&M Farm Kennel and Heavenly Chows. Do not be afraid to ask plenty of questions. After all, if there's one thing members of these organizations love talking about, it's Chows! If you're lucky enough to find one of these award-winning dogs, be sure to ask about the dog's health history and certifications.



More About the Chow Chow

This breed is highly regarded by common people, but it is even prized by royalty. From Chinese nobles to U.S. presidents, this breed is loved by all. Celebrities like Martha Stewart and Janet Jackson own these giant furbabies. If you are a fan of Disney, you might not have known that Walt Disney gifted his wife a Chow Chow puppy in a box, which inspired a scene in the movie Lady and the Tramp.


If you like this dog and want to make sure you can become the best dog owner ever, check out other helpful dog care tips on the HolistaPet blog!

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