Chow Chow

Kennel club standards: China Kennel Union, FCI | Size: Medium | Life expectancy: 10+ years | Coat: Long | Origin: China.

The Chow Chow is one of the oldest dog breeds in the world. Both outgoing and calm, this breed has a beautiful coat and is famous for its blue tongue.

The origins of the Chow Chow

Origins tracing back to Eastern Asia

Nicknamed lion-dog after its mane, the Chow Chow traces its origins back more than 4000 years to Tibet, Mongolia, and China.

Since ancient times, this breed has been domesticated as a guard dog in the temples. The representations of the Fu dog at the entrance of Asian places of prayer make one think of the physiognomy of the Chow Chow. As a prestigious dog, it was then introduced into the imperial courts where it stood guard. Some Chinese emperors used their Chows Chows as hunting dogs. However, although this pet was associated with nobility, it was also appreciated for its warm fur, perfect for making coats and capes for winter.

Arrival in Europe

This dog was imported to Great Britain at the beginning of the 19th century to be first exhibited in zoos. The craze for this animal was rapid and the first breeders saw the light of day in the 1870s. Their popularity in the West grew during the 1970s and reached its peak in the 1980s. The presence of this dog is much more prominent today in Europe and in America than in Asia.

Origin of the name Chow Chow

The exact origin of the breed’s name is not known for sure. Until the 1920s, it was known as the “Hong Kong dog”. Several theories are held around the choice of the name. One of them is the Western adaptation of the word “gou” which in Mandarin means “dog”. Pronounced with an English accent, it gives “chow”. Also, “chow” in American English means “food” and since this dog was also considered food, the name could have come from there.

Lastly, in Mandarin, “Chow Chow” translates to ” miscellaneous goods “, terms indicated on the crates containing the first of the breed to arrive in England.

The personality of the Chow Chow

The Chow Chow has two different personalities: its character towards its master and its character towards strangers.


It has an outgoing personality, which makes it very endearing to its owner. Moreover, this dog often has an exclusive relationship with its owner, obeying him alone. This dog is thus the ideal companion for a person living alone. Moreover, this dog is naturally calm, barks little, and never without reason. This breed can therefore live perfectly in an apartment.


Both possessive and independent, they are often indifferent to strangers or even to their master and their commands. In addition, this dog can be aggressive towards other animals, especially those of its species. This dog breed is not a great sportsman. It tires quickly during exercise or a play session. For this reason, this dog breed is not the perfect companion for active families.

The physical characteristics of the Chow Chow


It is a medium-sized dog, well-built and with a slightly grumpy expression. This breed is easily identified thanks to its lion-like appearance. With its blue tongue, it is easily recognized.


They have a large head with a relatively flat skull reminiscent of a bear. The Chow Chow also had a short muzzle like a bear. This dog breed has a black nose and small dark almond-shaped eyes. The tongue, gums, and lips are blue or violet. The ears are triangular, rounded on the upper part, and stand straight.


The body of this dog breed is horizontal and compact. It has a broad, low, and deep chest. The shoulders of this dog are oblique, strong, and very muscular. Regarding their hind legs, they are also muscular. The tail of this dog is full and high. The paws are small, flat, and cat-like.

Chien Chow Chow sur la tbale du toiletteur.
It is important to brush your dog every day. This is is particularly true for long-haired dogs.

Chow Chow: coat, color, grooming


Although the long-haired version of this dog breed is the most well-known, there is also a short-haired variety. The coat of this dog breed is very dense and made up of straight hairs. The coat is slightly lighter under the tail and on the back of the thighs. It is always single-colored. The thick, fluffy coat has a woolly undercoat.


The coat can be white, blue, cream, fawn, black or red. The color is always uniform.


As the coat of this breed is dense, it is important to keep it well-groomed. It is recommended to brush them every day so that its hair does not tangle. A monthly bath is usually enough to maintain good hygiene unless your dog gets dirty often.

Did you know?

Queen Victoria received this dog breed as a gift in 1865.

Chowder is the name of an Instagram famous Chow Chow. This teddy bear-like dog has nearly 450,000 followers.

The Chow Chow at a glance

Size: between 48 and 56 cm at the shoulder for males, between 46 and 51 cm at the shoulder for females.

Weight: between 20 and 30 kg for males and between 24 and 28 kg for females.

Health: The Chow Chow is prone to eczema, hip dysplasia and eyelid folding. A good veterinarian follow-up helps to limit the symptoms and delay the development of the diseases. Because of its thick coat, this dog does not tolerate hot weather well. This dog is a foody and easily puts on weight, so it is important to keep a close eye on its diet.

Life expectancy: 10 to 14 years.

Are Chow Chows good with children? Not really. While this dog tolerates children, it is not inclined to show affection. As this dog tires quickly and remains very exclusive, it will not be an excellent companion for young owners.

Is the Chow Chow easy to train? The Chow Chow is a stubborn, but attentive dog. The training take time. Grooming is a perfect time to strengthen the bond.