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Adopt a Chow Chow

Chow Chow Dog Breed

Picture: Yann Arthus-Bertrand/Corbis


Spitz, Northern (companion)

Area of origin:


Original function:

guardian, cart puller, food source

Average size of male:

Ht: 17-20, Wt: 45-70

Average size of female:

Ht: 17-20, Wt: 45-70

Other names:


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    Friendliness towards dogs

  • Friendliness towards other pets

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    Friendliness towards strangers

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    Ease of training

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    Watchdog ability

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    Protection ability

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    Cold tolerance

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    Heat tolerance

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Chow Chow Dog Temperament

Dignified, even lordly, the chow chow conducts himself with reserve. He is not very demonstrative, even with his family, and can be somewhat suspicious of strangers. He is independent and stubborn and is generally good with other household pets. The Chow Chow is serious and protective, devoted to his family.

Chow Chow Dog Care

This is an alert breed that needs regular, but not strenuous, outdoor activity. He does not do well in hot humid weather. His needs are best met with casual morning or evening walks in warm weather or several short play sessions throughout the day. The smooth type needs brushing once weekly; the rough type needs brushing every other day, and daily when shedding.

Chow Chow Dog Health

Major concerns: CHD, entropion
Minor concerns: elbow dysplasia, cataract, distichiasis, PPM, gastric
torsion, stenotic nares, patellar luxation, elongated palate
Occasionally seen: renal cortical hypoplasia
Suggested tests: hip, elbow, eye
Life span: 8-12 years

Interested in the history of the Chow Chow dog breed?

The Chow Chow has some Spitz characteristics. Because of this, it has been proposed that the chow chow either descends from Spitz forebears or is an ancestor of some of the Spitz breeds. Unfortunately, the origin of the breed has been lost in time, but it has been known in China for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. The Chow Chow's original purpose may have been as a hunting dog, sniffing out and even pointing birds for the nobility. The breed declined in quality and numbers after the imperial hunts were ended, but a few pure descendants were kept in isolated monasteries and wealthy households. Other accounts contend that the breed was a source of fur pelts and food in Manchuria and Mongolia. One of the most distinctive features of the breed is the black tongue, which was also the basis for his more common names in China. Only when dogs were brought to England along with other Chinese importations in the late 1700s was the name Chow Chow adopted. The name is probably derived from a term simply meaning Oriental knickknack and assorted curios, and may have come to be applied to the dogs because they were lumped into a ship's log of cargo. These early imports were, in fact, looked upon as curios. Not until the late 1800s was the breed imported to England and then America in earnest. Queen Victoria's interest in these dogs helped draw attention to the breed. AKC recognized the chow chow in 1903. The breed's distinctive noble look has always attracted fanciers, but in the 1980s the breed soared in popularity among families, as well, ultimately peaking as the sixth-most popular breed in America.

Copyright © 1998, 2005 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc. based on

Shelters with Chow Chow Dogs

Some animal welfare organizations with Chow Chows ready for adoption:

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