The Chow Chow, which originated in China, is one of the oldest recognizable breeds of dog. Legend has it that the breed was used as a model for the traditional stone dogs, the Foo dogs, which stand in front of Buddhist palaces and temples. In China, it is referred to as the puffy-lion dog or Songshi Quan.
The Chow Chow is thought to have evolved from the wolf. It was bred in China for work, such as herding, hunting, pulling, and guarding. The Chow Chow gets its name from the markings on the crates in which they arrived when they were first shipped to England in the 1700s. The crates were marked “Chow Chow”, which in Chinese Pidgin English means miscellaneous merchandise, and the name stuck.
The Chow Chow is a square breed with a broad skull and a dense coat. The coat may be rough or smooth, with a thick ruff around the neck. It can be one of five colors: red, black, blue, cinnamon, or cream. It has small, triangular ears which are rounded at the tip, and its hind legs are extremely straight affecting its gait. The most distinctive feature of the breed is its blue-black or purple tongue, which is a dominant trait.
The Chow Chow is now predominantly a companion breed. It is not immediately accepting of everyone and can sometimes be seen as a little too serious or aloof toward strangers. Some people would say the Chow Chow’s personality is cat-like; it is often a fairly solitary animal. It is a fairly stubborn breed which needs a firm-handed owner. It tends to get along with other animals of the opposite sex slightly better than it does with those of its own gender, but can be taught to get along with both. It is an extremely loyal breed and can be very loving toward those it recognizes as members of its “pack”.
The breed is not exceptionally active, but it does need some amount of daily activity. It tends to have fairly low-levels of energy throughout the majority of a day, yet still desires time to play.
There are several health issues which affect the breed. The Chow Chow is prone to dysplasia in both the hip and elbow, patellar luxation, thyroid disease, entropion and ectropion. A healthy Chow Chow lives on average from 10 to 12 years.