Chow Chow

AKC Non-Sporting Group


Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

The Chow Chow’s structure is very similar to that of the oldest known fossilized dog remains, dated to several million years ago. The Chow Chow has been known for thousands of years in China, where the breed was put to work as a hunter, cart puller, and boat guard. One emperor is said to have kept 2,500 Chow pairs! Over history, the Chow Chow has been used to hunt wolves, sable, and pheasant, and to pull sleds. His fur was used to trim coats. The flesh of these dogs was considered a delicacy in China (dog is still eaten in China today). This beautiful dog was first brought to England by merchants in the late 1800s. The name probably originated from the pidgin English word “chow-chow,” a term used to describe all sorts of miscellaneous stuff brought back from the Far East. The Chow has become very popular in the United States as a companion dog.


The Chow Chow is a stocky, broad-headed, powerful dog. It has a square build, and short, compact body. There are two coat types, the more popular rough and the less common smooth coated. The rough coat is thick and stands out from the body; its heavy mane makes the dog look lion-like. The head is large and broad, with a wide muzzle and scowling expression. The eyes are deep set, wide apart, dark, and almond-shaped, and of medium size. The small triangular ears are erect. The bushy tail curls over the back in the manner typical of Spitz breeds. The tongue and mouth are a distinctive blackish color. The coarse double coat comes in five solid colors: red, cream, black, blue, and cinnamon.

Key Facts

  • Height:  Averages 20 in.
  • Size:  Medium
  • Weight:  55 to 70 lbs. (male); 45 to 60 lbs. (female)
  • Availability:  Very popular
  • Talents:  Watchdog and guarding


This breed can be quite a handful. Not recommended for children or inexperienced owners. Must be extensively socialized when very young to combat potential over-protectiveness as an adult. Needs firm training right from the start. Prone to ear infections, eyelid problems, and hot spots. Can be aggressive with other dogs. Beware of hip dysplasia-buy only from OFA certified stock. Be careful to purchase a Chow Chow only from a reputable breeder, as there are many poor-quality dogs being sold. Tends to snore. Because of his thick coat, the Chow Chow is sensitive to heat and can be irritable on very hot days.


Usually well-mannered, but can be willful and protective. Bossy. Serious and very independent. Often a one-person dog, very loyal to his family, though he may act reserved even with them. If strangers push themselves on this dog, he may become aggressive. This very dominant breed requires dominant owners.


  • Children:  Best with older, considerate children
  • Friendliness:  Very wary of strangers; highly protective
  • Trainability:  Difficult to train
  • Independence:  Needs people a lot
  • Dominance:  High
  • Other Pets:  Generally good with other pets
  • Combativeness:  Tends to be fairly dog-aggressive
  • Noise:  Likes to bark
  • Indoors:  Relatively inactive indoors
  • Owner:  Not recommended for novice owners


  • Grooming:  Extensive grooming needed
  • Trimming and Stripping:  No trimming or stripping needed
  • Coat:  Fluffy coat
  • Shedding:  Seasonally heavy shedder
  • Exercise:  Moderate exercise needed
  • Jogging:  A good jogging companion
  • Apartments:  Will be OK in an apartment if sufficiently exercised
  • Outdoor Space:  A small yard is sufficient
  • Climate:  Prefers cool climates

Useful Links

AKC® Chow Chow Breed Standard

Chow Chow Breed Club

Search for a Breeder

Rescue Organizations

Books about the Chow Chow

Chow Chow Gifts