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Chow Chow standing outdoors in the grass.
VKarlov/Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

With their dramatic coat, reserved personality, lion-like head, and alert expression, the Chow Chow never fails to attract admiration and attention. But their good looks aren’t the only things that make them stand out. In fact, there are many fascinating Chow Chow facts to surprise and delight dog lovers.

1. They Have Blue-Black Tongues

The two AKC-registered breeds with blue-black tongues are the Chow Chow and the Chinese Shar-Pei. But Chow Chow puppies are born with pink tongues. The blue-black color develops as they age.

2. They Walk Stiffly

The Chow walk is referred to as “stilted,” meaning they move in a stiff-legged way. So when you see them out walking on the street, you can tell your friends, “That’s how they’re supposed to walk.”

Non-Sporting Group Second, BBE Non-Sporting Group Third, Best of Breed, and Best Bred By in Breed/Variety: GCH CH Eastern Magic Historial Moment, Chow Chow; Non-Sporting Group judging at the 2016 AKC National Championship presented by Royal Canin in Orlando, FL.
David Woo ©American Kennel Club

3. Their Name Didn’t Originate in China

Even though the breed was originally developed in China, the name “Chow Chow” does not originate there. It is believed that the name is a sort of mangled English term meaning “knick-knacks,” dating back to the 1700s.

4. There Are Several Theories About Their Origins

Speaking of how the Chow Chow came to be, there have been several theories. But since the breed has been around for a long, long time, there is debate.

One theory is that the Chow is a cross between the Samoyed of Siberia and the Mastiff of Tibet. But experts in the breed believe that the Chow’s blue-black tongue contradicts that notion, showing that they might be probably one of the original dog breeds.

5. Chows Come in Multiple Colors

Most people think of a Chow as having a red coat. But according to the AKC breed standard, Chow Chows can also come in black, blue, cinnamon, and cream.

6. They Have Two Coat Types

Chow Chows often have full coats, which are called “rough.” However, they can also have shorter coats, which are called “smooth.”

Hans Surfer/Getty Images Plus

7. One Emperor May Have Kept Thousands of Chows

According to the official breed club, the Chow Chow Club, in the 7th century, a T’ang emperor absolutely adored these dogs. It’s reported that he kept around 2,500 Chows to hunt and participate in other sporting activities with.

8. Martha Stewart Adores the Breed

Martha Stewart has owned several Chows, and she often featured them on her TV show and website. She even had a champion named Genghis Khan (GK to his friends), who competed at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

9. They Were Recognized by the AKC in 1903

The AKC formally recognized the Chow Chow in 1903. That recognition came five years after the previous breed recognition (the French Bulldog in 1898) and one year before the next four (the Boxer, Chihuahua, Schipperke, and Standard Schnauzer, all in 1904).

10. They Belong to the Non-Sporting Group

The Chow is a member of the AKC’s Non-Sporting Group, along with the DalmatianBoston TerrierBulldogBichon Frise, and others.

Related article: Why Do Some Dogs Have Blue Tongues?
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