There’s really no mistaking a Chow Chow when you meet one. He's a singular dog with unusual physical characteristics and a distinct temperament. So, what makes this dog such a standout?
Let’s start with his looks
• Almost unique among mammals, the Chow’s tongue and mouth tissue are a dark blue-black. This is so important to the breed that any other tongue color is disqualified under the breed standard.
• He has a thick ruff around his shoulders, often described as a lion’s-mane ruff.
• Unlike other breeds, such as the Samoyed, which always seem to be smiling, the Chow Chow has a unique scowling expression that’s a hallmark of the breed.
- He also has a stiff-legged, or stilted, way of walking, and this gait, too, is a typical trait.
Photo courtesy of Vancie Drew, AKC Breeder of Merit
The Chow Chow has a fascinating history
- This is one of the world’s oldest breeds. It’s not clear where he originated. He may have been brought to the West when the Tartars invaded China. Or he might have originated in the Arctic, migrating through Siberia, Mongolia, and China.
- Either way, there is proof that he was used as a hunting dog in China at least since the Han Dynasty (202 B.C. － 220 A.D.).
The Chow’s temperament is unlike many other breeds
• If Chow Chow had a motto, is might be “dignity and refinement above all.” Cat-like in his aloofness and independence, the Chow is less eager to please than many other dog breeds. And no one would ever think of him as silly or goofy.
• Although he values his independence, the Chow is affectionate and devoted to his family. He’s reserved with strangers, but will accept them if properly introduced by his owner.
• Chow Chow are fastidious (again, like a cat) and extremely clean. They are easily house-trained and have very little doggy odor if brushed often.
• Strong-willed and stubborn, the Chow may become the boss of you if you allow him to. This breed requires early and continual socialization, and an owner who’s a match for his strong will.
• Although they began life as working dogs, Chow Chow are adaptable and actually quite serene. They do not require a great deal of exercise, so are happy living in an apartment.
Yes, he seems to be scowling at you. No, he’s not a lap dog. And as we said, he’s unusually dignified and independent. But fans of the breed treasure the Chow’s intelligence, devotion, loyalty, and serenity.