Chow Chow: Regal, Refined & Uniquely At Risk

August 24, 2022

Is it a teddy bear or a dog? These are the questions many ask when deciding on bringing home the fluffy bear-like Chow Chow. One of the oldest breeds in the world, Chow Chows are big, lovable, and certainly fluffy. These confident dogs are unlike any other breed and some characteristics make them prone to joint issues. But first, learn why we love them, what makes them unique and what celebrities have these big beauties in their homes. 

The Chow Chow is one of the oldest breeds, dating back thousands of years ago in China. They were considered all-purpose dogs that would help with hunting, herding, working in the fields and as protection for their owners. The Chow Chows of today are known to be highly intelligent dogs that have become part of a family.

Beautiful Chow CHow

Chow Chows are becoming a more popular breed, mostly because of their fun, fluffy hair and the fact they look like a friendly version of a wild animal. Their sweet dispositions and fluffy good looks have made them more popular as time goes by.
These dogs have many names: Chow Chow is the official name, but some call them simply Chows. Other names are Chowchow, or Chow-chows Dog.

Are Chow Chows Related to Lions or Bears?

Lions, tigers and bears, oh my! Sadly, no, Chow Chows may look a lot like a lion or a teddy bear. However, they have no connection to these animals. There are some similarities in their thick coats, with all that extra fur in their double coats that keep them warm. Chow Chows have been compared to panda bears as well. If you are feeling extra fun, you can get your Chow Chow an adorable haircut to make him look like a lion. While bears and lions are fierce, the Chow Chows remain loveable, huggable creatures. 

Chow Chows are family dogs

Are Chow Chows Good Family Dogs?

Chow Chows are great family dogs! If you are hoping for a dog that is more needing of attention, a Chow Chow may not be for you. People often compare Chow Chows to the cats of the dog world. They live on their own rules and are more aloof, like a cat. They may not greet you at the door when you walk in, but they are the ones that hang around to observe all the excitement. If you love independent personalities, a Chow Chow is for you.

They also are adorable puppies and who doesn't love a great Chow Chow puppy picture?

Ginger and Black Chow Chows

Are Chow Chows Hypoallergenic?

No. Sadly, Chows are not hypoallergenic dogs. If you are allergic to dogs, their thick mane is not for you. Plus, Chows are seasonal shedders, and they do most shedding in spring and fall. If you are allergic to dogs and are around a Chow, your best line of defense is to brush their coats daily to remove dead hair and dirt.

Chow Chow Breed Standards

One of the most interesting breeds out there, the Chow Chow has a few unique features including its lion-like thick mane and blue-black tongue and gums.

  • Recognized as a Breed by the AKC: 1903
  • AKC Breed Popularity: 80 out of 204 Dog Breeds
  • Height: 17-20 inches
  • Weight: 45-70 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 8-12 years
  • Group: Non-Sporting Group

Chow Chow Breed at a Glance:

Here are your Chow Chow questions answered:

  • What’s with the Chow Chow’s coat? Their trademark coat is a double coat, which is why they are so fluffy. They come in two kinds of coats: Rough or Smooth coats.
  • Color: ginger, brown, gold, cream, black or blue
  •  Are Chows hypoallergenic? No.
  • Do Chows Chows shed? Yes, twice a year in spring and fall.
  •  Are Chows smart? Yes, highly intelligent.
  • Are Chows active dogs? Moderately active dogs.
  • Do Chows like water? No, Chows do not like water. With all that hair, it weighs them down considerably to get wet. Bathing should be only every 6 weeks, and most likely they are not willing to play in lakes or pools
  •  Are Chows good with children? Yes, when introduced early in age for both the dogs and the children. Ideally good with children age 10+.
  • Are Chows protective? Yes, they are fiercely loyal and often very attached to their owners
  • How much exercise do Chows need? Ideally, 2 walks per day, about 30 minutes each.


Uniquely Chow Chow: Coats

The glorious mane of the Chow Chow is their most unique feature. These dogs have two types of coats: rough and smooth. While both are double coated, the difference is in the rough coat, the outer coat is thicker and denser, with a fuller, fluffy look that feels course to the touch. Underneath, they have a soft undercoat that is thick and wooly. For the Chow Chow dogs with rough coats, it is not recommended to trim them. However, some dogs do get haircuts that make them look more lion-like. As long as your dog is willing to sit for its haircut, then you might indulge. Just realize it will be a big endeavor with what might seem like endless amounts of hair. 

The second type of coat for the Chow Chow is smooth. While the smooth coat Chow Chow still has a lot of hair and it comes with the double coat, the texture and quantity are slightly different. Smooth Chow Chows have a tad less hair than the rough Chow Chows and the texture is still dense, but smoother and silky to the touch.

With all this hair comes shedding. Expect to brush your Chow Chow at least three times a week to prevent the matting and knotting of their thick coats. The good news is Chows do not have a doggie odor that some dogs do, even when their thick coat gets wet.

Chow Chow Puppy Pictures

Uniquely Chow Chow: Tongues

The Chow Chows have one unique characteristic that is unique to this dog breed. They have blue or black tongue and gums. We’ve already mentioned this as an interesting fact about the breed. The blue or black tongues are uniquely Chow Chow. The entire tongue, gums and lips of a true Chow Chow are different hues of blue or black.

Just as a Dalmatian is not born with spots, the Chow is not born with blue or black tongues. The coloration of the tongues happens around 2 or 3 months of age. If the tongue does not change color and remains pink or has any spotting of pink or red, it is not said to be a purebred Chow. This only matters if you are showing at an AKC-sanctioned dog breed show. Any coloration of Chow’s tongue different than black or blue, or even spotting of red or pink, will lead to disqualification.

Uniquely Chow Chow: Stilted Gait

Another characteristic of Chow Chows is the stilted gait they are known for. Because of this characteristic, these dogs are more likely to have hip dysplasia in dogs and elbow dysplasia in dogs.

This is due to the “pendulum gait,” which is hundreds of years old. The Chow Chow is built differently than most dogs. It’s body must support much of its weight towards the front in its broad shoulders, so the center of gravity is placed too far forward. This means more weight and stress are placed on elbows and hips, both when standing and in movement. The result is weaker/softer joints that often contribute to poor elbow health and strain on the joints.

Top Health Problems of Chow Chows

Chow Chows are large, healthy dogs. However, because of their physical characteristics, Chow Chow dogs can have serious health issues. Many diseases and health conditions are genetic. There are a few conditions most notable that impact in this dog breed you should be familiar with if you have a Chow Chow. Of course, this does not mean your dog will have these problems; it only means they are more at risk than other dogs. They are:

  1. Dental disease. The most common disease and chronic problem for Chow Chows is their dental health. It is important to keep your Chow Chow’s teeth clean with regular cleaning. Surprisingly, 80% of Chow Chows have dental disease by age two. It is recommended to brush your Chow Chow’s teeth twice a week.
  2. Canine Elbow Dysplasia and Hip Dysplasia. As noted above, the Chow Chow has a unique gaited walk that often puts more stress on the hip and elbow joints. Often, joint problems arise, especially in these ball and socket joints. This causes pain and impacts their mobility. It can be mild or extreme, needing attention. If you notice stiffness or signs of lameness in your dog, it is recommended to take your dog to a veterinarian for review. Many dogs live active lives with hip and elbow dysplasia. The key is to treat it earlier, rather than later.
  3. Osteoarthritis, or arthritis in dogs. Because of the natural ability to run distances, joint problems can arise, making Chow Chows at very high risk for osteoarthritis. Arthritis is as painful for dogs as it is for humans. And just like humans, there is something you can do about it. Learn more about arthritis in dogs and check out all the risk factors.

Could your dog have arthritis? Take this quiz to find out!

Could my dog have arthritis? Take the quiz!

Because of Chow Chow’s thick coats, be cognizant of the temperature of your dog. Extreme heat and the double thick coat of the Chow Chow do not mix well. Chow Chows can easily get overheated if you are exercising in hotter temperatures. This breed has more incidents of heat stroke than any other breed. Be sure to keep your dog well hydrated and go out when the temperatures are more moderate, such as at sunrise or sunset, if your schedule permits.


Bathe Your Chow Chow every 6 weeks
Caring for Your Chow Chow

Some important things to consider in caring for your Chow Chow:

  1. Their coat is important. You must be willing to brush your Chow’s hair at least 3 times a week.
  2. Bathing your Chow is often difficult because of all that hair. It is recommended to bathe your dog every 6 weeks, or as needed. Often a mistake made is trying to bathe a Chow too much. Because of all that hair, Chows do not love the water. Stick to a schedule that is less often bathing.
  3. A benefit of the Chows is they do not require a lot of attention. They are more aloof dogs and are good with a laid-back family.
  4. Add a joint supplement, like Glyde Mobility Chews to your Chow’s diet.

Chows are very healthy dogs. However, because of their gait as described earlier combined with their size, they can run into joint-related health problems. Chow Chows are an ideal dog candidate to protect and strengthen their joints safely and naturally by adding an all-natural joint supplement like Glyde Moblity Chews to their daily routine. Joint supplements can promote joint health and cartilage development which keeps dogs active and youthful, longer.

Glyde™ Mobility Chews

Parnell Living Science is the expert on osteoarthritis (OA) or arthritis in dogs. Glyde Mobility Chews Joint and Hip Supplements for dogs uses natural, gluten-free, natural ingredients to promote joint health and normal cartilage development. Glyde contains proven levels of glucosamine and chondroitin, elements of joint tissue that help maintain normal joint function. This specific formula also contains New Zealand green-lipped mussel, the only natural source of ETA, a potent Omega-3 fatty acid, that helps relieve occasional joint stiffness and maintains youthful mobility. Glyde is the only nutraceutical that contains proven levels of three key components that work to relieve the painful signs of arthritis:

Protecting a dog’s ability to run and play is key to preserving the quality of life. That’s why early recognition and treatment of osteoarthritis (or arthritis in dogs) is so important. 20% of dogs over the age of 1, and 80% of dogs over the age of 8 will shows signs of OA. Glyde can help protect your dog from signs of aging through arthritis.


Famous Chow Chow Owners

Here are a few famous owners of Chow Chows you would be in good company with:

  • Walt Disney had a Chow Chow! The famous Christmas scene in Lady and the Tramp was taken from their real-life experience when Walt surprised his wife by putting the Chow Chow puppy in a hat box as a gift.
  • Martha Stewart had a Chow Chow and her beautiful Chow Chow, Genghis Khan, won the Best of Breed Award at The Westminster Kennel Club 136th Annual Dog Show in New York, on Feb. 13., 2012. Martha Stewart is an avid protector and dog lover, and she also has Bulldogs added to her current crew. Sadly, she lost her beloved and award-winning Genghis Khan a few years ago at the age of 14. She still shows Chow Chows and her current dog is part of a long line of Westminster Kennel Club winners.
  • Elvis Presley loved dogs and one day he visited a pet shop with his then-girlfriend. He bought every dog in the store to give away to his friends. He kept one Chow Chow for himself, and named him “Getlow.”
  • Other notable people who had Chow Chows include Sigmund Freud, President Calvin Coolidge, Georgia O’Keeffe and Janet Jackson.

Hopefully, this information provides you with the tools you need to care for your Chow Chow if you have one now, or are considering adding one in the future!

Chow Chow Need Glyde

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