The Protective Chow Chow

descriptive textDog breed info
Chow Chow
Weight: 45 — 70 lbs
Height: 17” — 20”
AKC Rank 2008 #64
Lifespan: 8—12 yrs
Group: Non-Sporting
Origin: China

  • Breeders And Rescue Groups
  • Dog Health, Dog Illness, Medical Problems

    Dog Breed Info - The Chow Chow

    The Chow and the kitten

    Breed Overview

    Origin: Ancient times. Original function:L Guardian, cart puller, food source. Today, Companion. For families with NO children.

    It has been suggested that the Chow Chow either descends from spitz fore bearers, or is itself an ancestor of some of the spitz breeds. The origin of the breed has been lost in time. This dog has been known in China for thousands of years. One of the most distinctive features of the breed is the black tongue, which was also the basis for one of it’s more common names in China. The name probably comes from a term meaning Oriental knick knack and assorted curios., and may have been used with the dogs because they were entered into the ships' log of cargo. In the late 1800’s the breed was imported to England and America.. The AKC registered the Chow in 1903.


    Not easily trained. He is stubborn. He can be trained for some basics using clicker training with positive reinforcement and some patience.

    Crate Training

    Want to crate train your Chow puppy? It's easy and if you're interested, take a look and you'll see what to do. Crate training your puppy will save many headaches and problems.

    Potty Training

    The Chow Chow puppy can be kind of difficult to house train, potty train, toilet train, housebreak or whatever you want to call it. If you have a puppy, decide if you want to crate or paper potty train it. For the best results, we have a page at Crate vs Paper Potty Training which will help you decide and from there you can get all the information you need to get the job done. Always praise the pup profusely when she goes potty in the RIGHT PLACE so she knows she has done a good thing. Either method will work for this breed.

    If you have an older dog, take the dog outside every two hours until she gets the idea which door leads to her potty area. Older dogs catch on to the potty or housebreaking pretty fast once they are shown what to do.


    Chow Chow Puppy
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    The Chow Chow is independent if not stubborn and while he appears dignified, he is actually not all that friendly toward people he doesn’t know and other dogs. Actually, the Chow can be aversive towards dogs.. This is a serious dog that offers protection to the family but shows little affection.

    If you happen to get a Chow Chow with a separation anxiety problem, that can be dealt with by investing a few hours of work on your part and some "tough love."

    Friendly Toward Other Dogs

    No. Can be aggressive.

    Friendly Toward Other Pets

    Maybe. Chow Chow’s get along with some pets. Some should be the only dog in the house.


    Friendly Toward Strangers

    No. A Chow is wary and can be aggressive toward people they don’t know.


    Not very playful.


    Not very. They are devoted to family and highly protective, but a lapdog this is not.

    Good with children?

    No. This breed is not tolerant of children.

    Good with Seniors over 65?

    No. Not tolerant of children, so visiting grandchildren would be left out. Also, this breed is not affectionate enough for a senior.

    Living environment

    Home with doggie door and fenced yard. Not suited for hot, humid weather. Keep in the air conditioning. Prefers a cool climate. The Chow needs a lot of socialization with it’s family.

    The Chow Chow -- note the blue/purple tongue
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    Energy level

    Low energy.

    Exercise needs, daily

    Chow Chow's need morning and evening walks or several play sessions during the day. This is an alert breed that needs regular but not strenuous outdoor activity.


    Excellent. The Chow excels

    Guard dog

    Excellent. They are even trained for this in some countries.




    Smooth, comb and brush weekly; more often when shedding.

    Rough coat, comb and brush 4 times a week; daily when shedding.



    SuggestedReading - The Chow Chow
    Click on the cover photos for more book information and reviews.

    • 2nd book from the left, "A Dog Who's Always Welcome," teaches to go way beyond the normal obedience training and into the world of THERAPY DOGS. Among your friends and people your Chow knows and trusts, he'll be the most friendly, lovable dog possible and you will never worry about taking him anywhere to visit.

    • 3rd book from the left is "101 Dog Tricks" which will give your dog a lot of mental exercise and simple new things to learn. I'm amazed at the stuff in this book!

    • The book at the right is by the American National Red Cross and deals with dog health, emergencies and injuries. It's a valuable reference manual for all dog owners. Vol 2, 2008 includes a DVD.


    In the event you decide to go looking for Chow puppies, be SURE to find reputable breeders that really know what they are doing. Be sure the puppy has been well socialized and started in obedience training.
    Chow Chow Breeders with puppies for sale.

    Chow Rescue

    In the event you are seriously considering the adoption of an older dog and are looking for a Chow Rescue group or groups in your state, here are several links that might help:
    Petfinder - Chow Rescue - (Nationwide) If you do adopt one, try to locate past dog health records for possible future reference.
    Adopt A Pet This is an interesting site but is you aren't finding what you want, try surfing the web for Chow Rescue Groups or kennels or adoptions or dogs for sale. Also, check the classifieds in your local newspapers.

    DogHealth Issues For The Chow Chow
    Below are the dog illness / illnesses or medical problems listed for the Chow by various vets.

    This is basically a healthy breed. Don’t let the list below scare you! Your own dog will probably never have ANY of these problems. These are dog illness and medical issues this breed is prone to that have been listed by various veterinarians at different times over the past decade or so and some pertain to puppies and very young dogs that a breeder would deal with.

    The information contained herein has been gathered from numerous books by veterinarians and is intended as general information only. Every dog and situation is different. You must see your vet. Our information is for general interest only and not intended to replace the advice provided by your own veterinarian.

    • Hip dysplasia - Hind end limping, back leg acts lame. Wear and time causes the femur to fit poorly into the pelvic socket with improper rotation causing great pain, lameness, arthritis and difficulty walking for the Chow Chow. You may notice the dog “hopping”” like a rabbit when running plus hesitating to climb stairs, all due to pain in the hind quarters. The problem actually starts as a very young puppy with an abnormal formation of the hip joint and grows progressively. A vet can locate this with a diagnostics test.

    • Patellar luxation—Limping, Hind Leg Held Up, Can’t straighten back leg. Caused by an unusually shallow spot on the femur, weak ligaments and misalignment of tendons and muscles that align the knee joint and allow the knee cap (patella) to float sideways in and out of position on the Chow Chow. This can be caused by injury or be present at birth and can affect both rear legs. If your dog has trouble straightening the leg, is limping, or is walking on three legs and holding one hind leg up, look for patellar luxation. Several of my dogs have had the problem and all I’ve done is reach down, massage the knee a little until they drop their leg, and we’re good to go for another 3 or 4 months. Severe cases require surgery for a fully lame leg.

    • Entropion—Eye irritation caused by the eyelids and lashes rolling inward. The problem is usually inherited and found in young, adult dogs. It can come from an eyelid spasm. Affected eyes will be held partially shut and tear excessively. Both eyes will usually be affected the same. Treatment for the condition requires eye surgery.

    • Ectropion—A hereditary medical problem. The lower eyelid grows outward leaving a gap between the eye and the eyelid. Excessive tearing and conjunctivitis are common signs of the disease but some dogs will have no symptoms. Blunt trauma and/or nerve damage can also cause the problem. If the cornea becomes damaged or if the conjunctivitis becomes chronic, surgery will be necessary.

    • Dermatomyositis—A hereditary inflammatory condition of skin and muscles in young Collies and Shetland Sheepdogs, as well as the Welsh Corgi, German Shepherd Dog and Chow Chow. Lesions can appear as early as 7 to 11 weeks of age.. Lesions are commonly seen on the face and around the eyes. If you see strange spots on your dog's face, get her to the vet to check it out.

    • Elbow Dysplasia—This, as with hip dysplasia, is something the dog is born with. Wear and time in the front legs (elbow joints) cause lameness by the time the dog is roughly a year old. If you have a dog prone to this disease, have an early x-ray to see if surgery to the joints will stave off further damage to the joints. Typically, there has been no cure, but recently doctors have come up with some ideas. 1) Keep the weight of your Chow Chow down. 2) Use anti-inflammatory medication. 3) Look into injections of stem-cells to help regenerate bone-covering cartilage to cause the bones to line up properly again. (This is new research and some vets may not know about it so ask around.)

    • Ruptured Cranial Cruciate Ligament - The tearing of the Cruciate ligament in the knee and NO weight can be applied to the affected leg with the torn ligament. Even sitting can be a painful problem This will cause lameness that may be severe. Knee surgery with total restriction of activity is the only answer.

    • Cataracts—Hazy or cloudy vision similar to humans and can cause blindness if not treated.

    • Dermoid sinus—Hereditary—An infection and inflammation noticed at birth in the sinus or tubes running along the spine from the rear end to the neck. These are a thick-walled tubes with skin cells, fiber tissue, hair and oils. When the sinus becomes infected with bacteria and inflamed, it can cause swelling and infection in the spinal cord which causes encephalitis and abscesses. Surgery is the remedy.

    • Distichiasis—An eye condition involving the cornea in the Chow Chow. Eyelashes, growing improperly on the inner surface of the eyelid cause corneal ulcers due to the constant rubbing and irritation. The problem is fixed by having the vet remove the lashes if the ulcers don’t heal.

    • Gastric Torsion—aka Known as Bloat. “Twisted stomach.” In larger, deep-cheated dogs, the stomach may not be firmly secured to the ribs and can break loose and rotate, sealing off both ends and trapping the contents of the stomach. Air is swallowed, and/or food, gas and liquids accumulate in the stomach causing it to “bloat” and the stomach suddenly twists on it’s attaching points. One point is the food pipe (esophagus) and at the other end is the small or “upper” intestine. With the entrance and exit closed off, the dog can not burp, belch, expel gas, vomit or in any way get anything out of the stomach. This triggers a number of negative responses in the body including the heart and in a short time the dog dies if immediate medical intervention is not made. If the dog is prone to this, feed 3 or 4 small meals a day and don’t overload the stomach. DO NOT EXERCISE THE DOG FOR AT LEAST AN HOUR after eating a meal. This includes evening walks. Let food digest first.

    • Stenotic nares—Brachycephalic dogs such as those with smashed in faces tend to have very narrow nostrils. The narrow nasal openings can make it difficult for the dog to breathe. This can only be corrected by surgery and only if the problem is severe.

    • Hypothyroidism—An underactive thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormone which reduces the Chow Chow's metabolism level. Hypothyroidism stems from the dog’s immune system attacking the tissues of the thyroid gland. Bottom line is the dog becomes symptomatic. The cause can be a predisposition for thyroid problems, air pollution and allergies. A FEW symptoms of the disorder include lethargy, weight gain, skin infections, dry skin, hair loss, slow heart rate, ear infections, depression. See your set right away.

    • Glaucoma - Painful pressure builds in the eyes and leads to blindness if not treated early.

    • Elongated Soft Palate—Brachycephalic dogs like those with short, smashed-in faces have a soft palate that separates the nasal passage from the oral cavity flaps down into the throat which creates snorting sounds. All brachycephalics suffer from this except in Bulldogs, breathing distress is rare. Excess barking ore panting can cause swelling in the throat and lead to more trouble breathing.

    • Renal dysplasia—Disease of the kidney. Improper function of the kidney. If you own a Shih Tzu, Chow Chow, or other breed prone to this, check twice a year with your vet for kidney function or.... sooner if you observe any unusual symptoms such as... increased drinking, increased or decreased urination, very little color to the urine, depression, loss of appetite, bad odor in breath plus any other unusual behaviors. See vet immediately!

    • Renal cortical hypoplasia—Kidney failure coming from a number of causes ranging from hereditary to ingesting automotive antifreeze and also bacterial infections. Once the kidneys become affected, there is no cure. What hap-pens is there remains a shortage of functioning tissue in the kidneys to cleanse the body. Waste builds in the blood and the toxins cause vomiting, depression, lack of appetite and death. Same happens if the dog eats a little rat poison, as one of mine did.

    • Hypomyelination—Inherited disease of the central nervous system causing puppies to shake. It’s called “Shaky Puppy Syndrome.” The defective gene causing the disease is recessive, requiring study of the parents and grandparents of the puppies affected. Affected pups tend to grow out of this tremors in a year or so. Weimaraners and Chow Chow’s are mostly affected.

    • Diabetes—The pancreas manufactures the hormone INSULIN. If the pancreas stops making, or makes less than the normal amount of insulin, or if the tissues in the body become resistant to the insulin, the result is called “diabetes.” The dog can NOT control her blood sugar without injections of insulin on a regular basis, but given the insulin, the dog can live a normal life like a human can. If the Chow Chow does not receive the insulin injections at the same time each day of her life, the dog will go into a coma and she will die. Some causes of diabetes may be chronic pancreatitis, heredity, obesity or old age, but no one is sure. Symptoms are excess drinking and urination, dehydration, weight loss, increased appetite, weight gain, and cataracts may develop suddenly. Treatment is in the form of the insulin injections daily and a strict diet low in carbohydrates and sugars. Home cooking may be suggested in some cases. Frequent trips to the vet for blood monitoring will be needed but diabetes is not a death sentence.

    Other health problems could occur with your Chow Chow. If you notice any problems with your dog, take it to the vet immediately. This website is for general information only and is not intended to, in any way, be a medical guide.


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