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Chow chow

Breed overview

  • Breed group – Non-sporting group
  • Height – 17 to 20 inches at the shoulder
  • Weight – 40 to 70 pounds
  • Coat length & texture – Rough and smooth coat options, both are double-coated with a thick “lion’s mane”
  • Coat color – Black, blue, cinnamon, cream, and red
  • Exercise needs – Moderate
  • Intelligence – High intelligence
  • Barking – Only to alert
  • Life span – 12 to 15 years
  • Temperament – Independent and aloof, can be reserved toward strangers but extremely loyal to their owners
  • Hypoallergenic – No
  • Origin – China

Chow chow fun facts

👉 Coming up with a pet name can be fun but tricky. Search no further! According to PetScreening’s 2024 database, the majority of our users name their male Chow Chows Bear; Simba is the 2nd most popular male name. Meanwhile, most of our users with female Chow Chows love Luna, then Nala.

  • They have blue-black tongues that look almost lizard-like. The Shar-Pei also has this tongue coloration.
  • It’s believed that the chow chow breed has been around for roughly 2,000 to 3,000 years.
  • Its Chinese name is actually “songshi quan,” but the term “chow chow” came from merchants describing anything coming from the East in the 18th century.

Chow chow temperament and characteristics

Chow chows aren’t the most cuddly of breeds despite their fluffy appearance. Rather, these dogs can be somewhat standoffish with strangers and tend to be protective of and loyal to their loved ones. A highly socialized chow shouldn’t have any issues with other pets, but if not raised properly, they can show signs of aggression or timidity.

Common chow chow health problems

The chow chow is a generally healthy breed, but may be prone to develop the following health issues:

  • Eyelid entropion. This eye condition is an inversion of an eyelid.
  • Hip or elbow dysplasia. Dysplasia is when the femur bone doesn’t fit neatly into the hip joint.
  • Pemphigus. Chows are prone to a type of pemphigus known as pemphigus foliaceus, an autoimmune skin disease that causes hair loss, scabs, and open sores around the head, face, and ears.
  • Thyroid problems. Hypothyroidism is when the body doesn’t make enough thyroid hormone.

Cost of caring for chow chows

Caring for a chow chow can vary in cost depending on their health condition. A healthy dog would just need regular check-ups and routine care. If your chow chow needs surgery for an eye or joint problem, it can cost hundreds or even thousands. Upkeep on seasonal allergies or thyroid issues might not be expensive upfront, but it can become a regular expense for owners that will add up over time. Start a pet savings account or get your pet insured to help offset the costs of injuries or illnesses that appear later in your pet’s life.

History of the chow chow

The chow chow is one of the world’s oldest breeds, originating from China with references in text from long before the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.). They’re believed to be ancestors of other breeds, like the Norwegian elkhound and the Pomeranian. The breed was brought to London in the 1800s and became popular after Queen Victoria acquired one later in the century. Chow chows were introduced to America not long after in the 1890s.

Caring for your chow chow

Caring for a new puppy of any breed can be overwhelming. You’ll need to make your first trip to the vet and schedule your chow’s vaccinations. We can even help you puppy-proof your home and prepare for the extra grooming this breed needs.


Chow chows don’t require extra exercise. If you want to give them a walk or playtime, it’s important to do it during the cooler hours of the day during hot months. Because of their double coat, chow chows’ bodies don’t handle heat or high humidity levels well. A brisk walk in the morning or evenings with regular playtime will be enough for this breed.

Chow chow taking a walk


The breed’s double coat requires thorough and regular grooming. A weekly brushing and monthly bath should be enough to keep your chow chow’s skin and coat healthy. Pay particular attention around the ears and neck to make sure there aren’t mats developing. We recommend that you blow-dry their coats with cool air after a wash.

Diet and nutrition

It’s best to ask your vet for suggestions on the best dog food for your chow chow and how much you should feed them to maintain a healthy weight. Because they tend to develop a skin condition, it’s important to regularly check their skin for irritation or reaction to their food.

👉 Avoid giving chow chows human food. Always check with your vet before giving your pup anything outside of their regular meals and treats.

Training your chow chow

Chow chows are an intelligent breed but are notorious for being stubborn and aloof. This can make training a challenge for many chow chow owners. Socialize your pup early on to ensure they grow into a well-mannered dog. They thrive on patience and reinforcement in their training — avoid harsh training methods, as these can backfire. Chow chows are a trusting breed, and harsh training might hurt that trust.

Breeds similar to the chow chow

Not quite sure that a chow chow is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:

  1. Samoyed. Another medium-sized fluffy breed, they tend to have fewer health issues than chow chows.
  2. Tibetan mastiff. Also a fiercely loyal and protective breed, they can be introverted and tough to train.
  3. Shar-Pei. A similar breed, but tends to be more playful and open to newcomers.

Frequently asked questions

Are chow chows good house dogs?

A chow chow can be a great choice for a family dog thanks to its extreme loyalty and protective nature. However, without proper training and socialization, those qualities can easily turn into overprotection and aggression, so only well-prepared families should own this breed.

Is a chow chow aggressive?

The chow chow is one dog breed that tends to be more aggressive than others. They’re intensely territorial and loyal with a dominant personality, leading to aggression without the proper training or socialization. With the right training, however, they can be a great breed.

Do chow chow dogs shed a lot?

This breed has seasonal shedding periods, meaning they blow their undercoats out twice a year. Expect to brush your chow chow regularly to maintain a healthy coat and try to limit the amount of shedding. Adding a skin and coat supplement can also help with shedding.

How much does a chow chow cost?

A well-bred chow chow from a reputable breeder can cost $1,000-$4,000.