Strong, loyal, protective and independent. Not the most common traits of a cute and fluffy breed. The Chow Chow may seem like the dog for a large handbag but it is anything but. This stubborn furball can be a real handful if not firmly raised, or a loyal companion when properly trained.
Where I'm From
Although widely believed to come from China, it is speculated that the breed’s true origins lie to the north in Mongolia. Pottery paintings from this area resembling the Chow, date back as far as 200BC, however they are believed to have been around for a lot longer. It is unknown whether the Chow is the origin of the Spitz-type of dog, which also includes the Samoyed and Pomeranian, or just another iteration of an even more ancient breed.
Migration to the rest of Asia was thanks to nomadic Mongolian tribes who would keep the dogs as companions as they moved from place to place.
The breed is considered a working dog, however it has been recorded to have fulfilled many more roles. The Chinese used the Chow as a hunting companion, to herd cattle, as a cart and sled puller and a protector of property.
The breed was brought to the Western world in the 18th Century by British merchants who used to call miscellaneous items in their cargo, like animals, Chow Chow. The name has been used ever since.
Their popularity grew over the next century and the Chow started to be regularly imported into the UK from the late 19th Century.
What I Look Like
The Chow Chow is a short, solidly built dog with sunken eyes and a curled tail.
They come in two fur types, rough and smooth. Rough is the most common type with longer hairs that when brushed, give them their famously fluffy appearance. Smooth is a lot denser, and a lot easier to maintain.
Rough or smooth, the breed comes in five colours, red, black, blue, cream and cinnamon.
What sets this breed apart from other dogs, and even makes them unique amongst the Spitz-type, is their black/blue tongue. The only other dog associated with a black tongue is the Shar-Pei, which also hails from China. Other animals that share this trait are the Polar Bear and Giraffe.
How I Act
Even though the Chow looks like the perfect cuddle buddy, they certainly don’t enjoy the affection as much as you would hope.
Early socialisation and training is a must with these guys. They are protective, fiercely loyal and will not take easily to strangers. So much so that they can snap if they feel like their owners are under threat.
It is easy to turn a blind eye to bad behavior because of their cuteness. This is a big mistake as the Chow will take full advantage if not properly disciplined. They require a calm, firm and dominant owner who will take the position of alpha in the relationship. If left unchecked, they will believe they are the boss of the house, and it will be very hard to keep them grounded.
If raised correctly, the Chow is an excellent family companion who should not display any signs of aggression.
Due to the need for consistency in training, they are not ideal for smaller children. Furthermore, as is the case with most fluffy dogs, smaller children are likely to try and pick up the dog or not recognise when they are becoming aggravated. For these reasons the Chow is recommended for households with children who are aware of responsible pet ownership.
Am I the pet for you?
- A loyal companion if properly trained
- A great guard dog
- Cute, fluffy and sure to get the owner some attention
- Must be trained firmly to assert dominance from a young age
- Personality does not reflect its cuddly looks
- An undisciplined Chow can be a bit snappy
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