Chow Chow Dog Facts Chow’s temperaments and why it’s an unusual dog breed

At first glance, Chow Chow dogs could easily pass for a cute, walking and breathing teddy bear!

The Chow Chow dog breed is believed to have originated from northern China, where it is known as Xiong Gou (Bear Dog) or Song Shi Quan (Fluffy Lion Dog) due to their resemblance to lions and teddy bears. You'll love the fluffy appearance and their well-rounded faces plus they make great family companions, though they are sometimes aggressive and stubborn. So, if you are looking to own a Chow Chow dog breed, here are some interesting facts you should know about them.

portrait of chow chow dog

17 Interesting facts about the Chow Chow Dog Breed

1. They were used as working dogs

The chow chows dogs were used to pull sleds, hunt, and trained to guard homes and palaces. During the Tang dynasty in northern China, one emperor admired the hunting skills of the Chow Chow dogs and he assigned 5000 Chows to his men for hunting.

2. Chow Chow is not a Chinese name

Despite originating from China, the name Chow Chow is not Chinese. They are known as Song Shi Quan in China. So, where did the name Chow Chow come from? During the 18th century, English merchants had a slang word for products coming from the east; they called them "Chow Chow" which is a pidgin-English term. Since the dogs were shipped alongside other products like porcelain, dolls and curios, they became known as chow chows.


3. You can’t miss their toothy grin

Most dogs have 42 teeth in their mouths, but the Chow Chow dog breed sports 44 teeth in total. This fact might make the Chow Chow dog breed dangerous when they bite, but they are lovely and loyal family companions.

chow chow

4. The tongue color is unusual

Another unusual occurrence you should know when raising the Chow Chow dogs is the color of their tongue. Puppies sport a pink tongue, but as they age, their tongues turn to a blue-black color, which is similar to a lizard's tongue. The other dog breed with this unusual character is the Chinese Shar-Pei, that's why most dog experts and historians think that they share a common ancestry.

5. Approach them from the front

The Chow Chows have broad skulls with well-rounded faces; as a result, their eyes are deep-set in their skulls which obstruct their peripheral vision. When playing with the dog, always approach them from the front lest you startle and upset the dog.

6. It's a healthy dog breed

The Chow Chow dog is generally healthy but susceptible to some illness. They are considered a high-risk dog breed for skin melanoma and gastric cancer, but with proper treatment and care, these conditions can be avoided.

7. They are aloof with strangers

These dogs are loyal and friendly to most family members, but they tend to be aggressive and distrustful to strangers. Perhaps they got this trait from their guard dog history, but you need to train and socialize them with strangers early, lest they become a nuisance in the presence of a stranger.

young chow chow in a retro room

8. A stilted gait

Have you ever noticed that Chow Chows have a stilted gait? The stilted gait posture is a result of their straight hind legs.

9. What about their scowling expressions?

The scowling expressions on their faces are a result of facial wrinkles on their round puffy faces. Though, it's not easy to notice this occurrence because their dense facial undercoats obscure these facial wrinkles.

10. Grooming depends on the coat type

If you go for a rough-coated Chow Chow dog, make some time in your schedule for some daily grooming. The hairy coats need to be tangle-free to maintain their bear-like appearance. Also, give special attention to their facial wrinkles, as the folds can retain debris or dirt from the playground. If you have a busy schedule, go for a smooth-coated Chow Chow which only requires grooming at least once a week.

11. They are not good swimmers

You have to think twice before taking your Chow Chow dog with you for your annual summer vacation on the beach. They don't fare well in water when swimming as their dense coats weigh them down as they swim. This occurrence might be fatal; so you better exclude them from your next pool and beach trips.

12. Coat variation

The most common Chow Chow coat colors are cinnamon, cream, red, black and blue, that's according to the American kennel club.

chow chow dog

13. They can be a couch potato

Chow Chows are primarily indoor dogs; they sleep on the couch while snoring nicely like cats. If you feed them with highly nutritious dog food without exercise, they tend to become overweight. The last thing a dog owner wants is an overweight dog that can't run or jump when instructed. Experts recommend a minimum of 20 minutes of exercise per day.

14. Training

Most Chow Chows are stubborn during training, but they are fairly intelligent dogs; making them good for competitions. Their stubborn nature makes the training sessions a challenge, so they require a patient, creative and firm dog trainer for the job. The dog trainer needs to keep their guarding tendency under control during the training.

15. These dogs were used for psychoanalysis

An Austrian neurologist named Sigmund Freund used his Chow Chow dog named Jo-Fi to assess his patients’ mental conditions because he believed that dogs can judge your state of mind accurately because of their special senses. We don't know if the dogs can assess a patient's mental condition accurately since this analysis is not backed scientifically.

16. Celebs own this dog

Many celebs own the Chow Chow dog breed, and you can see some of them on Martha Stewart’s TV shows. Janet Jackson has a Chow Chow dog named "Buckwheat", and Lillian, the wife of Walt Disney also owns a Chow Chow dog named "Sunnee." There are many more celebs who own the Chow Chow dog breed because of its coat appearance and their loyalty.

17. The Chow Chow breed is old

Historians believe that the dog breed has been around for approximately 2000-3000 years, they based their argument on the chow-like texts found in the 11th century records.

Wrapping up

We hope the article gave you a better understanding of the Chow Chow dog breed as you decide whether to own one or not. They will be loyal to your family members, but can be aggressive to strangers because of their guard dog tendencies. Proper training makes them sociable and accommodative of strangers. You'll have fun with a Chow Chow dog.

Further reading:

  2. Alex Seymour. (2015). Chow Chows - The Owner's Guide From Puppy To Old Age. Retrieved from
  3. The Chow Chow - A Complete Anthology of the Dog. Retrieved from
  4. Richard G. Beauchamp. (2004). Chow Chow (Comprehensive Owner's Guide). Retrieved from


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