Top 12 Interesting Chow Chow Facts

If you’re looking for an extremely loyal pet that has an amazingly fluffy appearance then this particular dog breed might be a great fit. The head and neck area of these dogs resemble that of a fierce cat and their name is a reference to this remarkable feature.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most interesting facts about the Chow Chow, a protective dog that has several interesting characteristics.

1. They originated in northern China

Although it’s hard to pinpoint when exactly this dog breed emerged, it certainly originated in northern China. They have been used in a wide variety of ways, including as war dogs and for sled pulling.

We are pretty certain that Chow Chows were used to pull sleds through swampy terrains in northern China because Venetian explorer Marco Polo commented on this during his exploits along the Silk Road in the 13th century.

These dogs were considered to be the best pets to keep Chinese aristocrats company, and one 8th-century Chinese ruler is believed to have owned up to 5,000 Chows.

Chow Chow interesting facts

2. Their history probably goes back several millennia

Some references claim that these dogs first originated in arctic Asia and then migrated to Mongolia and China between 3,000 and 2,000 years ago. This is very likely because some individual Chows have been depicted in artifacts dating back to the Han Dynasty in the 3rd century B.C.

It’s fair to assume that these numbers are humbles estimates. Some sources claim that these dogs originated in ancient times and are perhaps even descendants of the Norwegian Elkhound and the Pomeranian.

During their extensive history, Chows have been used for a wide variety of things, including as guarders, haulers, and hunters. A Chinese legend referred to them as war dogs resembling black-tongued lions.

3. Their Chinese name refers to their most distinctive characteristic

The modern name of the dog in English-speaking countries has a remarkable backstory. The name Chow Chow emerged in the 18th century and was originally meant to describe Chinese items on traders’ ships that couldn’t be classified as something.

The words “Chow Chow” can therefore be described as simply saying “Etcetera.” Once these dogs started being brought back home from various spots in the British Empire, they were referred to in Engish by their modern name because they couldn’t be classified as an existing dog breed.

The Chinese name of these dogs is “songshi quan,” and just like the playful Shih Tzu, they are named after the mighty lion because their name translates to “puffy-lion dog.”

Chow Chow mane

4. How big are Chow Chows?

Dogs that are capable of pulling sleds through a swamp are naturally muscular, and sturdy is a word that pretty much describes this powerful dog. Their lion-like mane around their necks and thick double-coats are their most distinctive characteristics.

Chows are medium-sized dogs that stand anywhere between 43 to 56 centimeters (17 to 22 inches).

The male dogs weigh slightly more than the female dogs as their weight averages between 18 and 41 kilos (40 to 90 lbs). Female dogs weigh anywhere between 16 and 39 kilos (35 and 85 lbs).

5. Are these dogs great pets?

Although Chows are considered to be great and fashionable pets in modern times, these dogs have a few problems that must be kept in mind. This mostly revolves around their strong sense of loyalty to their owners and the protective nature of their territory.

Because of these strong feelings, they might become aggressive to strangers. As with just about all dogs, the more social contacts they have when they grow up, the less protective they will become as an adult.

The American Kennel Club is very strict on accepting Chows because they can’t be overly shy or overly aggressive. A balanced dog that has had a great upbringing in a loving home turns these fluffy creatures into a great pet to have around.

Chow Chow in the snow

More interesting Chow Chow facts

6. The theory of the crew members of British trading ships coming up with the name of this popular dog breed is generally accepted to be true. There’s another theory floating around, however, as to how these dogs got their name.

It’s assumed that these dogs were eaten in China during times of famine. Because they once served as an important source of protein, it’s assumed that their name was derived from the word “Chow” which means “edible” in Cantonese.

Let’s just hope and assume that this theory is incorrect, shall we?

Chow Chow fun facts

7. This dog has an extensive history in Western countries, especially since they were brought back to Great Britain in the 18th century. By the 1820s, these dogs were even exhibited at the London Zoo and referred to as “Wild Dogs of China.”

8. Despite their appearance at the London Zoo, they didn’t become popular until Queen Victoria herself acquired one later on in the 19th century.

9. The popularity of the Chow Chow eventually spread to the United States in the late 19th century and they were officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in the year 1903.

10. Apart from their distinctive coats, the other fascinating physical characteristics of these dogs are their blue-black tongues. There’s only one other dog breed in the world that shares this trait, the Shar-Pei from southern China.

Chow Chow tongue

11. Despite a wide range of potential health problems including entropion, glaucoma, juvenile cataracts, lymphoma, hip dysplasia, diabetes mellitus, canine pemphigus, and gastric cancer, the average life expectancy of these dogs still ranges between 11 and 13 years.

12. Chows can come in a wide variety of colors, including red, black, blue, cinnamon, or cream. Despite their dense coat, they are known to be among the cleanest dogs in the world.

That’s because they are nearly as fastidious as cats by nature. That being said, both the rough- and smooth-coated Chows require weekly grooming, preferably twice a week.

Chow Chow black tongue
Close view of this remarkable dog / Luigi Borromeo / Wiki Commons