Written by Vet Tech

The Chow Chow – Facts And Personality

Amber LaRock
Written by: Amber LaRock, Vet Tech
The Chow-Chow is also known as 'puffy-lion dog.' This breed has such a unique appearance that it can't be mistaken with any other breed. Read on to discover everything you should know about this ancient dog breed.
Dog Breed Group:
Working Dogs
17 to 20 inches tall at the shoulder
40 to 70 pounds
Life Span:
12 to 15 years

Breed Characteristics:

Apartment Friendly


How well will this breed adapt to apartment living? Is the apartment size the most important factor when it comes to proper living conditions? Is the breed suitable for apartment living?

Good For First-Time Owners


Some dogs aren't suitable for first-time dog owners. Is this breed a good match for someone with no dog experience? Can training help them be on their best behavior with owners with no dog experience? Are they suitable to be handled by someone who is just entering the canine world?

Overall Sensitivity


Some dogs are sensitive. Certain breeds are rough on the outside, while having the softest heart on the inside. In other words, some dogs are 'thick-skinned' while some are 'easygoing.' Is this breed prone to sensitivity?

Tolerates Being Alone


Separation anxiety in dogs is a serious condition that can affect a dog's life quality. Is this breed prone to this condition? Can you leave him alone for hours? How destructive this breed can become when bored, neglected, or not loved enough?

Affectionate With Family


How affectionate this breed will be around his humans? Will he welcome new family friends easily or he will choose to be shy? Some breeds can be clingy with owners, while others don't attach a lot. Will this breed act as the family's best friend?



Some dogs will tolerate children, while others will adore well-behaved ones. Dogs and children should always be supervised, no matter how well trained the dog might be. Will this breed act as a nanny dog or he will stay away from children?

Friendly Toward Other Dogs


Some dog breeds cannot wait to run to the dog park and run with others. Others prefer to be with their humans, and not to be a part of a multi-pet household. Is this breed dog lover or not? How friendly this breed will be toward other dogs?

Friendly Toward Strangers


Some dog breeds tend to be reserved toward strangers and highly suspicious. Others are fast to walk away with them easily. How welcoming this breed is toward strangers?

Drooling Level


If you love to clean all the time drooling level in dogs is a trait that you should mind. Is this breed less likely to drool, or you will always need a towel on hand?

Easy To Groom


Heavier shedding during the shedding season is something that every dog needs to go through. However, some dogs shed just a bit all year round. Is this breed one of them? How often should you groom this dog?

Overall Health


What can you expect from this breed in terms of health? Are there any genetic conditions to vary about? Is obesity a major issue in this breed? By knowing more about the dog's health, you are learning how to help him live a longer and healthier life.

Prone To Obesity


Treats are a great addition to training sessions. Dogs love sweet bites of dog treats but they should be served in moderation. Treats can lead to obesity, next to poor nutrition. Can this breed gain extra weight from treats? How prone to obesity this breed actually is?

Trainability Level


Training some dogs is easier than others. How easy this dog will be to train? What can you expect? Some dogs are huge people pleasers and they will master commands easily, while others will try to outsmart you.

Intelligence Level


Dogs are smart beings. We do our best to train them, but they do still end up training us to adapt to their needs. How intelligent is this breed? Will he try to outsmart you? Or he will need multiple training sessions to master basic commands?

Prey Drive


Dogs were bred for a specific purpose. Those who were bred to hunt have natural instincts to hunt, even today. This is why many dogs, like Terriers, will chase other animals. They will also have a hard time concentrating on your commands when there is something small moving. Is this breed prone to following his prey instincts?

Barking Level


How vocal this breed is? Can you expect neighbors to ring you often to calm your dog? Or you can sleep without worries of hearing your Fido bark? Some breeds are highly vocal, others have unusual sounds, and some are silent. Is this breed prone to barking?

Energy Level


Low-energy dogs are happy with regular walks and indoor chill times. High-energy dogs are always ready for action. Is this breed a couch potato, energetic dog, or somewhere in between?

Exercise Needs


Some dogs are more than happy with a slow stroll down the street. Others need hours of active time to stay happy and fit. Is this breed demanding in terms of exercise? How much exercise this breed needs to stay happy and healthy?

Playfulness Level


Some dogs never lose that puppy spirit, not even in their senior years. Others are more serious and prefer having a job to do. Is this breed demanding in terms of playfulness? Can you expect playfulness in their senior years as well?

The Chow Chow is one of the oldest breeds of dog but is still treasured in the dog-loving world due to their unique appearance and protective qualities. Many would say that Chow Chow is a breed that resembles lions the most. Some would even say that Chow Chow looks like a medium size bear.

Though they may require training to help them control their territorial tendencies, they can be an amazing member of your family when raised in the proper environment.

In this article, we’ll cover the details surrounding the Chow Chow, and how to properly welcome them into your home.

History Of The Chow Chow

The Chow Chow is believed to have existed for up to 3,000 years, making them one of the oldest breeds of dog in the world. Originally bred as working dogs during the Tang Dynasty in China, the Chow Chow was a respected breed used for hunting, guarding, and herding.

In addition to their skilled working and herding abilities is their fierce need to protect what is theirs. Whether it’s a piece of land, your home, or family members, the Chow Chow would always stand up for what they love.

Because of this, the Chow Chow was known to guard children and alert families if an unknown intruder ever approached them. They were essentially the protectors that the people of this trusted to have around their children.

To this day the Chow Chow carries a need to stand up for their loved ones and will need to be trained to help “tone down” this quality if needed.

In China, the Chow Chow went by several names: black-tongue dog, wolf dog, bear dog), and Canton dog. It wasn’t until the British population entered their lives that they were finally referred to as the Chow Chow.

British merchants in the late 18th century included some of the ‘bear dogs” in their cargo. Miscellaneous items, including dogs, were referred to as “chow chow” and the name just seemed to stick.

Once the Chow Chow made their way to America in the 1920s, they were owned by the rich and famous due to their distinct appearance. Today the Chow Chow is still measured but is now easily accessible by all dog lovers.

Appearance Of The Chow Chow

The Chow Chow’s appearance is one of the main reasons why this breed became so popular.

When looking at the long list of dog breeds out there, you won’t find any other dog that looks like the Chow Chow. Their “bear-like” appearance truly sets them apart from other breeds of canines.

The Chow Chow weighs anywhere from 40 to 70 pounds and can stand up to 20 inches in height. Though they’re considered medium dogs, their coat can make them appear much larger.

Their coat comes in two different textures; rough and smooth. The rough coat is seen most often, while the smooth coat is a bit rarer to come across.

Either way, their coat is dense, thick, and stands away from their body creating a “poofy” appearance.

Due to having this signature long coat, they will need to be brushed a few times a week to deter tangles and mats.

No matter the coat type, the Chow Chow generally comes in 5 coat colors. Chow Chows can be red, black, blue, cinnamon, and creme. These colors can be solid or vary on different shades of these colors throughout their bodies.

Some Chow Chows will have dark masks around their face and muzzle as well.

Personality Of The Chow Chow

The Chow Chow has been compared to the cat due to their aloof and independent personality.

They are known to be quite stubborn and prefer to do things their own way. Though they prefer to live life on their own terms, they are still happy to do so alongside their favorite people.

Since the Chow Chow was originally bred for work and guarding a family’s possessions, they are born with a territorial need to protect what’s theirs.

Because of this, the Chow Chow can seem a bit threatening, and may even be aggressive if they feel threatened when not properly socialized.

Though this can be a challenging trait for Chow Chow owners, this trait can be significantly reduced with early training and socialization.

Potential For Aggression

When a Chow Chow is raised in an environment that is isolating, involves negative reinforcement, or any other behavior that promotes negativity, there is a high possibility that a Chow Chow will be aggressive toward other people or animals.

Due to their past as guard dogs, it’s extremely important to raise your Chow Chow in a loving and social home.

Once you bring a Chow Chow into your home, you will want to begin their training and socialization process from the moment they enter your home.

You should begin their obedience training at 8-12 weeks of age, welcome others into your home, take them to public places once they are fully vaccinated, and engage in play with other dogs and pets.

Though the Chow Chow can be rough around the edges, they can be just as friendly as any other breed when properly introduced to other settings. The more you socialize your Chow Chow, the better the chance of them becoming a loving member of your family.

They will be fine left alone for some period, while you are at work, but don’t leave him alone often and long.

Overall Health Of The Chow Chow

While the Chow Chow can live a generally healthy life of up to 15 years, they are prone to certain medical conditions. Some of these medical conditions that you should be aware of when owning a Chow Chow include:

1. Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia refers to the abnormal formation of the hip joint. This inherited condition can be passed down from dog to dog and can begin to show symptoms at any point throughout their lives.

Dog with hip dysplasia can experience pain, grinding of the joints, limping, lameness, and more signs of chronic pain.

Due to the possibility of this condition, it’s best to see a medical clearance of hip dysplasia of both of your pup’s parents.

2. Dermatitis

Dermatitis refers to the infection or irritation present on a dog’s skin. Skin dermatitis can cause an abnormal odor, skin irritation, skin redness, itching, pain, hot spots, and more. This can be a result of skin allergies, fleas, or other conditions that affect the skin.

3. Entropion

Entropion is a condition that causes the eyelid to roll inward, resulting in eye irritation and infection. This condition can be surgically repaired to reduce the risk of eye complications.

Training Your Chow Chow

If you are an inexperienced dog owner, the Chow Chow may not be the best choice for you. Though they are a wonderful breed, their training process can be challenging. With being so independent and stubborn, you will need to be dedicated to their training process.

To make your training process easier, it’s best to begin this process from the moment they enter your home or at a young age. They benefit from a positive reinforcement style of training and do not do well with any punishment style training or physical punishment. This will only promote aggression and mouthiness.

They are intelligent, so when offered an engaging training process, they will catch on quickly. As long as you are dedicated to the process, you Chow Chow will thrive in your home.

Exercise And Your Chow Chow

The Chow Chow is low maintenance when it comes to daily exercise. They do well in apartments and smaller homes as long as they have 20-30 minutes of some sort of exercise or stimulation.

They do just fine with quick games of fetch, time to explore their yard, a short walk in the park, or any other physical activity that gets them moving for a bit.

As long as you offer some form of daily stimulation, the Chow Chow is happy to spend the majority of their day lounging around with their favorite people. Paired with the fact that Chow Chows aren’t often vocal, they make great apartment dogs.

Important Tips To Remember For Owning A Chow Chow

Now that we’ve covered the details of the Chow Chow breed, let’s review some important tips to remember when brining a Chow Chow into your home.

  • Chow Chows are extremely independent
  • They are known to be great apartment dogs due to being quiet and not requiring too much daily exercise.
  • Since they have a large amount of thick fur, you will need to brush them a few times a week to prevent tangles.
  • They can be very territorial, so it’s extremely important to socialize them from a young age.
  • Make sure to get health records from each Chow Chow parent when purchasing a Chow puppy.
  • Their thick fur can make for a perfect environment for a skin infection to brew, so make sure to inspect their skin when brushing them.
  • The Chow Chow does not tolerate physical punishment or those disrespecting their personal space well, so make sure to monitor children around your Chow Chow at all times.


The Chow Chow is a unique breed that has been treasured in the dog world for quite some time. As long as you follow the guidelines that best suit the Chow Chow, they can be a wonderful addition to your home!

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