Chow Chow Dogs

Chinese Breed is One of the Oldest

Chow chow

Despite the extraordinary age of the chow chow’s lineage, the breed’s appearance hasn’t changed much over the years. The thick, puffy fur coat akin to a lion’s mane along with the perfectly curled tail and the distinct black lips and tongue have made the chow chow one of the most recognizable dogs throughout history.

The origin of the chow chow’s history, however, is still debatable.

Chow Chow History

While there’s no doubt the chow chow is one of the oldest dog breeds, thanks to DNA testing, speculation still remains regarding the breed’s origin.

Researchers believe the chow chow, also known simply as the chow, can trace its DNA back to the primitive gray wolf, but there is uncertainty as to whether the breed’s roots began in northern China/Mongolia or in the Siberian region of Asia.

Chow chow

Adding to that speculation is a Chinese bas-relief unearthed by anthropologists that dates back to 150 BCE that depicts a hunting dog closely resembling a chow. The same type of dog is featured on pottery and sculptures of the Chinese Han Dynasty (206 B.C. to 22 A.D.) and the T'ang Dynasty (7th century A.D.).

Chows were later used as herding dogs and guard dogs. In “Unmentionable Cuisine,” published in 1979, research indicates the Chinese bred chows for human consumption, although that practice seemed to decline as the breed became more popular and families came to depend on the dog for companionship and protection.

By the early 1900s, the chow was an in-demand pet in the United States—even the president at the time, Calvin Coolidge, owned “Timmy,” a black chow, while in the White House. Other famous chow owners include Sigmund Freud, Martha Steward and Janet Jackson.

Chow Chow Personality

Chows are known for their fierce family loyalty and typical dislike of strangers. In general, the breed doesn’t get along very well with other animals and may choose one particular person in the family with whom he or she bonds more than anyone else. Some chows can be skittish or timid—or overtly aggressive in nature. The breed should have routine training and socialization in order to create a respectful hierarchy between owner and pet.

Agentinsider.com, a Web site for insurance agents, notes that many insurance companies have classified the chow chow as a “high risk” breed due to its unpredictable aggressiveness. As a result, a homeowner’s insurance premium may be raised.

While the breed has a reputation for unpredictable aggressive behavior, the chow chow is still beloved by families, with whom the dog forms tight bonds and affection.

Chow Chow Appearance

Chow chow

The chow, also called the “puffy lion dog,” is often recognized for its striking appearance that sets it apart from other dog breeds: its ultra thick fur coat that resembles a lion’s mane, the tightly coiled tail resting on its back, and the unique blue-black lips and tongue.

The chow is a stocky dog, on average weighing between 45 and 75 pounds depending on gender, with triangular-shaped ears and almond-shaped, deep-set eyes.

The color of the breed can be fawn or cinnamon, cream, black, blue or red.

Chow Chow Health Conditions

While these may be common medical conditions, your chow chow will not necessarily develop any of those listed below.

  • Canine glaucoma happens when increased pressure within the eyeball damages the retina resulting in loss of retinal cells. Untreated or poorly managed glaucoma will damage the optic nerve and cause permanent blindness. The condition can be inherited (primary glaucoma) or a secondary condition to a variety of other eye issues including tumors or lens luxation.
  • Cataracts are an opacity of the lens of the eye and may cause blindness if not treated surgically. Symptoms can include discoloring of the pupil, and treatment may include surgery to remove the cataract.
  • Chow chow
  • Diabetes mellitus , also known as “sugar diabetes,” is caused by a deficiency of insulin—the hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates sugar. The occurrence of diabetes mellitus is seen more commonly in dogs (particularly females) but cats also develop diabetes mellitus. When your pet’s body can no longer produce insulin, sugar builds up in the bloodstream, causing a multitude of health issues. While the onset may be very gradual and easily overlooked, one notable sign of diabetes mellitus: the majority of pets are overweight. The condition is commonly treated by following a proper diet and administering insulin on a strict, daily schedule.
  • Entropion is the inward curling of the eyelid or ectropion, the rolling out of the eyelid. The lower lid is most commonly involved but the upper lid or both upper and lower eyelids can be affected. The condition should be corrected surgically to prevent damage to the cornea of the eye.
  • Hip dysplasia  is a hereditary malformation of the hip joint that is more commonly associated with large breed dogs. It can cause discomfort and lameness and result in arthritis. X-rays of the hips when dogs are young (under 2 years) can help identify if this problem is present will allow owners to identify a proper exercise, diet and treatment regimen if their dog is affected.
  • Lymphoma is a type of cancer defined by a proliferation of malignant lymphocytes within solid organs such as the lymph nodes, bone marrow, liver and spleen. The disease also may occur in the eye, skin, and gastrointestinal tract. It is also known as lymphosarcoma.
  • Patellar luxation is caused by anatomical defects of the bones that make up the knee joint. It is manifested by the kneecap (patella) slipping in and out of its normal location in the knee. Mildly affected dogs may carry the leg for 2 or 3 steps while walking. Severely affected dogs may become severely lame and refuse to use their rear legs. Surgical correction of this condition is very rewarding.
  • Pemphigus foliaceus is an autoimmune disease that affects the mucous membranes.

As with any pet, be sure to regularly consult a veterinarian for routine care and medical advice for your four-legged friend.


Return to the VPI Pet HealthZone

Email this article to a friend or share it via your favorite social network.

Share This page

Related Articles

Toblerone

Catching snowballs while on vacation wasn't as much fun as anticipated when Toby's leg snapped like a broomstick after landing hard in the snow. Full Story