It is believed by some to be one of the oldest of all breeds and is genetically very close to the wolf.
One writer proposed that the Chow Chow originated in China 2,000 years ago or possibly originated in Arctic Asia 3,000 years ago and then migrated to Mongolia, Siberia, then to China.
Though today’s chow is a member of the non-sporting group, the breed was actually used for hunting over 2,000 years ago, as shown on bas-relief carvings.
Their ancestors were even a food source in the distant past of their densely populated, protein-starved homeland. An ancient breed nickname is the Edible Dog, and a theory behind the origin of the name Chow maintains that it derives from the Cantonese word for “edible.”
in Northern China where they have been known as Songshi Quan which in literal translation means “puffy lion dog”.
One Chinese legend mentions large war dogs from Central Asia that resembled black-tongued lions.
An emperor of the Tang Dynasty, circa 18th century, was said to have owned a kennel facility that housed some 5,000 Chows and a permanent staff of twice that number.
The Chinese also used Chows to pull dog sleds, and this was remarked upon by Marco Polo.
From what records survive, some historians believe that the Chow was the dog described as accompanying the Mongolian armies as they invaded southward into China as well as west into Europe and southwest into the Middle East in the 13th century AD.
This breed was called by several names in China, none of which were “chow chow.” In the late 1700s, English merchants brought miscellaneous cargo from the Far East that they had called “chow chow.” Because the dogs were sometimes a part of that cargo, the name eventually caught on.
The first dog show in China was organized in Shanghai in 1887. Fifty years later, the 1936 Chinese Kennel Union (CKU) yearbook stated that as many as 89 Chows were entered that year in 1936.
Queen Victoria helped popularize the breed and a breed club was formed in England in 1895.
Chow Chows were brought to the U.S. in the late 1800s and were officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1903.
Chow Chows were all the rage among the rich and famous during the 1920s
Today, the American Kennel Club registers approximately 10,000 Chow Chows a year.
The lifespan for a Chow Chow is usually about 12 and 13 years.
The Chow Chow stands 43 to 56 cm (17 to 20 inches) at the shoulder and weighs 16 to 41 kg (35 to 90 pounds).
The Chow Chow is a sturdily built dog, square in profile, with a broad skull and small, triangular, erect ears with rounded tips. This breed differs from most others in having a blue-black tongue.
The breed is known for a very dense double coat that is either smooth or rough. The fur is particularly thick in the neck area, giving it a distinctive ruff or mane appearance. The tail curls over the back or to either side of it. The coat may be shaded/self-red, black, blue, cinnamon/fawn, or cream.
Temperamentally, the breed is usually loyal to owners but reserved and aloof with strangers.
Chow Chow price range stretches from $500 to $8000 with the Chow Chow average price resting around $3200 per dog (Top Quality). And just shy of $900 for low quality or non-show Chow Chow dogs. Chow Chow are considered to be among the most expensive breeds in the world.
The grooming requirements for a Chow Chow will depend on whether you have rough coated or smooth coated variety. With the rough coated Chow Chow you will need to brush the coat twice weekly, and more often during heavier shedding. You will also need to brush the smooth coated variety regularly. You may need to have these dogs professionally groomed occasionally, and you can dry shampoo when necessary. Both variations are medium shedders.
The Chow Chow is most likely a descendent of a Spitz breed.
DNA analysis shows chows are in the branch that includes the shar-pei, shiba inu, and Akita and are distinct from the lineage of all other dogs.
President Calvin Coolidge had two chows in the White House.
Sigmund Freud had a Chow Chow named Jo-Fi Ling who attended all of his therapy sessions because he felt that dogs had a special sense that allows them to judge a person’s character accurately, and admitted he depended on Jo-Fi for an assessment of a patient’s mental state.
Elvis Presley and his girlfriend Linda Thompson had a Chow Chow named Getlow.