The rough-haired Chow Chow is a short, compact, squarely built dog. The tail is curled over the back. The inside of the mouth and the tongue are blue/black in colour. There are two coat types – rough and smooth – and a wide range of colours (black, red, blue, fawn, cream or white). Adult males measure 48-56cm and weigh about 26-32kg. Adult females measure 46-51cm and weigh 20-25kg.
The origin of the Chow Chow dog breed is a bit of a mystery, but they probably came from Mongolia and Manchuria, where their meat was once a delicacy and their fur was used for clothing, and were then introduced to China. Centuries ago they were used to guard the temples against evil spirits. The Chow was also used as a hunting dog by the aristocrats, a guard dog against intruders, sled and cart pullers and as watchdogs. It's thought that spitz breeds originally came from the Chow Chow.
The Chow is an aloof, independent dog that can be stubborn. They can become attached to one person and can snap if they feel they – or their owner – is threatened. They may look like a cuddly teddy bear, but they are not. Breeders have improved their temperaments over recent years and many bad-tempered Chows are thought to be due to lack of proper training and socialisation when young. As long as they are introduced to children, cats and other household pets when young, problems can be prevented.
The most common health problems in the Chow are elbow dysplasia and eyelid problems. Like many breeds they can also suffer hip dysplasia (a condition that can lead to mobility problems). Hip scoring of dogs prior to breeding is therefore important.
The Chow Chow does not require a lot of exercise – about an hour daily – but they do like the outdoors, and are quite happy doing their own thing in the back garden. They must have somewhere shaded and cool that they can retreat to in warm and hot weather. Too much exercise too young can lead to bone and joint problems in later life, so exercise must be monitored closely.
Your dog's diet needs to have the right balance of all the main nutrient groups including a constant supply of fresh water. It's important to conduct regular body condition scores to ensure you keep your dog in ideal shape and remember to feed him at least twice daily and in accordance with the feeding guidelines of his particular food.
Both Chow coats are dense and straight. The rough variety is coarse-textured, stand-off, not excessive in length, and the undercoat is soft and woolly. There is thicker hair around the neck and the backs of the thighs. This rough coat needs grooming daily. The smooth coat is shorter and needs grooming two or three times a week.