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The chow chow is an easily identifiable breed, thanks to its bluish black tongue and bearlike appearance. It was developed in China and Mongolia and used as a hunting and guard dog. Boasting of a muscular and a stocky body, it weighs 45–70 pounds and stands 43–51 centimetres at the withers. This breed may have an adorable appearance, but it cannot be easily approached or touched by strangers.
Here is a brief background of the chow chow if you are interested in owning this cute, yet stocky bearlike dog.
Genetic tests prove that the chow chow is one of the oldest dog breeds in the world, which originated in China and Mongolia. Similar-looking dogs were depicted in old paintings and pottery from the Han Dynasty, dating back to 206 BC to 22 AD. Aside from being used as hunting and guard dog, its meat was unfortunately considered a delicacy. It had different Chinese names that translated to black-tongue dog, bear dog, wolf dog, and Canton dog.
The chow only arrived in Europe in the eighteenth century because China closed their borders prior to this time. The name chow chow was coined by British merchants, referring to miscellaneous items in cargo ships that included dogs, which eventually got stuck with the breed. Queen Victoria received a chow as a gift in 1865, but the breed was promoted by Marchioness of Huntley in the UK. The first chow chow club was formed in the UK in 1895. Amongst the most popular dog breeds in the world, it is registered with the Kennel Club under the Pastoral Group.
With its unique bearlike appearance and bluish black tongue, the chow chow is a large dog that is hard to miss. Weighing 45–70 pounds and standing 43–51 centimetres, it is a muscular and powerful breed with a stocky body. It has a large head, moderately long muzzle, strong jaws with a perfect scissor bite, oval-shaped dark eyes, and slightly small ears that are set wide apart. Its wide and large nose is usually black, but it can be lighter or self-coloured, depending on its coat colour.
There are two types of chow chows according to their coats. The first is the rough-coated, which has a thick, dense, and abundant straight hair that stands off from the body. The hair is thicker around the head and neck, which forms a ruff and mane. It also has a soft, thick, and woolly undercoat. The second is the smooth-coated, which has a shorter double coat with a hard, dense, and smooth outercoat with no ruff or feathering. It has longer hairs on the ears, body, legs, tail, and body. According to KC standards, both types come in black, blue, red, fawn, white, and cream. With its thick coat, the chow has high grooming requirements. It needs to be brushed at least three times a week and more frequently during the spring and autumn when it sheds heavily. Brushing also lessens the chances of having that doggy smell. It is important to use the right tools such as a medium-coarse brush for the body, a pin brush for the longer sections, and a slick brush for the legs. Always use a conditioner when brushing to avoid breakage.
Other basic grooming elements are regular tooth brushing, nail trimming, ear cleaning, and skin inspection for bumps and ticks/fleas. When these aspects are neglected, your dog may be prone to preventable infections.
Although it looks like a cute teddy bear that you just would like to hug all day, the chow’s disposition is often compared to a cat’s. It tends to be reserved, independent, and aloof. Although the chow usually develops the strongest bond with only one person, usually the one that takes care of it, it is also loyal and loving to other family members. It thrives in any living conditions, including apartments as long as there is access to a fenced yard.
The breed is not suggested for first-time owners because of its stubborn nature. An experienced dog owner that could take on the alpha role would be better for the chow. The breed needs to be handled and trained appropriately and taught its place in the pack. It is also best for families with one member staying at home as it cannot tolerate being left alone for long periods.
The chow is wary of strangers, so it is best for owners to warn guests not to have any physical contact with the dog before being introduced. This dog breed is protective, but should never be aggressive. When it comes to children, it does well with kids it is raised with, but it doesn’t tolerate too much rowdiness or abuse. It is more suitable for families with older children who are mature enough to understand this breed. The chow does get along with other dogs in the same household. Introducing it to other pets can get quite tricky especially to dogs of the same sex, which can sometimes lead to fighting. To curb some of its dominant tendencies, early socialisation and training are necessary.
Chow chow is naturally intelligent, but as previously mentioned, it can be stubborn, so training will be more challenging. That being said, as long as it knows its place in the pack and it understands why it is asked to do something, it will oblige. In fact, it is easy to house-train especially that it is an extremely clean dog.
A typical serving for an adult chow chow is 2–2 3/4 cups of excellent-quality dry dog food per day. The amount of food you provide for your dog highly depends on its age, activity level, and metabolism.
Typical calorie needs of an adult chow chow per day:
Breed experts believe that the chow should be nourished close to its natural diet as it was exposed to a very diverse environment in China and Mongolia. This breed was often fed with diverse yet simple and healthy food. That being said, it is wrong to assume that all dogs need a significant amount of protein. The chow actually needs less protein because it can lead to kidney disorders. Instead, its diet should be mainly composed of oats, brown rice, chickpeas, lentils, and other vegetables. Its source of meat should come from lamb or other lean meat like chicken and turkey. Of course, it needs healthy fats from fish to maintain its beautiful thick coat.
Healthy and well-cared-for chow chow can live up to fifteen years. The breed is prone to quite a number of hereditary health issues, and whilst your dog may not develop any or all of them, they are still worth knowing. It can develop skin problems like hotspots or eczema and VKH-like syndrome or uveodermatological (UV) syndrome. You also have to be cautious of entropion and other eye issues, bloat, heatstroke, breathing problems, alopecia X, cruciate ligament, hypothyroidism, Addison's disease, Cushing's disease, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, pemphigus foliaceus, hip dysplasia, and elbow dysplasia.
The chow chow is not a high-energy breed, but it needs a decent amount of exercise to be a well-rounded dog. At least forty minutes of physically and mentally stimulating activities will suffice. It loves being outdoors, but make sure that the fencing is secure and that it does not go out in hot temperatures. Because of its thick coat, it can easily overheat.
If you are interested in purchasing a Chow Chow be ready to spend £800 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. Getting an insurance policy is recommended to cover veterinary bills for illnesses or in case your dog gets into an accident. The cost for a basic coverage is normally £40 per month and £100-£150 per month for lifetime coverage. These prices also depend on several factors such as your location and your dog’s health and age at the time of acquiring a policy.
Feeding your Chow Chow high quality dog food can set you back another £50 a month. Good nutrition is important in maintaining your dog’s health and minimising visits to the vet. Routine checks with the vet and preventive care, including neutering and spaying, can cost £1000 annually. This does not include major treatments and confinement in case of health emergencies.
You also need to factor in the basic accessories and equipment that can cost up to £200 initially. These include bowls, collars and leads, bed, grooming kit, and toys. On average, caring, and raising a Chow Chow can cost £120 a month.
Are you sure the Chow Chow is the best breed for you? Take the Pet Breed Selector Quiz to find your perfect breed match.Dog Breed Selector Quiz
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