The Chow Chow is a distinctive-looking companion dog originating from northern China, where it is also known as Sōng Shī Quǎn (Fluffy Lion Dog), Lang Gou (Wolf Dog) and Xiong Gou (Bear Dog). This lovely canine will charm you with its fluffy appearance like a teddy bear, its panda-like sluggishness, flattened and rounded face with the cute appeal of a puffball, cat-like personality, and its lovely snore. This is a naturally aloof, reserved and stubborn dog that is well known after its couch potato lifestyle. He makes an good family companion that is very affectionate and loyal to all members of the household. However, the Chow Chow can be also aggressively protective of its owner and property to the point he would actually attack and even bite a stranger. This is the reason it is very important to socialize your dog as soon as possible. Being primarily an indoors companion, it is perfectly clear that this is not an excessively active dog, but that doesn’t mean he is some calm cuddly pet. On the contrary, the Chow Chow can be very unpredictable and intolerant if annoyed or abused. That’s why this dog is not recommended for families with small children unless they’re raised together. On the bright side, Chow is usually friendly with cats and other dogs since its hunting instincts are not so strong. With that being said, it’s time to take a look at ten most interesting Chow Chow facts.
1.) This is a basal breed that predates all modern dog breeds that emerged in the 19th century. The basal breed cannot be called an ancient breed because there are not enough evidence, neither historical nor empirical, to precisely determine its true ancient origin. That is the case with Chow Chow since its exact origin is still unknown. The breed probably originated in antiquity in the steppes of northern China, Siberia and Mongolia. Later on, these dogs reached South Asia with the nomadic tribes from Mongolia. Scientists have discovered that a Chow Chow has the almost identical bone structure to the fossil remains of the oldest dogs known that dated back several million years ago. That’s why this breed is considered one of the oldest dog breeds in the world. Some of the earliest evidence of Chow‘s (or some very similar dog) existence can be found in a bas-relief on the pottery from the Chinese Han Dynasty (206 BC to 22 AD). The breed belongs to a particular strain that includes other dog breeds from Africa, Tibet, Japan, China, the Middle East, and the Arctic. This strain can be identified by a certain cluster of genes that possibly originated with the Asian pariah dogs. Some experts claim that Chow Chow was actually the ancestor of the Samoyed, Keeshond, Pomeranian, and Norwegian Elkhound, while some suggest this dog resulted from a cross between the Samoyed and the Tibetan Mastiff, but that is quite unlikely. In 1950s a breed known as the Eurasier was developed from a cross between the Chow Chow and the Keeshond.
2.) The name Chow Chow probably comes from the slang word “chow-chow” that, back in the 19th century, British merchants used to call miscellaneous ship cargo (including dogs) brought back from the Far East.
3.) The one of Chow Chow‘s distinctive physical characteristics is its blue-black/purple tongue. In China they often call him Hei She-t’ou (Black-Tongued) for this reason. It is interesting that every Chow puppy is born with pink tongue that turns blue-black by the time he is 8-10 weeks old. According to Chinese legend, his tongue got its blue hue when a dog licked drops of color by which the sky was being painted at the time of creation. However, the Chow Chow is not the only dog with such tongue, another one being the Chinese Shar Pei. That is why these two breeds are considered close relatives.
4.) During the very long history of the breed, Chows have been used for various purposes. They were the guardians of temples in China, Tibet and Mongolia. One Chinese ruler supposedly owned 5.000 Chows and all of them were used for hunting. Some historians believe that Chows were actually the dogs accompanying Mongolian armies of the legendary ruler Genghis Khan when they invaded China, Europe and the Middle East. These dogs were evidenced by Marco Polo himself to pull dog sleds. In the past in China, Chows were mainly bred and used as versatile working dogs for big and small game hunting, livestock herding, cart and sled pulling, and home guarding. Unfortunately, they have also been bred for consumption. Their flesh was, and still is, considered a delicacy. Apart from this, their fur has been often used in textile industry. Many people share the opinion that such mistreatment greatly affected personality and behavior traits of newer generations of Chows. Today, they are mainly used as companions and family pets and very rarely as guard dogs.
5.) It is believed that the Chinese guardian lions (Foo dogs), the traditional stone statues that can be seen in front of Buddhist temples and palaces were actually made after the look of this dog. These stone guardians were built in the time of Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD), which is probably the reason some people in China still call this dog Tang Quǎn (Dog of the Tang Empire). This is, in fact, very likely since Chow Chows, as seen in the previous paragraph, were at certain time used as temple guardians in China, Tibet and Mongolia.
6.) As a proof that they are good guard dogs serves one of the not so nice Chow Chow facts. This dog was actually responsible for 61 evidenced attacks on humans from 1979 to 1998. This ranks in the top 10 percent of dog attacks. The most attacks were against children (37) and eight of them were fatal. Other attacks resulted in maimings and various injuries of which some were very serious requiring serious medical treatment. So, yeah, if you thought this is some lazy and funny pet, think again! That’s why early socialization is absolutely needed in the case of this dog. During socialization, he should meet people of all ages, especially kids. This way he will get used to them and you’ll rest assured he won’t be prone to aggressive behavior anymore.
7.) When working or playing with a Chow Chow, you should always approach him from the front. The reason for this is that Chow has deep-set eyes and as a consequence his peripheral vision is quite limited. So, keep that in mind and try not to upset your dog!
8.) Queen Victoria was one of the most famous Chow Chow dog owners. There is, in fact, an interesting story considering Queen’s favorite pet. Supposedly, the first ever made teddy bear was actually modeled after the look of her Chow Chow puppy. However, this teddy bear wasn’t supposed to be a toy, but a double of that particular puppy. You see, Queen Victoria used to carry her favorite dog everywhere she went, but her close friends on the court had remarks about that. They tried to disapprove her of this telling her that it does not befit a Queen to carry a dog like that, but she didn’t listen. So, they haired a tailor to make a stuffed version of her dog as a proper replacement. Queen Victoria agreed to carry this stuffed doll instead of her dear Chow Chow. Thus, the first teddy bear was made. Lovely :)
9.) Apart from Queen Victoria, many other famous persons and celebrities owned or still own this dog – the breed was especially popular during 1920s, 1930s and 1980s. Among them was the US president Calvin Coolidge. He and his wife Grace Goodhue had two Chow Chows – the black one named Blackberry and red one named Timmy. The famous Austrian neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freund owned a Chow Chow named Jo-Fi. This dog was present at all of his therapy sessions since he believed that dogs can accurately judge a person’s state of mind thanks to their special sense. Sigmund once admitted that he always relied on his dog’s reactions while creating an assessment of a patient’s mental condition. Walt Disney‘s wife Lillian was also among the proud owners of this dog. Walt gave her a Chow Chow puppy named Sunnee as a Christmas gift. The Fluffy Lion Dog has been a pet of choice for Janet Jackson too. Hers was called Buckwheat. Martha Stewart, an American businesswoman and television personality, owns a few Chow dogs, which can often be seen at her TV shows.
10.) The Chow Chow is generally healthy, but is certainly not in the category of healthiest dog breeds. In fact, this dog is susceptible to all kinds of diseases, including those of genetic nature and certain eyes health problems. So, the Chow can suffer from canine hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, lymphoma, autoimmune thyroiditis, diabetes mellitus, bloat, myotonia, patellar luxation, juvenile cataracts, glaucoma, entropion, canine pemphigus, and is at high risk for gastric cancer and skin melanoma. Now, when you look at this long list of diseases, it might seem this breed is a complete hopeless wreck, but that is actually not the case. You see, all these health conditions can be easily avoided with proper care and treatment. So, do your homework well, learn everything there is to know about this breed and you very likely won’t have problems with your Black-Mouthed Dog.
With this I’ll conclude our list of ten most interesting Chow Chow facts. Hope this article will help you in better understanding of this beautiful breed and that you’ll have fun reading it. Until next time, stay happy and have fun with your Fluffy Lion Dog(s)!