Chow Chow Dog Breed Facts

Chow chow dog sleeping

Will a Chow Chow fit your lifestyle? While the breed looks like an overstuffed teddy bear, they are actually far more complicated than that.

The Chow Chow

The Chow Chow is a powerfully built dog, whose sturdy frame belies his past as a working dog. Through the centuries these canines have been used to pull carts, herd livestock, and even assist in the hunt. This jack-of-all trade even spent time as the palace guard dog for the Chinese emperor.

Quick Facts About the Chow Chow

How big do Chows get?

A full-grown Chow will be between 45 and 70 pounds and 17 to 20 inches high.

Do they shed?

Chows shed and require brushings several times a week to keep their fur healthy.

Are they good with children?

Chows are very aloof dogs that are described as "cat-like." They don't enjoy rapid movement or hugging and are not a good fit for homes with small children.

How much is a purebred Chow puppy?

The average price for a Chow puppy is about $1,200 to $1,300.

How long do Chows live?

Chows live about 8 to 12 years.

Can Chows live in hot climates?

Chows are susceptible to heat stroke and are not a good choice for an area with very hot weather.

Are Chows hard to train?

Chows are independent and may take more work to train although they're known for being easy to house train.

General Appearance

The Chow should present the impression of being square, with his height and length just about equal. The Chow's rear legs lack the angulations of other breeds and this straightness gives him his signature quick-paced yet stilted walk.

Red chow-chow

Chow Chow Tongue

One of the Chow's most famous features is his blue/black tongue, quite different from the pink tongue found in other breeds.


The Chow Chow is a medium sized, heavy boned dog, and he should look ready for labor.

  • Average height - 17 to 20 inches tall at the withers
  • Weight - 45 to 70 pounds


The breed is known for its thick coat which covers rolls of flesh. The rough coat variety is perhaps the most common and what you might normally picture when the Chow comes to mind. Ample furnishings cover the tail, legs and chest, but it's the large "ruff" around the head and neck that gives this breed its resemblance to the regal lion. There is also a smooth coated variety, though it is less common.

Chow Chow Coat Colors

Colors include:

  • Various shades of red
  • Black
  • Blue
  • Various shades of Cinnamon
  • Cream
Six chow chow puppies

Grooming a Chow

As you might expect, Chows shed and require a good deal of deep layered brushing to keep them from matting. Brushings should occur at least two or three times a week and a monthly bath is also recommended.

Chow Chow Personality

The Chow Chow's scowl is indicative of his serious, thoughtful nature. He is a discerning soul who will not openly welcome strangers into what he considers his domain.

Easily Startled

The deep fold of flesh and fur around his eyes also gives him somewhat limited vision, and this is why he is so easily startled when approached from the side. It's always best to announce your presence or make it a habit to approach this canine from an angle where he can see you.

Wary of Strangers

Chows are by nature a very protective breed that will be sure to let strangers know they are not welcome on your property, unless you approve it. Though they are not known for aggression, they can appear quite intimidating and providing these dogs with lots of early socialization and manners training is important to keep their more protective instincts in check.

Chow and Families

As you might already surmise, the Chow may not be the ideal pet for a family with children, although there certainly are exceptions. This is a breed that does not appreciate surprises or sudden moves nor do they enjoy being hugged. They can do well with children if raised with them although older children who understand how to respect a dog are a better fit. On the bright side, this breed does make a quiet house companion for adults, and requires far less exercise than other dogs of a comparable size.

Chow Trainability

Chows are keenly intelligent, and can learn whatever they want to, but the key is they have to want to. A Chow considers you his equal, and will not automatically listen to you unless he agrees it is necessary for the task at hand. Chows do best with positive reinforcement training, such as clicker training. In order to hold their attention, you'll need to find something that they find particularly rewarding such as very delicious treats.

Chow Chow dog in lavender field

Chow House Training

There's one area where Chows have a reputation for being extremely easy to train and that's house training. They are very clean dogs and are almost cat-like in their grooming habits.

Health Issues

This is a fairly long-lived breed, surviving about 8 to 12 years on average although some can live up to 15 years. While they are considerably healthier than many of their fellow breeds, there are few things to watch for.


Chows are prone to heatstroke and care should be taken with them in the summer, especially in very hot climates. They can overheat easily and prefer colder weather.

Eye Problems

Chows are susceptible to entropion, an abnormality of the eyelid. They also commonly are affected by other eye conditions like glaucoma and cataracts.

Thyroid Disease

Chows are at risk of a hypothyroid condition called autoimmune thyroiditis. Owners should be aware of the symptoms as it can cause not only health problems but also behavioral changes.

Joint Problems

Like many medium and large size dogs, Chows are at risk of hip and elbow dysplasia. This painful joint condition can lead to lameness and may require surgery. Chows are also susceptible to patellar luxation where the kneecap can slip out of place.

Gastric Torsion

This serious condition is also known as bloat and occurs when the stomach fills up with fas and fluid and "twists." If the dog is not brought to a veterinary immediately, the condition can be fatal.

Cost of a Chow Puppy

Chows are one of the more expensive breeds of dogs to both purchase and own. The median price for a Chow is between $1,200 and $1,300. Show quality dogs can cost $6,000 or more. In addition, you should figure in the cost of owning a Chow as they will require regular grooming, unless you're willing to learn to do this yourself.

Chow chow puppy in the house

Not the Breed for Everyone

The Chow Chow is definitely not a beginner's breed and you should seriously evaluate your lifestyle before acquiring one. Do you have small children who might view your new dog as a plaything? Do you entertain frequently? These are not always the ideal situations for a Chow. On the other hand, a Chow can make a sturdy, protective, and affectionate companion to those who understand his unique personality. Which category do you fall into?

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Chow Chow Dog Breed Facts