by Deborah Myers
There are many things to consider before adopting or fostering a Chow Chow. The Chow Chow is a high maintenance dog with a mysterious attitude that compares to the cat. She will greet you at the door briefly and then be off with her own agenda. She will be watching slyly from a corner, commenting in dog thoughts, (like the Morris the Cat commercial), about the annoying animals residing in the same household, and viewing herself as the LION KING.
The Chow Chow is one of the most ancient of dog breeds. Originating in China, their images were found on pottery dating back 2000 years. The breed is known for pulling, hunting, and guarding, and is considered a working dog. Chinese fables tell the story of how the Chow got its blue tongue. During the creating of the Earth, the Chow dog was allowed to lick up the blue sky as it fell to the ground when the stars were placed, giving them their blue-black tongues.
Sometimes called Foo Dogs or the Fluffy Lion Dogs by the Chinese, they were bred to ward off evil spirits and to have powerful mythic protective benefits. Guardian lion statues are still a decorative and symbolic element at the entrances to Chinese imperial palaces, imperial tombs, government offices, temples and at the homes of government officials dating back as early as the Han Dynasty. Chow Chow’s were officially recognized by the AKC in 1903.
The Chow usually forms a loyal bond with one person who needs to provide strong leadership. They do get along with cats and other dogs, but they will consider themselves the pack leader. Almost all well trained Chows make wonderful companion animals. Chows are not friendly with all people, so it is important to teach them how to be handled by strangers. They make great pets for adults and they are well-mannered. Chows can be good with children but are not usually recommended, as they were once considered one of the most dangerous dog breeds, mostly due to bad breeders, puppy mills and the isolation they experienced as puppies. They need early socialization and lots of it; left alone and ignored they will present behavior problems.
Chow’s must be brushed every day because they shed a lot and they also need brushing to maintain their beautiful dense double coat. Chow puppies are born with pink tongues that darken with age. At first glance, it can be startling for those not familiar with their blue-black tongue. Their chest is broad and it gives them the lion-like appearance. The ears are small, triangular and pointed, with a square flat head and a face that looks like a scowl. Their straight back legs give them a short, stilted gait. The tail is curled high over their back. The furry coat comes in smooth or rough textures, and in several different colors: red, black, cream, cinnamon, and sometimes gray or the rare white.
Chows are prone to several health issues including knee joint issues, hip dysplasia and eye issues.
Apartments are well suited for the Chow if they get daily walks. The Chow has a tendency to be lazy or grouchy if not exercised. They need to be kept in a cool place during hot temperatures. The breed is not suited for hot humid weather; they do best in colder regions.
The Chow has a warm and loving spirit, and have been the companion animals of many of the rich and famous, including, Elvis Presley, Calvin Coolidge, Martha Stewart and Sigmund Freud. But because of its personality, grooming needs and potential health issues, it’s not the breed for everyone. But if you live a lifestyle that meshes with the breed, and can commit to a long-term dedicated relationship with your pet, the Chow Chow may just be the breed you’ve been looking for.