Chow Chow Breed Standards: Curious Restrictions and Guidelines Every Owner Should Know

By: Mo


Last updated:

Chow Chow Breed Standards

If you’ve ever seen a Chow Chow, you know they leave quite an impression. With their dignified demeanor and almost aloof nature, these dogs stand out in both appearance and personality.

When I first brought my Chow Chow home, I was amazed by how specific the breed standards are. From their muscular build to their blue-black tongues, every detail contributes to their unique charm.

Chow Chows are known for their lion-like mane and regal stance, which are key parts of their visual appeal and breed standards.

Adhering to these standards is not just about looks; it’s also about health and behavior.

Ensuring your Chow Chow has the proper coat, color, and grooming can prevent common health issues.

Their temperament, often described as aloof but loyal, makes them fascinating companions.

Training and exercise are also crucial to maintaining their well-being and ensuring they fit into your family dynamic.

Key Takeaways

The History and Origin of the Chow Chow

The Chow Chow is an ancient breed with a rich heritage. From its beginnings in Northern China to its role in culture, let’s explore its fascinating story.

An Ancient Breed

The Chow Chow is one of the oldest dog breeds, dating back over 2,000 years. It originated in Northern China and is known for its unique appearance, including a dense double coat and a lion-like mane.

Having a blue-black tongue and deep-set almond eyes, this breed was distinct even in ancient times. Chows were initially bred as working dogs in China, used for hunting, herding, and guarding. Their muscular build and powerful demeanor made them versatile helpers.

Over the centuries, the breed’s distinct look and abilities have kept it popular. Today’s Chow Chow retains many traits from its ancient ancestors, continuing to captivate enthusiasts worldwide.

Cultural Significance

In ancient China, Chow Chows were more than just dogs; they were symbols of power and prestige.

Emperors and nobles kept them as symbols of affluence. The breed was a loyal companion to Chinese emperors, and its presence in royal courts highlighted its esteemed status.

Chows were also used in art and literature.

Paintings and writings from ancient times often feature the breed, reflecting its importance in Chinese culture. Their distinctive features like the ruff around the neck were noted in historical documents.

Today, while their cultural significance may have changed, Chow Chows are still admired for their beauty and historical richness. They remain a beloved breed among dog owners in the United States and beyond.

General Appearance and Characteristics

Chow Chows are known for their leonine looks and well-balanced build. They have unique features that set them apart as a distinct breed.

Overall Impression

When you first see a Chow Chow, you notice their sturdy and powerful appearance. These dogs are squarely built with heavy bones and strong muscles.

Their broad, flat skull and unique blue-black tongue are standout features. The Chow’s almond-shaped eyes give them a dignified expression.

Their double coat comes in two types: rough and smooth. Rough coats are dense and abundant, while smooth coats are short and hard. Each type has a definite undercoat, providing excellent insulation.

Chows are known for their protective nature. Despite their lion-like appearance, they are calm and aloof around strangers. They are loyal and devoted to their family, making them excellent guard dogs and companions.

Unique Qualities

One of the most striking features of a Chow Chow is their leonine mane, especially in those with rough coats. This gives them a regal and impressive look.

Their small, triangular ears stand erect, enhancing their alert and attentive expression.

The Chow’s tail is another distinctive trait. It’s carried close to the back, often curling over one side. This adds to their unique silhouette.

Their blue-black tongue is perhaps the most famous feature of the breed. It’s an unusual trait not found in many other dogs, making Chows easily recognizable.

Chow Chows have been used historically for hunting, herding, and pulling, but today, they are primarily treasured as companions.

Their balanced combination of strength, dignity, and loyalty makes them a beloved breed.

Breed Standard Essentials

A Chow Chow standing tall, with a broad skull, small ears, and a thick double coat, displaying the breed's distinct lion-like mane and proud demeanor

If you’re considering a Chow Chow, knowing its breed standards is key. Let’s dive into some specifics like size, coat, head features, and body structure.

Size and Proportions

Chow Chows have a sturdy, balanced build. Males typically stand 19 to 22 inches tall, while females range from 18 to 20 inches. Their weight varies from 45 to 70 pounds.

It’s crucial for a Chow Chow to appear square in profile. This means their height at the withers is about the same as the length from their forechest to the rump. This balanced look is one of the breed’s distinguishing features.

My Chow, Max, perfectly met these dimensions, which contributed to his confident and majestic stance.

Achieving these standards is a blend of genetics and proper care in their upbringing.

Coat and Colors

The Chow Chow’s coat is one of its most striking features. They have two types: rough and smooth. The rough coat has a thick, dense undercoat and coarse topcoat, needing regular grooming. The smooth type is still dense but lies flat and is less demanding to maintain.

Chow Chows come in five colors: red, black, blue, cinnamon, and cream. These colors must be solid, though shading is acceptable.

My friend’s cream Chow, Bella, has a distinct nose color that stands out, fitting the breed standard.

Ensuring the coat remains clean and well-groomed goes a long way in maintaining their show quality appearance.

Head Features

The head of a Chow Chow is broad and has a flat skull. This gives them a dignified and proud expression.

Their eyes are dark, almond-shaped, and set deep, showcasing alertness. The ears are small, triangular, and upright, adding to their lion-like appearance.

One unique trait is their blue-black tongue. This feature is a clear identifier of the breed.

When I first got Max, his unusual tongue color fascinated everyone. This small detail adds to the Chow Chow’s distinctiveness.

A well-phrased muzzle and strong teeth (meeting in a scissor bite) are also vital.

Regular dental care helps in maintaining this standard, so don’t neglect their oral health.

Body Structure

The body of a Chow Chow should be compact and well-muscled. Their chest is broad and deep, supporting their sturdy build.

Their back is short and level, which contributes to their square, balanced appearance.

Chow Chows also have strong, straight legs and well-knit feet. This structure ensures they move with a unique stilted gait, marking their majestic and somewhat aloof demeanor.

My Chow, Max, had this perfect gait, attractively catching everyone’s eye at the park.

Ensuring proper nutrition and exercise helps maintain this body structure, allowing the Chow Chow to thrive and embody the breed standard.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

A fluffy Chow Chow stands tall, its thick coat shimmering in shades of red, black, blue, or cinnamon. The dog's proud and dignified demeanor is complemented by its well-groomed mane and mane

Chow Chows have distinct coats and come in a variety of colors which need specific grooming to maintain their unique appearance. Let’s take a closer look at the different aspects of their coat varieties and color significance.

Coat Varieties

Chow Chows have two main types of coats: rough and smooth.

The rough coat is abundant, dense, straight, and offstanding. It’s quite coarse in texture. This type of coat also features a soft, thick, and wooly undercoat.

One striking feature of the rough coat is the profuse ruff around the head and neck, which looks almost like a mane.

The smooth coat, in contrast, is hard, dense, and smooth to the touch. It lacks the dramatic ruff seen in rough-coated Chow Chows.

Both coat types need regular grooming, but the rough coat usually requires more maintenance to keep it free of matting and tangles.

Color Significance

Chow Chows come in a several colors including red, black, blue, cinnamon, and cream.

  1. Red Chows range from light golden to deep mahogany.
  2. Black Chows have a striking, solid color that often appears almost blue-black in daylight.
  3. Blue Chows have a slate-gray color, giving them a unique charm.
  4. Cinnamon Chows can vary from light beige to a deep, reddish brown.
  5. The cream variety has a pale, almost white coat with a lighter nose, which brings out their soft and woolly appearance.

Each of these colors has its specific grooming needs. Darker colors like black may show dandruff, requiring frequent brushing.

Pale colors like cream might need additional care to keep their coat looking bright and clean.

Regular grooming maintains their coat and enriches their striking appearance.

Temperament and Behavior

A Chow Chow stands proud, with a sturdy build and a lion-like mane. Its deep-set eyes exude a calm and aloof demeanor, while its distinctive blue-black tongue adds to its unique charm

Chow Chows have a unique temperament characterized by their loyal and dignified nature. They tend to be aloof with strangers but show deep loyalty to their families.

Personality Traits

The Chow Chow is known for being very dignified. This breed carries itself with an air of confidence and pride. My Chow Chow, Max, prefers independence. He likes his space but will come to me when he wants attention.

Chow Chows are extremely loyal to their families. Max always stays close to me and keeps an eye on all family members. Loyalty is a strong trait in this breed. They’re protective and will alert you to any unfamiliar events around the house.

These dogs can also be quite aloof around strangers. When guests come over, Max observes from a distance before deciding if he wants to interact. This behavior is pretty typical for the breed. Patience is key when introducing your Chow Chow to new people.

Social Behavior

Chow Chows can be very particular about how they socialize. Early socialization is really important. When I first got Max, I made sure he met lots of different people and dogs. This helped him become more comfortable in various settings.

It’s important to introduce your Chow Chow to new experiences slowly. Max was initially hesitant around other dogs, but gentle introductions helped him adjust. Don’t rush the process. Let your dog take their time to feel secure.

Interestingly, Chow Chows tend to build strong bonds with their human family but are more reserved with strangers. They usually need consistent, positive reinforcement to warm up to new people. This is where patience and gentle handling come in handy.

Chow Chows can be great with children and other pets if they are properly introduced and socialized early on. When Max meets kids, he is calm and well-behaved. It’s crucial to teach children how to approach and interact with a Chow Chow to ensure a positive relationship.

Health and Care

A Chow Chow stands tall, with a thick double coat and a lion-like mane. Its strong, sturdy build exudes confidence and grace, while its deep-set, almond-shaped eyes convey a sense of intelligence and alertness

Caring for a Chow Chow involves understanding their common health issues and ensuring they maintain a healthy lifestyle. Proper care can lead to a happier and healthier pet.

Common Health Issues

Chow Chows can face several health problems. One frequent issue is entropion, where the eyelid turns inward, causing irritation. This condition needs surgical correction to prevent further discomfort.

Weight management is also crucial. Maintaining a balanced diet and regular exercise helps control their weight, reducing the risk of obesity-related conditions. Keep an eye on their food intake and provide them with daily walks.

Additionally, hip dysplasia is common in this breed. Regular vet check-ups can help catch this early. Early diagnosis allows for better management and care, avoiding severe complications.

Training and Exercise

A Chow Chow dog stands tall and proud, with a thick double coat, a lion-like mane, and a distinctive blue-black tongue. Its sturdy build exudes strength and power, while its dignified expression reflects its regal nature

Training and exercise are vital for keeping Chow Chows healthy and happy. They need regular physical activity and consistent training due to their strong and independent nature.

Exercise Demands

Chow Chows are sturdy and powerful dogs that need moderate exercise to stay fit. They enjoy daily walks, but usually, 30 minutes to an hour of exercise is enough. Walks should be steady but not overly strenuous. These dogs are not high-energy runners; they’re more about steady movement.

Interactive playtime also works well. Games like fetch or tug-of-war can keep them engaged. Just make sure to avoid extreme heat during exercise, as they don’t tolerate it well. Keep their activity levels balanced to prevent boredom without overexerting them.

Training Methods

Chow Chows can be quite independent and sometimes stubborn. Training requires patience and consistency. Positive reinforcement is key. Use treats, praise, and play to reward good behavior. It’s important to start training early, as puppies are more receptive.

Use short, regular training sessions. A step-by-step approach helps. For instance, teach basic commands like sit, stay, and come before moving on to more complex tasks. Socialization is also crucial. Introduce them to different environments, people, and other dogs early on to reduce aggression or fearfulness.

Training a Chow Chow is about building trust and respect. With patience, these dogs can learn to follow commands and behave well.

Owning a Chow Chow

Owning a Chow Chow requires careful preparation and ongoing commitment. From choosing the right breeder to maintaining the dog’s well-being, there are important steps to follow.

Before You Buy

Before you buy a Chow Chow, do your homework. Research extensively to understand the breed’s needs and potential health issues. Good breeders will screen you as much as you screen them. I visited several breeders before finding one who conducted thorough genetic testing and was well-versed in Chow Chow breed standards.

Ask lots of questions. What is the pup’s lineage? What health tests have been done? What is the breeder’s experience with the breed? Once, I asked a breeder about the parent’s temperament and turned down a pup from an aggressive lineage.

Check if the breeder is recognized by the Chow Chow Club or AKC. A recognized breeder will provide assurances on health and history. Trustworthy breeders can also offer advice on feeding, care, and training.

Responsible Ownership

Owning a Chow Chow is a long-term commitment. The breed is known for its independent and dignified temperament. My Chow, Max, needed proper socialization to become a well-adjusted pet. Consistent training is essential to curb the breed’s natural stubbornness.

Regular health check-ups are vital. Chow Chows can suffer from hip dysplasia and other genetic issues. A visit to the vet every six months helps monitor and manage these conditions. I learned this firsthand when Max developed arthritis at an early age.

Proper grooming is also non-negotiable. Chow Chows have thick fur that can mat easily. I brush Max every other day to prevent knots and keep his coat healthy. Investing in a good brush and learning the right grooming techniques is a must.


A Chow Chow dog standing tall, with a thick double coat, lion-like mane, and distinctive blue-black tongue. It exudes an air of regal aloofness, with a sturdy build and a broad, flat skull

In this section, we’ll tackle common inquiries about Chow Chows, including their size, behavior, identifying features, restrictions, breed standards, and costs.

What are the size and weight standards for a full-grown Chow Chow?

A full-grown male Chow Chow typically stands 19-22 inches at the shoulder and weighs between 55-70 pounds. Female Chow Chows are slightly smaller, standing 18-20 inches tall and weighing around 45-60 pounds. These measurements ensure a sturdy and balanced build.

Can you describe common behavior issues in Chow Chows and how to address them?

Chow Chows can be independent and aloof, making them seem standoffish. They might show aggression towards strangers or other animals. To address this, start socialization early and use positive reinforcement. Consistent training helps set boundaries, turning these lovable dogs into well-behaved pets.

What are the key features to identify a purebred Chow Chow?

Key features of a purebred Chow Chow include a broad, flat skull, small triangular ears, and a blue-black tongue. Their dense double coat comes in colors like red, black, blue, cinnamon, and cream. Their sturdy build and unique appearance make them easily recognizable.

What makes the Chow Chow breed restricted in some areas?

Chow Chows can be restricted in some areas due to their perceived aggressive nature and protective instincts. Some regions have breed-specific legislation that restricts ownership of breeds considered aggressive. Proper training and socialization can help mitigate these concerns.

How does the Kennel Club define the breed standard for a Chow Chow?

The Kennel Club defines Chow Chow standards by detailing their physical attributes, temperament, and acceptable coat colors. This includes a powerful, squarely built stature and a dense coat. Details about their characteristic gait and demeanor ensure judges can identify purebreds in shows.

What is the typical price range for a Chow Chow puppy from a reputable breeder?

A Chow Chow puppy from a reputable breeder can cost between $1,000 and $4,000.

Factors affecting the price include the dog’s lineage, the breeder reputation, and the puppy’s health and temperament.

Always ensure you are buying from a breeder who can provide health clearances and a loving environment for their dogs.breeder’s