The Chow Chow, or Chow, was developed in Northern China and is one of the oldest dog breeds in existence today and can trace their ancestors back to the Han Dynasty around 2,000 years ago. One theory states that their ancestors were brought from Mongolia when they invaded China and experts believe that the Chow descended from the Tibetan Mastiff, also acting himself as an early ancestor of the Pomeranian, Norwegian Elkhound, Keeshond, and Samoyed. The breed name comes from the expression "chow chow" that was used to describe miscellaneous items within a ship's cargo and under the ship's manifest, these fluffy-coated dogs were listed as such. Chows were used throughout China as companions for nobles, herders, hunters, and guardians but they were not exported from their native land until the 1700s and were shown in the London Zoo as the "Wild Dogs of China" during the 1820s. Eventually, the West caught onto the popularity of this unique-looking breed in the 1890s.
Sturdy and squarely-built, the Chow Chow is a medium-sized breed that is known for its strength, heavy boned build, and extremely fluffy coat. These impressive dogs come in two coat varieties: rough (dense and coarse topcoat with thick and wooly undercoat) and smooth (dense and smooth topcoat with a definite undercoat). In addition, rough coats have a large ruff around the head and neck, giving them a "lion-like" appearance but regardless of the variety, all Chows are double-coated. Another distinctive feature of the breed is their dark blue-black tongue, which characteristic is also only shared by the Chinese Shar-Pei. They have dark brown almond-shaped eyes, small moderately thick ears, and a broad muzzle with a large black or blue nose. The Chow Chow's tail is carried close to the back at all times.
The Chow Chow is known for its calm reserve, independence, and dignified attitude. They are considered to be quiet in the home, yet these protective and territorial dogs make an excellent guardian since they will alert their owners of strangers and unfamiliar sounds. Although they can be distrustful of others, a properly trained and socialized Chow is never fierce or aggressive. This intelligent breed can be stubborn and requires a strong-willed, firm owner that can be just as stubborn as them! With consistent training and plenty of socialization, they can grow into a well-behaved and well-mannered companion. Chow Chows can get along well with children but they will be disappointed that they are not a lovey-dovey type of dog who has a lack of interest in cuddling and being held. Even though this fluffy breed has a working heritage, they are not considered to be very active and are quite content with relaxing at home but all dogs will benefit from regular exercise. Many Chow owners say that they have little dog odor, tend to be "cat-like" in their movements, and have a laid-back temperament that makes for a great companion in both urban and rural areas.