11 Fun Facts About Chow Chow Dogs

Cute Collectibles

The Chow Chow dog breed originates from China, but the name is not Chinese. The term ‘chow chow’ was used by 18th Century merchants bringing goods back from China. Miscellaneous goods, such as decorative embellishments and porcelain, were dubbed with this pidgin English term. By 1820, merchants were importing Chows as exotic pets. As a convenience, most likely, the dogs were labeled right along with the rest of the ‘chow chow.’ The name is kind of fitting since merchants did bring a lot of cute, decorative items back from Asia. And the Chow Chow sure is cute!

The Friendly Lion

The Chinese call this breed the Songshi-Quan, which, in English, means “puffy lion dog.” Known for their thick, mane-like ruffs and proportionally small, roundish ears, the Chow suits this name. Even their short, boxy snouts and straight back legs give them a big-cat look. The Chow Chow may descend from the Tibetan Mastiff, another breed with lion-like qualities.

As Old As The Hills

The Chow Chow is one of the world’s oldest dog breeds, with a rich, mysterious history spanning over 2000 years. Some believe the breed is even as old as 4,000 years. The Spruce Pets reports that DNA testing puts Chows in a unique class of dogs. Along with only three other breeds, the Chow’s bloodlines are entirely separate from most other dogs. Many people believe this lineage makes them one of the closest descendants of the wolf. The Shar-Pei, Shiba Inu and Akita are the only other breeds in this unique class.

Blueberry Lover?

Dogs can eat blueberries, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC,) but that’s not why the Chow’s tongue is purple. A purple, blue or black tongue is caused by melanocytes or pigmentation cells. These cells are the same ones responsible for skin color in humans. A Chow puppy is born with a pink tongue, lips, and gums, which turn distinctively purplish as he matures. The AKC doesn’t consider a Chow without this trait purebred. The only other dog with a purple tongue is the Shar-Pei, another breed of Chinese origin.

A Matching Outfit

Did you know that Chows can come in five different colors? Their smooth or rough coats may be black, blue, red, cinnamon, or cream. But only the blue-coated Chow Chow has an entirely matching outfit. With a bluish-black nose to match tongue and coat, you could say the blue Chow is dressed to impress. Their coats are also dense, keeping them warm and dry in inclement weather. How about that? An outfit that’s 100% fashionable, as well as serviceable!

Not So Waterproof

All right, so a Chow Chow’s coat isn’t entirely without flaws. These dogs’ beautiful, thick coats make them cute and cuddly and offer some protection from the rain. But be careful around bodies of water! With a fur coat so thick that it can retain moisture like a sponge, the Chow can have trouble floating. Many dogs love water and are excellent swimmers. However, if a Chow becomes waterlogged, he may not be able to swim. Keep this breed out of the water, unless you know your specific dog can handle the soaking.

Who Needs Slippers?

The Chow Chow, according to PetMD, has a little secret. He loves feet! This dog breed loves to curl up on your feet for a nap, so who needs slippers? Bound to be the perfect cold-weather companion, a Chow will keep your toes cozy all winter long. And if you’re fond of canine affection, you’ll also enjoy the foot-fetish kisses of a nuzzling Chow. No one knows for sure why they like feet, but perhaps it has something to do with their working history. Lying at the feet can be a sign of submission or a gesture of protection.

At Your Service

Chows have a vibrant working heritage. Probably originating from Mongolia, Chows are first depicted in Chinese art during the Han Dynasty. In China, they were primarily used as guard dogs and hunting dogs for thousands of years. Chows also have a history of herding livestock, going to war with soldiers, and pulling sleds. As guards, they sometimes took up posts outside temples and monasteries. One Chinese emperor of the Han Dynasty may have kept as many as 2,500 Chows. Although most Chows were hard-working dogs, some were kept like members of the family. Emperor Ling of the T’ang Dynasty kept many of these dogs as pets and doted on them as though they were his children.

A Dog Psychiatrist?!

In more recent history, Chows have taken on some slightly more cushy jobs. Jofi, a Chow belonging to Sigmund Freud, might be the first dog psychiatrist! Helping analyze the emotions of adults and children, Jofi became a favorite member of Freud’s staff. In one study, patients experienced lower blood pressure and a sense of calm around dogs. According to Oxford Academic, Freud’s early research into the physical and mental health benefits of pet ownership was revolutionary. And, just think, a Chow Chow is responsible for some of that.

Loved By The Famous

From kings and presidents to actresses and artists, the Chow Chow is loved by the greats. One famous owner of the breed is artist Georgia O’Keeffe who kept a couple of these dogs. Falling in love with these fluffy creatures, according to AnOther Magazine, she fondly called them her “little people.” King Edward VII, Carole Lombard, Elvis Presley, Calvin Coolidge, and Martha Stewart are just a few of the other famous names known as Chow lovers.

Here, Kitty Kitty?

Let’s wrap up with another cat-like trait. Chows are stubborn animals! Much like a cat, intelligent but independent, a Chow will take a lot of patience to train. While their fierce loyalty is an attractive trait, you’ll need to be firm and consistent with mastering this breed. However, also like a cat, a Chow often chooses one person as his favorite. And if you’re his favorite, you’ll be the object of all his marvelously fluffy affection.

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