Independent, Dignified, Stubborn
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The Chow Chow is among the most ancient dog breeds to emerge after the domestication of the dog. With records dating back to 206 B.C., Chow Chows have been around for thousands of years. Believed to have originated in Northern China, there are early depictions of dogs that resemble the Chow Chow on artifacts from the Han Dynasty. The name Chow Chow derives from a term English merchants used to describe miscellaneous items coming from the East in the 18th century. As these dogs were sometimes a part of that cargo, the name just stuck. Throughout their extensive history, Chow Chows have taken on a variety of roles. Early Chows have been known as guards, haulers and hunters. They’ve served as royal companions to noble figures and their ancestors were even used as a food source. Once the Chow Chow reached the Western world they quickly grew in popularity when Queen Victoria took an interest in the breed. The Chow Chow was officially recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club in 1903.
Chow Chow Appearance
With their lion-like appearance, unique scowling expression and stilted gait, there’s no mistaking a Chow Chow when you see one. One of their most prominent features is their blue-black tongue. They have a broad, muscular head and deeply-set eyes. Chow Chows are a medium-sized breed with a strong and compact build. They stand around 17-20 inches tall and weigh about 45-70 pounds. Chow Chows have a thick, double coat, which can come in the colours black, cream, blue and cinnamon. The thick ruff of hair around their neck is often described as a lion’s-mane ruff.
Chow Chow Temperament
Chow Chows are often described as aloof and cat-like in nature. The Chow Chow is fastidious and considered one of the cleanest dogs. Compared to other dog breeds, Chow Chows tend to be more reserved and aren't very fond of affection. As a breed known for being stubborn and dominant, Chow Chows require an owner that’s assertive and strong-willed. Chow Chows are loyal, protective and have a deep love for their families. They can be selective with who they decide to trust and will usually bond closely with one or two owners. Chow Chows can be wary and suspicious of strangers and unfamiliar dogs.
Grooming Your Chow Chow
Chow Chows can have two different coat textures, rough or smooth. Both coats are densely double-coated and require regular grooming. Chow Chows shed all year round but more heavily in the spring and fall. To maintain a healthy coat and skin, it’s recommended that you brush your Chow Chow a few times a week and bathe them at least once a month. Chow Chows should also have regular nail trimming, ear cleaning and dental care.
Training & Exercise for Your Chow Chow
Given their bold independence and stubbornness, Chow Chows require patience and persistence when it comes to training. Chow Chows aren't eager to please their owners like other breeds, but when treated with respect and healthy dominance, training is not a challenge. As a breed that tends to gravitate towards one owner, Chow Chows respond best to training with one individual. Starting to train your Chow Chow from a young age is important for building trust and good habits.
The Chow Chow breed is adaptable and easily trained through consistent positive reinforcement. Early and continual socialization is important to discourse any aggressive behaviours and ensure your Chow Chow is safe and relaxed when meeting new people and pets. Many Chow Chows are happy being the only pet but they can learn to live in a household with other animals. As a breed that doesn’t require a lot of exercise Chow Chows are happily content with apartment life.
Health Considerations for Chow Chows
Chow Chows are generally healthy dogs but it’s important to educate yourself about any potential health issues to ensure your Chow gets the most out of their years. Adequate exercise and a diet consisting of proper dog food plays a huge role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle for your Chow Chow. The dog food should align with your Chow Chow's size, age and any dietary requirements they may have. Some of the common disorders Chow Chows are prone to include Canine Hip Dysplasia (CDC), Entropion, Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS), Gastric Dilation-Volvulus and Allergies.
Canine Hip & Elbow Dysplasia (CHD)
Canine hip dysplasia (CHD) is one of the most common canine ailments. It’s a genetic condition that causes an abnormal formation of the hip socket which can eventually lead to lameness and arthritis of the joints. Elbow dysplasia occurs when a dog's elbow does not fuse properly during their development.
Dysplasia is typically a hereditary disease that can be magnified by factors including excessive growth rate, age, types of exercise and improper weight and nutrition. While mild conditions can be managed with prescription medication and physical therapy, more severe cases could require surgery. To prevent or reduce the severity of hip dysplasia, it’s important to ensure your Chow Chow gets a proper diet and the right amount of exercise.
Entropion is an ocular condition that causes the eyelid to roll inward, commonly found in Chow Chows. This causes the eyelashes and other hairs around the eyelid to rub against each other leading to irritation, pain and discomfort. If left untreated, this condition can result in corneal ulceration and even blindness. Entropion can affect one or both eyes and can develop in both the upper and lower lids. Some of the signs to look out for in your Chow Chow include squinting, excessive tearing, eye discharge, rubbing at the eyes, eye redness and excessive blinking. If you suspect your Chow Chow has Entropion you should consult your veterinarian for the appropriate treatment and medication.
Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS)
Brachycephalic syndrome refers to a particular set of upper airway abnormalities including elongated soft palate, stenotic nares, hypoplastic trachea and everted laryngeal saccules, all of which are commonly seen in Chow Chows. The term Brachycephalic originates from the Greek words “short” and “head.” Dog breeds like the Chow Chow can be identified by their flat face and shortened snout. As a result of their unique head shape, Chow Chows may develop symptoms like heat and exercise intolerance, noisy breathing and gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting and regurgitation. If your Chow Chow has brachycephalic syndrome, the following precautions should be taken to help prevent distress: avoid stress and overheating, use a harness, avoid overfeeding and maintain an ideal body weight.
Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus Syndrome (GDV or Bloat)
Bloat, also known as Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus Syndrome, is a life-threatening disorder most commonly seen in large, deep-chested breeds including the Chow chow. This condition is caused when the dog’s stomach fills with air and twists. This cuts off the circulation of blood and can be deadly if not corrected. Some of the signs of bloat to be aware of in your Chow Chow include salivation, obvious pain, a distended abdomen and retching. Ways to prevent this condition from happening to your Chow Chow include encouraging slower eating, providing easy to digest dog food and refraining from exercise immediately after eating. If you suspect that your Chow Chow has bloat, immediate veterinary attention is required.
The Chow Chow breed is susceptible to certain skin allergies. Common allergens might include pollen, grass and certain food like wheat and soy. Some of the symptoms to look out for in your Chow Chow include frequent scratching, rubbing the face, chewing or licking the paws and red irritated skin. If allergies become a serious concern, you may want to switch your Chow Chow’s dog food to one with complete and balanced nutrition. It’s also important to contact your veterinarian if your Chow Chows’ symptoms progress.
What Makes a Chow Chow Unique?
Sigmund Freud, a famous psychoanalyst, owned a Chow Chow named Jofi. Jofi would often sit in on his sessions and help calam and assess patients. Jofi was a good judge of human character and had a way of telling when someone was nervous.
One of the Chow Chow’s most distinctive features is their blue-black tongue. As puppies, Chows will have a pink tongue, but as they age, their tongues turn much darker. The only other breed to sport this unique coloured tongue is the Chinese Shar-Pei.
Chow Chows Have Straight Back Legs
Unlike other breeds, the Chow Chow has straight back legs that don’t bend. This gives Chow Chows a recognizable stilted gait when they walk.
Chow Chows Are Not Good Swimmers
Due to their thick double coat, Chow Chows don’t fare well in the water. When a Chow Chow’s coat gets wet it can become heavy, making it challenging to swim. Most Chow Chows will avoid water, but it’s still important to be cautious when around deep water.Create a custom Chow Chow Meal Plan
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