Origin and Early History
Chow Chows are considered to be one of the oldest dog breeds around. They were found in Ancient China as early as the Han Dynasty (about 220 B.C.). They were used primarily for hunting in China, but their coats were harvested for human use and the dog itself was considered a delicacy. Chow chows did not begin their journey to the New World until the end of the 19th century when English merchant ships began to include them as part of their cargo. The breed got its name from the word that was used to describe the knick knacks, odds, and ends that English ships often carried. Chows are the ancestors of several breeds, one of which is the Pomeranian.
Although Chows will show affection towards their immediate families, they will usually bond primarily to one person. They are independent, reserved, and very distrusting of strangers. For this reason, socialization is very important during puppyhood to prevent behavior problems regarding people and other dogs. Chows will get along with children for the most part, but they aren’t suited for the rough play that children often initiate. Families with older children are often better suited for Chows that those with very young children.
Both smooth and rough haired Chows have thick, double coats that shed seasonally and come in five colors, including red, cream, blue, cinnamon, and black. They must be bathed regularly (at least once a month) and brushed at least three times a week to help maintain a healthy coat. Regular nail trimmings are necessary for the podiatric health of the chow. Good dental health can be maintained by brushing the Chow’s teeth at least three times a week.
These stocky, squarely build dogs usually grow to a height of 20 to 22 inches and can weigh anywhere between 40 and 70 pounds. They can live up to 15 years. Chow Chows have blue tongues with a rough grit that are characteristic of their breed. They are prone to eye and bone conditions as well. When approaching a Chow, it is best to approach them from the front due to their poor peripheral vision.
When considering a Chow Chow for purchase, only buy from breeders who have had the proper testing done for their litter. These test are essential to the health of the pups, as well as future dogs of the breed. Avoid buying from breeders who have not had these tests performed. Also, beware of the premium color scam. Some sellers try to advertise their dogs as having special coloring that is actually normal for the breed. Chows are well suited for most environments, as long as they are indoors. Chow Chows will do not do as well if outside confinement, especially since they cannot handle the heat very well. Finally, Chows must be socialized and trained at the earliest possible opportunity. This will help prevent training problems down the road and result in a lovable and reliable companion.
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