Chow Chow.jpg
Breed Group Group 2: Spitz and Nordic Breeds
Sub-group 2-C: Asian Spitz Breeds
Origin Country China
Weight Males: 45-70 pounds. Females: 45-70 pounds.
Height Males: 18-23 inches. Females: 17-21 inches.
Other Name(s) Chow
Breed Type Pure
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Chow Chow

Breed Group Group 2: Spitz and Nordic Breeds
Sub-group 2-C: Asian Spitz Breeds
Origin Country China
Weight Males: 45-70 pounds. Females: 45-70 pounds.
Height Males: 18-23 inches. Females: 17-21 inches.
Other Name(s) Chow
Breed Type Pure
click here for FULL BREED STANDARD

Breed Spotlight

Origins

The Chow Chow, or Chow, is one of the oldest dog breeds in existence today. His ancestors can be traced back to the eleventh century BCE, with DNA studies suggesting that it is one of the world’s most primitive breeds to have been developed in the world. DNA evidence also suggests that the Chow was first developed in the high mountains of either Siberia or Mongolia, and was later brought to Tibet and Mongolia and used to guard sacred temples. When Mongolia invaded China, legend has it that the Mongolians were accompanied by large, fierce, black-tongued war dogs that resembled lions.

Once the Chow’s ancestor’s reached China, it was kept from the outside world for thousands of years. In China, it was developed as a general purpose breed, whose duties included that of a guard dog, a herding dog, a hunter, a draft dog, as well as a source of food and was considered a delicacy. The first Chows were not exported outside of China until around the late 1700s, which is when they were initially smuggled out of the country.

Queen Victoria was an admirer of the Chow Chow breed and kept a number of them as companions. It is rumored that the first teddy bear was modeled after her pet Chow, and the stuffed animal was designed so she could keep a Chow next to her even when her dogs were elsewhere. Today, with his fluffy coat, small ears, and black tongue, the Chow is one of the most easily recognized dog breeds throughout the world.

Breed Characteristics

Head: Ranging between a somewhat mesaticephalic to a slightly brachycephalic skull-type, the head is moderate in size, bluntly wedge-shaped, and in proportion to the rest of the body. The topskull is as long (from stop to occiput) as it is broad (measured across the top from one side to the other in front of the ears). In profile the topskull appears flat, or may appear slightly rounded due to the coat. The head is well-padded with powerful muscle of the cheek and temporalis. The head should be free from excess wrinkling and excess skin, and a cleaner-cut head without loose skin or excessive wrinkle is preferred.
Eyes: Moderate in size, and oval, almond, or diamond in shape. The eyes set somewhat deep, wide apart, and oblique. They may be light to dark brown in color, or hazel, or amber in dilute colors. The rims are darkly pigmented and well-fitted, with no sign of entropion or ectropion. Looseness around the eye, squinting appearance, wrinkling, or heavy skin is not desirable due to the association with eye disease and infection. The overall outline of the eye should in no way be obscured by skin in any form.
Ears: Small in size, wide, short, triangular in shape. They may be set at the upper and outer corners of the skull, moderately wide apart, or they may be set high on the skull, and fairly close together. The tips are oriented slightly forward, yet the ears remain firmly erect. The ears are never long, overly large, or broken.
Muzzle: Slightly shorter than the topskull. The muzzle is full, broad, deep, and may form a square or blunt wedge shape. Upper and lower jaws have good bone substance, appearing strong and well-developed, never appearing snipey or weak. It is never narrow like that of a fox, nor thick and rounded like that of his relative the Shar Pei.
Nose: The nose is well-pigmented and black, or self-colored according to the coat. The nostrils are well-opened.
Neck: Moderate length to allow for proud head carriage and good range of motion, powerfully-muscled, and arched. The neck tapers smoothly from the deeper and broader body toward the head. The neck is fairly clean-cut, without excess skin, throatiness, or dewlap.
Chest: Deep, broad, but never wider than deep. The brisket extends to the point of the elbows.
Body: Compact, solid, and of good substance. The body is never racy or refined. Width at forequarters is approximately equal to the width at the hindquarters. Forequarters and hindquarters approximately equal in width.
Feet: Oval to round, compact, with well-arched toes and tough pads.
Tail: Set high on the croup, thick at the base and tapering toward the tip. Carried in accordance with the dog’s mood and energy level, often carried up and over the back, and never tucked. Tail is of a medium length, with the tip of the last vertebrae extending to the hock joints when held down.
Movement: Traditionally, a stilted gait as a result of imbalance between the forequarters and hindquarters was common for the Chow Chow breed; however, preference is now given toward dogs that exhibit a smooth, effortless, efficient, and unstilted gait with all of the characteristics of a healthy, balanced structure: when moving away, the forelegs and rear pasterns should remain parallel to one another. When viewing movement from the front, the forelegs should remain parallel, with elbows and paws moving neither in nor out. From the rear, the back pads should be visible when the rear legs are extended. As speed increases, the forelimbs and hindlimbs will converge to the center line of gravity. From the side, the topline should remain firm and level. Good reach of movement in the front allows the forepaw to extend out in a line with the nose. The width between the forefeet when extended should be approximately equal to the width between the hindfeet when extended, indicating balance, good reach, and good drive. Dogs that exhibit any sign of breathing or locomotive difficulty shall be disqualified from the show ring.
Temperament: The Chow Chow is an intelligent and independent breed. They are known for their calm reserve and discernment between friend and foe. Due to their protective and independent nature, socialization and obedience training should be implemented to early establish boundaries and discipline. They are mostly quiet, yet they make excellent guard dogs, since they will bark when something is truly amiss. Some dogs have a limited field of vision, which can cause them to not see objects until they are up close, resulting in a startled dog. For this reason, CKC encourages all breeders and prospective owners to select dogs without excess skin around the eyes to prevent unnecessary bites from being startled, as well as improve the dog’s quality of life. Any unprovoked aggressive or fearful behavior toward people is incorrect for this breed.
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Breed Standard

BREED GROUP 2: Spitz and Nordic Breeds

Proportions: Continental Kennel Club recognizes two types within the Chow Chow breed; the Traditional and the Western type. In either type, males should appear masculine, being more substantial in size and mass, while females should appear more feminine and slightly less substantial. Neither should lack overall type.
Western: Compact, stocky, squarely built, and sturdy, with moderate substance. The body height at the withers is equal to the length of the body measured from the prosternum to the point of the rump. The body is well put together and close coupled.
Traditional: The Traditional Chow Chow is a sturdy, balanced dog breed. The body is strongly muscled, with moderate, solid bone. Agile and athletic, it must never appear heavy in bone, excessive in mass, or overly refined. The body proportions are off-square to just slightly rectangular, with the height of the body at the withers being just slightly less than the length of the body from the point of the forechest to the point of the rump. Somewhat more up on the leg, the Traditional Chows also exhibit more angulation of the forequarters and hindquarters, with better balance.

Head

General Appearance: Ranging between a somewhat mesaticephalic to a slightly brachycephalic skull-type, the head is moderate in size, bluntly wedge-shaped, and in proportion to the rest of the body. The topskull is as long (from stop to occiput) as it is broad (measured across the top from one side to the other in front of the ears). In profile the topskull appears flat, or may appear slightly rounded due to the coat. The head is well-padded with powerful muscle of the cheek and temporalis. The head should be free from excess wrinkling and excess skin, and a cleaner-cut head without loose skin or excessive wrinkle is preferred.
Expression: The expression is dignified, alert, noble, self-composed, intelligent, and observant. Excess skin resulting in a “scowling” or “squinted” expression is not preferred, as excess skin around the eyes is associated with entropion and ectropion, a condition common in Chow Chows.
Stop: The stop may range from moderate to definite but not overly pronounced.
Skull: The ideal muzzle-to-skull ratio is between 1:2 to 2:3, with the topskull being somewhat longer than the muzzle.
The ideal muzzle-to-skull axis may run parallel, as is often found in the Traditional type, or may be slightly convergent, as commonly found in the Western type.
Muzzle: Slightly shorter than the topskull. The muzzle is full, broad, deep, and may form a square or blunt wedge shape. Upper and lower jaws have good bone substance, appearing strong and well-developed, never appearing snipey or weak. It is never narrow like that of a fox, nor thick and rounded like that of his relative the Shar Pei.
Lips or Flews: Lips are clean and fit tightly over the teeth and jaws. They should never appear wet or pendulous.
Nose: The nose is well-pigmented and black, or self-colored according to the coat. The nostrils are well-opened.
Cheeks: The cheeks may be slightly to well-padded. They should never appear flat, chiseled, or coarse.
Dentition and Bite: Forty-two strong, clean, white teeth. Bite may be level, scissor, or reverse-scissor. Contact must be made between the top and bottom incisors. Lips should be well-pigmented. The mouth, including the roof, gums, and tongue, should be well-pigmented as well. Pigment can range from solid black, blue, or purple, but may also be diluted to greyish-pink to liver (different from bubble-gum pink), which is more commonly found in dilutes (livers, creams, creams, blues, etc). Bubble gum pink mouths are not preferred.
Eyes: Moderate in size, and oval, almond, or diamond in shape. The eyes set somewhat deep, wide apart, and oblique. They may be light to dark brown in color, or hazel, or amber in dilute colors. The rims are darkly pigmented and well-fitted, with no sign of entropion or ectropion. Looseness around the eye, squinting appearance, wrinkling, or heavy skin is not desirable due to the association with eye disease and infection. The overall outline of the eye should in no way be obscured by skin in any form.
Ears: Small in size, wide, short, triangular in shape. They may be set at the upper and outer corners of the skull, moderately wide apart, or they may be set high on the skull, and fairly close together. The tips are oriented slightly forward, yet the ears remain firmly erect. The ears are never long, overly large, or broken.

Body and Tail

General Description: Compact, solid, and of good substance. The body is never racy or refined. Width at forequarters is approximately equal to the width at the hindquarters. Forequarters and hindquarters approximately equal in width.
Neck: Moderate length to allow for proud head carriage and good range of motion, powerfully-muscled, and arched. The neck tapers smoothly from the deeper and broader body toward the head. The neck is fairly clean-cut, without excess skin, throatiness, or dewlap.
Chest: Deep, broad, but never wider than deep. The brisket extends to the point of the elbows.
Topline: Level from withers to tail. The back is broad, strongly muscled, and straight, yet supple. The loin is taut, flat, and level. The back is never excessively long, swayed, or roached.
Croup: Flat and level with the back, or gently, almost imperceptibly, sloped.
Underline: Slight tuck up present, or the underline may run parallel to the topline. The underline is taut and firm, without any indication of sagging or excess weight.
Ribs: Long, well-sprung, well-laid-back, oval-shaped, never barrel-chested or slab-sided.
Tail: Set high on the croup, thick at the base and tapering toward the tip. Carried in accordance with the dog’s mood and energy level, often carried up and over the back, and never tucked. Tail is of a medium length, with the tip of the last vertebrae extending to the hock joints when held down.

Forequarters and Hindquarters

Forequarters: Forequarters are always in balance with the hindquarters. Forequarters are well-angulated with well-laid-back shoulder blades. Shoulder blades are approximately equal in length to the upper arm and forearm.
Elbows: Elbows are close to the body. The point of the elbows is approximately half the dog’s height at the withers.
Forelegs: Frontal View: Straight, of good muscle, moderate to solid bone, and parallel to one another.
Side View: The forelimbs appear straight with strong pasterns.
Pasterns: Never weak or broken.
Hindquarters: Upper thigh and lower thigh are equal in length, strong, sturdy, of moderate to solid bone, and well-muscled.
Rear View: When viewed from the rear, the rear pasterns are parallel to one another.
Side View: Good angulation will allow the rear toes to align with the point of the rump or within one to two paw-lengths behind the point of the rump, with the rear pasterns remaining perpendicular to the ground and parallel to one another.
Stifle Joint: Well-angulated with a good bend to well-let-down rear pasterns.
Angulations: Angulation of hindquarters is always in balance with angulation of forequarters.
Feet: Oval to round, compact, with well-arched toes and tough pads.

Coat

Skin: Well-fitted, yet supple. The skin should never obstruct the outline of the dog.
Coat Type: The Chow Chow comes in two coat varieties: the Rough-coat and the Smooth-coat. Both types are double-coated.
Rough-coat variety: Short on the face and ears, dense, plush, coarse, and standing completely off the body. Length will vary markedly from medium to medium-long length outer coat. The undercoat is short, thick dense, and soft. The coat on the neck and chest is abundant, forming a ruff, as well as a well-plumed tail. Back of legs are fringed, forming breeching.
Smooth-coat variety: The coat throughout is short and off-standing, never flat. Outer coat is not much longer than the undercoat. There is no distinguishable fringing, feathering, or plumed tail.
Coat Color or Pattern: CKC recognizes two color varieties of the Chow Chow breed; the standard color and nonstandard color variety;
Standard Coat Colors- All shades of cream, tan, red (all with or without lighter points or Urajiro), black, blue, and fawn (tan to red with a black, blue, or isabella mask), all with or without Urijiro marking.
Non-Standard Coat Colors- Liver, liver or black with tan points, sable, grizzle, creeping tan, running tan, parti-colored; merle. Large patches or amounts of white indicating homogenous merle genotype/phenotype are undesirable and should be avoided in breeding programs.

Movement

Traditionally, a stilted gait as a result of imbalance between the forequarters and hindquarters was common for the Chow Chow breed; however, preference is now given toward dogs that exhibit a smooth, effortless, efficient, and unstilted gait with all of the characteristics of a healthy, balanced structure: when moving away, the forelegs and rear pasterns should remain parallel to one another. When viewing movement from the front, the forelegs should remain parallel, with elbows and paws moving neither in nor out. From the rear, the back pads should be visible when the rear legs are extended. As speed increases, the forelimbs and hindlimbs will converge to the center line of gravity. From the side, the topline should remain firm and level. Good reach of movement in the front allows the forepaw to extend out in a line with the nose. The width between the forefeet when extended should be approximately equal to the width between the hindfeet when extended, indicating balance, good reach, and good drive. Dogs that exhibit any sign of breathing or locomotive difficulty shall be disqualified from the show ring.

Temperament

The Chow Chow is an intelligent and independent breed. They are known for their calm reserve and discernment between friend and foe. Due to their protective and independent nature, socialization and obedience training should be implemented to early establish boundaries and discipline. They are mostly quiet, yet they make excellent guard dogs, since they will bark when something is truly amiss. Some dogs have a limited field of vision, which can cause them to not see objects until they are up close, resulting in a startled dog. For this reason, CKC encourages all breeders and prospective owners to select dogs without excess skin around the eyes to prevent unnecessary bites from being startled, as well as improve the dog’s quality of life. Any unprovoked aggressive or fearful behavior toward people is incorrect for this breed.

Faults

All dogs should be in proper healthy condition, free from disease or defect. Any departure from this description is considered a fault. Unless altered, all male dogs should have two fully descended testicles.