"Out of the mists of antiquity, southwards from the barren wastes of the Arctic, came the inscrutable Chow Chow: a basic relic of a Miocene canine, intermediate between dog and bear and the only breed to possess the blue-black tongue. Driven by the urge of self-preservation across the vast expanse of Eastern Asia, they settled, and were established as an indigenious breed, on the high cold steppes of Mongolia long before the coming of man"
Quote from Miss C Colletts book The Chow Chow.
A great deal of the Chows early history has been lost over the centuries however we do know that the Chow is one of the few pure breeds left to-day.Early writings indicate that Genghis Khans armies were accompanied by thousands of powerful and very courageous dogs with black mouths, broad heads and much hair, wearing heavy harness and accompanying each warrior, used to attack and bring down the enemy.
Many nomadic tribes are also said to have used these dogs for hunting, guarding their precious livestock and that the peculiar stilted gait of these dogs was a tremendous advantage when pulling heavy sleds through the snow. The natives in Mongolia attributed their comparitive freedom from leopards and wolves to the courage and tenacity of these short muzzled dogs, which are described elsewhere as being "Of a suspicious nature, hostile to strangers and completly different to any other breed"
These dogs accompanied the Tartars when they invaded China in the 11th century BC. Many were gifted to Chinese royalty and noblemen and the Chinese regarded 'The Peculiar dog of the Tartars' to be of great value. The dogs were used for hunting and guarding important establishments and the Chinese took great care in the breeding, developing the black and blue colours. When China's economy fell into decline dog farms came into being and many Chow crosses were found in these establishments however the pure bred Chows were kept safe with noblemen and in the many monasteries.
The Chow Chow found its way to England in the late 1700s when sailors took several of these dogs back to England as curiosites. One such dog was gifted to Queen Victoria and spent a lonely; solitary life in a Londen Zoo. In 1895 the first Chow Chow Club was formed and a standard drawn up using Chow V111, 1890 to 1905, as the best example of the breed.
The Chow Chow To-day
The Chow is essentially a companion dog to-day.
A distinctly beautiful and very unique breed, quite unlike any other, however it is most definitely not a breed for everyone, requiring an equally strong willed and consistant owner who is committed to the proper care and socialization of the Chow for the Chows lifetime, which can be anything from ten to fifteen years. Ongoing positive socialization from puppyhood is essential for this breed, which is naturally wary of those he does not know and takes the protection of his family and territory seriously.
The Chow is an extremely strong willed, stubborn, aristocratic and proud breed, very similar to the cat in demeanor. Many Chows actually wash their face after a meal like a cat, and are an exceptionally clean breed, puppies housebreaking themselves at only weeks of age providing they have free access outside to grassed areas. The adult Chow usually has to answer natures call as far away from the house as possible, often behind bushes etc where no-one can see him.
Also like a cat they will not necessarily obey commands they see no sense in. It is said that a Chow will readily give his life for his family or chosen person but will not necessarily obey him. Chows generally do not do well at obedience training and those who do not know the breed have at times labelled the Chow as 'dumb', however the Chow is a very intelligent and independent thinking dog who see's no sense in the repititious obedience commands, or the mundane and demeaning tricks some humans seem to think are amusing. The Chow is a naturally well behaved, dignified breed which, when treated as an integral part of the family with firm and fair discipline as one would a child, they naturally learn basic commands, although will still always obey in their own time. This breed should be an 'inside' dog, living with the family as a companion, never left alone in the backyard, (which must be securely fenced,) and never ever tied up, which destroys the whole character of the breed. This breed has worked with and for humans throughout their entire existance; it is essential that your Chow is involved in, and forms an essential part of your life as much as possible.
Although their appearance can suggest otherwise, the Chow is not an aggressive breed. The new Chow owner must understand that this breed is totally different in demeanor to that of the easy going Cocker Spaniel or Labrador and will not tolerate being pulled about, hugged or teased by children, and most particularly by those he doesn't know. As with all breeds, children must be supervised at all times by a responsible adult when the Chow and children are together. The Chow is essentially a one family or one person dog, bestowing his loyalty and affection on the one he feels has earnt his respect. The Chow will generally remove himself to a quiet out of the way spot after approving of any guests to the house. He should be then left alone by guests and their children.
Regular grooming is an essential part of owning a Chow, which has a double coat, a thick woolly undercoat and course outer guard hairs. There are two types of coat in the Chow breed, the rough which is the one most often seen, and the smooth or short coat with again a double coat but with short guard hairs. The Chow drops coat twice a year when their undercoat literally falls out in handfuls and regular grooming is essential at this time for everyones comfort. Regular thorough brushing right to the skin with a good pin brush and a steel comb for the featherings, petticoats and around the head several times a week can keep the Chow looking presentable and comfortable. If regular grooming isn't possible,then a Chow isn't for you. Ungroomed his coat will matt badly, leading to skin problems such as hot spots, rashes and provide an ideal haven for fleas and parasites, resulting in a very unhappy Chow.
We do not recommend shaving or clipping the coat as many veterinarians and well meaning people advise. The Chows coat, with regular grooming, is an insulation against the heat as well as the cold. The coat never grows back the same and after successive clips, the coat will grow back much thicker and tend to matt, becoming almost impossible to groom and to keep looking nice.
The Chow is also a Bracycephalic breed, prone to heat stress and must have access to a cool shady area with a good air flow and with lots of cool clean water during the summer months. During heatwaves and particularly excessive humid conditions keeping the Chow in airconditioning may be necessary.
The Chow is also a poor anaesthetic risk and wherever possible, the Isoflurane anaesethia should always be used and the Chow monitered closely at all times.
The Chow puppy is one of the most beautiful puppys looking for all the world like a cuddly little teddy bear and its no wonder people find it hard to resist them when seen in a petshop. Unfortunately the puppy is bought on impulse by people who have no idea about the breed and not having the benefit of a reputable breeder to ask for advice or help, the Chow is almost without exception surrendered, or abandoned before it is four years old, unsocialised, unhappy, chronic skin conditions due to lack of grooming, and often behavioural problems. Together with the fact that this breed does not rehome well, many of these Chows have to be euthanised because suitable understanding Chow homes are not readily available.
Adding a Chow to your family requires much thought and you need to know as much about the breed as possible.