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Chow Chow

A Chinese breed, hailing from the country’s cold northern region, the Chow Chow was originally bred as a multi-purpose working dog. The Chow Chow is a devoted and protective furry family member.

The Chow Chow originated in China about 2,000 years ago but might be even older.

The breed’s original use included hunting birds, guarding livestock, pulling sleds in winter, and may even have been a source of meat and fur pelts. The breed declined in numbers after the Imperial hunts ended, but a few descendants were kept in monasteries and wealthy households. Chow Chows were first brought to England in 1880 and then to America in the early 1900s.

The Chow Chow is a sturdy, medium-sized dog ranging in height from 43 to 51 cm and in weight from 20 to 32 kg. They are memorable for their lion-like appearance, wrinkly face, and uniquely coloured blue-black tongue. Coat colours include red, black, blue, cinnamon, and cream. The average life expectancy of a Chow Chow is 11 to 12 years.


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Dog Breed Facts & Characteristics



Also known as 

Chow Chow, Lang Gou (“wolf dog’), Xiong Gou (“bear dog”),  Songshi Quan (“puffy lion dog”)


Medium; 43 to 51 cm height; 20 to 32 kgs weight

Weight Range

20 to 32 kgs


White, brindle, fawn, red, black, and tricolour 

Life expectancy

11 to 12 years


Thick double coat, short and long varieties available; sheds  


Independent, willful, intelligent   

Activity levels

Moderately active 

Best suited for

Households with experienced dog people, in cooler climates 

Apartment friendly

Better suited to larger properties; Minis may adapt to apartment life


Aloof and independent in nature, Chow Chows are usually devoted to their families, but may be wary of strangers. Early training is therefore vitally important, and they tend to be better suited to a household with experienced dog people to aid in that training. They may have tendencies towards aggression towards other dogs and small animals. As with training, early socialistion to help them become used to other dogs, animals and people will help the Chow Chow to grow into a well-adjusted adult dog. The breed has moderate exercise needs, such as an early morning and evening walk. They tend not to tolerate heat and humidity well so may be better suited to cooler climates. Like many dogs, the Chow Chow will appreciate a backyard to investigate, but they may adapt to apartment life if given plenty of exercise, toys, and company. 


The breed’s double coat comes in two varieties, a short smooth coat and a longer rough coat that stands out. Both coat varieties shed. They will benefit from at least weekly brushing with a slicker brush for short hair and a pin brush on longer hair. Excessively long hair around the genitals, toes and eyes may need trimming every now and again. Flea control all year around is recommend as is tick control if in a tick area. 


When choosing a food for your Chow Chow, select a premium dog food appropriate to your dog’s life stage. Help your fur baby avoid becoming overweight by ensuring that you follow the recommended feeding guides on the food appropriate to your pet's size. Make sure your dog always has a supply of fresh, clean water available.

Common Health Concerns 

The five most common reasons for a Chow Chow to visit the Vet (excluding routine care visits) according to PetSure data across the 2020 calendar year included skin problems such as allergic skin disease, arthritis, ear infections, gastrointestinal tract conditions, and cruciate disease.



Average cost for single treatment
(average pet insurance claim amount)

Highest cost for single treatment (highest pet insurance claim seen for this condition)


Skin problems including allergic skin disease, pododermatitis 








Ear infections




Gastrointestinal tract problems, including Canine Haemorrhagic Gastroenteritis, gastritis  




Cruciate disease



Disclaimer: Reimbursement for these claims would be subject to limits, such as annual benefit limits or sub-limits, benefit percentage, applicable waiting periods and any applicable excess. Cover is subject to the policy terms and conditions. You should consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement or policy wording available from the relevant provider.

Most popular Chow Chow names (PetSure data 2020)

Most popular names

  1. Sadie
  2. Archie
  3. Frank
  4. Lola
  5. Alaska
  6. Alfie
  7. Apollo
  8. Biggie
  9. Bosco
  10. Bronte

Most popular female names

  1. Sadie
  2. Lola
  3. Alaska
  4. Daisy
  5. Elsie
  6. Hazel
  7. Maui
  8. Mishka 
  9. Miss
  10. Nala

Most popular male names

  1. Archie
  2. Frank
  3. Alfie
  4. Apollo
  5. Biggie
  6. Bosco
  7. Bronte
  8. Buddy
  9. Butters 
  10. Charlie

Did you know?

Sigmund Freud, an Austrian neurologist known as the founding father of psychoanalysis, had Chow Chows. One of his Chow Chows, named Jofi is said to have helped Freud analyse his patients, by being able to tell if a patient was calm, anxious, or depressed. Jofi kept her distance from anxious patients, but offered comfort to those who were depressed by staying close for pats. 

Where can I get a Chow Chow?

Although they are a pure breed of dog, breed specific rescues may have Chow Chow’s for adoption. It may also be possible to find a wonderful medium sized dog for your family at the local shelter or rescue organisation who is looking for a loving home.


  1. Australian National Kennel Council 2021, Breed Standard of the Chow Chow, Accessed on 04/05/2021
  2. Freud Museum London 2018, Freud at Home with his Dogs, Accessed on 04/05/2021
  3. American Kennel Club, Chow Chow, Accessed on 26/05/2021

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Kylie Mitchell is a veterinarian with over 17 years experience in animal health and welfare, including in the veterinary and pet insurance industries

She has three rescue cats (Noah, Bei Bei and Meeka), four very old cockatiels and a pond-full of fish.

Kylie's pets

Bei Bei
Bei Bei