The Chow Chow has its origins in China, their existence having been known for thousands of years. Truly a universal dog of the people in that country, as against the aristocratic Pekingese, the little dog that belonged to the Mandarins.
The chow was a working dog, hunting, guarding and maybe even a breed that was used by the Barbarian ancestors of the Mongols when they were at war with the Chinese.
The breed was brought to the U.K. in the late 1800ís by traders who filled the ships holds with all sorts of unusual goods from the Far East. The early examples of the breed were rather fierce and unfriendly and it is in more recent times that their natural reserve has been improved upon and they are more biddable and friendly than they used to be. The breed became increasingly popular and in the period between the wars a great many were bred and found themselves in households throughout the country.
They are known as the dog with the Blue Tongue and also they have a distinctive stiff legged action at the rear which means they do not either lift or swing their back legs very far when they walk. This does not mean they are in-active, just that they have a special type of action which is a special feature of the breed.
They are a devoted family dog with quite a long harsh coat which is easily kept in good condition as it does not have a tendency to tangle, unless left un-groomed, which owners should not do, of course. A thorough groom once a week is usually enough to keep the chow looking stunning and much like a fluffy teddy bear all the time. If he gets muddy, let it dry and brush it out and he will look as good as ever.
They are incredibly easy to house train and rarely make a mess, nor do they care to chew so a few toys keep them happy and they seldom destroy anything in the house.
This is not the perfect dog, quite large and weighty they are strong and can be wilful, not inclined to listen and not easily trained to be let off the lead. Excellent hunters and fast when they want to be, if allowed off the lead and they see something they want to chase all the calling under the sun will not make them return. Neither do they wish to retrieve a ball or toy more than a couple of times, giving you a look which suggests well you threw it so you fetch it, I did it once!
Having said the above they are devoted to their owners, happy to be in your company without demanding a great deal they are healthy and long lived. Their thick fur coat does indicate though, that they should not be taken for long walks in the heat of the day and they do dislike thundery hot days.
Every breed can have health problems and this one is no exception.
If not kept nicely groomed they can develop skin problems, and some will persistently chew themselves, sometimes out of sheer boredom.
Hip dysplasia is known in the breed but is not common. Type varies in the breed and sometimes the heavier more wrinkled examples can have an eye condition called entropion which is where the eyelids can turn in against the eyes and cause severe irritation. This condition does need surgery to rectify the problem, once dealt with the dog should be fine.
Like many heavily built breeds they can damage their cruciate ligaments, just like a footballer can damage a cartilage, so being careful to prevent really wild exercise is a good precaution.