UPDATED! Chow Chow: Breed of the Week

Are Chow Chows Good City Dogs?

What do Janet Jackson, Matha Stewart, Sigmund Freud, and Walt Disney all have in common? They have all, at one time or another, been owners of a Chow Chow.

The Chow is a handsome regal dog. Its large head, trimmed in a massive lion’s mane, makes the Chow a dog that stands out in the crowd. Dating back to a time before Jesus Christ, the Chow’s exact origin is unknown, but it’s believed to have been an early breed reared by tribes in Mongolia and Northern China. There are paintings on pottery dating back to 200 BC. There are artifacts, according to The Chow Chow Club Inc., which suggest that the breed may have come from the Arctic Circle.

Luna the Chow Chow
Luna the Chow Chow

Chows come in a variety of colors, red, black blue cinnamon, there is a Chow color to suit most anyone. As you may have guessed, if you have seen a Chow, its coat requires a lot of grooming. Its thick coat needs a good brushing at least four times a week. As most Chow owners will attest to it is a very “clean” dog and regular brushing helps keep any dog odor at bay.

Along with its amazing double coat, a signature feature of the Chow is its blue-black tongue and mouth. This is such an important characteristic of the Chow that if a dog has a pink tongue or spotted with pink, it is disqualified under the breed standard and cannot be shown. Thought to be from a dominant gene, the trait is so strong that most mixed breed dogs coming from the Chow line carry the trait. As I mentioned earlier the other standout trait of the Chow is her amazing coat. There are actually two types of Chow, the smooth and rough coat. The one most of us are used to seeing is the rough coat. It is thick and abundant, standing off from the body like a parka. Beneath that outer coat lies a soft, thick, woolly undercoat. The hair is thicker around the head and neck, forming a ruff, or mane. The tail, which lies over the back, is also thickly furred.

Chows are a fairly healthy breed, but are susceptible to illness that effect other large breed dogs like hip dysplasia.

Do Chow Chows Bark?

Chow Chows can be a problematic choice for an Urban Dog. They are often on insurance companies’ lists of forbidden dogs. The About Chows website discusses this. That said, I’ve seen many Chows in New York City. In fact we have two living in the same complex we live in.

Chow owners have many tales of their Chow’s loyalty and intelligence. If properly socialized from a young age, they are great with both kids and other pets, including cats.  But, the Chow is also a very determined and strong-willed dog. It will assume the position of alpha if you don’t. If it’s your first dog, hiring a trainer is a great idea. As I’ve often written, it is very important to train your city dog. You don’t want your pooch to misbehave in your building’s common areas. Unfortunately Chow Chows are not the easiest dogs to train. In fact, they score 76th on a list of 79 dogs ranked by their ability to understand new commands. They obey first commands about 25% of the time or worse according to Stanley Coren, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia who studies dog behavior. That means it takes them 80 to 100 repetitions or more for them to learn new commands.

Chows are not considered excessive barkers. UC Davis researchers Benjamin and Lynette Hart devised a chart ranking dogs by the likelihood of barking at inappropriate times. On a scale of one to ten — with one being the least offensive barkers and ten the most excessive barkers — they get a four rating. Click here for more on Urban Dog’s take on barking.

Click here to read their profile on the AKC website, and here to visit the Chow Chow Club, Inc.

For tips on how to find a pet-friendly apartment in New York and other cities read Urban Dog’s guide. Big dogs pose a particular challenge, but don’t worry, you can find places that accept large breed dogs.

If you are looking for an urbandog, the chow just might be the dog for you. Remember if you are seeking out a Chow, do your homework and find a reputable breeder.

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