Chow Chows - The "Stuff" From the East

By: granola ">
There's no doubt that the Chow Chow is an ancient breed. In fact, many say the oldest dog fossils known to exist bear a striking resemblance to the current day Chow Chow. It's also known that many Chinese nobles kept this breed and that it has been used for many centuries for a variety of purposes in China.

The name could very well have come from a slang term some Westerners and traders attached to anything that came from the Far East, including China. Some people called those things "chow chow." Since the dogs came from China and were brought to other parts of the world by traders, it seems likely that the dog's name was simply derived from that slang term used to describe everything those traders brought home.

Arguably, most people would list the tongue of these dogs as their most notable feature. Some call it black while others describe the color as "blue-black." Regardless, the tongue of this breed is not the pink of most breeds. Another important trait and one that links these dogs to the ancient fossils is the straight hind legs. The dogs have a rather distinctive gait because of this trait.

Those early Chow Chows were used for several purposes. Many were trained to hunt and they were game for several kinds of prey, from the small game to larger animals such as wolves. Their large size - often up to 75 pounds - and muscled body also made them ideal for pulling and they were often put into service pulling trade carts. Other Chow Chows were taught to be guard dogs for a variety of situations. Some Chow Chow authorities also note that the fur of these dogs has been used for clothing and the meat has long been considered a delicacy in the dog's native country.

The Chow Chow comes in a variety of colors, though the most common are probably black and brown. It's important to note that solid colors are preferable and multi-colored coats very rarely occur. There are two distinct types of Chow Chow. One has a rough coat and the hair is up to several inches long. In this type, the grooming required is fairly significant and may take significant time if the dog exercises outdoors and gets sticks and burs tangled in the coat. The short-haired version is very short. If the dog is brown, it can be mistaken for a Shar Pei - the Chinese Wrinkle Dog. Some people claim that the short-haired Chow Chow is more apt to be agreeable to training and commands than its long-haired counterpart.

Chow Chows are notoriously obstinate and it takes consistent, repetitive training to accomplish anything with these dogs. Owners have to take command in order to keep these dogs in line, but it training has to be tempered in order to be effective. That's not to say that Chow Chows can't learn. They're very intelligent, but tend to want to understand why they're being asked to perform a specific task before they're willing to comply.
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