The Chow Chow is a muscular, powerful breed with a stocky appearance. Their coats come in both rough and smooth varieties. The smooth coated Chow Chow looks like a small Akita whereas the rough coated Chow is the most popular and is known by his thick mane of fur that gives him a lion-like appearance. They have broad heads with wide muzzles and their ears are triangular in shape. They have bushy tails that curl over their back, which is a typical characteristic of Spitz breeds. The black tongue is a distinguishing characteristic of the Chow breed and whether smooth or rough coated, they come in red, tan, black, cream, gray, blue and sometimes white.
Size and Weight
Adult Chow Chows measure 17 to 20 inches at the withers and weigh an average of 70 pounds. Males appear more masculine and females give off a distinctly feminine appearance. Square proportions are of more importance than height and weight when showing a dog, and dogs who are not square are heavily penalized. Chows should be muscular with heavy bone structure.
Coat and Color
Chows come in two coat variations: rough and smooth. The rough coated Chow is the type that most people are familiar with. It has a thick coat that stands off from the body, with a soft and dense undercoat. Around the had and neck the hair is thicker, creating a ruff which looks like a mane and the tail is thick with fur, as well. Smooth coated chows have a thick outer coat with no ruff or feathering.
Chows of both types come in all shades of red, black, blue, cinnamon or cream. They can be solid or have light shading throughout the body. Some breeders try to wrangle more money from a potential owner by claiming to have “exotic” colors, but unless the dog is purple, odds are they are simply looking for a way to make money off an ill-informed customer.
Chows require a lot of maintenance, thanks to their thick coats. They should be brushed three to four times per week in order to keep the coat healthy and to remove loose and dead hair. Chow Chows are heavy shedders in the spring and fall, and brushing may need to be performed daily. A Chow that is brushed regularly will not develop a doggie odor. They should be brushed with a medium-coarse brush across the body, a slick brush for the legs, a pin brush for the longer sections of hair and should be sprayed with a dog-conditioner as grooming is performed. If a Chow is brushed while dry, his hear will break off. Brushing should occur all the way through the coat, down to the skin in order to prevent matting. They require monthly baths, but if the dog enjoys rolling around outdoors, more frequent bathing is necessary.
In addition to brushing and bathing, ear cleaning and tooth brushing should be part of a Chow's weekly routine. Use only a veterinarian-approved cleanser on the ears and brush teeth weekly to prevent harmful bacteria and tartar buildup.