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Chow Chow

Chow Chow




Both the Chow Chow and the Shar-Pei are from mainland China. The Chow is certainly closely related to the other Nordic/spitz dogs, but may not be pure northern, having some sprinkling of mastiff types. This family introduced the heavier heads and thick, wrinkled skin, which some feel the Chow owes to crosses with the Tibetan Mastiff. It is possible some of the Nordic breeds owe their roots to the Chow, rather than the other way around.
Historians trace Chows to the llth century BC when Tartar hordes invaded China. Art and literature of these eras were often destroyed by the succeeding emperors, and information is sketchy. During the Han dynasty, however, about 150 years BC, bas relief sculpture and pot-Chow Chow, smooth coat, black.
The Chow Chow was relished throughout China as a delicacy, in addition to serving in other less fatal capacities, such as a draft, guard or flock dog. The eating of dog flesh was, and still is, common in Asia. The dogs were fed an all-grain diet and butchered while young. The fur of the longhaired Chow was made into clothing. The Book of Marco Polo tells of these dogs being utilized in a Nordic manner, drawing sledges through mire and mud.
Because China had a closed-door policy for centuries, these dogs did not make an appearance in other parts of the world until about 1780. Several types of Chinese dogs, including Pekingese and Chows, were smuggled out by sailors in the 1800s. It was a difficult task to convince these canine grain-eaters to eat the meat that was fed dogs in the Western World. These dogs were displayed in the London Zoo as the "Wild Dog of China" until dog lover and breed savior Queen Victoria took one into her fold.
In the early 1900s, the Chow was still a highly visible dog in China, being sold in market places, with puppies "sitting placidly" in large blue and white jars on the doorsteps. Nevertheless, it was fortunate that the Chow left China when he did, as the Cultural Revolution declared dogs a useless commodity, and most have been destroyed. A recent visitor to China recorded seeing only three mongrels on her entire trip.
The breed's name is thought to be derived from the pidgin English term chow chow, which was a blanket description for the novelties, curios and dogs brought on ships from the Orient. Another theory is that chou is Chinese for edible. His Chinese name around Canton, where the breed was numerous, was Hei She-fou (black-tongued), Lang Kou (wolf dog), Hsiung Kou (bear dog) or Kwantung Kou (dog of Canton).
The breed quickly gained a following and the long, plush coat is admired throughout the world. With popularity ever growing, it is easily recognized and owned in many countries. The smooth coat is not as common, but a few of that variety are being shown in the USA.
As puppies, they have the appearance of live teddy bears. In fact, a belief that Chows descended from bears has been passed through generations. This legend persists not only due to their coat and sure-footedness, but because of the blue-black tongue peculiar to the polar bear and a few Asiatic bears located in the same vicinity. Like bear cubs, Chows do mature, and buyers should be aware that these cuddly pups will one day have their own minds in powerful bodies. Chows have an independent and rather suspicious nature and will guard their property—their family and all their possessions—to the death.

The Chow's black-pigmented tongue, lips, and gums are a stamp of the breed. The massive head and wrinkles make the dog appear to be scowling. Regular grooming is a necessity for the plush coat. Care must be taken in hot weather, especially during periods of high humidity, as the breed suffers greatly and may even be endangered by the combination of heat and humidity.
The breed personifies the one-man dog, and is extremely aloof with strangers. Attention forced on him by outsiders often results in aggressive behavior. But with his own family, he is predictable and loyal. Dangerfield and Howell attest to these characteristics in The International Encyclopedia of Dogs with the following statement: "It has been said that the Chow will die for his master but not readily obey him; walk with him but not trot meekly to heel; honour him, but not fawn on his friends and relations."




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