by Doris Donnerman
(last updated August 17, 2009)
The Chow Chow possesses an air of aloofness, which, if the term could be applied to dogs, it would amount to downright snobbishness. There are some who refer to the Chow Chow as the national dog of China. True, the Pekingese has his claim on that distinction, but the Chow Chow is the only Chinese breed which can be used for the various purposes in which an average size dog is employed.
It has been said that the Chow Chow is the common mongrel of China, but no one seems to know where that idea originated. That it is a false conception is proved by the fact that, while China, indeed, has its mongrel dogs, the Chow Chow has been an established breed for many, many years. The theory has been advanced that this breed descended from an ancestor other than that of the Western dogs, perhaps the bear. Like that animal, the Chow Chow is remarkably sure-footed. In some respects there is a slight resemblance to the bear, but students have never given very serious consideration to the theory.
Another theory attributes the origin of the Chow Chow to a cross between the old Mastiff of Tibet and the Samoyed. However the question arises, "Where did the Chow get his blue-black tongue?" It is the only breed with that characteristic. Another theory is in contraposition, holding that the Chow Chow is one of the basic breeds and perhaps the ancestor himself of the Samoyed, the Eskimo, the Norwegian Elkhound, the Keeshond, and the Pomeranian, all of a somewhat similar type.
The breed's name has no particular significance as to locality or use and is said to have been taken from the pidgin English term for articles, including bric-a-brae, ivory, and porcelain curios, brought from the Orient during the latter part of the eighteenth century. Rather than minutely describe the small items of his cargo, the master of a sailing vessel entered them as "chow chow," which, in time, came to include the dog.
While devoted to the family that owns him, the Chow Chow has no use for strangers. As a breed, these dogs are rather high strung and sensitive, although they seldom show any shyness in the show ring. They are not generally of a trusting nature, but look upon friendly advances with some suspicion.
Average height of the Chow Chow should be between seventeen and twenty inches from the hithers. There are five common colors: red, black, blue, cinnamon and cream.
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