Chow chow is a breed of dog that was first developed in Mongolia about 4,000 years ago and was later introduced into China, where it is referred to as Songshi Quan (Pinyin: sōngshī quǎn 鬆獅犬), which literally means "puffy-lion dog".
The chow is a sturdily built dog that is square in profile with broad skull and small, triangular, erect ears that are rounded at the tip. The breed has a very dense double coat that is either smooth or rough. The fur is particularly thick around the neck, giving the distinctive ruff or mane appearance. The coat may be one of five colors including red, black, blue, cinnamon/fawn, and cream.
Their eyes should be deep set and almond in shape. Chows are distinguished by their unusual blue-black/purple tongue and very straight hind legs, resulting in a rather stilted gait. The bluish color extends to the chow's lips, which is the only dog breed with this distinctive bluish appearance in its lips and oral cavity (other dogs have black or a piebald pattern skin in their mouths). One other distinctive feature is their curly tail. It has thick hair and lies curled on its back. Their nose should be black (except the blue which can have a solid blue or slate colored nose). Any other tone is disqualification for showing in the United States under AKC breed standard. However, FCI countries do allow for a self-colored nose in the cream.
The blue-black/purple tongue gene appears to be dominant, as almost all mixed breed dogs that come from a chow retain the tongue color. This is not to say, however, that every mixed breed dog with spots of purple on the tongue is descended from chows as purple spots on the tongue can be found on a multitude of pure breed dogs.
The Chow Chow is most commonly kept as a pet. Its keen sense of proprietorship over its home, paired with a sometimes serious approach to strangers, can be off-putting to those unfamiliar with the breed. However, displays of timidity and aggression are uncharacteristic of well-bred and well-socialized specimens.The chow is extremely loyal to its own family and will bond tightly to its master. The chow typically shows affection only with those it has bonds to, so new visitors to the home should not press their physical attention upon the resident chow as it will not immediately accept strangers in the same manner as it does members of its own pack. Inexperienced dog owners should beware of how chow chows encounter those it perceives as strangers; their notoriety is so established that many homeowner's insurance companies will not cover dogs from this breed. Males and females typically co-habitate with less tension than those of the same gender, but it is not unheard of for multiple chows of both genders to live together peacefully in a home setting.
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