Description & History

The Chow Chow is Chinese in origin and a member of the Spitz family of dogs.

The breed is believed to have come originally from Mongolia and to have been taken by migrants to settle in China about 2000 years ago.

The breed name is thought to be derived from the word "chaou", which means "dog of great strength".

All Spitz type dogs were bred to work and the Chow was no exception. They were used as hunters and guard dogs. Also they were used as draught dogs to pull heavy loads - sometimes to the point of exhaustion.

In 1781 the first Chow Chows - a dog and a bitch - were brought to England by a member of the East India Company. They came from Canton and are believed to have lived in the Southampton area.

In 1895 the Chow Chow Club was founded. In the same year the breed standard was set, based on Chow VIII (born 189O), and it still stands to this day.

The Chow Chow was one of the many breeds that Queen Victoria kept. In 1865 an imported dog from China was given to her as a present and in 1881 the Prince of Wales helped to promote the breed by exhibiting a dog called Chang.

These dogs have a dignified lion-like appearance with a heavy ruff and a distinctive bluish-black tongue.

In 1894 the breed was recognised by the British Kennel Club.

Rosamund Walters.

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