Illustration of Chow Chow

The breed can be traced back to the Han Dynasty of 2000 years ago as the Han Dog, a guard dog. In early China the Chow was an important food source. He was specially reared on grain and then slaughtered while young for tender meat. His skin was used, as was his coat for trimmings on clothes. The breed was also used for hunting and as guard dogs.

Two Chows were brought to Britain in 1780 by traders from the East India Company. In 1828 London Zoo imported some dogs from China called the Black Mouthed Chinese. During her reign Queen Victoria acquired a Chow and public interest in the breed was aroused. The breed was recognised by the Kennel Club in 1894 and became fashionable in the show ring.

The Chow has several special traits: the black tongue and gums, the leonine appearance given by its mane of harsh, off-standing coat and its rather stilted gait.

Breed Group
Vulnerable Native Breed
How much exercise?
Up to 1 hour per day
Length of coat
How much grooming?
Every day
Supposedly sheds? *
Town or Country
Type of home
Large House
Minimum Garden Size
Under 10 Years

* If you are asthmatic or have an allergy, you should consult your medical advisor before considering obtaining a dog. More information can also be found on the Kennel Club website.


  • Smooth-Coat

The Utility Breed Group

This group consists of miscellaneous breeds of dog mainly of a non-sporting origin, including the Bulldog, Dalmatian, Akita and Poodle.

The name ‘Utility’ essentially means fitness for a purpose and this group consists of an extremely mixed and varied bunch, most breeds having been selectively bred to perform a specific function not included in the sporting and working categories. Some of the breeds listed in the group are the oldest documented breeds of dog in the world.

Copyright © The Kennel Club Limited 2016. The unauthorised reproduction of text and images is strictly prohibited.