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A photo of a Chow Chow dog with it's tongue sticking out.

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Chow chow dog breed profile

Chow chows are the dogs with different-colored tongues.

Whether your dog is a purebred chow chow, or a chow chow mix, learning about their breed can explain a lot about your pet’s personality, habits and overall health. Or maybe you're looking to adopt a chow chow and want to do a bit of research first — we can help with that.

Chow chows may look like miniature lions with their furry manes, but their personality is more laid back, and they appreciate moderate amounts of exercise. 

What do chow chows look like? 

When measuring from their shoulders to the ground, on average, chow chows are between 17 to 20 inches tall, Dr. Aliya McCullough, Fetch's on-staff veterinarian, says. Of course, every pup is different, but if you're planning on picking up these fluffy pups, you can expect to lift around 45 to 70 pounds.

What’s special about a chow chow tongue? 

If a chow chow is lapping up water, and you notice their tongue isn’t a usual pink — don't be alarmed. Purple, black, blue or gray-colored tongues are actually standard for this dog breed, Dr. McCullough explains.

Chow chow shedding

"Chow chows aren't hypoallergenic," Dr. McCullough shares. "Chow chows shed small amounts daily, but twice a year, they have a heavy shedding period."

Their fur can either be rough or smooth, although the more coarse variation is more common (and is usually thick and fuzzy with a soft undercoat). Chow chows’ fur is so thick they even grow a mane around their necks. 

And fur texture isn't the only variation chow chows have. Their coats can be black, blue, cinnamon, cream or red-colored, Dr. McCullough explains. 

What are chow chows’ temperaments like? 

“Chow chows tend to be loyal and independent, yet reserved and watchful with strangers,” Dr. McCullough says. “Well-socialized and trained chow chows may get along well with other pets.”

Like all dogs, socialization is key when raising a well-behaved and friendly chow chow — especially if you have children in your home. Activities like easy hikes or visiting the dog park are a great way to socialize these pups while also getting some exercise in. However, chow chows are laid-back and only need moderate exercise but avoid outdoor activities in hot or humid weather because of their thick fur.

RELATED: Maltipoo dog breed profile

What health issues do chow chows face?

Some health issues are common among the chow chow breed, Dr. McCullough explains. Knowing about these health issues encourages informed conversations at your dog's first vet visit to learn about prevention methods and treatments. According to Dr. McCullough, these are the most common health issues that chow chows experience. 


Entropion happens when a dog’s lower eyelid rolls inward toward the eye, Dr. McCullough explains. It can cause eye discharge, conjunctivitis and inflammation of the eye’s outer surface, she adds. Veterinarians usually recommend surgery to treat entropion. 

Hip dysplasia 

Hip dysplasia is when one or both of a dog’s hip joints become loose, Dr. McCullough says. It’s most commonly caused by trauma throughout a pup’s life but can also happen because of genetics.

Some pups might not show obvious signs of hip dysplasia. But if your dog is limping, has a swaying or bunny-hopping gait, atrophy (or deterioration) of the rear leg muscles, difficulty laying down or getting up and reluctance to jump or use stairs, they could have this condition.

Treatment for hip dysplasia depends on the severity of your pup’s condition. The most common resolutions are pain medication, joint supplements, acupuncture, steroids, surgery or physical or laser therapy. 

Elbow dysplasia

This condition means a dog has four elbow abnormalities that contribute to arthritis, which is caused by genetics. You can spot this condition if your pup is limping, has a stiff gait, shows signs of pain or if their muscles begin to deteriorate. 

“Elbow dysplasia treatment includes surgery and medical management that focuses on managing arthritis, including maintaining a healthy weight, low-impact activities, physical therapy, joint supplements and anti-inflammatory medications,” Dr. McCullough explains. 

Gastric-dilatation volvulus (GDV)

GDV occurs when a dog’s stomach fills with air and twists on itself. Pups with this condition will be intensely lethargic, have abdominal pain, a decreased appetite, will retch, feel weak and potentially collapse. 

Veterinarians usually recommend surgery to fix GDV in dogs, followed by intensive nursing care. 

Skin allergies

Chow chows can experience skin allergies, which can cause itchiness that causes pups to lick, chew or rub their skin. Hair loss, skin and ear infections and hives can also accompany allergies in dogs, Dr. McCullough adds. 

“Skin allergies are treated with allergy medications, prescription diets, topical shampoos, conditioners, sprays, mousses and skin supplements,” she says. 

Chow chow adoption

Are you interested in adopting a chow chow, chow chow mix or any pet at all? Check out our shelter partners to find your new best friend.

The Dig, Fetch's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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