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15 Intriguing Fun Facts About Chow Chow Dogs 

15 Intriguing Fun Facts About Chow Chow Dogs 

I’ve always been interested in Chow Chows… there is just something about their appearance and even their name that catches your attention. 

In my hometown, one guy owned a Chow Chow, and I didn’t see them often, but sometimes I would run into them on the street, and every time, I would excitedly think, “oh, I want to have that teddy-bear dog”

Since then, I have learned a lot more about this breed, and it’s safe to say that I’m even more fascinated by them. You might also find these fun facts about Chow Chows interesting. 

#1 Purple Tongue Dogs

chow chow with purple tongue

Chow Chows are frequently referred to as the dogs with the purple or blue tongue. And, yes… they are one of the unique dog breeds that have a distinctive blue, grayish, purple, and even black tongue. This characteristic is, however, more often seen in lizards than in dogs. 

But, these dogs are not born with this distinctive purple tongue. As with any other breed, they are born with a pink tongue. In fact, the color starts to develop as their eyes open. 

According to the AKC, by the time the puppy is about six months old, the color should be completely developed; otherwise, the dog won’t be eligible to compete in conformation dog shows. 

#2 Cat-Like Personality

If you were to ask a Chow Chow owner what their personality is like, they would most likely tell you that they are similar to cats. 

Chow Chows are aloof, proud, independent, strong-willed, and even stubborn. They’re not like other dogs that will rush to greet you, but they will happily observe from a distance… much like felines. 

Another characteristic that connects them to cats is their cleanliness. They are extremely clean dogs, and they have very little dog odor if brushed regularly. 

#3 Unique Looks

Beautiful dog chow-chow in the park

Chow Chows have an exotic-looking coat, so when you see one, you’ll probably think of how fluffy they actually are. It is because of this that they differ from most other breeds of dogs.

In addition, they have a thick mane and rounded ears, giving them an appearance similar to the “king of the jungle”, a.k.a., the lion. And, you can’t miss their curly tail, which is set high and carried close to their back. 

#4 Old Souls

Chow Chows are believed to be one of the oldest dog breeds. Demographic analysis using a refined sequencing approach found that these dogs originated from the Chinese indigenous dog about 8300 years ago. [1] 

This proved that Chow Chows are one of the most basal lineages of dog evolution (relating to gray wolves) that originated with some other East Asian breeds, such as the Akita Inu or the Shar-Pei. 

#5 Two Extra Teeth

A chow chow lying on a stone in the woods

Another unusual feature of Chow Chows is their extra set of teeth. [2] They are the only dogs in the world that have 44 teeth instead of 42, like other dog breeds

Chow Chow puppies are born with an extra pair of milk teeth, which they usually end up losing; however, this interesting feature makes their infant bite more similar to a wild bear’s one than a dog’s. 

#6 Foot Fetish

According to many Chow Chow owners, a lot of these dogs have a strange foot fetish… that’s right — a foot fetish. They either love to sit or lay on your feet, or lick them. 

One person left this comment on a Chow Chow forum

“Wolfie, my 8 yr. old Chow, loves to lick my right foot. He will do my left one only if my right one is unavailable. He has actually tried licking it with my sock still on once, and will sometimes just sit and stare at my foot longingly until I decide to remove my shoe.”

#7 Suspicious Of Strangers

chow chow puppy on the floor
Photo from: @bearthechow2023

Chow Chows are very territorial and protective dogs, which makes them also very suspicious of strangers and even other dogs. If they are not properly trained, things can even get out of control. 

However, they are very loyal, and they become pretty attached to one person and their immediate family, which is also one more characteristic that is similar to felines.  

#8 Name Origin

The origin of the Chow Chow’s name still remains a subject to debate, but many believe that it was derived from an English term in the 18th century used to describe cargo that came from the far East. [3] 

It’s a nickname, like “knick-knack” describing miscellaneous things. So, it’s highly likely that when this breed first arrived in England, they referred to it as Chow Chow – something that came from the East. 

The breed’s proper Chinese name is actually Songshi Quan”, which means puffy-lion dog, but they’re also called “Lang Kou” (Wolf Dog), “Hsiung Kou” (Bear Dog), “Hei Shet Kou” (Black-tongued Dog), and “Kwantung Kou” (Dog of Canton).

#9 Retired Working Dogs

Chow chow laying on the floor with tongue out

Today, people mostly see Chow Chows as fluffy pets, but during their long history, they played many important roles. They served as hard-working dogs, and were trained to be hunters, guarders, and haulers. 

At some point, Chow Chows were even companions to the lords. According to the AKC, an emperor of the Tang Dynasty (the 8th century) was so impressed with these dogs that he owned a kennel with 5,000 Chows. 

Also, they even served as a food source to their protein-starved homeland at some period. 

#10 Smart, But Hard To Train

Chow Chows are smart dogs, but they’re also strong-willed and stubborn, which makes them a bit difficult to train. They need to be exposed to socialization as early as possible, as well as dog training if you want them to grow into well-adjusted dogs.

You need to be a firm and persistent owner because if you’re not, your Chow Chow can easily become the boss of you. 

#11 Lack Of Pack Mentality 

chow chow standing in the meadow

Yes, dogs are instinctual pack animals [4], but this fact doesn’t really apply to Chow Chows. In a sense, Chow Chows are more like a lone wolf and don’t usually get along with bigger dogs. 

Chow Chows also don’t get along with cats or other small animals due to their hunting history unless they are socialized with them from an early age. But, they need company because they don’t like to be alone.

#12 Hard To Read

This is another characteristic that makes this breed of dog so different from others. Chow Chows don’t show too much emotion, like, for example, Golden Retrievers. It’s easy to see when Goldens are happy, but Chow Chows… not really. 

They are truly indifferent to those around them, and their behavior is not typical at all. Their face is also covered in fur, and they have a set of small and deeply-set eyes, which only makes it harder to read their expression. 

Unless you are someone who is really close to this dog, don’t expect any grand gestures and reactions. 

They also seem to have a scowling expression, which is — you guessed it — unique to this breed. 

#13 Stilted Gait

Beautiful dog chow-chow in the park.

It is very distinctive and intriguing to see how Chow Chows walk, which is due to their straight legs. This way of walking is known as stilted gait, and is — as you guessed it — unique to the breed. 

Their legs don’t bend the way they do in most breeds, which is why their owner needs to be observant of health issues, such as hip dysplasia

#14 A Chow Chow Never Forgives And Never Forgets

Some dogs are so loyal that they accept everything from their owner, but not Chow Chows… again, think of how cats behave when you do them wrong. 

If you betray a Chow Chow once, he will never forget it. They are usually indifferent to what people are doing, except when it concerns them. Any kind of mistreatment (especially neglect and abuse) can significantly affect your relationship with your pet. 

#15 Unusual Celebrity Owners

little chow chow laying in the grass

Chow Chows have been pets to many celebrities over the years, such as Martha Stewart, President Calvin Coolidge, Elvis Presley, Janet Jackson, Walt Disney, etc. 

However, the two most interesting Chow Chow owners have to be Queen Victoria and Sigmund Freud. 

Supposedly, Queen Victoria brought her fluffy dog everywhere with her, so they modeled the first Teddy bear after her beloved Chow Chow puppy. [5]

Sigmund Freud had a Chow Chow dog named Jo-Fi, who even assisted him in his therapy sessions. Freud believed that dogs can accurately judge a person, and he often relied on his dog’s reactions when assessing a patient. [6]

Read next: 210 Popular Chow Chow Names For An Adorable Lion Pup


[1] Yang, H., Wang, G., Wang, M., Xu, W., Yin, T., Fan, R., Wu, H., Zhong, L., Irwin, D. J., Zhai, W., & Zhang, Y. (2017). The origin of chow chows in the light of the East Asian breeds. BMC Genomics, 18(1). DOI

[2] Falkner, D. (2017, March 10). The ancient origins of the Chow Chow. BMC Series Blog

[3] National Purebred Dog Day®. (2016, September 11). The Chow Chow’s Name, 

[4] C.M.C. (2015). Natural Dog Law 5: Dogs Are Social Pack Animals, Caesar’s Way, Retrieved April 05, 2023, from 

[5] National Purebred Dog Day®. (2020, January 3). Did a Chow Chow Inspire the Teddy Bear?, 

[6] Davies, B. (2020, April 15). Freud at Home with his Dogs, Freud Museum London.