History of Chows
Some scholars believe the Chow Chow to be one of the most ancient breeds of dog. Scientists used DNA analysis to confirm this theory and realized it was indeed one of the first dog breeds to evolve from a wolf about 2,000 years ago. Other scholars, however, believe the Chow Chow existed long before that, possibly dating back to 150 BC or earlier. Archeologists found artifacts dating from the Han dynasty unmistakably picturing the breed on engravings and sculptures.
There’s no doubt that the Chow originated somewhere between Northern China and the Mongolia region. The Chow is referred to as “Songshi Quan” in Chinese which literally means “puffy lion dog” because of its uncanny resemblance to a lion. There are conflicting theories as to which breeds created the Chow Chow. On one side, experts believe the Chow Chow was formed by a cross between the Tibetan Mastiff and the Samoyed. On the other hand, people believe the breed is a mix of Norwegian Elkhound, Samoyed, Keeshond, and Pomeranian.
The Chow Chow is one of the only breeds exhibiting the trademark blue-black tongue, the other breed being the Chinese Shar-Pei. Although these breeds have a blue-black tongue as a breed standard, they are not the only breeds to have color on their tongue as black spots on the tongue are very common in many dogs. We will discuss the Chow Chow’s tongue in more depth later.
The Chow Chow was bred as an all purpose working dog for hunting, pulling, and protecting the home. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the Chow Chow in 1903 as a member of the non-sporting group. The Chow
Chow Club of America was recognized and accepted by the AKC in 1906.
Some groups claim the Chow Chow was bred in China for human consumption because the slang term “Chow” in Chinese means edible. Unfortunately, a sad part of the breed’s history is that Chows actually were used for food in China; it is claimed they also used the dog’s fur for clothing.
The breed received fame around the world starting in 1880 when Queen Victoria took an interest in the breed and began importing Chow Chows into England. The breed first entered the United States in 1890, but did not really gain fame until the roaring 20’s when it was a popular breed among the rich and famous.
Some famous Chow owners are Martha Stewart, Janet Jackson, Sigmund Freud, and a black Chow named Timmy even lived in the White House with President Calvin Coolidge!