All about your Chow Chow

Chow Chows are proud and independent, and make very loyal companions. From grooming advice to common health conditions, our guide covers the key things you should know about this fox-coloured dog, with his distinct blue tongue.

    Breed information & advice

    The Chow Chow belongs to the utility dog group, and has a distinct lion-like appearance thanks to a full and bushy coat that stands away from his body. While he has excellent manners, he is not very sociable and often forms an attachment to just one person, making him less suited to family life.

    • The Chow Chow is a bit standoffish, and likes nothing more than his own company
    • His long auburn coat needs to be brushed daily, and he will need shade from the heat in summer months
    • Typically he will weigh from 18kg to 32kg, when fully grown
    • A healthy Chow Chow can live up to 10 years

    Typical size of a Chow Chow: Medium: 46cm-56cm

        Recommended exercise & nutrition

        Although this is not a high-energy breed, your dog will need regular exercise. He will enjoy brisk daily walks, whether it’s a stroll around the block or a walk to the local park. Due to his naturally independent ways, a Chow Chow puppy will also benefit from being socialised from an early age, so he is used to being around other animals and people.

        When it comes to meal times, your dog’s diet should be a good quality diet. As Chow Chows have sensitive stomachs, you’ll need to keep an eye on your pet in case he falls ill. Feeding him two meals a day will ensure his stomach isn’t overloaded.  As with all dogs, how much you feed him will depend on his age and size

          Up to one hour of exercise per day

          Your Chow Chow will be happy with two or three half-hour walks a day, and for the rest of the time he will be happy to be indoors.

              Common health problems & illnesses

              Chow Chows need all of the usual vaccinations, flea and tick control, and dental checks to go on to lead a healthy life, but it’s worth being aware of some of the more specific ailments which can affect this breed, so you can look out for any symptoms.

                1. Heat stroke and breathing difficulties

                This breed suffers more than any other from heat stroke and can have dyspnoea – difficulty breathing – especially on a hot day. The Chow Chow’s coat is dense and heavy and you will need to ensure you keep him cool in summer. Be especially careful he doesn’t overheat in the car, and ensure he is never left in the car alone. You can use fans to cool him at home and walk him only during cooler parts of the day. Ice cubes in his water and dampening his coat through to his skin can also help to keep him cool.

                  2. Joint problems

                  This breed may be susceptible to joint problems in his hips, elbows and knees. In particular, he could develop arthritis or hip dysplasia, a condition in which the thighbone doesn’t fit snugly into the hip joint and is commonly diagnosed between 6 and 12 months of age. Clinical signs for both conditions vary and include lameness or stiffness in one or both hind legs.

                    3. Entropion

                    This genetic condition, in which the dog’s eyelid rolls inwards, can affect one or both of the Chow Chow’s eyes. Entropion can cause anything from mild irritation to ulcers which can damage the surface of the eye. A tell-tale sign to look out for is if the eyes appear to be uncomfortable – difficult to open, with an increase in discharge, and reddened and itchy eyes. Your dog may start rubbing his eyes, which can make the situation worse. If you suspect entropion, visit your vet who can advise on the appropriate treatment.

                      4. Skin problems

                      Skin diseases or conditions such as dermatitis or eczema, mange or bacterial skin infections are common in the Chow Chow, due to his thick coat and heavy folds of skin. You can help your dog by cleaning his skin folds daily to keep them free of debris and bacteria, which will help to prevent infection. Antiseptic skin cleansers are available from the chemist or your vet. If you notice anything unusual, your vet will advise you on what to do if the skin becomes sore, itchy or smells.

                        5. Cruciate ligament injury

                        Because of the tight ligaments in his hind legs, the Chow Chow can be prone to ruptured cruciate ligaments within his knee joints. Look out for lameness in one or both of your dog’s back legs. If you suspect there is a problem, take him to see your vet where he will be examined and possibly x-rayed.

                            Dog name popularity

                            If you’re struggling to think of a name for your Chow Chow, take a look at the most popular ones at Tesco Bank Pet Insurance for inspiration.

                              1 Teddy
                              2 Mushu
                              3 Simba
                              4 Meili
                              5 Rocco

                              Average treatment costs

                              Wondering whether pet insurance for your Chow Chow is worth it? We’ve put together the top five conditions claimed for by Tesco Bank Pet Insurance customers in 2019, and the average cost of treatment.

                                Top five conditions and average costs

                                Top five conditions and average costs

                                Cruciate rupture






                                            Corneal ulcer


                                                Arthritis/Degenerative Joint Disease


                                                    Tesco Bank Pet Insurance claims data from paid treatments including excesses from 01/09/19 to 31/08/20.

                                                    Considering Chow Chow insurance?

                                                    We know your dog is an important member of the family, so give them the protection they deserve with Tesco Bank Pet Insurance.

                                                    Tesco Bank Pet Insurance is arranged, administered and underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc.

                                                    Grooming advice

                                                    The Chow Chow has a thick, puffy coat that gives him a fluffy appearance. Beneath this outer fur lies a soft, woolly undercoat, while the hair is thicker around the head and neck and forms a mane.

                                                    You should brush your Chow Chow’s coat every day to keep it in good condition and prevent moulting. As heavy seasonal shedders, your dog’s coat will need extra care at certain times of the year. You’ll also need to use different types of brushes for his legs and body, and make sure you brush him when his coat is wet, otherwise his hair will break.

                                                    Bathing your Chow Chow once a month is all that’s necessary. You should brush your dog’s teeth daily to remove plaque and bacteria. You’ll probably notice that your dog is highly sensitive about people touching his feet, so when trimming his nails (every six weeks), be very gentle.

                                                      Fun & interesting facts

                                                      • The Chow Chow is believed to be one of the oldest dog breeds – originating in China 4,000 years ago.
                                                      • Here he went by several names including black-tongue dog, wolf dog and bear dog.
                                                      • Many people compare the Chow Chow’s temperament to that of a cat – reserved, independent and stubborn.
                                                      • Your dog will love to sit on your feet and keep your toes warm.
                                                      • One of his most striking features is his dark, blue-black tongue.

                                                      Important information

                                                      Key information

                                                      The content on this page aims to offer an informative introduction to pet breeds, but does not constitute expert veterinary advice. If your dog or cat falls ill or has an injury, contact your vet immediately. Tesco Bank Pet Insurance has a partnership with vetfone™ which means that as a customer, you can benefit from their advice as part of your policy.

                                                      Tesco Bank Pet Insurance is arranged, administered and underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc. The vetfone™ service is provided by VetsDirect Ltd.

                                                      All facts and figures were correct at date of publication and were compiled using a range of sources.

                                                        What is vetfone?

                                                        Vetfone™ is a 24/7 unlimited, free telephone or video call service that provides expert advice from nurses qualified with the RCVS (Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons). If your pet has a medical emergency, or you need reassurance on grooming, feeding or general advice, vetfone™ is there to help.

                                                        As a Tesco Pet Insurance customer, you can access expert veterinary advice provided by RCVS registered vet nurses as a standard benefit with your policy, and the service is provided at no additional cost. A quick telephone call or video call could answer any questions you have about your pet, give you peace of mind and could even save you a trip to the vet.

                                                        Tesco Bank Pet Insurance is arranged, administered and underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc. The vetfone™ service is provided by VetsDirect Ltd.

                                                          Discover more breeds

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