For millennia, dogs have been the true friends of humans. Over time, the dogs of different breeds have changed so much that we have to guess the looks and feels of the dogs of the prehistoric age. However, there are still some of the ancient dog breeds that help us to link the dogs of today to their prehistoric ancestors. The Chow-Chow breed offers us that rare chance since it is one of the most ancient breeds.

Among all other East Asian Dog breeds, the Chow-Chow, known as “Songshi Quan” provides a basal lineage of the evolution of the species. The researchers have used genome sequencing and other scientific techniques to find the history of the Chow-Chow and discover more about the prehistoric ancestors of the East Asian Breeds.


Chow Chow is a dog breed that originally came from Northern China. This sturdy and squarely built dog is one of the first breeds that appeared after the domestication of the dogs. The dense fur in the neck area gives the dogs distinctive lion-like looks. The blue/black tongue and an extra pair of teeth also make the Chow Chows different from the rest of the dog breeds.

28 Million to 12 Million Years Ago

Unlike most dog breeds, the history of the Chow-Chow can be traced back to the Miocene period. The researchers have found Simocyon, an intermediary between Daphoneus, the father of the bears, and Cynoelesmus, the forefather of the entire canine, contains 44 teeth like the Chow-Chow.

Also, like the small bears of the Manchuria and Tibet region, the Chow Chow has a blue-black tongue and a broad skull.

These simple features and other scientific pieces of evidence have helped the researchers conclude that the Simocyon could be the prehistoric ancestor of the Chow-Chow of today.

11000 Years-8,300 Years Ago

There are many different theories regarding the origin of the breed Chow Chow. While one faction of the researchers places the dog’s ancestors in the Miocene period, another group argued that the dog species must have originated in Southern China. Even though the dog’s thick fur indicates a higher altitude evolution, the researchers pointed out that the flourishing of agriculture by the side of the Yangtze River must have facilitated the development of Chow Chow. They pointed out that the Chinese indigenous dogs of southern origins might be the ancestors of Chow Chow and most of the East Asian dog Breeds.

3000 years ago

Yet another group of researchers have expressed different opinions about the origin of the Chow Chow. They indicated that the history of the Chow Chow is linked to the nomads of the Arctic Region. They said the dog breed must have originated in the Asian Arctic region, perhaps Northern Siberia, about 3000 years ago.

As there is proof that the Chow Chow dogs have been present in China for 2000 years, they would have arrived in China with their nomadic barbarian human companions. Those ancestors of the Chow Chow did not look like the Chow Chow of today, but they share the same square and sturdy build as the Chow Chow of recent times.

2000 years ago

Even though the modern Chow Chows are not working dogs, their ancestors might have been used for hunting. For some 2000 years, relief carving has been available that supports this theory. The researchers also think that the ancient owners of the dogs used them as war dogs. Once they came to China, people named the dogs Man Kou, the dogs of the barbarian. Since then, the role of the Chow Chow has reversed many times.

206BC-220 AD

The pottery and sculptures of the Han Dynasty showed the presence of Chow Chow during this time. Even though the breed did not exactly look like the dogs of today, features like erect years, thick coat of fur around the neck and curly tail was the characteristic feature that helped researchers identify the dogs during this time, when the Lama monasteries started developing in Tibet, the Chow-Chow worked as their gun dogs and temple guards.

600 – 900 AD

During this time, the Chow Chow dog breed’s ancestors snatched the Chinese royalties’ attention. Some researchers affirm that the Chow Chow is the actual ancestor of some other famous dog breeds, like Pomeranian, Elkhound and Keeshond.

During the Tang dynasty, the Chinese Emperor Ling bred the Chow Chows. As the Chows were the royal household members during this time, they were fed the best quality meat and rice. The researchers pointed out that the Chow Chows of the royal families had designated servants as military companions and were awarded high courtly titles. Along with guarding the royalties and the palace, the Chow-Chow had to look handsome for the benefit of their royal masters.

The emperors of the Tang dynasty used to have a massive Kennel for 25,000 hunting dogs that were faithful chow-type hounds. In a 7th-century book, it was pointed out that these foreign chows were used for hunting. These dogs used to attack the leopards and wolves during the hunt.

During this time, the monasteries concentrated on breeding special blue-coated Chows for the temples. These dogs were used for the protection of the monasteries, herding, and hunting. It is assumed that the stone lion statues of the Buddhist temples that are so common in China are the statues of the Chow Chows. Even today, the monasteries breed and use the blue-coated Chow Chows for their protection.

900-1300 AD

With the end of the Tang dynasty came a period of increasing national poverty and hunger. Due to this reason, the selective breeding of China was stopped except for the monasteries. The purebred Chow Chows only stayed in the homes of the noblemen, wealthy merchants, and the monasteries.

According to the history of the Chow Chow, people started using chows for guarding, pulling sleighs, and herding. During this period, the thick fur coat of the Chow Chows was used for making different pieces of clothing. The consumption of chow meat most probably started during this period.

During this time, great farms of Chows were created on the Northern side of China. These farms used to strangle the 10-12-month-old Chows to get their skin in the perfect condition. In Manchuria, after marriage, a farmer girl often received a Chow Chow as a dowry for starting a farm. Apart from eating its meat and using the coats, the tongues of the chows were also used for making medicine. People used to believe that the tongues of chows have curative properties.

Marco Polo, a Venetian explorer and merchant, visited China through the Silk Route in 1271 and 1295. In his book, Marcopolo also documented that the Chinese consume dog meat and use the chows to pull the sleigh.

The 1700s

The Chows first came to Europe with the help of the Dutch East India Company. The sailors of the company, who returned from East India, brought the Chow-Chows with them in the merchant boats. Even though the dog was not known as Chow-Chow previously, this nickname got stuck with them from this occasion. The variety of articles on the shipment probably earned the dogs this name.

The 1800s

In the 1800s, the chows were brought to the United States for the first time. The popularity of this dog breed kept soaring over the years.


The London Zoo started showcasing several Chow Chows to the public as wild dogs. During this year, Queen Victoria was gifted with some Chow Chows. These gift dogs were kept in a cage in Windsor.


The trend of breeding and exhibiting the Chow Chows started during this year. This year, a black Chow, named the Chinese Puzzle, was brought to England. In 1980, the dog’s owner, W.K. Taunton, started exhibiting the dogs to the public at the Crystal Palace.


In this year, the Earl of Lonsdale brought a Chow-Chow for himself. Three years later, he gifted a chow named Peridot to Marchioness Huntley. She later bred another Chow called Peridot II from the first dog. These dogs started Lady Granville Gordon’s Kennel. Later, Lady Gordon worked hard to get the Kennel Club to recognise the dog breed as the Chow-Chow.

The early 1900s

The chows were first showcased in front of the public in the early 1900s. In 1903, the American Kennel Club recognised the breed as Chow-Chow. In 1906, the American Chow club was situated.

Since the 1920s, the popularity of the breed has increased steadily. Many celebrities also became fond of the exquisite beauty of the Chow Chows and kept them as their companions.

The 2000s

The popularity of this dog breed has not plummeted ever since. Today, the American Kennel Club reserves about 10,000 chows a year. The Canadian kennel club, on the other hand, registers about 350 Chow Chows per year.

Even though the history of the Chow Chows showed that the dogs were used for hunting and protecting, selective breeding has lessened the aggressive part ever since. While you might hear about the chows’ aggressiveness, this problem could be solved with proper training.

What were chow chows bred for?

Chow Chows were initially bred for hunting and guarding duties; however, they also adopted other roles, such as herding and sledge pulling, over time.

Frequently Asked Questions: Delving Deeper into the History and Characteristics of the Chow Chow Breed

Where did the Chow Chow breed originate?

The Chow Chow breed originally came from Northern China.

How ancient is the Chow Chow breed?

The Chow Chow breed is one of the most ancient breeds, traced back to the Miocene period.

What unique features do Chow Chows have?

Unique features of the Chow Chows include their dense fur in the neck area that gives them distinctive lion-like looks, a blue/black tongue, and an extra pair of teeth.

What was the initial purpose of the Chow Chow breed?

Originally, Chow Chows were used for hunting, guarding, herding, and pulling sleighs.

How did Chow Chows get their name?

The name ‘Chow Chow’ is actually derived from a term used by merchant ships, which transported various items from the Far East.

When did Chow Chows arrive in Europe and America?

Chow Chows arrived in Europe with the Dutch East India Company in the 1700s and were brought to America for the first time in the 1800s.

Did Chow Chows hold a special place in Chinese Royalties?

Yes, during the Tang Dynasty, the Chinese Emperor Ling bred Chow Chows, which were part of the royal household.

How has the role of Chow Chows changed over the centuries?

Over the centuries, despite being initially used for hunting and protecting, selective breeding has lessened this aggressive part of Chow Chow’s nature. Today, they are primarily companion dogs.

How many Chow Chows are registered each year?

The American Kennel Club registers about 10,000 Chow Chows a year, while the Canadian Kennel Club registers about 350 annually.

What is the temperament of a Chow Chow like?

Chow Chows are generally calm and loyal to their human companions, yet they can be reserved and aloof towards strangers.


Overall, these dogs are calm and loyal to human companions. However, they are reserved and aloof to strangers. While the Chow-Chows might not be the right pet for everyone, it could be an excellent addition to the right family. While these dogs are loyal to the primary owner, they can also become dedicated to other family members. So, even if you have children, Chows can still be the best choice.

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