The exact origins of this breed are not known. It is thought to be among the oldest in existence. Recent research has shown that it is one of the first breeds to develop from the wolf. Records have been discovered that demonstrate that this breed was even a companion to the Mongolian armies that invaded China and Europe in the 12th century.
Even though it is believed that it was first bred to be a hunting dog, records prove that later on, people in China started breeding it to be a companion and an all-purpose dog that was used to do everything from herding to pulling and guarding.
This dog has a sturdy build which makes it look big without giving the impression of being bulky. It has a square profile and a broad skull that is topped off by little ears that are rounded at the tip. The coat can either be rough or smooth, but is both thick and very dense.
One characteristic about this dog is that it has particularly thick fur around the neck, giving the distinct impression of the dog having a mane. The colors of the coat can either be red or black. Cinnamon and cream are also found.
This dog has found its place in the family as it has become a popular pet. It has a great sense of what belongs to it and the need to keep it safe. It is suspicious of strangers. All that combined make it a good watch dog.
The owner must be a person who is stubborn and knows how to take control of any situation, and basically be the alpha dog in the house. This is because this dog has a tendency to be the alpha and take control. Thus, a meek and timid owner is absolutely not suitable for this breed.
One must be careful of housing multiple Chows together because of this dog's nature. There might be fights on the dogs' part to secure a dictatorship and put in place a strict social order.
Despite the dominance issues, this dog loves the family and becomes very attached to its master. However, strangers are another issue. Anybody that is outside the dog's pack is generally not welcome and not accepted. Some people have described this behavior as being closer to that of a domesticated cat than a dog.
This breed holds the record for elbow dysplasia. It is even more prone to this disorder than the Golden Retriever. It is also prone to hip dysplasia, thyroid disease, and eye problems. Because of the multiple health problems that affect it, it is highly advised to get a dog from a good breeder that has a good reputation.
He should be able to show you health certificates stating that the parents of the puppy have been tested for the different health problems. This will also help discourage the cruel trade of puppy mills.