Chow Chows

Why Do Some Chow Chows Look Different?

By Hollie Cartwright on Jan 4, 2024 Reviewed by Mick Ford

Why do some Chow chows look different?

Why Do Some Chow Chows Look Different

Table of Contents

Why do some chows look different?

The chow chow breed has different color types of purebred chows and this could contribute to different appearances. There is also cross breeding which has occurred among chows to lead to different chow crossbreeds. In this article, we will look at the specific features that distinguish a purebred chow chow and the appearance of different colors that chow chow breeds have.

Chow chow is a spitz-type dog known to have originated from China. Having come from cold regions of Asia this dog breed is well adapted to cold giving it distinguishing features.

Features of a chow chow

Chow chows have a very thick double coat which has dense fur around their bodies. They have a lion-like ruff which made them be called in Chinese ‘Songshi Quan - puffy lion dog’. Also, they have a distinguishing blue-black tongue which makes this dog breed unique.

What are exactly the features of a purebred Chow chow?

According to the American Kennel Club this appear as follows:

Size and proportionality

The average of an adult chow chow is about 17 to 20 inches, which is, about 1.4 to 1.6 feet or about half a meter high. It is square in proportion in that distance between the fore-chest to the buttock is almost equal to the height of the highest point of the withers(the area above the shoulders).

Its head is large in proportion but not exaggerated to appear top-heavy. It also has a furrowed face which gives it a scowling expression. On the face, one can see a moderate stop and at the end a black nose that has well-opened nostrils. This furrow is because of a brow with a padded button of skin just above the upper corner of each eye whereby when there is sufficient skin this forms the frowning brows hence the furrowed face. Eyes are dark brown deep-set and wide apart from each other. The ears are small, triangular but slightly rounded at the tips, which are carried erect but with a slight forward tilt. The skull is broad and flat from side to side and front to back. The upper lip completely covers the lower lip when the mouth is closed. Edges of the lips and tissues of the mouth are black but the gums are also preferably black.

Neck region

It has a well-built strong neck muscle that is of sufficient length to carry the head easily above the top-line (the area from the base of the neck to the base of the tail) when the dog is standing erect. The topline is also straight, strong, and level.


The body should also be well-muscled, compact, broad, deep, and short. All these will contribute to its square build. The chest is also broad and muscular. Their ribs are close together and well-rounded but not barrel(very round to give the appearance of a barrel). The floor of the chest is broad and deep extending down to the tips of the elbows.

Front legs

The shoulders are well muscled and the tips of the shoulder blades moderately close. The length of the upper arm is never less than the length of the shoulder blade. Elbow joints are set well back alongside the chest wall in that elbows are neither turned inwards nor outwards. It has straight forelegs from the elbow to the foot and when viewed from the front are parallel and wide apart due to the broad chest. The feet are round and compact standing upon thick toe pads.

Back legs

The rear assembly is broad, powerful, and well-muscled in the hips and thighs. It has heavy bones in its hind legs/hindquarters as much as is in the front legs/forequarters. Viewed from the rear their legs are straight, parallel, and widely spaced due to the broad pelvis. Stifle joint (comparable to knee) in chow chows shows little angulation and points straight forward. The Hock joint (comparable to ankle) is well let down and appears almost straight and does not bow like many other dogs.

Types of color breeds

There are different color breeds of purebred chow chows.

#1 — Red chow chow

This color covers a wide range of colors and is among the most common. The deepest red to be found is self-red which appears as that of the orangutan or mahogany. For the lighter golden color chow shading, they may have lighter shadings on their tails, breeches, and ruffs. Their tongues are blue-black and their gums completely black. They also have black noses and dark brown eyes

#2 — Cream chow chow

This color ranges from a clotted cream to a near-white color. Their ears however have a darker shading which can be red or orange in tone. Cream chow chows are known to have a range of colors of their noses from a dark black to a solid brown to pinkish color whereby most adult cream chow chows tend to have pink noses. They have dark brown eyes and blue-black tongues. Their gums however are pink.

#3 — Black chow chow

This color can have a solid black color with grey shadings in their breeches and on the tail. Long-time exposure to the sun can lead to a red tinge developing in the coat/fur. It has dark brown eyes, a black nose, and a blue-black tongue. The roof of the mouth is also blue-black together with the gum.

#4 — Blue chow chow

Blue chow chow can range from a darker shade of blue to a grayish color. A gray shading on the tail can occur and exposure to sunlight could lead to a red tinge on the coat. To some, this may give a muddy appearance. The roof of the mouth is dark blue and also has a blue-black tongue

#5 — Cinnamon/Fawn chow chow

For adult chow chows this color can range from very deep cinnamon to a very sandy color with a grey hue. A cinnamon chow has a black nose. It can have a pale undercoat to a blue silvery undercoat. The puppies have a distinctive silvery color. The lips and gums are blue-grey but also have a blue-black tongue.