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10 Dog Breeds Similar to Chow Chows

Written by: Ejay C.
| Published on February 20, 2024

Chow Chows are one of the most distinctive and ancient dog breeds, originating from China where they were used as temple guards, hunting dogs, and sled pullers. Known for their lion-like mane, unique blue-black tongue, and somewhat aloof demeanor, Chow Chows possess a dignified and independent spirit that sets them apart from many other breeds. Despite their reserved nature, they are fiercely loyal to their families and make excellent watchdogs. Their thick double coat, which can be either smooth or rough, requires regular grooming to maintain its lush appearance. For those who admire the Chow Chow’s unique qualities but are curious about exploring similar breeds—whether for their spitz-like appearance, protective nature, or companionable loyalty—several breeds share these admirable traits. This article explores 10 dog breeds similar to Chow Chows, focusing on their physical attributes, temperament, and suitability as both working dogs and companions.

1. Akita

Akitas are powerful, dignified dogs originating from Japan, where they were bred for hunting large game. Like Chow Chows, Akitas have a thick double coat, a strong sense of loyalty, and a reserved nature, especially around strangers. They are known for their courage and are considered excellent guardians of their families. Akitas possess similar physical robustness and an independent spirit, making them well-suited for experienced dog owners who appreciate a loyal yet self-reliant companion.

2. Shar-Pei

The Chinese Shar-Pei shares its country of origin with the Chow Chow and is easily recognizable by its deeply wrinkled skin and blue-black tongue. Shar-Peis are known for their calm demeanor and devotion to their family, akin to the Chow Chow’s protective nature. Though less fluffy, their short, bristly coat requires specific care to maintain their skin’s health. Shar-Peis are independent and reserved, often forming a strong bond with a single person.

3. Tibetan Mastiff

Tibetan Mastiffs are imposing and powerful, known for their thick, luxurious mane that resembles the Chow Chow’s. Originating from Tibet, these dogs were bred to guard monasteries and livestock. Tibetan Mastiffs share the Chow Chow’s aloofness and independence, alongside a strong protective instinct. They are nocturnal by nature, often more active and alert at night. Their impressive presence and loyal disposition make them a unique choice for those seeking a guardian breed with an ancient lineage.

4. Alaskan Malamute

Alaskan Malamutes, one of the oldest Arctic sled dogs, possess a strength and endurance that mirrors the Chow Chow’s sturdy build. While they are more social and enjoy human company more openly than Chow Chows, Malamutes share the thick double coat and need for regular grooming. Known for their friendly disposition, they nonetheless exhibit a strong will and independent mindset, requiring consistent training and socialization.

5. Samoyed

Samoyeds, with their bright, white coats and smiling expressions, offer a more sociable counterpart to the more reserved Chow Chow. Originating from Siberia, Samoyeds were bred for herding reindeer and pulling sleds. They share the Chow Chow’s thick double coat and adaptability to cold climates. Despite their friendlier nature, Samoyeds possess a strong sense of loyalty and independence, making them excellent family pets who require regular engagement and exercise.

6. Keeshond

Keeshonden are lively and intelligent dogs known for their distinctive “spectacles” markings around their eyes. Like Chow Chows, Keeshonden has a thick double coat that requires regular grooming. They are more outgoing and eager to please, making them great companions for families. Keeshonden share the spitz breed’s typical traits of alertness and vocalness, along with a protective instinct towards their home and loved ones.

7. Norwegian Elkhound

Norwegian Elkhounds are ancient dogs bred for hunting large game, such as moose and bear. They share the Chow Chow’s sturdy build and dense coat, though they are known for their courage and agility in the field. Norwegian Elkhounds are loyal and protective, making excellent watchdogs and family companions. Their independence and strong hunting instincts require an owner who understands how to channel their energy positively.

8. Shiba Inu

Shiba Inus are small, agile dogs from Japan, known for their fox-like appearance and spirited personality. They share the Chow Chow’s independence and reserved nature with strangers. Shiba Inus has a thick double coat and a bold, confident demeanor. They are affectionate with their families but require early socialization and consistent training to manage their strong-willed temperament.

9. Finnish Spitz

Finnish Spitz dogs are known for their fox-like features and lively character. Bred for hunting small game, they share the Chow Chow’s alertness and vocalness, often using their bark to communicate. Finnish Spitz have a dense, double coat similar to the Chow’s but exhibit a more sociable and playful demeanor, making them excellent companions for active families.

10. Eurasier

Eurasiers are a relatively new breed developed in Germany, blending the best traits of the Chow Chow, Wolfspitz, and Samoyed. They have a calm, balanced temperament and a thick double coat that requires regular grooming. Eurasiers are known for their loyalty and affection towards their families, preferring to stay close to their loved ones. They are reserved with strangers, similar to the Chow Chow, but without the breed’s aloofness.

While the Chow Chow stands out for its unique combination of majestic appearance, loyal temperament, and ancient heritage, several breeds offer similar qualities that make them appealing to those who admire these traits. From the powerful Akita to the sociable Samoyed, each breed provides an alternative for those seeking a loyal companion with a striking presence. Whether you’re drawn to their protective nature, their luxurious coats, or their dignified independence, there’s likely a breed among these ten that will capture your heart and fit seamlessly into your life, embodying the spirit and qualities that make Chow Chows so beloved.


What Are Chow Chows Like? How Are They Different Than Other Breeds?


Chow Chows are among the most distinctive and enigmatic dog breeds, boasting a rich history that dates back over two millennia. Originating from China, where they were used for hunting, guarding, and pulling dogs, Chows are known for their lion-like mane, deep-set almond eyes, and unique blue-black tongue. These medium-sized dogs combine the nobility of a lion, the dexterity of a cat, and the loyalty of a dog, making them a fascinating breed to own. This article explores the characteristics of Chow Chows, what makes them unique, and how they stand out from other breeds.

Understanding Chow Chows

Chow Chows are medium-sized dogs with a sturdy build and a square profile. They are most recognized for their thick double coat, which can be either smooth or rough, and their distinctive ruff around the head and shoulders, giving them a mane-like appearance. Another hallmark of the breed is their blue-black tongue, a feature shared with only a few other breeds. Chows have a dignified and somewhat aloof demeanor, often described as cat-like in their independence and temperament.

Temperament and Behavior

Despite their somewhat imposing appearance, Chow Chows are known for their loyalty and deep devotion to their families. They tend to be reserved, if not somewhat aloof, with strangers, making them excellent watchdogs. Chows are not typically aggressive but can be very protective of their home and loved ones. They require early socialization and firm, consistent training to develop into well-adjusted adults. Unlike many other breeds, Chows are not overly demanding of attention, preferring to stay close to their owners without the need for constant physical affection.

Physical Characteristics

Chow Chows are compact dogs, standing between 17 to 20 inches at the shoulder, with a well-built frame that supports their muscular body. Their most striking feature is their dense double coat, which comes in several colors, including red, black, blue, cinnamon, and cream. Their straight hind legs contribute to a somewhat stilted gait, and their deep-set eyes give them a distinctive, scowling expression, although this does not necessarily reflect their mood.

How Are They Different Than Other Breeds?

Chow Chows set themselves apart from other breeds in several ways. Their unique blue-black tongue and leonine mane are physical characteristics seen in very few other breeds. Behaviorally, Chows are more independent and reserved than many breeds, often being compared to cats in their self-sufficient nature. They also possess a strong territorial instinct, making them more naturally inclined to guard and protect their home. Chow Chows require a special type of owner who understands and respects their unique qualities and needs.

Health and Care

Chow Chows have a life expectancy of around 8 to 12 years and are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they can be prone to specific health issues. These include hip and elbow dysplasia, entropion, and certain skin conditions. Their thick coat requires regular grooming to prevent matting and to manage shedding, especially during the change of seasons. Despite their heavy coat, Chows do not tolerate heat well and should be kept cool and hydrated in warm weather.

Chow Chows in Society

Historically, Chow Chows have been a breed of utility, used for hunting, guarding, and even pulling carts. In modern times, they have become cherished companions, admired for their unique appearance and loyal disposition. Their somewhat aloof nature and independent spirit make them a breed better suited to experienced dog owners who can provide them with the structure and understanding they need.

Chow Chows are a breed apart, offering a unique blend of dignity, loyalty, and independence. Their distinctive appearance and somewhat enigmatic nature have fascinated people for centuries, making them a revered breed in their native China and beyond. While they may not be the ideal choice for first-time dog owners due to their independent and protective nature, for those who appreciate and understand the breed’s unique characteristics, Chow Chows can make loyal, loving, and majestic companions. Their presence is a statement of beauty and strength, embodying the essence of what many seek in a canine companion: loyalty, protection, and an undeniable air of nobility.

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