How Long Does A Chow Chow Live?

Being equipped with knowledge and understanding of the particular needs of the Chow Chow will go a long way in influencing the longevity of the breed. 

Chow Chows are generally healthy but they still fall into the category of the unhealthiest breeds.

image of cute fluffy chow chow

But, how can this be the case when these robust canines were known to wear many hats for the Chinese elite? Read on to find out!

In this Dig Doggy article, you will learn:

  • The average lifespan of the Chow Chow breed
  • Factors that influence the quality and life expectancy of Chow Chows
  • Tips on how to increase the Chow Chow lifespan

And much more!

What's In This Guide?

How Long Do Chow Chows Live?

There is no way of telling how your beloved pet lives, but current estimates place the average Chow Chow lifespan anywhere between 9 to 15 years.

The Chow Chow is an ancient breed known to live great ages. Back in the day, it was common for Chows to live more than 15 years while some can even live a little longer.

However, genetics, diet, and enrichment, among many others can influence the lifespan of Chow Chows.

Factors That Affect A Chow Chow’s Lifespan

By learning about the specific factors that affect the Chow Chow lifespan, you can tailor a preventive health plan to help minimize predictable risks.

Selective Breeding Altered Chow Chow Survivability

If you peruse vintage Chow Chow memorabilia, you’ll be surprised to see a canine depicting physical strength and versatility.

Native to China, these hardworking dogs were employed to guard and hunt alongside Chinese nobility.

When the “exotic” canine entered American soil, it went through two popularity booms throughout the 20th century.

Trends took hold and market breeders catered to the demands of the people. Proper form and function were sacrificed to create this matchless “Teddy Bear” look.

While the original genetic blueprint is fading fast, some purebred Chows may still exhibit hallmarks of the original standard.

Even puppies of the same litter may have different head structures. Chows with long snouts and visible almond-shaped eyes are called “open-faced.”

Although barred from the show ring, open-faced Chows are considered to be healthier and more athletic than the modern stereotypical Chow Chow.

Thanks to their long muzzles, these Chows are considered to be healthier than those with wrinkly, short snouts.

Genetic Diseases Impact Quality Of Life

In a short period, the Chow Chow experienced fast changes, and these transformations led to an enormous amount of hereditary health issues.

Here’s what the Orthopedic Foundation of America has found:

  • With over 5000 X-rays submitted, 21% have hip dysplasia.
  • Out of 1100 elbow X-rays, 48% have dysplastic elbows.
  • The Chow Chow ranks 9th with the highest risk of developing patellar luxation.

Moreover, the Canine Health Information Center points out that the Chow Chow is especially at risk for entropion and ectropion.

Both of these eyelid abnormalities require surgical correction. Cataracts are also a common cause of blindness in seniors.

Skin conditions are a common concern as well and these are often rooted in the breed’s increased sensitivity to its environment and diet.

Demodectic mange is likewise a problem that could be triggered by an impaired immune system.

Hypothyroidism is also prevalent in the breed, which causes hair loss and superficial skin infections, among others.

There is no guarantee that your pet Chow will develop any or all of these conditions.

However, these genetic health conditions can have a significant impact on the longevity of your Chow Chow.

Poor Nutrition Increases Risks Of Disease

The wrong diet can negatively affect a dog’s appearance and overall health, but it is even more so for a breed that is as sensitive as the Chow Chow.

Due to Chow’s genetic susceptibility, a single mistake can veer towards dire consequences for your pet.

Hence, it is crucial to feed your Chow Chow a quality hypoallergenic diet as recommended by your veterinarian.

Skipping Exercise and Mental Enrichment

Chows are inactive and reserved; they are not eager to participate in physical activities unless motivated.

As such, these teddy bears can fatten up rather quickly. Therefore, you will need to provide your pooch with plenty of opportunities to get him out of the house. 

The Chow Chow is already an orthopedic nightmare. Carrying extra weight will only burden the breed’s already compromised joints and skeletal system.

Difficulty With Thermoregulation

The brachycephalic Chow Chow experiences more difficulty in the heat than its long-snouted counterparts.

Overweight Chows are even more heat-sensitive because their weight interferes with thermoregulation.

That is why many pet owners would shave their dog’s thick coats during the summer months, but this is inadvisable regardless of whether your Chow has a rough or smooth coat.

Shaving the coat down to the skin causes the undercoat to grow back faster, which may cause slower-growing guard hair to crowd out.

As a result, this changes the coat color and texture.

Read More: >> How long do Golden retrievers live for?

old newspaper printout from October 1934

Did You Know?

Circa 1934 newspaper article cites the oldest registered Chow Chow in the United States is Crow, a 20-year old black smooth Chow Chow owned by Mrs. William J. Mack from Burlingame, California

How Can You Help Your Chow Chow Live Longer?

Here are some fantastic tips to set your beloved pet for a lifetime of healthy growth:

Tip #1: Choose a High-quality, Hypoallergenic Diet

The food in your dog’s bowl has a direct impact on its health.

Choose the best dog food for Chow Chow to ensure it meets your pet’s nutritional needs based on its age, size, and activity level.

Avoid cheap commercial food as they often contain filler ingredients that could only trigger an allergic reaction.

If allergies become a serious problem, we recommend feeding your pooch homecooked meals to eliminate problematic ingredients.

Tip #2: Use Dietary Supplements

Despite claims made by pet food brands, your Chow’s kibble might need a bolster of vitamins and minerals in bioavailable amounts since certain nutrients can be leached during the cooking process.

You will want to regularly consult your vet to ensure the nutrients are tailored to your Chow’s individual needs.

Take note; while dietary supplements can serve as essential building blocks to your Chow’s health, remember that it does not replace total health coverage.

Tip #3: Get Those Stubby Feet Walking

Although Chows are low-energy dogs, daily exercise is still important to help maintain the ideal weight.

Chows should not carry more weight than their bones are designed for.

Adult Chows require 30 to 45 minutes of exercise daily, which can be broken up into a short walk in the morning and a long walk in the evening.

Ten minutes worth of play is sufficient for puppies 18 months below.

Tip #4: Be Mindful Of The Weather

Chows might be lacking stamina, but they love a good walk, especially with their favorite person. However, you need to be mindful of the outside temperature.

The Chow Chow is a brachycephalic breed and its profuse coat makes it more susceptible to heat stress than other breeds.

Tip #5: Don’t Give Grooming The Brush Off

Grooming is equally important as providing proper nourishment. Keep the profuse Chow coat in good condition with daily brushing. Choose grooming products with a hypoallergenic formula.

Moreover, pay special attention to the eyes, facial folds, and skin of your pet. These areas can retain dirt, debris, and potential allergens that could lead to a myriad of problems. 

Unless it is for a medical reason, you should never shave your Chow Chow. Otherwise… hair comes trouble!

Dental hygiene and nail care are also included in your dog’s grooming needs. Brush your Chow’s teeth two to three times a week using a double-headed toothbrush and canine toothpaste.

Tip #6 Bring Your Pet To The Vet

Do not underestimate the benefits of bi-annual checkups.

Regardless of how healthy your Chow Chow appears, there are symptoms and signs of an underlying illness that only your vet can identify.

Read More: >> How long do German Shepherds live?

How Does Chow Chow Lifespan Compare To The Lifespan Of Other Breeds?

Now, let us compare the Chow Chow lifespan with other cuddly bear-looking breeds.

Breed Lifespan
Chow Chow 9 to 15 years
Tibetan Mastiff 12 to 15 years
Maremma Sheepdog 12 years
Pomeranian 12 to 16 years
Samoyed 12 to 14 years
Eurasier 10 to 12 years
Keeshond 13 to 15 years
Akita 10 to 12 years
Alaskan Malamute 10 to 12 years
Newfoundland 8 to 10 years
Great Pyrenees 10 to 12 years
Caucasian Shepherd 10 to 12 years
Leonberger 8 to 9 years

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Chow Chows picky eaters?

Unfortunately, they are. Chow Chows are choosy when it comes to their dinner. They are unwilling to eat certain foods that most breeds love.

Also, Chows can be difficult to feed due to their sensitive stomachs.

Oftentimes, these picky eaters can be allergic to food ingredients that are commonly found in commercial kibble.

On the flip side, Chow Chows will eat their meals with gusto as soon as you find something that will tickle their palate.

Are Chow Chows fastidious?

Yes, they are. Chow Chows are as fastidious as a cat, which makes them easier to potty train than most breeds.

How many types of Chow Chow are there?

There are two types of Chow Chow: smooth coat and rough coat. The smooth variety has shorter coats and they exhibit some of the hallmarks of the original standard.

With a longer muzzle, these Chows are considered healthier as they can participate in play and exercise longer than rough coat Chows. 

Final Thoughts: Chow Chow Lifespan

After decades of selective breeding, the Chow Chow has been left to face a manifold of genetic problems due to breeders focusing on obtaining heavier-boned canines with exaggerated features.

The upshot is that the Chow Chow is not among the easiest breeds to care for.

We discourage new pet owners from raising a Chow as the breed is quite high maintenance.

If you fail to keep up with its special needs, then it is not guaranteed that your Chow Chow will live a happy, healthy life.

On the bright side, you can overcome genetic predisposition and prolong the life expectancy of your Chow Chow by following a consistent health routine.

This includes a breed-specific diet, proper grooming, regular wellness checks, and a well-ventilated home, among many others.

Picture of Lara Writes

Lara Writes

Lara, a.k.a Alpha Mama, is a great dancer and belter singer, although the world tells her otherwise. However, her greatest pleasure is working with animals. If the Alpha Mama is not being delusional, she manages to create informative articles and clear-cut buying guides. She also likes to share her personal experiences that may ignite your soul or possibly change your life!

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Lara Writes

Lara, a.k.a Alpha Mama, is a great dancer and belter singer, although the world tells her otherwise. However, her greatest pleasure is working with animals. If the Alpha Mama is not being delusional, she manages to create informative articles and clear-cut buying guides. She also likes to share her personal experiences that may ignite your soul or possibly change your life!

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