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- Domestic dogs are descendants of wolves.
- Chow chows are a very early breed of dog.
- Their early jobs include being guard dogs and sled dogs.
- Today, chow chows are popular companions.
What are domestic dogs?
Dogs were probably first domesticated in Siberia around 23,000 years ago. This remains an open discussion that changes as new archaeological evidence becomes available. However, it is widely accepted that the domestic dog, family dogis a direct descendant of the gray wolves, canis lupus. In fact, many people classify domestic dogs and wolves as the same species, but with different subspecies. Close relatives belonging to the same genus are the golden jackal, a golden dogand the coyote a barking dog. Jackals and coyotes, like wolves but unlike domestic dogs, are wild canine species.
Several characteristics of dogs have diverged from those of their wolf ancestors due to selective breeding. Humans breed dogs with certain characteristics to make them better suited for particular roles, such as hunting, guarding, herding, etc. Humans also select for traits that are aesthetically pleasing or favorable in dog shows. For example, domestic dogs have facial muscles that wolves do not. These muscles allow dogs to move their eyebrows and are the result of human breeding because the facial expressions they can make are widely adored by pet owners and dog show trainers. A long breeding history has resulted in many different shapes and sizes of dogs with many unique traits. However, when they were first domesticated, there was much less diversity within the species than there is now.
When was the Chow Chow bred?
The Chow Chow is a basal breed, meaning it was around long before many modern breeds. However, scientists dispute the exact origin of the Chow Chow with respect to both time and location. Some suggest that the Chow Chow was first bred 2,000 years ago in China, while another popular theory posits an earlier date 3,000 years further north in the Asian Arctic. Breeding of many modern dog breeds began in the early 19th century.the century, so the Chow Chow has an exceptionally long history in comparison.
What was the Chow Chow bred for?
The Chow Chow was bred to perform many jobs in extremely harsh conditions. They have a thick coat of hair that provides them with the necessary insulation to withstand sub-zero temperatures. Their double coat consists of a top coat and an undercoat, much like that of a Newfoundland or many other later breeds. This is an example of a selected trait; humans bred the Chow Chow to have a thick coat so that it might be better suited to working in the snow.
The original job of the Chow Chow breed was as a watchdog. Other early jobs include hunting, herding, and particularly sleigh-pulling. Marco Polo records describe the Chinese using sleds pulled by Chow Chows! In addition to their thick coat, Chow Chows are also well-suited for these jobs due to their size. Males typically weigh between 40 and 90 pounds, and females between 35 and 85 pounds. They also have protective and territorial tendencies useful for their historical roles as watchdogs, even during war. The breed is very loyal and has stood by man’s side for millennia.
What jobs do chow chows have now?
Today, Chow Chows serve primarily as companion animals or household pets. Therefore, the American Kennel Club classifies the Chow Chow in the “non-sporting” group, which is the most diverse group of dog breeds. Other classifications include the “hound”, “sporting”, and “herding” groups which refer to dogs with other functions and breeding histories. People still train chow chows to be guard dogs at residences and property, but they are less common as sled dogs. In modern dog sledding as a sport, the most common dog breeds on a team are Alaskan Malamutes, Alaskan Huskies, and Siberian Huskies. These are the breeds most frequently entered in the Iditarod dog sled race. The American Kennel Club also lists the Samoyed, Alaskan Malamute, Siberian Husky, and Chinook as the best breeds for dog sledding.
Chow Chows are not a common breed used as service animals or emotional support animals. Due to their history, including their roles as watchdogs, they can be defensive or even aggressive towards people they don’t know. In a service dog role, social skills with humans are very important, especially patience and docility. Therefore, Chow Chows are not perfectly suited, however any dog with the right conditions and training is capable of performing well as a service or emotional support animal.
Fun facts about chow chows:
- Chow Chows are famous for their bluish-black tongue! Interestingly, Chow Chows and Shar Peis are the only purebred dogs that consistently have this cool trait. Eurasiers can have blue-black tongues at times, but many also have pink or spotted tongues.
- Another fun fact is that Walt Disney had a Chow Chow! He and his wife had a Chow Chow named Sunnee who potentially influenced scenes in Lady and the Tramp.
- Two more notable Chow Chow owners are Martha Stewart and Elvis Presley. Martha Stewart had many Chow Chows that occasionally appeared on her show. She also had one named Genghis Khan. Elvis Presley had one called Getlow.
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