With a fluffy coat and teddy-like appearance, an independent and cheeky personality, and an iconic blue tongue, there are plenty of reasons why budding dog owners might be drawn to the chow chow.
If you’re considering buying a chow chow and wondering what you can expect and how long they live, our brief guide will give you an insight into there lifespan. Plus, we’ll share top tips on how you can keep your chow chow healthier for longer.
What are Chow Chows Like?
Chow chows are known for being independent and almost cat-like in personality while still being loyal and affectionate towards their owners. Taking pride in their appearance, chow chows are dignified, serious, and intelligent. They’re not the most playful dogs on the block, but that doesn’t mean they don’t know how to have fun.
How Long Do Chow Chows Live For?
Chow chows tend to live for between 8-14 years, but some chow chows can live up to 15 years old. Unfortunately, larger breeds tend to live shorter lives than small breeds. The tiniest dog of all, the chihuahua, can live up to 20 years old, for example.
All dog breeds are prone to different health conditions, and chow chows are no exception.
By keeping up to date with common chow chow health problems, you can know what signs to look out for in your chow chow and when to take them to the vet.
How Can I Keep My Chow Chow Healthy?
Part of ensuring that your chow chow lives a life that’s not only as long but as enjoyable as possible is looking after its health. Here’s how to ensure your chow chow lives a happy and healthy life.
You should walk your chow chow for approx. 20-30 minutes daily. Within that time, the opportunity to run or engage in vigorous play or chasing games can help keep your chow chow mentally and physically stimulated.
Daily exercise is a must for your chow chow to keep them fit and avoid obesity. Bear in mind that just because chow chows don’t have the same energy levels or playfulness as breeds like Labradors or border collies, this doesn’t mean that they don’t need to be active.
We recommend a retractable dog lead when walking your Chow Chow, they love to explore and sniff EVERYTHING, the retractable dog leads allow them to have there freedom but you also have control.
Visits to the vet shouldn’t be reserved for when something goes wrong. Instead, your chow chow should visit the vet at least every six months for a check-up. During this session, your vet will check whether your chow is generally healthy and look for any signs and symptoms of illness.
The Right Nutrition
Just like humans, dogs need to eat well to be well. A chow chow’s diet should consist of a mix of vegetables, grains, and lean protein, such as fish, turkey, or chicken. Where possible, avoid feeding your chow too many scraps from the table and high-fat foods, as this can lead to obesity or the accidental feeding of foods that aren’t dog-friendly.
Slow feeder dog bowls are a great way to slow your Chows eating to avoid any digestive issues as well as keeping there minds active and engaged.
Where Can I Buy a Healthy Chow Chow?
Unfortunately, there are plenty of puppy mills out there, which are not only unethical but also a breeding ground for disease. Often in these facilities, puppies are taken from their mothers well before they’ve had sufficient milk to avoid nutritional deficiencies.
Don’t buy from a puppy mill that breeds hundreds of puppies and keeps them in poor conditions. Instead, buy them from a reputable breeder and never from a third party.
If you adopt a chow chow, there’s a risk that they’ll come with existing health conditions. In this situation, the best thing to do is ask on-site staff for an updated record of the dog’s health.
That way, you’ll know what you’re getting yourself in for in terms of costs and medical treatment.
Common Chow Chow Health Conditions
One of the most effective ways of ensuring your dog lives a life that’s as healthy and enjoyable as possible is knowing which health conditions are most likely to affect them.
By becoming familiar with the signs and symptoms of these common diseases, you can take your chow chow to the vet upon noticing them and potentially stop the disease in its tracks.
This is an incredibly common issue among dogs in general, not just chow chows, but chows are especially predisposed to hip dysplasia.
According to the American Kennel Club, hip dysplasia is more common in larger dogs but can also be seen in small breeds. It’s a condition in which the ball and socket of the hip joint don’t fit together properly, meaning they rub and grind together in friction rather than gliding smoothly.
This condition can be very painful for a dog and can eventually result in the joint’s function loss.
If you suspect your chow might have hip dysplasia, look out for the following symptoms:
- Decreased activity or range of motion
- Difficulty jumping, running, or climbing
- The sound of grating in the joint
- General difficulty walking/limping
- Loss of muscle mass in the thigh
If the signs and symptoms of hip dysplasia are present, take your dog to the vet for a check-up. The vet will be able to confirm if your dog has hip dysplasia.
Treatment-wise, there are multiple things you can do for hip dysplasia. Joint medications and physiotherapy are the most common treatment, but dogs with severe hip dysplasia might need surgery to treat the condition. Your chow might also be given painkillers to help ease the pain of the joint rubbing.
Elbow dysplasia is similar to hip dysplasia in that it’s the abnormal growth of the elbow joint. If the three bones don’t fit together perfectly, it can cause pain for your dog and affect its ability to carry out different activities.
Symptoms that suggest the presence of elbow dysplasia include:
- Limping or stiffness
- Swollen or puffy elbows
- Ambivalence or nervousness around exercise
- Elbows being held at a strange angle.
There are various treatments for elbow dysplasia. The most basic treatments include weight loss and painkillers. Your dog might be advised to lose weight if they’re overweight to help relieve pressure on the elbows, while painkillers help to relieve the pain.
If your dog has extreme elbow dysplasia, they might be given surgery to correct it. Before breeding, dogs can be screened by X-rays to look for signs of elbow and hip dysplasia, but that doesn’t guarantee that your dog won’t develop it.
Chow chows have plenty of skin folds, which, while they make for a cute appearance, can leave chows vulnerable to skin infections. Signs of a skin infection include crusty, scabby skin and hair loss in the area.
If you suspect that your chow has a skin infection, take them to the vet immediately for inspection. If it transpires that the skin is infected, they’ll be given antibiotics to clear it up.
While chow chows do need plenty of exercise (Approx. 20-30 minutes of walking per day), they’re not the most energetic of breeds. In fact, chows can be pretty lazy! If they don’t get enough exercise and/or eat too much, chows can suffer from obesity.
Obesity puts extra pressure on the joints – worsening conditions like elbow and hip dysplasia – and can also damage your dog’s heart. To prevent your chow from putting on excessive weight, take them for regular walks, runs, and play with them outdoors, as well as minimise how many fatty foods they eat.
A Healthy and Happy Chow Chow With a Long Lifespan
In general, you can expect a chow chow to live anywhere from 8 to 15 years old. While unexpected illnesses can occur even in healthy dogs, the better you look after your dog, the more likely they are to live for longer.
Take the same approach to your dog’s health as you would to your own – eating well, staying active, and visiting the vet whenever you suspect something is wrong, as well as every six months for a general check-up.
Your chow chow’s mental health is important, too. Chows don’t like to be left alone since they suffer from separation anxiety, so make sure they’re not left alone for long periods of time.
Other things you can do to make your chow chow happy are to play with them, most Chow Chows can be very fond of chew toys especially toys that involve tug of war! Since chows are intelligent, they can get easily bored, so keeping them entertained with things like agility courses or other challenges (you can even make your own course in your back garden!) is a great way to keep them mentally and physically stimulated.
Look after your dog’s mental and physical needs and take them to the vet when necessary, and you’ll help them live for as long as possible.
Adding a Chow Chow to your family can be an incredibly rewarding experience, offering you years of companionship and unconditional love. While this breed has a relatively long lifespan, it is essential to remember that their longevity largely depends on how well they’re cared for.
Healthy diet, regular exercise, mental stimulation, and consistent vet check-ups are critical for a long, fulfilling life.
Chow Chows, like all dogs, are not just pets but family members who depend on us for their health and happiness. Being proactive and observant can ensure your Chow Chow stays with you for many years. Learn to recognise signs of common health issues, maintain their physical well-being, and don’t forget about their mental needs as well.
Remember, each Chow Chow is unique and comes with their own set of quirks, habits, and needs. The commitment to understanding and caring for your Chow Chow will undoubtedly lead to a more robust, happier, and longer life for your furry friend.
In the end, the goal is to give your Chow Chow a life full of love, joy, and health. When you put in the effort to care for them, they return the favour with loyalty, affection, and a companionship that lasts a lifetime.
So, here’s to many happy years with your Chow Chow!