Chow Chows are one of the oldest breeds of dog in the world, dating back to at least 1st Century China some 2,000 years ago. Throughout the eras, there have been a plethora of myths, legends, and facts about Chow Chows. In this blog, we’ll explore the history of Chow Chows and learn more about the interesting stories of some famous Chow Chows across the years. Let’s take a look at a few examples below!
Certain dog breeds are called ‘basal’, which means they were one of the ancient dog breeds that had a major influence on the development of modern-day breeds that began in the 19th Century. Most basal breeds were created for work, like the Alaskan Malamute – which was mostly bred as a sled dog. Chow Chows are no different. Chows were one of the first East Asian dog breeds and were bred to be large, strong and fiercely loyal, originally used as war dogs and hounds. Emperor Ling of the Han dynasty kept thousands of Chows who were trained to guard the Imperial Palace. Others were used to hunt large animals like lions, or for pulling sleds. Modern Chow Chows are still as loyal and dedicated as their ancient ancestors!
Lady and the Tramp
Walt Disney is one of many famous people to have a Chow Chow. One Christmas Eve, he adopted a Chow Chow from a local kennel, put it in a big hat box and brought it home for his wife Lilly to open. He once recounted the story, saying that Lilly was convinced he’d bought her a hat, which initially disappointed her as she liked to buy her own hats, and was shocked when a little head popped out of the box. Named Sunnee, the dog became inseparable from Lilly and later served as inspiration for a scene in the film Lady and the Tramp where Darling is gifted a puppy, Lady, in a box at Christmas.
The Battle of Manila Bay
During the Spanish-American war of 1898, the only Admiral of the Navy in US history, George Dewey, served as the Commodore of the American Asiatic Squadron. In April 1898, his flagship, the cruiser USS Olympia, pulled into Hong Kong. During his short stay, Dewey acquired a young Chow Chow to serve as the ship’s mascot. Soon named Bob, the dog had the run of the ship and became Dewey’s unquestionably loyal companion throughout the war. Dewey’s fleet saw action in the Battle of Manila Bay, and despite some damage to the Olympia, both Dewey and Bob escaped unharmed. Bob would live on the ship another year before Dewey’s return to New York. Today, Bob’s old home is a museum in Philadelphia, and his legacy as the brave mascot of Dewey’s squadron was the start of an American fascination with Chow Chows.
One of the most famous Chow Chow owners in history was Sigmund Freud. Freud is most famously known as the father of psychoanalysis – one of the first modern attempts to understand the human mind. Freud was also a therapist, and his Chows often helped him in his task. Yofi was his second Chow, and the first to sit with him in sessions. Freud recounted how Yofi could gauge the mental state of his patients and how they were invaluable in reducing tension for younger clients, becoming affectionate towards depressed patients and sitting further from patients who were less anxious. Yofi lived to 10 and was Freud’s greatest assistant. After Yofi passed, Freud got a new Chow called Lun, who successfully escaped Nazi Germany with the Freud family and joined them as they lived out their days in a North London home, which is now a museum dedicated to Sigmund.
Chow Chows have a long history of dedication, loyalty, and companionship. Whether it’s helping those who need therapy, staying loyal through frightening wars, or inspiring one of the most famous Disney films, their past as a breed tells us that they make for great pets. So if you’re looking for a loyal furry friend to be by your side, it might be time to consider a Chow Chow!