Chow Chows are becoming more and more popular around the world today for two main reasons: their sweet temperament and their adorable fluffy good looks.
But Chow Chows are not the right dog breed for every individual or family. Luckily, Chow dogs are also not the only dogs that somehow manage to look like bears, pandas, and lions all at the same time.
In this article, meet the dogs that look like Chow Chows – may be one of these breeds will be your new companion canine!
Dogs That Look Like Chow Chows
Chow Chows are an ancient dog breed that is often compared to a bear in the looks department.
In their native China, Chow Chows are called “Songshi-Quan” which translates to mean “puffy lion dog.”
To further complicate matters of dog description, some Chow Chow enthusiasts have nicknamed the Chow Chow the “panda dog.”
A bear, lion, and panda are three different species, of course. Part of the confusion lies in how the Chow Chow’s appearance changes dramatically as this dog grows up.
But the general idea is that the Chow Chow is a big fluffy dog that somehow manages to look both fierce and extremely cute at the same time – a quality they share with certain other dog breeds.
See a Purebred Chow Chow Dog
This short, interesting YouTube video introduces you to the Chow Chow purebred dog breed and gives you a bit of history about the breed’s origin and development.
Now that you have a clear picture of what a true purebred Chow Chow dog looks like, let’s take a look at some of the dog breeds that are often mistaken for the Chow Chow.
Chow Chows Belong to the Ancient Basal Dog Breed Group
To find out where the Chow Chow dog breed got its start, canine biologists say you would have to retrace your steps all the way back to around 200 B.C. according to the American Kennel Club (AKC).
These dogs are considered to be one of the 16 oldest modern domestic dogs on the planet today – making up a group that canine scientists call the basal dog breeds.
This is pretty amazing!
But not all the dog breeds that look like Chow Chows appearance-wise are as ancient as the Chow. In some cases, the apparent similarities are purely coincidental. In other cases, there may have been deliberate breeding effort involved.
So now let’s meet the dogs that look most like Chow Chows. Interestingly, as Breeding Business points out, many of the lookalikes also belong to the basal dog breed group. Coincidence? We don’t think so.
Like the Chow, the Tibetan Mastiff is such an ancient dog breed that their origins are still somewhat a mystery.
However, like the Chow dog, they have a guarding and protection background, and the thick double-layer fluffy coat that makes them look even larger than their already imposing size (90 to 150+ pounds is quite common in this breed).
The main appearance difference between the Tibetan Mastiff and the Chow Chow is that the former lacks the Chow’s deep skin folds and is more than twice the Chow’s size.
The Chinese Shar-Pei and the Chow Chow are fellow basal dog breeds from Asia. They are similar in overall size and weight although they have different body construction.
According to Britannica, the Shar-Pei originated in China at around the same time as the Chow Chow.
The main appearance difference is that the Shar-Pei is almost a mirror opposite of the Chow Chow. The Shar-Pei lacks the thick long hair coat but has the deep skin wrinkles that are one of the Chow dog’s appearances signatures.
The Newfoundland is not a basal dog breed but has such a similar bear-like appearance they can be confused with both the Chow Chow and the Tibetan Mastiff.
Size-wise, the Newfoundland is much more similar to the Tibetan Mastiff. These dogs can easily weigh 150+ pounds when fully grown.
The main appearance difference that sets the Newfoundland apart from the Chow (other than size) is that Newfoundlands do not have the deep skin wrinkles and their coats can have a lot more color and pattern variety.
The Keeshond comes from a long lineage of spitz-type working and sledding dog breeds (similar to the Samoyed).
The Keeshond is a much more recently developed purebred dog breed that originally hailed from The Netherlands. Keeshonds were developed to work on barges and ships guarding and defending both crew and cargo.
The Keeshond is similar in size to the Chow Chow and definitely has the thick, long, fluffy, double-layer working-dog coat.
The main appearance difference is that the Keeshond doesn’t have the deep skin wrinkles and has a more fox-like facial appearance. The Keeshond coat also shows a lot more color and pattern variation.
The Samoyed dog breed also hails from Asia like the Chow Chow and is a basal dog breed as well.
These dogs are nicknamed “Sammies” or “smiling sled dogs.” They are best known for their amazingly fluffy double-layer white coats. The Samoyed is also very similar in weight and size to the Chow Chow.
As the Samoyed Club of America points out, the Samoyed was developed by the Samoyede tribal people to hunt, herd, pull sleds, and protect people and animals. This is also quite similar to the Chow Chow’s working background.
The main appearance difference between the Samoyed and the Chow Chow is that the Samoyed lacks the deep skin folds and chestnut (earth tone) coat of the Chow.
The Eurasier is actually related to the Chow Chow. These dogs are about the same size and weight as the Chow Chow and they have a very similar fluffy double-layer coat.
As the American Kennel Club (AKC) explains, the Eurasier breed was created by a breeder named Julius Wipfel, who first crossed a Wolfspitz with a Chow Chow to create a new breed called the Wolf-Chow.
Later, Wipfel crossed the Wolf-Chow with the Samoyed, another basal dog breed that you just read about here in the previous section. This new breed was named the Eurasier.
The main appearance difference between the Eurasier and the Chow Chow is that the Eurasier dog lacks the deep skin folds of the Chow. Also, the Eurasier coat shows much more color and pattern variety, ranging from near-white all the way to black.
The Caucasian Shepherd dog is not a basal breed but is an ancient dog breed. These dogs hail from Europe and were traditionally used to guard, herd, and protect people and livestock.
The Caucasian Shepherd is similar in size to the Tibetan Mastiff. These dogs are truly massive, easily weighing 170+ pounds as fully grown adults.
Caucasian Shepherds have very thick, double-layer coats and a very bear-like facial composition. The main appearance difference apart from the size that separates Caucasian Shepherds from Chows is the color variation in their coats.
Bouvier Des Flandres
The Bouvier Des Flandres dog is a medieval dog breed that was originally bred in what is now Belgium and France.
These dogs can weigh up to 110 pounds in adulthood and have an unusually thick coat that can often make these dogs look like they have no eyes.
As the American Bouvier Club explains, these dogs also share similar herding, protection, and farming background. The earliest breeders probably crossed sheepdogs and water dogs to create the Bouvier breed.
The main appearance differences are found in overall size, the lack of deep skin folds, and the shaggier appearance of the Bouvier’s coat in contrast to the Chow’s.
The Pekingese is an ancient Chinese dog breed that is closely associated with the Buddha. As the American Kennel Club (AKC) tells it, Buddha himself created the Pekingese by shrinking a lion!
In reality, the Pekingese is likely just a toy-size version of their larger spitz-type canine relatives that was produced by carefully controlled selective breeding for size.
Pekingese may only weigh 14 pounds, tops, but their incredibly thick, dense, double layer spitz-type coats mean they can sometimes be mistaken for Chow Chow puppies.
The main appearance difference apart from the obvious (size) is the color variation in the Pekingese coat and the Pekingese short flat muzzle type.
Well, there you have it – nine wonderful dog breeds that have all been confused with the Chow Chow at some point in time.
Big and small, fluffy and shaggy, old and relatively new, these dogs all hail from similar working-dog backgrounds and have devoted fan followings around the world.
If you really want a Chow Chow dog but you realize that your lifestyle or current situation cannot accommodate the needs of this dog breed, perhaps one of these other nine great purebred dogs will be the right next companion canine for you.