People are often surprised to learn their dog has some Chow Chow ancestry. Why are Chows common in mixed-breed dogs, but uncommon as purebreds? Learn more about this surprisingly common breed result with Embark’s Chief Science Officer, Dr. Adam Boyko.
Chow Chows were popular in the 1980s
Although we don’t see as many purebred Chows today, Chow Chows used to be very common. This ancient breed soared in popularity in America, becoming one of the most popular breeds in the 1980s.
They may be less popular today, but Chow Chows used to be prevalent in pop culture. Celebrity Martha Stewart famously has had multiple dogs in her family, including Chows named Genghis Khan, Chin Chin, Paw Paw, Max, and Zu Zu.
Even as recently as 2022, these celebrity Chows were in the news. Buddakan, the offspring of Stewart’s dog Genghis Khan, won Best in Breed for the Chow Chow at the 2022 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
Chow Chow ancestry is more common than you think
As a result of the breed’s popularity decades ago, we see small amounts of Chow Chow ancestry in many mixed-breed dogs today.
“Your dog’s smile can clue you in,” says Dr. Adam Boyko. “Chow mixes often have black spots on their tongues.”
Curious about your dog’s genetic ancestry? Learn more with an Embark dog DNA test.
Famous Chow Chows throughout history
The popularity of the Chow Chow breed isn’t limited to the 1980s. There are several famous Chows in American history:
- Walt Disney and his wife Lilly had a Chow Chow named Sunnee, who inspired a scene in the classic Disney film Lady and the Tramp.
- Former U.S. President Calvin Coolidge and his wife Grace had two Chows, Tiny Tim and Blackberry.
- Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, kept Chows Jofi and Lun. The dogs even sat in on Freud’s sessions with patients. Each year on Freud’s birthday, Jofi, Lun, and the other dogs in the house presented Freud with poems written from the dogs’ perspective.
- American painter Georgia O’Keeffe loved Chow Chows so much that she kept six of them during her lifetime, including Bo and Chia. She even became a member of the Chow Chow Club, Inc. in 1972.
Though the breed has declined in popularity in recent years, we are happy to see that Chow Chow DNA lives on in today’s mixed-breed dogs.
Does your dog have Chow Chow ancestry? Tag us @embarkvet on social media and let us know.