How Long do Chow Chows Live: Life Span 

Writer, teacher, and animal advocate with extensive animal handling experience and a soft spot for large breeds and monkeys. Don't forget a proud parent to two adorable dogs.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click and buy we may make a commission, at no additional charge to you. 

Table of Contents

Reading Time: 4 minutes

How Long do Chow Chows Live: Life Span 

When looking to introduce a new furry friend to your family, it is important to consider how many years you’ll get to spend together. Some dog breeds can lead a healthy life through the age of twenty! While others may only average out to around eight or nine years.  

Chow Chows happen to have a fairly wide range for their average lifespan. Life can take unexpected turns, but when making a commitment as big as bringing a new member into your family, we should consider how many years we can commit to.  

Quick Answer:  On average, Chow Chows live between 8-12 years, though it is not uncommon to see them live to be 15 years old.  

All about Chow Chows 

Chow Chows are an incredible breed of dogs that have been around for over 2,000 years! Some even say as long as 3,000 years! It is believed that they originated in northern Siberia, from where they eventually made a name for themselves in China. Chow Chows have lived and worked alongside their humans as hunting dogs, war dogs, farm dogs, sled dogs, and guard dogs. The breed is sometimes called Songshi Quan, meaning Puffy Lion Dog, Hsiung Kou, meaning bear dog, and Hek she, meaning black tongue. That’s right! Did you know Chow Chows have a blueish black tongue!  

How Long do Chow Chows Live: Life Span 

Why do Chow Chows have blue tongues? 

You may be surprised to know that Chow Chows are not born with their characteristic blue-black tongues. When Chow Chow puppies are born, their tongues are actually pink!  

It is not until they get older that their tongues start to change in color. You can usually expect to see the change completed by around six months of age. Their tongues can often be various shades of blue, purple, gray, or black hues. Chow Chows get these colored tongues due to the presence of pigment cells. You can find these traits out in the wild too. Giraffes and polar bears are a few examples. As of yet, there is no official explanation for why Chow Chows developed this unique trait of theirs.  

Factors affecting life span 

Chow Chows have quite a wide range for their estimated life span. This range may be because several different factors can affect the lifespan of Chows. Anything and everything from stress, genetics, fitness, enrichment, size, and diet can affect the health of your dog and, ultimately, its lifespan.  

One factor that can determine a Chow Chow’s lifespan is the dog’s size. Chows have a wide range for their typical weight. To fit within breed standards, they can weigh anywhere from forty pounds to seventy-five pounds. On the lighter end of the spectrum, a 40-pound Chow falls more so into the category of a medium-sized dog. A 75-pound Chow falls more in line with the category containing larger breeds.  

A dog’s coat is also an important factor in its health. A Chow’s coat allows the dog to self-regulate its body temperature, and it protects them from outside elements like freezing weather.  

Chow Chows historically have been bred in exceedingly cold climates. The dogs have adapted to these cold climates, and their coats help them retain heat. However, Chows can also easily overheat when they are in the hot and humid air.  

It is unfortunate, but some owners end up shaving their Chow Chow’s beautiful coats. They usually have good intentions and just want to help their dog stay cool. This can be stressful and dangerous for your dog.

Wrinkles and risk of infection 

Chows have wrinkly faces no matter how old they are. They are ridiculously cute, but these deep wrinkles or folds can, unfortunately, become easily infected. If they aren’t checked frequently and aren’t kept clean, something so simple could quickly turn into a health concern for your dog.  

How Long do Chow Chows Live: Life Span 

Genetics and Breeding  

And, of course, genetics come into play when considering a dog’s lifespan. Different dogs face different health issues, but many health issues are inherited. Chow Chows are prone to joint problems, autoimmune disorders, heart issues, and even some vision or eye issues. 

Responsible breeders perform genetic health tests on all their dogs before breeding dogs together that will likely have puppies that will later be more prone to certain diseases and problems.  

Unfortunately, not all breeders are in it for the love and health of the breed. Some Chow Chows may be born with or develop behavioral or health concerns that can shorten their lifespan and quality of life.  

Risk of hereditary disease 

As with most purebred dogs, Chow Chows can be at a higher risk for certain conditions or diseases. For example, because of their deep, narrow chests, Chow Chows are at risk for gastric dilatation and volvulus (gdv), otherwise known as bloat. In these cases, the stomach will begin to fill with gas and twist, which can cut off blood supply and quickly turn fatal.  

Chow Chows are also more prone than other breeds to conditions and diseases of the eyes. They are at risk of developing glaucoma, entropion, the inward rolling of the eyelids, cataracts, and dry eye, otherwise known as called keratoconjunctivitis.  

They are also more likely to develop joint and bone problems like patellar luxation and hip and elbow dysplasia. A neurological disease they are at risk for is Wobbler disease or syndrome, which affects the dog’s mobility as they are unable to walk without wobbling.  


When you bring home a dog, you are making an enormous commitment. All dog breeds have the potential for these and any number of other diseases. And there seems to be a trend that smaller dogs live longer than bigger dogs. So how do you make such an important decision? Life can be crazy, and you never know what may come your way. It may just be a Songshi Quan, a puffy lion dog who will provide love and friendship for years!  

Meow! Was this post helpful?

Writer, teacher, and animal advocate with extensive animal handling experience and a soft spot for large breeds and monkeys. Don't forget a proud parent to two adorable dogs.

Get Furbulous tips & tricks into your inbox

The Latest