Among the long list of ancient canines that exhibit distinct characteristics, Chow Chows are reigning supreme thanks to their blue tongue and lion’s mane ruff.
These features are also adapted by their downsized version which is known as the miniature Chow Chows!
Since you found this article, I’m assuming you are a mini Chow parent or a fancier who is in the process of purchasing one.
You’re probably wondering how to look after your pooch or if their temperament is well suited for your family.
Well, I plan not to disappoint as I collated all the facts you need to know about this Chow variety.
Bookmark this page and share this with your mini Chow-loving friends so they’ll get to know these lovable doggos a little more.
What Is a Mini Chow Chow?
A miniature Chow Chow is the smaller version of the blue-tongued floof from ancient China that we all know and love. Their size is either a result of the dwarfism gene, breeding runts together, or crossing with other small breeds. No kennel clubs recognize them as a separate breed as of today.
Since they exhibit the same features as the standard Chow Chows (lion’s mane ruff, deep chest, and blue tongue) but they are relatively smaller, their popularity among city dwellers has been unparalleled.
They can live in small apartments, and they don’t require the same level of maintenance as their bigger cousins. Of course, they still need some exercise, but they won’t be a source of a headache if you are a busy owner.
Despite being highly ideal, mini Chows are also controversial since some breeders try to achieve their size through unethical breeding practices.
They may suffer from congenital diseases more than purebred standard-sized Chows.
This means that if you choose to purchase them, you should prepare yourself financially and emotionally for the possible health concerns they may suffer from.
Miniature Chow Chow Size and Weight: How Big Do Mini Chow Chows Get When Fully Grown?
Unlike standard Chows that weigh between 45 and 70 pounds for both genders, mini Chow Chows only weigh 25 to 28 pounds.
As for their height, they are observed to stand at 12 to 16 inches as opposed to the imposing 17 to 20 inches of the standard.
Note that their size may vary depending on different factors such as their age, the size of their parents, and their health.
It would be best if you bring them to the vet to find out if their size falls in the ideal percentile for the breed.
Miniature Chow Chow Appearance: What Does a Mini Chow Chow Look Like?
Mini Chow Chows sport the same features as the standard ones but they are visibly lighter and smaller as established in the former sections.
Generally, they are squarely built and heavy-boned which makes them look powerful despite their size.
Their head is proudly carried and does not appear heavier than their body. It carries oriental-looking eyes that are expected to be dark brown and ears that are triangular and slightly rounded on the tips.
As for their muzzle, it appears square and short, while their nose is broad and black in color.
Their body is short and compact with a deep and muscular chest, and it is connected to a tail that is set high and close to their back.
They exhibit coats that can either be rough or smooth, but both are expected to be double-coated.
A rough coat mini Chow Chow exhibits an abundant outer coat that is dense, straight, and coarse to the touch. Meanwhile, their undercoat is thick, wooly, and soft.
A smooth coat mini Chow Chow has a smooth, hard, and dense outer coat as compared to its rough coat counterpart.
They don’t have any ruff or feathering found on their tail and legs which are distinctive characteristics of the rough coat mini Chows.
The colors of mini Chow Chows, whether smooth or rough-coated, are similar to that of their standard versions. Kennel clubs mostly recognize five hues which are red, black, blue, cinnamon, and cream.
However, certain non-standard color patterns also exist, like the merle and brindle. If you are interested to learn about all these colors, refer to our detailed guide on Chow Chow colors as this also encompasses the minis.
Want to see a mini Chow Chow in action? Watch this video:
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The Process of Breeding Miniature Chow Chows
Miniature Chow Chows are not recognized by any reputable kennel club as of today because they are primarily bred for novelty.
Sure, some occurred naturally, but when these tiny Chows are bred to produce a pup of the same size, the string of problems begins.
In this section, we take a closer look at how miniature Chow Chows are produced in three different ways: dwarfism, breeding runts, and crossbreeding with smaller canines.
Introduction to Dwarfism Gene
Identifying a mini Chow Chow with a dwarfism gene is difficult in the first two months of their life. But eventually, you’ll notice that their growth rate is slower than their littermates.
According to Genomia, the main cause of dwarfism in any canine breed is a deficiency in pituitary hormones which are responsible for growth. This is a result of a certain mutation in a dog’s LHX3-gene.
When breeders use this gene to purposefully breed miniature Chow Chows, the litters produced are predisposed to intervertebral disc disease.
This is the primary reason why many canine organizations frown upon this breeding practice.
Breeding Runts Together
It is not unusual to see a runt in a litter of standard Chows. These are the smallest pups in every batch which may or may not be prone to certain diseases.
Several studies suggest that runts are embryos that weren’t able to implant themselves in the most advantageous area of the uterus.
To put it simply, embryonic puppies that are situated near the ovary get more nutrients than those that are in the center. The runt, therefore, lacks nutrients starting from the womb.
Although the appearance of runts in some Chow Chow litters is completely unexpected, when they are purposefully bred similar to dwarf Chows, certain diseases may manifest after a few generations.
Breeding Chow Chow With Other Smaller Breeds
Crossbreeding a Chow Chow to a smaller dog breed is probably the safest way to miniaturize this ancient canine.
This is also preferred by many breeders since the process develops hybrid vigor or the amplification of a dog’s superior qualities once they are crossed with another.
The following are some possible crosses that produce miniature Chows:
Corgichows are a cross between Pembroke Welsh Corgis and Chow Chows. Since Corgis only weigh 28 to 30 pounds and stand at 10 to 12 inches, crossing them with a Chow Chow will most probably produce a small litter.
The only downside of crossing the two is that the offspring usually takes after the Corgi’s appearance as shown in the picture above.
A Chowpom, as you may have guessed, is a cross between a Chow Chow and a Pomeranian. This is an ideal crossbreed since the latter is only 3 to 7 pounds and stands at 6 to 7 inches.
Miniature Chow Chow Temperament: Do Mini Chow Chows Make Good Family Pets?
The temperament of a mini Chow Chow is comparable to that of a cat. They are reserved, independent, aloof, and stubborn. These are also the exact behaviors exhibited by their standard-sized counterparts.
Most owners observe that their mini Chows aren’t that welcoming to strangers. However, this does not mean that they are aggressive or shy.
They just prefer to play with “their people” so they pay strangers no interest unless they are lurking at your property. In that case, they will try to challenge them.
In terms of dealing with other dogs and pets, you would need to introduce and socialize your mini Chow Chow early on since they have a natural instinct to be dominant. This is due to being originally bred as guard dogs.
I won’t also suggest pairing them with dogs of the same gender since they tend to see them as competition for your attention.
Now you might be wondering, are mini Chow Chows great family dogs despite these dominant traits? The answer would depend on how you socialize them during their puppy years.
They would need an introduction not only to your pets but also to all the family members including children if there are any.
READ NEXT: Male vs. Female Chow Chow: Which Is Better?
Miniature Chow Chow Lifespan: How Long Do Mini Chow Chows Live?
Generally, miniature Chow Chows live up to 8 to 12 years. However, it may vary from one to the other depending on how they were bred.
For instance, mini Chows that are intentionally bred from runts or the dwarfism gene may have a shorter lifespan due to their predisposition to many diseases.
Meanwhile, Chows that are miniaturized through crossing with small dog breeds may take after the lifespan of their other parent. Some anecdotal records also note that hybrid vigor affects their lifespan.
Miniature Chow Chow Health Issues: Are Mini Chow Chows Healthy Dogs?
The issue with miniaturization is that it exposes dogs to certain health problems that aren’t common in the standard size.
This is evident in mini Chow Chows as they are predisposed to the following diseases and defects:
- Fading Puppy Syndrome: Some miniature Chow Chow puppies experience this syndrome in the first two weeks after they are born. The immediate signs are lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, and high-pitched cries.
- Hookworms and Roundworms: Since mini Chows cannot withstand a parasite load, they are often targeted by hookworms and roundworms. The former occurs when larvae penetrate a mini Chow Chow’s skin, while the latter happens when they ingest contaminated soil, plant, etc.
- Heart Defects: Most often than not, mini Chows are produced through the runt of the litter. This means that they weren’t able to get enough nutrients from their mother’s womb which may lead to heart defects once born. The common heart diseases prevalent among mini Chows are patent ductus arteriosus, pulmonic stenosis, and aortic stenosis.
- Cleft Palates: This is a birth defect that leads to difficulty swallowing, eating, and even breathing. Mini Chows with this condition have a visible “cleft” at the roof of their mouth which is caused by abnormal embryological development.
- Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD): Miniature Chow Chows that suffer from IVDD have a ruptured and bulging disc on their back or neck. This may prevent them from walking normally and may cause extreme pain that can render them immobile.
How to Care for Your Miniature Chow Chow’s Basic Needs?
For your miniature Chow Chow to live comfortably, you must be able to cater to their every need and this involves food and diet, training and exercise, and cleaning and grooming.
You can seek the help of a professional to learn the basics of all these things, but if you are confident that you can manage on your own, here are some tips to guide you along:
Food and Diet
Mini Chow Chows have a fast metabolic rate so expect that they burn out calories quickly. When they are very young, you can feed them up to 4 times a day depending on their activeness.
However, most veterinarians would suggest feeding them thrice a day until they reach 6 months old.
In choosing the dog food you’ll offer to your mini Chow Chow, ensure that it has high caloric value, B vitamins, and complex carbohydrates which are vital for their growth.
Similarly, you must choose a brand that is easily digestible since they have delicate digestive tracts due to their size.
Training and Exercise
You must be worried that given your mini Chow’s headstrong behavior, they may prove difficult to train. Well, you are worrying for naught since they are incredibly easy to housetrain and crate train.
You would only find it difficult to train them if you aren’t consistent in your commands and you allow them to get the upper hand by outwitting you.
In terms of exercise needs, walking them for 15 minutes every day would suffice. They aren’t a fan of the heat so it is best to keep them indoors when the humidity is high.
Since they don’t need a huge space, you can engage them physically through toys and other activities while inside your home and then bring them for a run or a neighborhood walk once the weather is fine.
Cleaning and Grooming
Similar to standard Chows, minis need constant brushing since they are double-coated. Professional groomers suggest that they should be brushed 3 times a week to keep their coat in good condition and to remove excess fur.
Aside from looking after their coats, cleaning their teeth, and trimming their nails are also essential.
You can brush their teeth 2 to 3 times a week to prevent tartar buildup, while their nails need trimming once or twice a month.
How Much Does a Miniature Chow Chow Cost? Puppy Prices and Expenses
Miniature Chow Chow puppies are slightly more expensive than the standard pups. They cost around $1,000 to $2,000, whereas the standard ones only cost around $900 to $1,200. This is despite the fact that most of them aren’t bred ethically.
Aside from the initial cost of buying a mini Chow Chow, you must prepare yourself for the ongoing cost of their maintenance.
Below is a detailed presentation of their upkeep’s possible expenses:
|Type of Expenses||Yearly Estimate|
|Routine Vet Visit||$700 – $1,500|
|Dog Food and Treats||$250 – $700|
|Beds and Crate||$50 – $200|
|Toys||$50 – $100|
|Leashes and Collars||$20 – $50|
|Preventive Medication and Supplements||$200 – $500|
|Grooming Essentials||$50 – $500|
|Dog Training Equipment||$30 – $100|
|Total Yearly Expenses||$1,350 – $3,650|
|Average Monthly Expenses||$113 – $304|
Places to Find Miniature Chow Chow Puppies for Sale and Adoption
Don’t know how to start your mini Chow Chow puppy search? Well, of course, you need to find reputable breeders near your area.
But before that, it would greatly benefit you if you read our ultimate puppy buying guide, which offers generous information on how to buy a puppy online safely.
Once you’re done and well-equipped, feel free to check out these breeders and directories to find Chow Chow puppies for sale:
- AKC Marketplace – This breeder directory is run by the American Kennel Club. Although the organization does not recognize mini Chows, you can try your luck by contacting breeders affiliated with them for possible runts, dwarfs, or mini Chow Chow crosses.
- The Chow Chow Club, Inc. – This is considered the parent club of the Chow Chow breed, and their website offers an extensive breeder directory that covers the United States, Canada, and other foreign countries.
- D&M Farm Kennel – This Chow Chowbreeder specializes in producing rough-coated Chow Chows including the mini variety. Their 5.3-acre farm is situated in southwestern Ohio and they’ve constantly been doing little upgrades to provide a better running space for their Chows.
If your budget is limited but you really want to own a mini Chow Chow, you can try looking for one in rescue centers.
Here are some of the Chow Chow rescue organizations that topped our list:
- Chow Chow Rescue Society – This rescue has been rehoming mini and standard Chow Chows since 2016. You must fill out an application form on their website to start your adoption process and while waiting for their response, you can check out their adoptees’ success stories to keep you motivated.
- Chow Plus Rescue – This is a non-profit organization located in Grass Valley and Sacramento area. Aside from standard and mini Chows, they also rehome Chow mixes and support a foster scheme.
- Chow Chow Rescue of Northern California – This Chow Chow rescue in Northern California saves mini and standard Chows that are about to be euthanized. They do not have a website yet, but they have a page on Adopt-a-Pet.com where they post their available dogs.
To ace your adoption application, read our ultimate dog adoption guide. There you’ll get to learn about the adoption process followed by many rescue organizations, tips on how you can impress the rescue staff, and some other info that will help you assess your preparedness to be a mini Chow parent.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Miniature Chow Chows Shed?
Mini Chow Chows are heavy shedders, and this typically occurs during some seasons like the spring or fall. They would need extra brushing during these times so investing in a high-quality brush is necessary.
On another note, the shedding tendencies of your mini Chow Chow may not be as bad as previously described if they are produced through crossing with small non-shedding dog breeds like the Pomeranian.
Do Mini Chow Chows Bark a Lot?
Mini Chow Chows aren’t inherent barkers. However, if you fail to socialize them during their puppy years, they may mistake everyone as a threat which can lead to aggressive barking behavior.
Are Mini Chow Chows Good With Kids?
Mini Chow Chows are intelligent dogs who love to assert their dominance. Thus, it is not suggested to leave them alone with your child since they may try to outwit them or prove to be the alpha. This would lead to unexpected injuries if not avoided.
Final Thoughts: Is the Miniature Chow Chow the Right Pet for You?
Despite being tagged as a lighter variety, miniature Chow Chows manifest the same disposition and trainability as their standard-sized counterparts.
As such, they would need a headstrong owner that can train them to be obedient pooches.
If you think you can handle their stubbornness and intelligence, then they’re probably the right pet for you.
However, if you aren’t confident that you would be able to manage their innate aggressiveness, then you better look for another fluffy dog breed that also comes in miniature size.