13 Chow Chow Colors, Markings & Patterns (With Pictures)

Different Chow Chow Colors

Trying to figure out what Chow Chow colors you want can be overwhelming. With many different colors to choose from, how can you decide which one is right for you?

The Chow Chow is one of the most ancient breeds, recognized for their dignified and distinctive appearance. With its unique lion-like mane and impressive range of colors, it is a breed people love to know more about.

If you love Chow Chows but are unsure which color you want, this article will help you understand the different colors and make the best decision for you and your family.

How Many Chow Chow Colors Are There?

Two Chow Chows standing side by side

Chow Chows are one of the most popular dog breeds in the world and one of the cleanest dog breeds out there. This breed has a beautiful, dense coat that comes in various colors.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) and Chow Chow Club Inc. (CCCI), the parent organization of this breed, recognize five official Chow Chow colors. However, there are other color variations this breed can have.

Below is a list of all possible Chow Chow colors that this dog breed can have:

  • Black
  • Blue
  • Cinnamon
  • Cream
  • Red
  • Sable
  • Chocolate
  • Black and tan
  • Lilac
  • Albino
  • Brindle
  • Merle
  • Panda

The colors black, blue, cinnamon, cream, and red are the hues that are recognized by all the major kennel clubs. 

They are considered standard, showcased in conformation shows, and often prioritized in breeding programs.

Two-toned, albino, panda, sable, chocolate, and lilac are non-standard colors. Hence, they are not recognized and permitted to join in conformation shows. 

However, these colors are still worth the research as they are getting more popular in the canine community.

Watch this video to understand why this breed is sought after:

13 Chow Chow Colors

If you are looking to learn more about this breed, discovering its different colors can be an exciting experience.

Find out what makes each color special and how you can tell them apart. From black and blue to cinnamon and cream, discover all the amazing variations in this breed.

1. Black Chow Chow

Black Chow Chow

Black is a common color for Chow Chows and is very easy to come across.

A black Chow Chow can either exhibit a uniformly black coat or a solid black with a lighter shade in the ruff, tail, and featherings. This lighter shade is often a light silver-gray hue.

While this is a common coat for this breed, a Chow should either contain a KB/KB or KB/Ky combination. 

These genotypes at the K locus prevent the expression of the A locus, resulting in solid eumelanin or black pigment. 

Too much sun exposure can result in a reddish tint in your pup. If you want to maintain this majestic color, it is best not to let your dog stay out in the sun for long periods of time. 

2. Blue Chow Chow

Blue Chow Chow
Image credit: blue_nelle / Instagram

A blue Chow Chow is not born blue but exhibits a shade of iron gray. This color is a result of a dilute gene wherein a black pigment is diluted to gray.

While the most desirable and common color is steel gray, the color variation of their blue coat ranges from dark bluish gray to a lighter or pale silvery bluish shade.

The muzzle and legs of blue Chow Chows will exhibit a salt-and-pepper tone or a mixture of lighter and darker shades of color, thus creating a highlight of their grayish tint. 

Due to their coat cycles and too much exposure to the sun, a blue Chow can have a naturally occurring reddish tint. Letting them stay outside for long periods is not recommended.

3. Cinnamon Chow Chow

Cinnamon Chow Chow
Image credit: chowchowsglasgow / Instagram

The color of cinnamon Chow Chows can range from light fawn to deep cinnamon. However, despite the similarities in the name, they are not to be mistaken for the shade of the cinnamon spice.

Cinnamon is also recognized as “fawn” by the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) and as “tawny” by the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC).

This shade is a result of the dilution gene affecting the Chow Chow’s red coat color. They will have a light beige color that will eventually fade into a gray or pink tint as they grow older. 

Due to the lighter and darker shade of color present in their muzzle and legs, they will appear to have a contrasting or highlight effect as well. 

4. Cream Chow Chow

Cream Chow Chow

Cream Chow Chows are not very common in the canine community and are sometimes referred to as white Chow Chows. They are also often mistaken for cinnamon Chow Chows as they are closely similar in shade. 

However, on a closer look, you can easily identify and differentiate the two.

Cream Chow Chows can vary from ivory or almost white to butterscotch or red. Their ears and legs will have a light tan color that will fade as they grow old.

Due to their light color, this Chow Chow color is accepted even though their nose color is not black. Their nose color may vary from solid brown to a lighter pinkish shade.

5. Red Chow Chow

Red Chow Chow

These are very common and probably the one that pops into mind when you mention the Chow Chow breed.

The red Chow Chow has a lot of variations. Its color can vary from a light golden shade to deep mahogany. It is naturally born reddish-brown and has a black mask that will fade as they age.

A red Chow Chow can be categorized into two, namely, the shaded red and the self-red. Both are acceptable to the breed standards and can participate in conformation shows.

A shaded red will display an almost white shading on their hindquarters, ruff, muzzle, and tail. On the other hand, self-red Chows are those that are lacking them.

6. Sable Chow Chow

Sable Chow Chow puppy

The sable Chow Chow is considered a non-standard color, which means it is not officially recognized by the parent organization of this breed and is not allowed in conformation shows.

These pups will have a lighter shade in the base of their coats than on the tips. A sable Chow Chow usually has black tips with a lighter hair root. This makes it seem like the dog has a grayish hue.

7. Chocolate Chow Chow

Chocolate Chow Chow
Image credit: properchows / Instagram

In dogs, a chocolate color is also referred to as liver. This occurs when a Chow is homozygous or has two recessive alleles, which means all black pigment will appear brown.

With that said, this is another case of a gene dilution of a black Chow Chow.

Chocolate-colored Chows are non-standard but will still have dark brown eyes with either a blue-black or pink tongue. Their nose will usually have the same color as their coat.

8. Black and Tan Chow Chow

Black and tan Chow Chows are two-toned dogs and are not eligible for registration or accepted in the show ring since this color is not considered standard by any dog club.

These Chow Chows greatly resemble the color pattern of a Rottweiler or a black Pug with tan markings.

They can either have a black body with tan underparts and markings or a tan mane and tail with a black back. However, the former is more common.

9. Lilac Chow Chow

Lilac Chow Chow
Image credit: ash_lilac_chow / Instagram

These Chow Chows are another case of dilute coloration. Lilac is a color dilution of either a chocolate Chow or a cinnamon Chow. This occurs when a Chow has two mutant copies of the MLPH gene.

This is a very rare color that also comes with health issues. Similar to other color-diluted genes, they are prone to color-dilution alopecia. This will result in hair loss or itchy skin.

However, they do not have a pale violet coat. Their color coat will have a lilac or blue coloring, resulting in a silvery or gray look. This color is common to Australian Shepherds but can also affect a Chow Chow.

10. Albino Chow Chow

Albino Chow Chow
Image credit: ghostthepinkchow / Instagram

An albino Chow Chow results from the absence of pigment in a dog’s coat. This is a genetic mutation that affects the production of melanin. 

This pigment dictates the color of your pup’s skin, coat, and eyes. Without melanin, a Chow Chow will have a pure white coat with a pinkish tinge in their nose, eyes, and coat.

Major kennel clubs are strictly against the breeding of albino Chow Chows as they are at a higher risk of having health issues. 

As a dog behaviorist, I have had the chance to encounter a blind albino Chow Chow on one of my trips to a nearby rescue shelter. 

According to the shelter, the previous owner couldn’t take care anymore of the poor dog’s condition. Aside from this, there is a high possibility of the dog acquiring skin cancer.

After a month and a half of rehabilitation, the dog was rehomed to a loving family who was able to give him the best care possible.

11. Brindle Chow Chow

Brindle Chow Chow
Image credit: gus.chowstagram / Instagram

This is a non-standard Chow Chow coat color that is not recognized by kennel clubs. Like other unofficial color variations, they are not allowed to join conformation shows and are not advertised in their breeding programs.

A Chow Chow with a brindle coat is a dog carrying dominant black or K locus genes. Brindling means that the dog will have either brown, red, or fawn colors with streaks of other colors.

Brindle Chow Chows are easily distinguished even though their color streaks blend seamlessly in the dog’s coat.

They can have any of the five standard colors as a base in addition to the stripe pattern that closely resembles that of a tiger.

12. Merle Chow Chow

Merle Chow Chow
Image credit: ukfinestchowchow / Instagram

The Merle pattern is another genetic pattern in a dog’s coat that can affect any color and any breed, including the Chow Chow. It is also known as dapple in some other dog breeds.

Although there are dog breeds that naturally have this kind of coat pattern, just like the brindle color pattern, it is considered non-standard in a Chow Chow.

A merle Chow Chow can be identified easily as it will have a mix of different colors. Typically, it will be a blend of a splash of a darker color against a light background.

The usual merle pattern for a Chow Chow is a solid white base coat and mottled, uneven patches of blue or black.

13. Panda Chow Chow

Panda Chow Chow
Image credit: jethron5000 / Instagram

In recent years, grooming dogs to look like endangered pandas has become a trend, and the Chow Chow is no exception.

Due to their thick, fluffy coat, Panda Chow Chows are often turned into “panda dogs.” However, achieving this look requires hours of careful grooming and dyeing. 

Additionally, regular coat grooming is necessary to maintain the panda dog’s appearance.

Experts claim that the specific dye used to paint Chow Chows is non-toxic and does not affect their health at all.

These pups are designed on purpose and are not a standard of this breed. This means that they are not recognized by all major kennel clubs.

I once saw a Panda Chow Chow at one of the local dog parks, and I have to say that it really did look like a baby panda at first glance. It is not until you see how it moves that you realize that you are looking at a dog.

Chow Chow Nose, Eye & Tongue Colors

To be recognized by the parent organization of this breed, a Chow Chow should also possess the standard nose, eye, and tongue color.

Here are the standard colors for each of these categories:

Nose Colors

The widely accepted nose color of the Chow Chow is black. However, there are some exemptions that major kennel clubs are willing to accept.

For blue Chows, a self-colored or slate-colored nose is acceptable. Meanwhile, for cream Chows, a lighter nose color is up to standard. This can range from a brown pigment to a pinkish shade. 

Pigment at the nose rim or outer edge of the nose can either be present or not.

Eye Colors 

As for this category, judging will be much easier as there is only one accepted eye color.

With the correct placement and shape, their eyes should create an oriental appearance. The only accepted eye color of a Chow is dark brown. Their eye rims should also be black and should neither be drooping in nor turning inside.

Tongue Colors

While the edges of the lips, along with the gums and tissues of the mouth, should be black, the tongue has a different shade.

The standard color of a Chow Chow’s tongue is blue-black. However, the darker the shade, the better.

Chow Chow Breed Standards & Disqualifications

Two Chow Chows walking on a grass field

As with any other dog breed, a Chow Chow will have specific standards in terms of coloration. These are set by the parent organization of the Chow Chow along with other major kennel clubs.

A standard Chow coat color is red, black, blue, cinnamon, and cream. Acceptable shades for red will range from light golden to deep mahogany. Meanwhile, cinnamon will be from light fawn to deep cinnamon.

Take note that other kennel clubs recognize the color cinnamon by another name. The Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) recognizes it as tawny, while the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) identifies it as a fawn.

Nevertheless, to be acknowledged by kennel clubs, a Chow Chow should only be clear-colored or solid with a lighter shade in their ruff, featherings, and tail. 

Usually, the underpart of a Chow Chow’s tail and the back of their thighs are of a lighter shade.

Parti-coloured Chows and those that do not fall under any of the standard colors are considered non-standard and therefore not eligible for registration. Hence, they are not allowed in the show rings.

Do Chow Chow Colors Affect Behavior and Health?

No proven studies indicate that coat color affects Chow Chow’s temperament. However, research has proven that coat color is directly related to serious health issues.

Here are health issues that directly correlate with a particular coat color:

  • Deafness: Loss of hearing is usually associated with coat color patterns and is more common to Chow Chows that have white and merle color genes. The white pigmentation gene causes degeneration of the nerves in a dog’s ear, leading to sensorineural deafness.
  • Skin Cancer: Merle and albino Chows are more sensitive to sunlight and have little protection from UV light due to the lack of pigmentation on their coats. This makes these dogs more prone to sunburns, allergies, and skin cancer.
  • Color Dilution Alopecia: Color dilution alopecia (CDA) is a condition that causes patches of hair thinning or loss as well as flaky and itchy skin. They are associated with dogs that have a dilute gene. This means that fawn and blue chows are affected since they are a dilute gene of black and red.

A routine veterinary visit guarantees that your Chow will remain strong and healthy. In addition, buying a dog from a reputable breeder can ensure that they will not inherit any disease from their parents.

Do Chow Chow Puppies Change Colors as They Grow?

Chow Chow puppies in different colors

Chow Chow puppies are typically born with a different shade. As they grow, they will gradually change until they reach their final color. Some color changes occur naturally, while some are health and environment-related.

A common example is a red Chow Chow that is usually born brownish and then slowly takes on the red color as it grows. Another is a cinnamon Chow, born with a silvery hue, gradually transforming into beige.

Sunlight, skin diseases, and medication may also affect the color of your pooch. If there are any abrupt changes in their color, it is recommended to consult a veterinarian immediately.

What Color Will My Chow Chow Puppy Be?

Predicting the color of a Chow Chow puppy is challenging even for reputable breeders. With various coat color possibilities, assuming that your puppy will exhibit a particular color will be difficult.

Even if you know the color of the parents, it is still far-fetched to assume a pup’s color since it all comes down to genetics. However, if both are of a specific color, then it is likely that they will also have the same shade.

One of the most accurate methods to predict the color of your puppy is through a DNA test. There are specific DNA tests that are for color coat genotypes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Two Chow Chows sitting side by side

What Colors Are Rare for Chow Chows?

Merle, cream, and pure white Chow Chows are the rarest color for this particular breed. This is because they are produced less often due to some health issues associated with their coat color.

These color variations are more prone to deafness, lack of vision, and skin cancer due to the lack of skin pigmentation. Breeding merle and white Chows is also strongly discouraged because of their poor health.

Other rare colors for a Chow Chow are chocolate and lilac.

What Is the Most Common Chow Chow Color?

Red is the most prevalent color of the Chow Chow. This is because research indicates that the majority of Chow Chows are carriers of the red gene.

Another reason they are the most common is that red covers a variety of shades, from light golden to deep mahogany.

What Kind of Coat Does a Chow Chow Have?

A Chow Chow can either have a rough or smooth coat. Either way, both are double-layered coats. A rough coat will have an abundant, thick, and coarse outer layer while its inner is soft, fine, and dense. 

On the other hand, a smooth coat has a hard, dense, smooth, and short outer layer, with its inner layer being definite and soft.

Are All Chow Chows Tongues Blue?

No, not all Chow Chows have the standard blue-black tongue color. Interestingly, like other dog breeds, they are born with pink tongues. 

Their tongue changes color as they grow, and by the time they are six months old, the transition of the tongue pigment must be complete. 

If their tongue is still not blue-black by this time, they won’t be eligible for conformation shows.

Final Thoughts

Overall, there are a lot of colors to choose from for this dog breed. While some are rarer than others, usually, these Chow Chows cost a lot more.

You should also consider that your puppies may change their color or have a darker or lighter shade when it reaches maturity.

Color is only one factor to consider when picking your next fur companion. Health and temperament should always be your top priority.

Nevertheless, if you are thinking of buying a Chow Chow soon, let us know in the comments which Chow Chow colors captivated you the most!

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