If you wanted to beef a French Bulldog up a little, making him more intimidating to strangers and yet still cute and sweet, what could you do?
You probably would not think to mix her with a Chow Chow. Nevertheless, several people have tried to create a fantastic and unique dog type with a French Bulldog Chow hybrid.
Chow Chows were once extremely popular, almost a fad. They reached the top ten most popular dog breeds in the 1980s, according to the AKC.
Puppies looked like stuffed Teddy bears, and as adults, they did not lose much in the visual appeals department. The only problem is you could never just go up and pet a Chow Chow, as plushy-looking and cuddly as they seemed.
We may never know who bred the first French Bulldog Chow Chow mix or when or why. Nevertheless, the French Chow Dog, its official name, is a designer dog that is here to stay.
Probably created as an adorable family companion, the mix is exactly that. You can readily see the physical traits of both breeds, a blend that created a snub-nosed dog with luxurious fur, small size, and a friendly personality.
Origin and purpose give clues about a dog's defining characteristics
The French Bulldog is English in origin
French Bulldogs did not get their name or finished form until they moved to France. They started as miniature or Toy Bulldogs from Nottingham, England.
One of the driving forces behind making the Old English Bulldogs family-friendly pets was the ban on bull-baiting in England in 1835.
As you may know, English Bulldogs were center stage in the blood sport of taking bulls down by the nose. Although it may have begun as a practical way to control cattle, public outcries likely brought attention to the cruelty to both bulls and dogs.
A 2000-pound animal could easily injure and kill a dog who made a minor error in judgment.
Bulldogs developed a low-to-the-ground build, wide broad jaws, and shorter muzzles for their specialty. These dogs were also powerful, quick, and athletic.
Both pet-quality English Bulldogs and Toy Bulldogs lost some of their athleticism, bred for marketable looks like shorter legs, a wide-based stance, a heavy body, and a broad flat face.
Small dogs who were proficient at keeping the rat population in check had the most influence in miniaturizing the English Bulldogs. Early Toys and Frenchies were good ratters. Later, breeders may have also outcrossed Bulldogs with Pugs.
The Industrial Revolution caused many lacemakers to lose their jobs rather than the Bulldogs had. These workers had taken a great liking to Toy Bulldogs and took them when they moved onto Normandy, France.
They were responsible for refining the French Bulldog, creating a smaller dog with a different shape than the standard Bulldog.
Eventually, the breed acquired the name Bouledogue Français.
Chow Chows came from China, probably
Do you ever ponder how the bridge between the Gray Wolf and the domesticated dog might look? Think of the Chow Chow as one of the missing links between the wolf and faithful canid pet, and historians say you may be close.
Genetic studies tie the origin of the Chow Chow and East Asian breeds like the Akita to dogs indigenous to China.
However, the Chow's extreme adaptations to frigid conditions have led to speculation about a possible origin in Siberia, per Caninechronicle.com.
The selection of traits that distinguish the Chow Chow as a separate breed began over 8,000 years ago, making them among the oldest domesticated canids.
If you are curious about the temperament of the Chow, not only was he an ancient breed, but he was not a pet in the traditional sense. Like many European dogs, Chows Chows were dogs of royalty and had to look the part as well as guard their masters.
Yet on the other side, when times became difficult at the end of the Tang Dynasty around 900 AD, Chows not only hunted predators, but their owners also used them like traditional livestock for their meat and soft pelts.
Chows came to the attention of the Western World in the 1400s, but many looked on them as wild and exotic animals as late as the 1860s. From 1879 to the 1890s, the Chow Chow began to gain ground as a show dog in the United States and England. The AKC first recognized a breed standard for the Chow in 1895 and accepted registration in 1903.
The French Chow Dogs came onto the scene late
Historians do not know for sure about when the French Bulldog Chow mix first appeared, but most agree it is new to the designer dog world.
Designer dogs experienced a minor explosion in popularity in the 1980s from the fascination with Poodle mixes and the highly successful Labradoodle.
Interestingly, the beginning of the so-called "Doodle craze" corresponded with the peak of the Chow's prevalence in the US. Doodles remain in high demand.
French Bulldogs have seen increasing consideration for addition to other breeds. Some fanciers aim to improve the health issues of Frenchies that come with exaggeration of the snub noses, dwarfism, and corkscrew tails.
However, many mixes seem to focus on adding the French Bulldog charismatic personality and irresistible physical characteristics to old companion dog standbys which may have problems of their own.
What could your Frenchie-Chow look like?
Getting a mental picture of each of the parent breeds helps predict your Frenchie Chow mix's appearance.
French Bulldogs have become very recognizable, featured on greeting cards and memes around the world. The breed standard calls for a compact, squarely-built, and muscular dog.
About a foot tall, according to Dogtime.com, and weighing 16 to 28 pounds, Frenchies qualify for the Toy classification by some registries.
The AKC groups French Bulldogs in the non-sporting group with their English counterparts and the Boston Terrier. Females weigh considerably less than males.
Frenchies have a square head with a short muzzle and a nose that slopes backward from the lips to the rounded forehead.
Usually, a wrinkle hangs over the leather of the nose. Despite the continued exaggeration of a squashed face, Frenchies have fewer breathing difficulties than English Bulldogs. Their eyes are large, prominent, and expressive.
Your French Bulldog will have a stumpy tail that is either straight or screw. He has a "downhill" build, so his rump will be slightly higher than his shoulders. Officially, measurements still specify the dog's height at the top of the shoulders.
French Bulldog colors
- White with brindle patches
Rare colors for French Bulldogs are often highly sought by pet owners but not approved by the AKC. They can come with genetic problems exacerbated by irresponsible breeding.
- Lilac or Isabella – Dilute liver
- Blue – Dilute black
- Black with no trace of brindle
- Blue fawn
- Black and tan
- Black and white
The Chow Chow, also of the non-sporting group, has a broad and relatively large head reminiscent of a Mastiff with a short muzzle and small, deep-set eyes. Her ears are upright and relatively small, one of several adaptations to cold weather.
Chow Chows are compact, powerfully-built medium dogs about 17 to 20 inches tall and weighing 45 to 85 pounds. A Chow Chow has two distinguishing features.
- Blue-black tongue – Probably a throwback to their primitive roots. Bears and canids had a common ancestor before they split, and that forefather had a black tongue. Black bears and Polar bears have bluish tongues as well.
- Straight hocks – Opposite to the German Shepherd, Chows have little to no angulation in their hind legs and move in a characteristically stilted fashion as a result.
Chows carry their thick tail over their backs. The tail varies in the degree of its curl. When relaxed, the Chow's tail hangs to about the level of their hocks.
Chow Chow colors
French Chow Dogs are most likely to be small, compact dogs with a short tail that the dog may carry high. Some may have tails with a slight curl, and others may have a bobtail. Expect a dog who is around 14 inches tall, weighing about 30 to 50 pounds.
The mix will have a large rather square head with a short muzzle not quite as broad as a purebred French Bulldog. Most French Chow Dogs will have characteristic bat ears and straight hocks.
The ears may not stand up until your puppy has finished teething. Many chow mixes have bluish tongues, or you will see black patches.
French Chow Dogs can be black, brindle, fawn, red, or cream. A rare hybrid may be white with black or red patches.
What are some health issues of a French Bulldog Chow Chow mix?
The French Bulldog's tail links to genes that are also responsible for deformed vertebrae (hemivertebrae) and rectal problems like fecal incontinence and herniation of the muscles at the rear of the pelvis.
Before selective shortening, Frenchies had a drop tail about three times as long as it is today. Some breeders are trying to go back to longer tails because they do not correlate with health issues, especially those associated with screw tails.
The conformation of the French Bulldog leaves him vulnerable to intervertebral disc disease, more commonly called a slipped disc.
Achondroplasia, or dwarfism, which shortens the legs relative to the back, links to spinal instability and vertebral degeneration. Eventually, a disc can "bulge" from its space and impinge on the spinal cord to cause pain and possibly paralysis.
The Chow Chow can give your mixed puppies problems with the eyelids rolling inward (entropion), juvenile cataracts, or glaucoma.
Chow Chows and French Bulldogs have a high incidence of hip dysplasia at 19% and 30%, respectively, according to the OFA breed statistics. They also may pass luxating patellas to their puppies.
A luxating patella means the knee cap does not consistently glide along its track as your dog walks or runs. An afflicted dog may often carry the leg as the knee pops out then walk normally again as it goes back into place.
A neurologic disorder commonly associated with the GSD, degenerative myelopathy, is unfortunately common in Frenchies and Chows. Even more disheartening is the number of carriers, as high as 21% in Chow Chows and over 19% in French Bulldogs.
Both the French Bulldog and Chow have almost a 4% incidence of a specif type of crystal in the urine that can form stones. Urinary stones can cause serious pain and other issues and may require surgical intervention and diet modification.
You may not immediately think of the Chow Chow as a brachycephalic breed, but they have a shortened snout similar to other Chinese breeds like the Pekingnese and Shih Tzu, as well as the French Bulldog.
Although not as exaggerated as some other breeds, the Chow's relatively large head and short muzzle can lead to abnormally small nostrils, a long soft palate that obstructs the back of the throat, and a narrow windpipe or trachea.
These abnormal structures worsen respiratory symptoms with hot weather or humidity.
Your mixed breed has a high chance of having a short muzzle, maybe slightly longer than a Bulldog's, and the problems associated with brachycephalic syndrome. You must help your dog avoid the heat and overexertion.
How should you groom your French Chow?
French Bulldogs have a short sleek coat. Some dogs have no undercoat, and in others, it is thin. Frenchies are soft to the touch.
Chow Chows have two coat variations. The rough-haired Chow has a moderately long outer coat with a dense undercoat. Some owners shave their Chows down to short woolly fur because she is a breed prone to matting.
Showing requires no obvious alterations of the coat except trimming the hair between the paw pads. You may see some owners scissor cut cowlicks and stray tufts to even the coat as well as round the hair around the ears.
Smooth-coated Chows also have double coats that are extremely dense. Their hair is much shorter than a rough-coated dog, and they lack the ruff around the neck and feathering on the tail. Chow Chows shed a lot, especially during seasonal changes, and you must brush them several times a week for hours.
Your French Chow dog will probably have a short but dense coat that will need brushing, so the undercoat does not become unmanageable. Regular brushing may also decrease the presence of loose hairs, giving the appearance of less shedding.
What is family life like with a French Chow Dog?
The Frenchie Chow mix is friendly with people if you socialize her as a puppy. She will not be nearly as protective as a Chow but will prove a little more suspicious than a French Bulldog. With hybrids, there will be individuals that are more extreme in temperament than an even blend.
Chow Chows are good guard dogs, loyal to their owners and protective of property. Chows, unfortunately, need persistence from you and extra training, or they can be very aggressive. The Chow has a potentially high prey drive and can be untrustworthy around children.
Use caution with your Chow mix and young children under nine years old. Never leave the dog and small child or infant unsupervised. Socialization may play a crucial role in your dog's attitude around young people.
Unless your French Bulldog Chow mix shows strong evidence to the contrary, do not trust him with small animals, including cats and little dogs. Chow Chows were originally proficient hunters and are primitive dogs very close to their wolf origins.
Chows also show particular aggression against other Chow Chows, especially of the same sex.
French Bulldogs probably have some Rat Terrier in their ancestry and therefore may try to eradicate tiny animals.
Although breeders have succeeded in breeding most of the prey drive out of a Frenchie, some owners report their French Bulldogs are still efficient at hunting rats or mice.
Your Frenchie should get along with other dogs, although you should watch all encounters with unfamiliar people and pets.
French Bulldogs are usually relaxed and enthusiastic around visitors while Chows can be fiercely protective to their owners and have a nasty disposition with guests.
Your French Bulldog Chow mix should be easy-going and watchful but eventually accepting of visitors. Some will be friendlier than others.
According to Askthedogguy.com, socialization is more important than anything else, including breed and size, regarding your dog with kids, your friends, and other animals.
The more situations to which you expose your dog early on, the more appropriately she will respond to the unexpected.
However, you also have to be able to read the body language of other dogs and children because their inappropriate actions can provoke hostility from your pet.
Remember exercise in moderation
Chows are one of the few breeds of dogs his size that does not require much exercise. Half an hour to 40 minutes of walking a day is enough for most Chow Chows. Their conformation and brachycephalic features do not enable them to be extremely athletic.
French Bulldogs with their pronounced short muzzles should not exercise too much at one time. Usually, half an hour is more than sufficient exercise for a Frenchy, with light walking and some running and playing being the extent of his adventures.
French Bulldogs have little tolerance for heat or cold conditions but are particularly vulnerable to the effects of heatstroke.
Trainability is not the French Chow Dog's Strong Suit
Neither Chows nor Frenchies are easy to train. Chow Chows are independent and must respect you to listen or cooperate. Even with a strong owner, Chows require many repetitions for every command. Frenchies can be willful and stubborn.
You will need to commit large blocks of time to train your French Chow Dog. You can use the hours you save on exercise with obedience and development of social skills.
A video can tell you quite a story
We leave you with a short video that packs in quite a bit of information.
The video features a Siberian Husky, an example of a red Chow Chow, a fawn Pug, and a brindle with white French Bulldog.
Note the physical similarities between the Pug and Frenchie, possibly supporting an ancestral relationship. Also, pay attention to the difference in tail structures between all of the dogs.
The Husky is not a part of our article but a good illustration of canine behavior and an excellent contrast to the other three dogs.
Note the Chow Chow'w ability to get along with all the dogs present. For the most part, he has the makings of a well-socialized dog.
However, you also can witness poor canine etiquette with excessive butt-sniffing and a couple of occasions of mounting behaviors.
Mounting, especially, is a social miscue you should correct at an early age because it can lead to dogfights with some individuals. Dogs mostly perceive mounting as a display of dominance.
The French Chow Dog is uncommon, but you can imagine what one might look like observing the two separate breeds side by side.
The soft snorting you hear is rather endearing but is a reminder of the brachycephalic difficulties of three of the four dog breeds pictured.
As a freelance pet writer and blogger, Shannon is passionate about crafting knowledge-based, science-supported articles that foster healthy bonds of love and respect between people and animals. But her first and very most important job is as a dog auntie and cockatiel, tortoise, and box turtle mama.