This section is from the book "British Dogs, Their Points, Selection, And Show Preparation", by W. D. Drury. Also available from Amazon: British Dogs: Their Points, Selection And Show Preparation.
In China there are several different breeds of dogs showing a marked contrast to one another. The one that has become best known and is most commonly to be met with in this country is that which was, until recently, known as the Edible Dog, but which has now a separate section in the Kennel Club Stud Book allotted to it under the definition of Chow-Chow. It is difficult to say whence this name originated, as the breed is apparently not known by any such name in its native country, where it is, however, sometimes called the Wolf-dog, probably on account of its being used in packs for hunting purposes in the North of China.
To the casual observer this dog, although larger, somewhat resembles a coarse or half-bred Pomeranian, but a closer inspection shows that there are many points in which the two breeds essentially differ. It is not, however, improbable that the Chow-Chow and Esquimaux are related, as there are certain characteristics common to both breeds. Moreover, it has been proved beyond doubt that typical specimens of either variety can be bred by crossing the two breeds together.
In these Chinese dogs the forehead is broad, the muzzle pointed, but not so pointed as in the Esquimaux, the ears are small, rounded, and carried pricked well forward, the eyes are small and jet-black, the body is short and compact, the. hocks are straight, the coat is thick and harsh, with good under-coat, and the tail well curled. For many years the only recognised colours were a deep red and a jet-black, but more recently encouragement has been given to the exhibition, and, as a natural consequence, the breeding, of any colour. The result is that dogs that .would have had no chance of winning prizes a few years ago on account of their bad colour are at the present time able to do so, classes being specially provided at some shows for dogs of any colour, other than red or black. No doubt this innovation tends to increase the number of entries at. shows, and makes the breeding of prize dogs so much the easier, for every breeder, whatever variety he may be interested in, knows the difficulty of obtaining correct colour and markings, where these are characteristics of a breed. The argument used in favour of providing these classes is that dogs of all sorts of colour are to be found in China; but the same argument might be used for encouraging the exhibition of dogs lacking the principal feature of the breed - a black, or rather a bluish-black, tongue - because Chinese dogs are to be met with having red tongues. The King at one time owned a very fine specimen of a deep red colour, which won several prizes in Foreign classes, although he had a red tongue; but this was before Chow-Chows had classes to themselves, and would afford no excuse for classes being provided for dogs having this defect. It is to be regretted that of late years there has been a tendency on the part of breeders, when they have found themselves unable to breed the correct thing, to urge Committees to provide separate classes for their dogs, and in many cases Committees, anxious to secure additional entries, have shown too much readiness to do so.
One of the most typical dogs of this breed that has come under the writer's notice was a black-and-tan dog, purchased at the Dogs' Home some years ago, but which was never exhibited on account of its colour. As there was no means of knowing how the dog was bred, it is impossible to say whether this colour was the result of a cross between a black and a red; but if so, it is contrary to the usual result of crossing the two colours, as generally the puppies will be found to partake of one colour or the other. The colour of the tongue is peculiar to the breed, and the fact of a dog having a black or partially black tongue would be a sure indication that there had been at some time a Chow-Chow cross, although the dog might not resemble the breed in any other respect.
Among the poorer classes of China these dogs are used as an article of food, and when required for this purpose are fed largely on rice. We have been informed by a gentleman who resided many years in Hong Kong that they are eaten when quite young, and then only the fore feet and paws are used, the black dog being much preferred. This fact is also mentioned by Archdeacon Gray in his interesting book on China, wherein we are told that placards are commonly to be seen over the doors of restaurants in Canton patronised by mechanics and others, stating that the flesh of black dogs and cats can be served at a moment's notice. He also gives a translation of a bill of fare, in which the following appears: -
Cat's flesh, one basin ..........
Black cat's flesh, one small basin ........
Black dog's grease ...
1 tael 4 cents
Black cat's eyes, one pair .....
Fig. 110. - A Typical Red Chow-Chow, Chow VIII.
These dogs are somewhat peculiar in disposition, and will sometimes take singular likes and dislikes; they become very attached to their owners and are fascinating companions, but are somewhat more quarrelsome than some other varieties of foreign dogs.
The selection of puppies should not take place too early, as at the time of birth the ears are not erect, but should become so later on, nor is the tongue black. The latter is red when the puppies are born, but in course of a short time a spot or two of black is to be seen which gradually spreads until the whole tongue is covered. This, however, is not invariably so, as sometimes the tongue becomes only partially black, and in some cases does not change at all. In the latter event a dog's chance of winning would, at the present time, be lost altogether, whilst in the former it would be very materially diminished. According to the points of the Chow-Chow Club, a dog that does not carry its tail in the orthodox way should be disqualified, but it ought to be borne in mind that dogs that are at all shy will at once drop their tails when frightened. Although such a defect as the tail not being carried properly in the ring should unquestionably be taken into consideration by the judge, it is a mistake that a dog, however good it may be in all other respects, should be thrown out of competition altogether solely on account of one fault, and one, it should be remembered, that the dog may not really possess, as the bad carriage of the tail may be caused by the strange surroundings of the show ring.
Chow VIII. (Fig. 110) one of the best dogs of the breed exhibited, has had a very successful show career, his typical head and deep red coat leaving nothing to be desired.