Grooming a Chow Chow to Look Like a Lion

Grooming a Chow Chow to Look Like a Lion

Thumbnail of JW Gripsoft Undercoat Rake

JW Gripsoft Undercoat Rake

Grooming Tools, Brushes & Combs
{{petcare_price|currency}} Price in Cart w/PetPlus {{petplus_price|currency}} See PetPlus Price in Cart

The most popular cut for the Chow Chow is the lion cut, which is both practical and attractive. Learn more about the benefits and drawbacks of a lion cut for your Chow Chow here.

With origins traceable to northern China thousands of years ago, the Chow Chow seems to have an ancestry going back to ancient general-purpose arctic working dogs. Depictions of chow-like dogs are found on pottery of the region 2,000 years ago, and old writings indicate similar dogs were used as sporting dogs by Chinese emperors 1,300 years ago. Primarily a companion dog today, the Chow Chow carries as a marker of its long history an extremely dense and heavy double coat that needs extensive grooming. With a ruff that bestows a lion-like appearance, Chow Chows can be clipped to exaggerate the look, while reducing the grooming they need.

The Lion Cut

The most popular cut for the Chow Chow is the lion cut, which exaggerates the breed's lion-like appearance. The cut is usually given by a professional groomer and involves shaving portions of the dog's fur. The body is shaved using electric clippers, leaving the fur around the face, head, part of the chest and on a small portion of the shoulders. The fur on the tip of the tail is left, as is the fur on the feet and ankles.

Why the Lion Cut

Lion cuts work well for owners who are unable to brush their Chow Chow dogs regularly to prevent matting and skin infections. The low-maintenance cuts also work for Chow Chows with extreme matting of the fur on the body. This cut usually is given just before the start of warm weather. In cooler weather, protect the clipped parts of your Chow Chow's body with sweaters and jackets.

Professional Groomers

Chow Chows are naturally fastidious, and they usually enjoy being groomed and brushed by their owners. Stay with your dog during the initial sessions of professional grooming to allow your Chow Chow to learn to trust the groomer. Dogs of this breed can be suspicious of new people and sometimes require coaxing to give their trust. Give your dog plenty of praise and treats to make the grooming session a positive experience.


After a lion cut is given, the fur around the Chow Chow's face still requires daily brushing to prevent or remove mats and tangles. As the coat grows in, brush it daily to prevent the new coat from tangling. The cut reduces the time you need to spend rinsing the fur when you bathe the dog. After bathing, use sunscreen on your Chow Chow's shaved areas to protect the exposed skin from the elements.


If your Chow Chow is a show dog, you may not alter the natural coat beyond a slight trimming to neaten the natural lines of the dog's fur. If you plan to show your Chow Chow but still wish to cut the dog's hair in a lion cut, do this several months prior to a competition in hopes that the fur will grow back in before the show date.


Shaving your Chow Chow's coat can cause changes in the texture of the fur when the hair grows back in.

In warmer climates, the dog's thick coat can actually serve as an insulator to keep the dog cool. When the fur is shaved away, your dog can overheat more easily.

This breed is prone to hot spots more than other breeds, and shaving may worsen this problem in some cases. If you notice any signs of irritation on your Chow Chow's skin, consult with a veterinarian about ways to provide your dog with relief, such as medicated creams and shampoos.

Chow Chow Health

The Chow Chow, thought to be one of the oldest breeds of dogs, comes from China. Its name translates to โ€œpuffy lion dogโ€. This breed is known to have problems with its eyelids and eyes. Like many breeds, it is also subject to joint and bone troubles. Because of its thick fur, the Chow Chow does not tolerate heat well and may have problems with fleas. The dog tends to be very protective of its owners and as such has gotten a reputation for being somewhat aggressive. The Chow Chow typically lives to be about 8 to 12 years old.

Primary Health Conditions of the Chow Chow

The Chow Chow has inherited a range of eye and eyelid problems, some of which can be surgically treated, although breeding healthy dogs is considered the best prevention. Entropion is a condition in which the dogโ€™s eyelids turn inward instead of out, causing irritation and infection if not properly cared for. Entropion can be corrected with surgery. The Chow Chow is also predisposed to glaucoma, or damage of the optic nerve, which can lead to blindness. Care should be taken to select breeders who breed healthy dogs. The Chow Chow is also at risk for genetically inherited autoimmune disease.

Secondary Health Conditions of the Chow Chow

Like Bulldogs, the folds on the Chow Chowโ€™s face need to be cleaned and kept dry to prevent irritation and infection. If problems occur, daily cleaning could be required. So too does the Chow Chow need continual care of its thick coat. Problems with matting, fleas, and irritated skin can result without regular brushing and washing. The Chow Chow is subject to many of the same joint and bone problems associated with most purebred dogs, including hip dysplasia, when the hip joint becomes unstable; as well as patellar luxation, a condition of the knee. Surgery and weight management are the typical treatments for these conditions.

Chow Chow Exercise and Walking Needs

The Chow Chow needs only moderate exercise and is often content to stay inside and sleep. However, with a dog this large, hip dysplasia can occur when the dog is too sedentary. Short walks and romps are usually sufficient. The dog does need stimulation and attention from its owner or it can become bored and at times destructive. The thick coat of the Chow Chow can make heat intolerable to the dog, and its owner should be alert to signs of overheating and overexertion.

Chow Chow Nutritional Needs

The Chow Chow is a big dog, upwards of 80 pounds, and as such has a good appetite. Though this breed can spend a lot of time sleeping or lying down, so care should be taken not to overfeed the Chow Chow. Its thick coat requires a quality food rich in proteins and nutrients so that its fur stays sleek and full.

More on Grooming Your Chow Chow

Large Dog Grooming Tips
How to Groom a Dog
Natural and Homemade Shampoo for Dogs
Cat and Dog Grooming SuppliesSkin and Coat Care: A Pet Parent's Guide

References & Resources

National Geographic: Dog DNA Study Yields Clues to Origins of Breeds
American Kennel Club: AKC Meet the Breeds: Chow Chow
United Kennel Club: Chow Chow
The Chow Chow Club: Grooming Your Pet Chow Chow Chow Chow
"Ultimate Dog Grooming"; Eileen Geeson, et al.

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard or delay seeking professional advice due to what you may have read on our website.

Was this article helpful?
Hot Spots Chow Chow Long Hair Thick Hair

You May Also Like