Chow Chows come in five colors: red, cinnamon,
black, blue, and cream. There are no such things as "champagne,"
"silver," "lilac," "butterscotch", "lavendar",
"chocolate", "blue-cream", "silvertip" or "white"
Chows -- these exotic names are just a creative interpretation of the five colors allowed
in the Chow Chow standard. None of the Chow colors are rare or more valuable than any of
the others. Below are examples of the five allowed colors:
"Red" covers a wide range: from a deep solid mahogany red to a light golden red with nearly white shadings on the tail, breechings and ruff. Red Chows without shadings are referred to as "self-reds". Reds with light shadings are called "shaded reds". Red puppies are born a mousy brown color, usually with a black mask (left). This mask will eventually fade and is usually gone at maturity. The puppy's coat will begin to grow in length at three months of age and is often a lighter red than what the adult color will be. To get a clue, look at the adult hair that is beginning to grow on the puppy's face and feet. A red Chow's nose should be black with no pink spotting. Eyes on all colors of Chows should be as dark as possible.
"Black" is self-explanatory but some black Chows have silver shadings in their tails or breechings. Black Chows are born black. The coats of black Chows can become bleached (left) when kept outside or in the sun, leaving them with an unattractive reddish cast. This bleaching effect is called "rusting". A "chocolate" Chow is actually a rusty black!
Blue is a steel gray color, sometimes with silver
shadings as in the blacks. Blue can range from a very dark bluish gray (similar to
new blue jeans) to a lighter silvery-bluish color (like very faded blue jeans). The
muzzle and legs have a "salt and pepper" mixture of light and dark
hairs, giving them a "frosted" look. Some
blues have brown shadings in their coats and blues can also "rust" in the sun.
Noses on blue Chows are often gray or slate-colored. This is the only color of Chow
where a black nose is not required, but the nose must not be brown.
Chow Chows are a "double-coated" breed. Adult Chows have a long, harsh-textured outer coat and a soft, short, downy undercoat. The undercoat protects them from rain and cold. The color of a Chow is determined by the color of its outer coat. A red or cinnamon Chow's undercoat can vary in color from nearly white to a very dark gray regardless of the color of its outer coat. Blacks and blues usually have dark undercoats. Creams, however, are cream all the way through to the skin.
Cinnamons and blues are considered "dilute" colors. Cinnamon is a genetically diluted form of red and blue is a genetically diluted form of black. The genes which create these dilute colors sometimes cause dilution of eye and tongue pigment as well, resulting in amber-colored eyes and/or pale or spotted tongues. Those traits are undesirable and must be guarded against by responsible breeders. Cinnamons and blues are not as common in the breed as reds, blacks, and creams because they are genetically recessive to those colors. Both parents in a mating must carry a gene for a dilute color for there to be any chance of producing a dilute puppy. Breeding dilutes together (blue to blue, cinnamon to cinnamon, blue to cinnamon) is usually discouraged because of the potential for diluting eye and tongue pigment in the puppies.
Temperament, behavior and health are not dependent on
color. Color is a matter of personal preference. Don't believe anyone who
tells you certain colors are more desirable, valuable, healthier or better-tempered than
others. Inexperienced or disreputable breeders, however, who mistakenly
believe certain colors are more valuable sometimes use breeding stock with poor
dispositions or health defects in order to produce colors they think will
bring more money.
Be sure to examine the parents of your puppy before purchase to make sure they have
the quality of health, personality and appearance you want in your Chow!
© 2003 The Wisconsin Chow Chow Club, Inc.