Examples of Chow Chow Colors

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: 

Adult red male adult cinnamon male adult black male blue_exampl3.jpg (4451 bytes) adult cream male

Red

Cinnamon

Black

Blue

Cream

Self-red puppy (left) and shaded red puppy (right) black female with silver shadings adult blue male

red puppies, age 7 weeks"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.

a black Chow that has "rusted" or bleached out in the sun"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!

"Cream" is almost always ivory, nearly white, but can vary in depth in some adults to a butterscotch color. They are cream from birth and usually have light tan ears and legs. Very light red puppies are often mislabeled as creams by inexperienced breeders. Cream puppies do not have dark masks.  Creams are seldom seen at dog shows because their noses, which may be black as puppies, always turn brown by maturity.  A brown nose is a disqualification.
red puppy (left) and cream puppy (right)
red puppy (left) and cream puppy (right)

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.

cinnamon Chow Chow puppies"Cinnamon" is probably the most misunderstood Chow color and the hardest to describe.  Since color doesn't always reproduce accurately in photographs, it's hard to find appropriate illustrations.   The word "cinnamon" makes one think of cinnamon spice but a cinnamon Chow is a far different color.  In England, this color is called "fawn".  Cinnamon ranges from a light beige with a grey or even pinkish cast to a darker shade that is not quite red (see the adult cinnamon at the top of the page).  Like the blues, a true cinnamon adult has a salt and pepper mixture of light & dark hairs on its muzzle, giving it a noticeably "frosted" appearance. Cinnamons are often born a beautiful silvery color leading inexperienced breeders to believe they are blues. This silver cast is usually gone within a few weeks.  Cinnamon puppies often have grayish masks (above left) that disappear at maturity.  Cinnamon Chows must have a black nose, not brown or gray.  Many reds are mislabeled as cinnamons by inexperienced breeders and novice Chow owners.  If you are not absolutely certain of your Chow's color, seek out an experienced breeder or Chow club member for an evaluation. 

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. 
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