The unique and noble Chow, a native of northern China, is thought to be the original ancestor of other Arctic breeds that include the Samoyed, Norwegian Elkhound, Pomeranian, and Keeshond. This ancient breed is not just easy to pick out of a crowd today, images of Chow Chows are easily recognizable in pottery and sculptures from the Chinese Han Dynasty (206 B.C. to 22 A.D.). They are historically an all-purpose breed developed to hunt, herd, pull sleds and carts, and protect home and farm. Today they are primarily companions, but retain their sturdy, Arctic-type build and stamina as well as their loyal yet independent, even stubborn natures. They are affectionate with their families but are generally not outgoing with strangers. They need early socialization and positive training to bring out the best in them as well as regular exercise throughout their lives. Their coats come in 5 colors (red, black, blue, cinnamon and cream) and short or long varieties. Frequent brushing is mandatory to keep their profuse, double coats healthy and control shed hair.