One of the chow chow's most distinguishing characteristics is his long, thick, fluffy coat, although the less common smooth-coated chows don't have the same look. While it's common to think of the thick, soft undercoat as a winter coat, it doubles as protection from the sun during the warmer summer months as well. His winter coat tends to be a bit thicker during the colder months, however.
Two different coat types are visible in the chow chow breed: rough and smooth. The rough coat is the one most commonly seen, characterized by a lion-like mane around the head, a long, dense and straight outer-coat and feathering on the back of the legs and tail. The long outer-coat hides the fluffy, woolly undercoat. The smooth coat is characterized by a hard, dense and smooth outer-coat with a definite soft, fluffy undercoat.
An undercoat protects your chow chow during the winter and, maybe to your surprise, during the summer. The dense, woolly undercoat insulates the skin against weather extremes. His undercoat serves as his winter coat. Like other double-coated breeds, however, he's going to blow his coat twice a year, leaving clumps and tufts of that dense, soft fur all over your home and furniture.
While most dog breeds are double-coated, the chow chow is one of the few with such a dense, thicker outer-coat to brush through. These pooches need a quality brushing session weekly -- daily is better -- and more intense bouts of brushing during spring and fall when they blow their coat. When brushing your chow chow, use a slicker brush on his outer-coat and a pin brush on the longest parts of his coat. Always make sure you're brushing through all of his fur down to his skin.
Never shave your chow chow during the summer, even if it seems like he's still wearing his winter coat. Several problems arise from shaving double-coated dogs like chows during the summer, including alopecia, sunburns and deformed coats. Keeping your chow chow brushed throughout the year can help protect him and will prevent his coat from matting.