Red Chow Chow

Learn more about a red Chow Chow’s coat color.

Is Red A Standard Color In Chow Chows?

The AKC accepts red as an official breed color. So does the FCI.

What Does A Red Chow Chow Look Like?

All red Chow Chows have a black-based sable pattern.

Their base color can vary from “light golden to deep mahogany“.

Adult red Chow Chows express a clear sable pattern which gives them their solid red coat. However, they can be born with more black shading in their puppy coat most of which will clear later on.

Red Chow Chow Markings

In long-haired dogs, it is very common to see some lighter feathering on the ruff, legs, and tail.

Some red Chows also have countershading which can significantly lighten the phaeomelanin base color on a Chow Chow’s belly, legs, chest, muzzle, and above its eyebrows.

Countershading can be washed out or give rather crisp markings.

And some dogs have even have some black black hair tips, maybe they are lightly shaded sable

All not-fully-solid red patterns are called “shaded red” in the Chow Chow breed.

Although not really a standard marking, some adult red Chow Chows have a black mask. Not to be confused with puppy masking (not related to Em) in many red Chow puppies which will fade over time.

Red Chow Chow Nose Color

A dog’s nose gets its color only from its eumelanin pigment.

Dogs with a black-based pattern will always have a black nose. Also, any visible skin pigment like eye rims and lips and even the nails and paw pads will be black.

“Reds […] must have a solid black nose.”

AKC Breed Standard

Red Chow Chow Eye Color

Eye color is determined by eumelanin color and pigment density.

A red Chow Chow with its black eumelanin typically has the dark brown eyes required by the breed standard, although some dogs may have lighter brown eyes.

“Eyes dark brown, deep set and placed wide apart and obliquely, of moderate size, almond in shape.”

AKC Breed Standard

Red Chow Chow Coat Type

Chow Chows are double-coated, they can be rough or smooth.

Long-haired red Chows with a “rough” coat produce a long offstanding outer coat with a soft and wooly undercoat. They will have a long ruff and lots of leg and tail feathering.

Short-haired red Chows with a “smooth” coat will not have a ruff and produce less undercoat. Their shorter outer coat forms a smooth dense layer with no obvious ruff or feathering.

Chow Chows are fixed for a non-furnished coat. However, a very small number of Chow Chows have a curly variant but curls are not a desired trait.









Red Chow Chow Genetics

Red Chow Chows have a sable pattern with non-diluted (D/-) black (B/-) eumelanin.

Basic Pattern

Red Chows express a sable pattern.

The A, K and E locus combined are responsible for a dog’s basic pattern. They tell pigment cells when and where to produce either eumelanin or phaeomelanin:


wild type

wild type

A Locus

The A locus is responsible for the basic distribution of colors in a pattern.

A sable pattern (Ay/-) gives a predominantly solid phaeomelanic coat with little black hair tipping.

K Locus

The wild-type K locus  (ky/ky) does not affect coat color. It just enables normal pattern expression.

E Locus

The E locus wild type (E/-) does not affect coat color. It just enables normal pattern expression

Some Chows keep a black mask, the might have an Em variant.

  • Ay/Ay
    • E/-
      • ky/ky
        • sable
      • KB/-
        • dominant black
    • e/e
      • recessive red
        cream, white

Pigment Colors

Red Chows have black eumelanin.

Next, other genes determine the actual colors in a dog’s pattern.



tan, orange, red


The phaeomelanin intensity on a red Chow Chow can vary from golden tan to a deep mahogany red.

Shaded red Chows often have countershading or light feathering.


Dogs with a B/- D/- genotype will produce black eumelanin.

There is not much eumelanin to be found in a clear sable pattern. But black pigment is visible in the nose, skin, eye rims, lips, or tongue color. Red Chows are supposed to have a black nose.

  • B/-
    • D/-
      • normal black
    • d/d
      • diluted black

Other Traits

Chow Chows are not supposed to have white markings or merle.

Some traits can modify a pattern by removing pigment or further modifying colors:




White Markings

Chow Chows are fixed for a solid coat color (S/S).


Purebred Chow Chows don’t come in merle.

Merle typically only affects eumelanin and not phaeomelanin. It would only be visible in black puppy shading or black masks. Hence, merle would be hidden in a mostly red sable pattern anyway.

More Chow Chow Colors

Chow Chows can come in other colors than red:

Red Chow Chow

Red Chow Chows have a black-based sable pattern.

Pattern: E/- ky/ky Ay/- (sable)
Eumelanin: B/- D/- (non-diluted black)
Intensity: “light golden to deep mahogany

Black Chow Chow

Black Chow Chows have a black-based dominant black pattern.

Pattern: E/- KB/- (dominant black)
Eumelanin: B/- D/- (non-diluted black)

Blue Chow Chow

Blue Chow Chows have a blue-based dominant black pattern.

Pattern: E/- KB/- (dominant black)
Eumelanin: B/- d/d (diluted black)

Cream Chow Chow

Cream Chow Chows have a recessive red pattern.

Pattern: e/e (recessive red)
Eumelanin: B/- (black)
Intensity: “cream, white

Cinnamon Chow Chow (Fawn)

Cinnamon Chow Chows have a blue-based sable pattern.

Pattern: E/- ky/ky Ay/- (sable)
Eumelanin: B/- d/d (diluted black)
Intensity: “light fawn to deep cinnamon

Learn More