When chatting with my 9-year old cousin Ryan this weekend, he told me a disturbing fact. He claimed that the beefy (and infinitely huggable) Chow-Chows were once bred as meat in Asia, and that their name actually came from a Chinese word for food. Being a little hesitant to reprint facts straight from the mouth of a 3rd grader (no matter how much he loves the Discovery Channel), I looked it up, and it seems to be true. Yuck.

Excerpted from Dog and Kennel Magazine:
"As centuries passed and the warrior dogs were no longer needed in battle, their savage temperaments were refined; and they were given new duties by their masters -- hunter, draft dog, herder, guardian of the home, and food group. In truth, the chow's utility as food, many people believe, gave the breed its name. Chow chow is Chinese slang for anything edible, and for more years that it is delicate to contemplate, chows were considered edible. Legends say that two of the breed's most distinguishing characteristics -- its blue-black tongue and its straight hind legs -- evolved as a consequence of the Chinese taste for this breed. The blue-black tongue, the bluer the better, bespeaks a sweeter meat; and a straight hind leg yields more meat. (Fortunately selling and eating dog meat was outlawed in China in 1915.)" Ugh. Thanks Ryan!