The Chow is a stocky dog with broad skull and small, rounded ears. The breed has a very dense coat that is either smooth or rough. The fur is particularly thick around the neck, giving the distinctive ruff or mane. The coat may be one of several colors including reddish-brown (described as "red"), black, blue, cinnamon, and cream. Not all these color varieties are recognized as valid in all countries. Individuals with patchy or multicolored coats are considered to be outside the breed standard. Chows are distinguished by their unusual blue-black/purple tongue and very straight hind legs, resulting in a rather stilted gait.