The Chow Chows

Georgia O’Keeffe owned at least six Chow Chows during her lifetime. She got her first Chow Chow in 1952, just three years after moving to New Mexico. The breed is extremely loyal, protective and independent. Indeed, they seemed to be the perfect fit for O’Keeffe, as their positive characteristics matched hers, and she never owned another breed of dog after her first Chow.

O’Keeffe wrote about her dogs in letters to friends and family, took photographs of them, and sketched them. She was a member of The Chow Chow Club, Inc. and kept various veterinary papers, club notifications, feeding schedules, and correspondence relating to her dogs.

It is clear that O’Keeffe loved her dogs, and that they were a big part of her life. This point is illuminated in the excerpt below from a letter to her sister:

“I have thought often of the dogs- wondered if they slept in your room or if they bothered you and were put out. I have gotten so that I like having them In the room at night even if it sometimes is a little trouble – I probably miss them more than any other part of the house”

Letter from Georgia O’Keeffe to Claudia O’Keeffe, September 19, 1960.

Tori Duggan, Research Center Services Assistant