Chow Chow origin in still up for debate with some estimating they go back 2,000 years as descendants of the Tibetan Mastiff and Samoyed, however, just as many others date the breed back at least 3,000 years as the ancestor to many Spitz type breeds from the Samoyed to the Pomeranian.
Another questionable part of Chow Chow history is the area from which he came. Although they are definitely northern in origin, there are theories suggesting areas of Arctic Asia, Siberia and Mongolia. Presently, they are found in the highest density in southern China-- so much so that they are considered an indigenous breed (one naturally inhabiting the area).
Guarding monasteries as well as families, hunting, herding and pulling are all jobs that have been on the resume during some point in time. They even accompanied Mongolian armies into Europe and the Middle East during the 1300s. The breed didn't make it to the UK and US until the late 1800's, however, special clubs and recognition followed quickly-- the Chow Chow has been AKC recognized since 1903!