Chow Chows


Chow Chows

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Breed Notes

The exact origin of the Chow Chow is unknown although he is depicted in Chinese art as early as 150 B.C. This dog was used as a sporting dog, particularly for hunting pheasant. It is believed that his name comes from European merchant seamen of the 18th century who referred to knickknacks and other miscellaneous items they were transporting from China to the West as "chow chow." The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1906.
The Chow Chow has a keen intelligence, independent spirit and innate dignity. He is very protective of his family and home.
The Chow Chow's head is large and broad with a flat skull and deep muzzle. The width and depth of the muzzle should be the same. From the side, the skull and muzzle should be parallel to one another. A distinct furrow in the skin between the eyes enhances the expression. The eyes are dark brown, deep set and set wide apart. They are almond in shape. The eye rims are black. The nose is large and black. The ears are small and triangular in shape with a slight rounding at the tip. They are carried erect and tilt slightly forward. The lips are black and a solid black mouth is ideal. A blue or black tongue is a characteristic of the breed. The bite is scissors. The neck is strong, well muscled and arched to hold the head proudly. The back is short and compact with a level topline. The chest is broad and deep. The legs are straight and heavy boned. The profile of the dog will show a square build. The tail is set high and carried close over the back. It is well covered in coat. There are two coat types, rough and smooth. Both are double coats. The rough coat has a soft, thick, woolly undercoat and a dense, straight, course outercoat. There is a profuse ruff around the neck which frames the head. There are abundant featherings on the legs. The smooth coat, seldom seen in the West, has a definite undercoat and a hard, dense, smooth outer coat with no obvious ruff or featherings on tail or legs. Coat colors include solid colors of black blue, cream, red or fawn. Average height is eighteen to twenty-two inches and average weight is between forty-five and seventy pounds.


Name withheld by request of Ohio writes:

Not family pets.
Chows are one of the five worst breeds in biting people so seriously that the person needs hospital treatment.


tecottle@highstream.com of Kansas writes:

Misunderstood and not properly socialized.
My first encounter with a Chow Chow was not as I would have wished upon even my worst enemy. My mother was attacked by our friend's pet while she was attempting to finish grooming him. I was a very young teenager and had a hard time getting over seeing this happen. But with time I did heal and learned not all dogs are like that one. I became a pet groomer and again dealt with many more Chows and Chow mixes. All but a few were unruly and mean with no real reason for their behavior. I had even met owners afraid of their own dogs. This confused me and was, to be honest, not very comforting. I started doing some research on the breed and found that by nature they tend to be reserved around strangers and can be one-family or even one-person dogs. But later learned it doesn't have to be this way.
My first real encounter with a Chow Chow was when I was working in my own grooming shop and received a call from a show Chow owner. She needed someone to just bathe and brush out her show dog for the upcoming show that weekend. I told her we would give it our best shot and to bring him on in. When he arrived he was more massive then I had seen in my younger years and looked like a Chow should (compared to the poorly bred pets in the past). I was, to be honest, nervous at first and then realized that this dog was more nervous than I was. He let me do anything I needed to without much fuss. The only thing he really didn't care for was when I wanted to trim his pads and toenails. But even that was no more of an ordeal than other breeds (like Lhasa Apso, Shih Tzu, Poodles and Terriers). I was so impressed by his temperament and total look, I became very interested in the breed even more. I would have never own a Chow Chow in the past until I had this chance to see how they can be. I later purchased a puppy sired by this Chow and did all I could to socialize her and make her as well-rounded as any breed should be. At first she was reserved and would even bark or back off from strangers. I kept working with her and letting her know that kind of behavior was not acceptable. She soon became very outgoing and friendly to 99 percent of the people she met. Every now and then she would shy away from someone, but it was usually a person more afraid of her. She sensed that and avoided them. I always preferred my dogs to back down rather then bark or lunge toward someone. She was a very protective dog at home, but still would back off if she was uncomfortable with someone. I now own another Chow Chow and he is even more social and has a wonderful temperament.
I have been around many Chows in the past few years and found that those who work with their dogs have more success with developing friendly and happy dogs. Those who either leave them in a kennel and don't work with them or don't get them out often have trouble getting their dogs to accept strangers and not become aggressive. I have also met families who buy a puppy from a breeder and have trouble with them being aggressive from early on. I try to inform people of what to look for in any breed, like temperament, aggressive behavior and socalization. If a puppy has not been worked with it will show in behavior and temperament. But I still believe most dogs can be turned around and taught to be friendly and social. It is all in how they are raised and worked with. The Chow Chow is an independent breed by nature and so this has to be understood and worked with. They are also an ancient breed, so many of their behaviors are built in and can and do show up from time to time. Never trust any dog 100 percent, if you do you are just asking for trouble. Dogs are still animals, and can and do react the way a normal animal would in any situation. Best advice is find a breed that best fits your lifestyle. Do research on several different breeds until you find one that best fits your wants and you're willing to give all that breed requires (grooming, exercise, training, space).
The Chow Chow can be a very loving, loyal, and protective member of your family. Just be sure you understand all that is required to socialize, groom, train and offer this majestic breed. To be owned by a Chow is an honor.


laura_usa1@yahoo.com of Texas writes:

Great pets, but buy from a good breeder.
I had several Chows while growing up. I believe on the whole that this breed is unfairly criticized. All were trustworthy, loyal, loving, and protective. They can be rather dominant, but no worse than many other breeds I have known. It is true they are VERY easy to housebreak and are well-behaved as pups. Many people think that this means they do not need training. Like all dogs, especially those with a possibility of aggression, these need lots of socialization and should be obedience trained, more so that they know you are the boss than anything. I don't think this would be a good breed for someone who wants a dog that they can ignore or don't want to train, especially if they have children they ignore and are untrained. Understandably, these dogs will not take being abused or tormented by nasty children. If ignored in the backyard or chained all the time, they can become aggressive (but so can many other breeds). Buy from a good breeder. I have a feeling that the bad rap these wonderful dogs got was from people with badly bred and trained dogs. I loved them as a child and love them now. None of them would ever have hurt me or my family. If you live in an area with ticks, be extremely careful to check them over thoroughly and often. It can be incredibly hard to see through that beautiful coat; our male died of Lyme disease (this was before it was well known).


Name withheld by request of California writes:

A smart dog who is as great as you make it.
This is no chump. His judgment is impeccable. I've had German Shepherds, Cockers and three Chows. The smartest hands-down are the Chows. The most obstinate: again the Chows. The Cockers, however, had it all over the others with a nasty attitude ... but I digress. Each of the Chows has a unique personality. The female is the most territorial and protective. Both of the males are escape artists; practically nothing can hold them in. Capable of opening doors, squeezing through tight spaces they somehow love the challenge of beating any barrier in their path ... and then waiting (it seems with a smile) to be discovered ... just to prove that they are smarter than humans. And when sheer intelligence doesn't work, brute strength is always an option. The quietest dogs I've ever owned, they bark only when necessary. One of the males needs a lot of affection, another wants practically none. One of the males plays fetch, the other thinks it beneath him. All are great guard dogs. Two are pretty terrific with kids. All are neat; though one was a bit more difficult to housebreak than the others. All three we've had since they were pups, trained by the same owners, yet somehow they've come out differently. I love their differences; these are my Chows.


mopar0699@aol.com of Cleveland, OH writes:

Better than people.
I've owned my Chow for ten years. The old saying, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks," well, that isn't true with a Chow; once you teach them something they don't forget. Mine is housetrained. and wants his feet wiped off when he comes in house. Chows are perfect family pets and amazing dogs.


Name withheld by request of Las Vegas, NV writes:

Very strong willed, not for the inexperienced.
Once you have had a Chow no other breed compares. They are highly intelligent (they believe they are your equal intellectually), undeniably dignified, courageous, loyal, clean, protective, and very independent. The Chow is not a low maintenance animal that you can just keep chained up and forget about. Socialization is a must! If this is not done you will end up with a rather dangerous dog as well as a lawsuit or two. Chows also tend to be stubborn and dominant (establishing your alpha position immediately is a must) as are most northern breed dogs and should not be the breed for first-time dog owners. They need owners who are experienced with strong willed dogs. Their loyalty is incomparable once they establish a bond. I have had four Chows and none of them have been barkers; they will alert you only when its necessary and their bravery is unsurpassed. Because they are generally very well-behaved puppies people tend to get lax on their training which is a big mistake. They need a consistently firm (not physical) reminder as to who is actually the boss because if you are not consistent and let them do as they please you will have problems &shyp; give them an inch they will take a mile. Because a lot of Chows tend to be naturally aloof (never constantly pestering you for attention &shyp; very cat-like) you want to show them a lot of love with hugs and petting when they are babies so they won't grow up antisocial or standoffish. If you take the time to take proper care of them you will find yourself rewarded again and again being the owner of a Chow.


Burrrton31@hotmail.com of Burlington, VT writes:

A cat in a dog's body &shyp; intelligent, independent and stubborn.
Currently I own a male cinnamon Chow Chow. I must say that since he is MY dog, I see him as wonderful, I love him &shyp; yadda,yadda &shyp; but that is NOT what counts here in a review, my personal opinion is not as important as the facts. Chows are INDEPENDENT thinkers, often described as a cat in a dog's body. They are protective, and with bad peripheral vision, this can be a serious danger, with a "cute" fluffy dog out in a child populated area. Make sure that you remind people that their children need to ask permission before approaching your Chow, just as with any other dog, especially those known to guard their owners. Chows are a one-person dog, territorial, and do not always do so well if they are given up to shelters as it takes them a long time to trust and see their owners as alphas. Chows need a strong, patient owner (like a drill sergeant) who WILL NOT HIT THE DOG. If a Chow fears you, it will bite you &shyp; they are very sensitive to physical correction, if you feel your dogs should be trained this way do NOT buy a Chow, or heaven forbid how you'll pay for the lawsuits when others approach your "teddy bear" dog. Avoid making your Chow a lap dog, they will take every opportunity they can to walk all over you, as they are extremely intelligent and know a sucker when they see one. Chows need to be brushed frequently or their coat becomes matted, especially as puppies when they begin to get their adult coat. Proper grooming as a puppy will lead to a fuller coat, due to removal of puppy hairs that could mat, but buyer beware: THIS IS EXTREMELY TIME-CONSUMING, they have one HUGE shedding period during the summer every year, so befriend your vaccuum. Chows do well in apartments and country life but are not meant to be tied outdoors, they do not fare well with temperature changes/extremes. Personally I live in an apartment &shyp; my dog is not a barker, and in the house remains low-key, but he definitely needs his exercise. Chows were NOT meant to be off leash, they go where they want to go, whether you think you have them under voice command or not and in a crowded place they CAN be animal aggressive. On a side note: beware that many insurance companies have labeled Chows as dangerous dogs &shyp; this will cause you to lose coverage or not be eligible for insurance in select companies, plus, if your dog bites anyone it pretty much entitles them to sue the panties off of you (also on this list are the misunderstood Pitbull, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Huskies, Malamutes, Dalmatians (NEVER buy a Dalmatian if you own children), Shar-Pei, Dobermans, and in some cases Great Danes &shyp; the list continues to grow too &shyp; fight this legislation). All in all though, if you are looking for a dog that can think for itself, who is EXTREMELY clean (thought by some to be the cleanest dog, it will never do its business where it sleeps and is extremely easy to toilet train), who will protect you without any training (DO NOT train your Chow as a guard dog &shyp; it is unnecessary), and who has a really winning smile and wagging tail with an often low-key bravado, then the Chow may be for you. Just do your research, if you want to fool around and buy a dog on a whim jump on the yuppie bandwagon and get a Lab or a Golden, something needy that requires minimal training. Otherwise be prepared for a large commitment both in socialization and with grooming.


scwolf5@aol.com of New York State writes on 1/18/00:

Special consideretion needed (love of vacuuming a plus).
We have had two Chows in the past 15 years. They are NOT for everyone. If you want a dog that instantly does what you say, it's not a Chow. Their veiw of the world: I see it; I own it. Sweet ,loving, , very protective. That means they might bite strangers. My first Chow thought that anyone not living at our house when he joined us was a stranger! The one we have now, is slightly easier going,but I wouldn't walk into this house if he didn't know me and no one was home. They have a very big Chow bark. My dog has never has been too agressive, but I wouldn't push him. I adore the breed. I will have one for the rest of my life. I love all dogs. Every puppy is love in a waggy bundle,but when I see Chow puppy, I just know that I'm right; there are wonderful. They are pretty healthy dogs. Thankfully. Shed all year,no season to it. Love of vacuuming is a plus. Ours is a house dog. They really don't like tempeture extremes. They eat quite a bit,we feed him twice a day. Morning and evening. He is very clean in the home,never had an "accident".Wonderful dogs.


Name withheld by request of Montreal, Canada wrotes on 9/30/01:

Chow Chows are better than people think.
We had two Chow Chows from the same responsible breeder for their whole lives. Our female died at a respectable old age of 10. She was extremely affectionate and beautiful. Our male just died this summer at the really old age of 13. He was also beautiful, but much more typically aloof. Neither would fetch or chase balls and things dog owners expect their dogs will do. Coming when called was also a challenge with the male, less so with the female. We were very careful of choosing the right breeder who was interested in the temperament of her dogs. Her puppies were home raised with lots of love. We drove 7 hours to go and see her dogs which had better accomodations that some people I know. I really mean that, they had air conditioning, bean bag chairs to sleep on. You name it they were treated like kings. None of her dogs were aggressive. Aggressiveness was something I kept hearing about Chow Chows, before we got one and way after too. Every time someone new would see our dog, they were always afraid it would be aggressive. They were always surprised that they weren't. These are non shedding dogs in the sense that they shed all in one go at the change of season. Their fur can all be brushed out in one shot. They are hardy dogs that do well in our Canadian winter outside. In fact ours preferred to be outside in the winter than in the house, as they were too hot with their double coat. They don't chew things, soil inside the house (not even as puppies) They are happy to be alone for periods of time too. All in all they were terrific dogs. My recommendation would be to really take time to find an excellent breeder. One who will find the right puppy for you. If they are more concerned with the color of their dogs, or breeding dogs that are not too tall, or that have short noses, find a different breeder. If they can't have their own dogs in their own house, find a different breeder. Finding the right breeder is tantamount to a good experience with your own dog really, whatever the breed, but particularly for dogs such as Chow Chows. These dogs have a bad reputation, perhaps from the unethical breeders out there. I have not yet met one of those dogs. Thank you for the opportunity to have a say about such a magnificent dog as the Chow Chow. Hopefully this will help someone out there who is deciding on one of these dogs.


xanac74@hotmail.com of Los Angeles, CA writes on 10/17/01:

Friendly and sociable.
My dog was a friendly and sociable Chow Chow. I got him when he was about one month old, just about the cutest and cuddliest dog I've ever seen. Have you ever seen a "good" looking Chow
pup? That what he was. He was a brown and furry chow with a short, black snout and a purple tounge; looked like the cutest teddy bear when I first got him. If you are looking for a cute, playfull puppy dog, I would seriously recommend a "good" looking Chow Chow as a candidate. I wish I had a picture, but look into Chow books and I'm sure you will see some beautiful ones.
You may have heard that Chows are known for being aggressive and mean dogs. I guess this would be true, only if you do not find out for yourself by actually owning a chow. My Chow never hurt a human or a bird. He just disliked cats. He loved humans and birds. Birds would eat from his own bowl and he would not even try to chase them off. I would imagine that he enjoyed their company. He never ever bit nobody. If you bring up the dog with kindness, love and respect he will turn out to be a well mannered, obedient dog. That's what my dog was, well mannered and obedient. He just passed away. I'll miss him.
The reason why I rated him a 5 was because he had his own personality; strong willed. He was unique, proud and an awsome guard dog. I'm not sure if this applies to all Chow Chows but if it does, then Chows will bark at a cat, a squirrel up in a tree, a figure of a person walking by in the dark night or anything that moves. That may sound like that that could get annoying for someone trying to sleep at night, however if he is well mannered he should stop when you tell him to, and when you see that everything is safe. He would even frequently bark at me when I would walk up my steps to get into my house late in the evenings or in the days until I call out his name "BRUNO", then he'd stop. This Chow was a useful guard dog. He barked at anyone while he was behind my fence until he recognized his masters.
I had my Chow for 9 good years. It seems like it went by so fast. Before he passed, he still had alot of life in him. He became ill and passed away. I think he ate something that made him sick. We only fed him top-quality dog food, and it was mostly solid kibble. I just don't know what happened. I'm so saddened! I expected him to live at least 4 more years. I will miss that damn good Chow Chow.


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