Your Purebred Puppy, Honest Advice About Dogs and Dog Breeds

Chow Chows: the most honest dog breed review you'll ever find about Chow Chow temperament, personality, and behavior.

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Chow Chow dog breed

Chow Chow Temperament
What's Good About 'Em,
What's Bad About 'Em

Chow Chow Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2016

This dignified, serious dog with the lion-like ruff and scowling expression is a true introvert.

Chow Chows must be accustomed to people at an early age so that their territorial instincts are properly discriminatory.

Naturally clean and easy to housebreak, quiet and mannerly in the home, he is an impressive companion if you can establish a relationship of mutual respect, i.e. admiring his strong-willed independent character while consistently enforcing household rules so that he respects you, as well.

With his bulky build and stilted gait, he is not built for strenuous jogging. He does well with daily walks. However, the Smooth-coated Chow is often more active (and more outgoing with strangers) than his Rough-coated brother.

Though he usually minds his own business unless provoked, many Chow Chows can be aggressive with other dogs of the same sex. Some have strong hunting instincts and can be predatory with cats and tiny dogs.

Obedience training will go nowhere if you use "jerking" methods -- this proud breed will either shut down or retaliate. Chow Chows cannot be forced to do anything. Methods that emphasize food are more productive.

If you want a dog who...

  • Is medium-sized, very stocky, and furry, looking somewhat like a small rounded bear
  • Stands firmly on the ground with a calm, confident, dignified stature
  • Makes a formidable watchdog
  • Is naturally clean and easy to housebreak
  • Is quiet and mannerly in the home
  • Needs only moderate exercise

A Chow Chow may be right for you.

If you don't want to deal with...

  • Excessive suspiciousness or outright aggression in some lines, or when not socialized properly
  • Aggression toward other animals
  • Strong-willed mind of his own and a tendency to retaliate if pushed too far, requiring an experienced, confident owner who can take charge without using force
  • Regular brushing and combing (Rough variety)
  • Heavy shedding
  • Serious health problems
  • Legal liabilities (public perception, future breed bans, insurance problems, increased chance of lawsuits)

A Chow Chow may not be right for you.

But you can avoid or minimize some negative traits by
  1. choosing the RIGHT breeder and the RIGHT puppy
  2. or choosing an ADULT dog from your animal shelter or rescue group – a dog who has already proven that he doesn't have negative traits
  3. training your dog to respect you
  4. avoiding health problems by following my daily care program in 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy

More traits and characteristics of the Chow Chow

If I was considering a Chow Chow, I would be most concerned about...

  1. Antisocial and aggressive behavior. Many Chow Chows have protective instincts toward strangers. They need extensive exposure to friendly people so they learn to recognize the normal behaviors of "good guys." Then they can recognize the difference when someone acts abnormally. Without careful socialization, they may be antisocial with everyone, which is a short step to biting.

  2. Animal aggression. With their fighting and hunting background, many Chow Chows are dominant or aggressive toward other dogs, especially those of the same sex. Many have strong instincts to chase and seize cats and other fleeing creatures. If anything goes wrong in the breeding, socializing, training, handling, or management of this breed, it is capable of seriously injuring or killing other animals.

  3. The strong temperament. Chow Chows are not Golden Retrievers. They have an independent mind of their own and are not pushovers to raise and train. Many Chow Chows are willful, obstinate, and dominant (they want to be the boss) and will make you prove that you can make them do things. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.

    To teach your Chow to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. My Chow Chow Training Page discusses the program you need.

  4. Defensive reactions. As an obedience instructor, I'm always extremely careful when putting my hands on a Chow Chow for a correction. Many Chows seem to have a heightened sense of "Hey, no fair!" and if you go beyond what THEY think is fair, they may retaliate with a bite.

    If you have young children, I do not recommend a Chow Chow. There are just too many Chows who don't tolerate any nonsense.

  5. Heavy shedding. Chow Chows shed a LOT. You'll find hair and fur all over your clothing, upholstery, carpeting, under your furniture, on your countertops -- even in your food. Frequent vacuuming will become a way of life. Make sure you're REALLY up for this.

  6. Grooming. Chow Chows come in a "Smooth" coat (which is actually quite thick) and a "Rough" coat (still thick, with longer hairs standing well off the body and feathering on the legs). The Smooth coat requires regular brushing to keep the shedding hairs under control. The Rough coat requires frequent brushing to control both shedding and matting. If you can't commit to lots of grooming, a Rough Chow Chow is definitely not the breed for you.

  7. Health problems. From hip problems to eye problems to skin and allergy problems, Chow Chows are risky in the health department.

  8. Legal liabilities. Chow Chows may be targeted for "banning" in certain areas, or refusal of homeowner insurance policies. Your friends and neighbors may be uncomfortable around this breed. In this day and age, the legal liabilities of owning any breed that looks intimidating and has a history as a fighting dog, guardian dog, and big game hunter, should be seriously considered. People are quicker to sue if such a dog does anything even remotely questionable.

book cover To learn more about training Chow Chows to be calm and well-behaved, consider my dog training book, Teach Your Dog 100 English Words.

It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will make your Chow Chow the smartest, most well-behaved companion you've ever had.

Teaches your dog to listen to you, to pay attention to you, and to do whatever you ask him to do.

book cover My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a healthy Chow Chow. Health problems have become so widespread in dogs today that this book is required reading for ANYONE who is thinking of getting a purebred, crossbred, or mixed breed dog.

If you'd like to consult with me personally about whether the Chow Chow might be a good dog breed for your family, I offer a Dog Breed Consulting Service.

book cover Once you have your Chow Chow home, you need to KEEP him healthy -- or if he's having any current health problems, you need to get him back on the road to good health.

My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy is the book you need.

Raise your dog the right way and you will be helping him live a longer, healthier life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.

Please consider adopting an ADULT Chow Chow...

When you're acquiring a Chow Chow PUPPY, you're acquiring potential -- what he one day will be. So "typical breed characteristics" are very important.

But when you acquire an adult dog, you're acquiring what he already IS and you can decide whether he is the right dog for you based on that reality. There are plenty of adult Chow Chows who have already proven themselves NOT to have negative characteristics that are "typical" for their breed. If you find such an adult dog, don't let "typical breed negatives" worry you. Just be happy that you found an atypical individual -- and enjoy!

Save a life. Adopt a dog.

Adopting a Dog From a Dog Breed Rescue Group

Adopting a Dog From the Animal Shelter