Finding The Perfect Golden Retriever For You

It’s not hard to find a Golden Retriever, but if you want a good one that represents the breed at its best, you need to choose your source carefully. To do that, you need to be able to distinguish between good breeders and bad breeders.

Potential Golden Retriever owners usually have various goals. Some want a reliable hunting partner, some a competitive show dog, and some just simply want a healthy and personable family pet.

Regardless of what your goals may be regarding your dog, your first priority should be choosing one that is as healthy as possible. No matter what your goals, you’ll be better off buying from a good breeder than a bad one.

Good breeders:

  • Are familiar with and screen for Golden Retriever health concerns such as hip and elbow dysplasia, subaortic stenosis, and eye anomalies.
  • Won’t allow pups to leave their mother until they are at least nine weeks old.
  • Can compare their dogs to the breed standard feature by feature.
  • Charge neither bargain basement nor outrageous prices for puppies.
  • Have photos and pedigrees of both parents and other relatives.
  • Breed sparingly and dedicate their efforts to only one or two breeds.
  • Belong to a local or national Golden Retriever club.
  • Are involved in some sort of Golden competitive activity or service.
  • Tend to ask prospective owners lots of questions about their past history with dogs, their facilities, family lifestyle, and expectations for their new dog, and point out that even Golden Retrievers aren’t for everyone.
  • Provide a medical history, pedigree, registration slip, and written care instructions for each puppy. 

Please note: This article is part of a collection of dog-related content that we purchased the rights to. Opinions expressed may or may not agree with those espoused by Master Dog Trainer Adam G. Katz. When in doubt, please refer to the advice given in Adam’s dog training book.  This article is provided for your enjoyment, only. It’s relevance to real world working dog training may be limited.

The Stages of Golden Retriever Development


Although human groups are called families rather than packs, some experts feel that domestic dogs adapt very well to humans because we also live in groups. However, to compare our families to wolf packs isn’t a very accurate comparison. Our human lifestyle is far more complicated than that of the average wolf pack. As humans, we are extremely inconsistent with our social rules and rules for behavior. For example, we let the dog up on the couch when he’s clean but yell at him when he jumps up with muddy paws. To the dog, our communication skills are confusing. Our voices say one thing while our body language says another. To our dogs, people are very complex and confusing creatures. We can say that both dogs and humans live in social groups and we can use that comparison to understand our dogs a little better, however, we must also understand that our families are very different from a wolf pack.


For the first three weeks of life, the family and the pack are unimportant as far as the 

At four weeks of age, the puppy’s needs are still centered on his mother but his littermates are becoming more important. Littermates provide warmth and security when mom leaves the nest. During this period he will learn to use his senses to follow sounds and to focus his eyes. His curiosity about the world around him is developing and he will start exploring his whelping box or nest.

Mom will also start disciplining the puppies now and her instinctive training is essential to the puppies’ future acceptance of discipline and training. A lot can be learned by watching Mom take care of her puppies.

During this period, the breeder should be handling the puppies by gently touching and massaging them. This helps the puppies to learn the difference between their Mom’s touches and people’s.

baby Golden Retriever is concerned. The only one of any significance is the pup’s mother. She is the key to his survival and is the source of his food, warmth, and security.



While a puppy should never leave its litter this early in life, this is a good time for the puppy to meet other people. The breeder should ensure that the puppy isn’t handled too roughly or frightened. Friendly handling and play will help with the puppy’s socialization skills.

If the puppy is taken from his mother and littermates during this period of his life, he may have lasting behavioral problems. He may have problems dealing with other dogs, may have problems accepting rules and discipline, or may become excessively shy or aggressive because of fear.




The eighth week of life is one of the scariest times for most puppies. Although puppies go through several scary periods while growing up, this is the first major one. Despite the fact that this seems to be a traditional time for most puppies to go to their new homes, they would actually benefit greatly by staying with their Mom and littermates for one more week. If the puppy leaves his home during this week of life and is frightened by the car ride, he may keep this fear of cars forever. The same applies to any new sounds in his new home, the trip to the veterinarian’s office, or anything else that scares him.







Teach him his name by calling him in a high pitched tone of voice, but never use his name to scold him. Encourage the puppy to follow you by backing away from him while patting your leg or clapping your hands. At this time of his life, pack instincts are developing and you can use this stage of growth to teach the puppy his position in the family. Each and every day, have every member of the family roll the puppy over and give him a belly rub. This exercise may seem somewhat silly, but by exposing his belly, he is assuming a submissive position to family members. When his Mom corrected him, he would roll over and expose his belly to her; so here, he is doing the same thing for you.

When the baby Golden is 11 to 12 weeks old, discipline becomes more important. Love, attention, and security are still essential, but the puppy is now ready to learn basic household rules. Do not allow him to do anything now (such as stealing food, jumping on people or furniture) that you are not going to want him to do when he is fully grown.

Puppies with dominant personalities may start mounting behavior with small children or toys. This should be consistently discouraged; do not allow it to happen!

During this fear stage, don’t reinforce his fear. If you cuddle him and soothingly tell him, “It’s okay,” he will assume that you are praising him for his reaction to the fear. In other words, you are telling him that his response to the fear was correct. Instead, walk up to whatever is scaring him and touch it, as you tell him, “Look at this.” Without scaring him too much, try walking him up to the object. The point is to help him overcome his fear instead of reinforcing it.

The teenage phase for Goldens strikes at any time between eight and fourteen months of age. You will certainly know when it happens. One day you may ask your previously trained young dog to sit, but he will act as though he has never heard the word before in his life. Your previously well-socialized dog may start barking or growling at other dogs, or may start pushing your children around. You may have taught your Golden to stay off the furniture, but during this stage he may climb up there anyway. And when you tell him to get off, he will either ignore you, or in extreme cases, may even growl at

Make sure your dog thinks of you as his leader or the alpha wolf. You can reinforce that idea by some things that you do around the house. For example, you should always go through doors first. The alpha wolf or leader of the pack always goes first. You should eat first, too. You should go up the stairs ahead of your dog; don’t let him dash up the stairs and turn around and stare at you.

Something else you can do is to give him permission to do things, even if he was going to do them anyway. For example, if he picks up his ball and is bringing it to you to throw, tell him, “Good boy to bring me your ball!” If he lies down at your feet, tell him, “Good boy to lie down!” By giving him permission and praising him, you are telling your dog that you are in control.

During this stage of life, household rules will need to be consistently and firmly enforced. Hopefully, you have already started obedience training, but if not, start it now.

It is very important you understand that your dog’s adolescent behavior is natural. It is just a part of growing up and is not personally directed at you.

As an adult, there may be a time when your Golden acts somewhat territorial, protective, or even aggressive. Handle this just as you did when he was younger. Turn him away or distract him, but don’t overreact. If you do overact and correct him too hard, he may get the wrong message.

When your Golden reaches 3-years-old, he is generally considered to be all grown up.

However, grownup to a Golden does not necessarily mean he will be taking life too
seriously. He’ll be serious when he wants to be, but your Golden knows that life is still great fun! 

Please note: This article is part of a collection of dog-related content that we purchased the rights to. Opinions expressed may or may not agree with those espoused by Master Dog Trainer Adam G. Katz. When in doubt, please refer to the advice given in Adam’s dog training book.  This article is provided for your enjoyment, only. It’s relevance to real world working dog training may be limited.

Grooming Your Golden Retriever


Grooming won’t only make your Golden look beautiful; it also can prevent serious health problems. Just as with people, good grooming involves more than an occasional brushing of the hair. Keeping the nails, teeth, eyes, and ears well groomed is just as important.


One of the Golden’s best assets is its golden coat. The best way to get a good coat is to grow it from the inside, and that means proper nutrition. You can help that coat stay healthy on the outside by brushing and washing.



Brushing is a wonderful experience for most Goldens as long as it doesn’t involve pulling on tangles. If you wait too long to get started or between session, the coat can become matted and grooming will be a battle neither of you looks forward to. An adult Golden will need brushing one to three times a week, and even more during shedding season. Delaying it will only result in more work for you later.

Before starting, mist the coat ever so slightly with water as brushing a dry coat can result in hair breakage. After misting, use a pin brush to get out most of the tangles. Be sure you get all the layers down to the skin. Start at the bottom of the dog and work up, lifting the coat and brushing it layer by layer in thicker areas.

If you come across a tangle or small mat, try picking it apart with the end of the comb, your fingers, or a mat rake. Big mats can be cut into strips with blunt-nosed scissors.

Slip a comb between the mat and skin to make sure you don’t cut the dog. Then try to work with the smaller mats.

Nothing pulls out dead and shedding hair like a slicker brush or a shedding rake. Unfortunately, these are also great at removing living hair. Use these tools if you want to get rid of as much hair as possible, but use them sparingly if you are trying to promote a show coat.

Use a comb on the feathers of the forelegs, chest, tail, and britches, and to search for overlooked tangles on the rest of the dog. A bristle brush can be used to remove and distribute oils, but if the air is dry, it can cause the coat to have static electricity.

You will save yourself lots of headaches and hassles if you brush your dog before bathing. Wetting tangled hair causes them to bunch up and mat even more tightly.

Removing dead hair prior to bathing also helps water and shampoo penetrate down to the skin.



For the best results, use a good shampoo formulated especially for dogs. Even the fanciest human shampoos aren’t as good as these, because dog and human hair have different pH values and therefore need different shampoos. Dog skin has a pH of 7.5 while human skin has a pH of 5.5. Bathing the dog with a human shampoo can lead to scaling and irritation. While using a human shampoo will not do terrible things to your dog, it’s just that using it will not give you as good of results and, if your dog already has dry skin or other coat problems, it could make them worse. If you are on a tight budget and your dog has healthy skin and coat, using a mild liquid dishwashing detergent can actually give good results.

If you want top-notch results you need to use a top-notch dog shampoo that is just right for your dog. For example, if your dog’s coat is too limp, you can get a shampoo with a texturizer. If the coat is too full, you can get one with a conditioner. Some shampoos have brighteners and some have ingredients that claim to bring out the gold coloration.

Other shampoos are available from your veterinarian and are effective for various skin conditions. Oatmeal-based shampoos can help sooth itchy skin, moisturizing shampoos can help dry skin, antiseborrheic shampoos can help with excessive greasy scaling and dandruff, and antimicrobials can help with damaged skin.

If you use your bath tub for dog bathing, place a nonskid mat in the bottom of it and help your dog in and out so he doesn’t slip. A handheld sprayer is extremely handy for indoor bathing. Use water that you would be comfortable using for your own shower.

Warm water tends to open the hair follicles and helps to loosen dead hair.

1. Start by wetting down the dog’s hair to the skin, leaving the head for last. Be sure the water isn’t just running off the top of the dog. You need to thoroughly soak the undercoat down to the skin.

2. Before applying shampoo to the dog, first mix it with water. Use a big sponge to apply it and then use your hands to work up a medium lather.

3. Rinsing is an important step. Any shampoo remaining in the coat can cause dryness and itchiness. Begin rinsing from the front and top of the dog and work backwards and rearwards. To keep your dog from shaking, keep one hand clenched around the base of one ear.

4. Most Goldens won’t need a cream rinse, but you can add a small amount if you prefer. While cream rinses tend to make the hair lie flatter, they can also make the hair too soft and silky.

After washing, don’t let your dog outside on a chilly day when he is still wet from a bath. You have removed protective oils from the coat and saturated your dog down to the skin, so he is far wetter than he would ever get by going swimming and thus far more likely to become chilled.

Once the Golden’s thick undercoat gets soaked, it can take a long time to dry. Blow-drying is essential if you want to give your Golden a show-dog finish. You can use a human hair dryer, but they dry with hot air, which can damage the hair and be uncomfortable on the dog’s skin. A better, but more expensive dryer is a forced-air dryer, which blows cool air at high pressure. It literally blows the water off the dog’s coat instead of relying on evaporation.

When drying, follow these steps:

1. Start at the top and front of the head, but behind the head. Be careful as the high force of the air can damage the eyes, ears, and other sensitive areas.

2. Hold the nozzle close to the dog and blow directly onto the hair so that it parts the hair down to the skin, blowing off water in all directions.

3. Once your dog is partially dry, he will probably look as though he’s just stepped out of a tornado. Use a pin brush to make the hair lie in the direction it grows, which is generally toward the rear and down. Now use the forced air to encourage the hair to lie close to the body as it dries by blowing in the direction it grows.

4. If you stop drying too soon, the dog’s damp coat will dent and wrinkle when he lies down, ruining all your hard work. If that happens, sprinkle the dented area with water and blow dry it again.



The main rule to remember when trimming a Golden is that less is best. This is a natural breed that should never be sculpted into a perfect silhouette. A Golden with a proper coat will not have excessively long hair, but some straggling hairs can be cut off. If your dog has extremely long feathering you might want to shorten it so that leaves and sticks are less likely to get caught in it. If you trim before giving a bath rather than after, you will do better at achieving a natural look.


Ear Grooming

Since most Goldens have a lot of fluffies under their ears, it’s good to start there. Ear grooming looks easier than it is, but try following these steps:

1. Use a stripping comb to remove some of the thick undercoat, and continue until the hair is lying relatively fat. In extra fluffy situations, you may need to use thinning shears as well.

2. The outer earflaps are most important. Your goal is to have them covered fairly evenly with close-lying hair. You will usually need to comb the hair backwards and thin ever so carefully with the thinning shears, cutting with the shears held in line with the length, rather than the width, of the ear.

3. Finally, use the thinning shears to even up the hair along the ear’s edges.



Trim the hair around the feet. This is a good idea for pet dogs, since hairy feet tend to carry more dirt into the house.

1. Use small blunt-tipped scissors to trim any long hair growing between the pads beneath the foot so that it is even with the pads.

2. Trim along the outer edge of the foot so that no hair touches the ground and the whole foot has an even, rounded, appearance.

3. Use a flea comb or slicker brush against the direction of hair growth so the short hair on top of the toes is sticking out, and then use the thinning

Don’t worry about doing a perfect job. Goldens should look like they just stepped out of the field rather than out of the beauty salon.



shears, cutting in line with each toe, to remove the extra hairs. Comb the hair back down.

Canine nails were designed to withstand traveling several miles each day. However, unless your dog is a marathon runner, you are going to need to trim his nails regularly.

The most common problem associated with excessively long nails occurs when the nail becomes snagged on something such as a carpet loop and pulls the nail from its bed or dislocates the toe. In addition, nails that are too long affect every step the dog takes, causing discomfort and eventually lameness. If dewclaws (the “thumbs” on the wrists) are left untrimmed, they can get caught on things more easily and can be ripped out or actually loop around and grow onto the dog’s leg. You must prevent this by trimming your dog’s nails every week or two.

It is easier to cut the nails by holding the foot backward, much like a horse’s foot is held when being shoed. This way your dog can’t see what is going on, and you can see the bottom of the nail. You will see a solid core culminating in a hollowed nail. Cut the tip up to the core, but not beyond. Occasionally, you may slip up and cause the nail to bleed. Apply styptic powder to the bleeding. If you don’t have any, dip the nail in flour or hold it to a wet tea bag.



A dog’s ear canal is constructed in such a way that it naturally provides a moist environment in which various ear infections can thrive. Earflaps that hang down, especially those with long hair around the ear canal, tend to block the aeration of the ear. Dogs that swim a lot are more likely to get water in their ears. The combination of moisture without aeration makes the ear susceptible to problems. Check your dog’s ears regularly and don’t allow moisture or debris to accumulate in them.

Ear problems can be hard to cure once they’ve started, so early veterinary intervention is important. Signs of ear problems include inflammation, discharge, debris, foul odor, pain, scratching, shaking, tilting of the head, or circling to one side. Bacterial and yeast infections, earmites or ticks, foreign bodies, inhalant allergies, seborrhea, or hypothyroidism are possible underlying problems. Because the ear canal is lined with skin, any skin disorder that affects the dog elsewhere can also affect its ears.

If your dog has ear debris but no signs of discomfort, you can try cleaning the ear yourself, but be forewarned that too much cleaning can irritate the skin lining of the ear canal. You can buy products to clean the ear or use a homemade mixture of one part alcohol to two parts white vinegar. Hold the ear near its base and quickly squeeze in the ear cleaner; the slower it drips, the more it will tickle. Gently massage the liquid downward and squish it all around. Then stand back and allow your dog to shake it all out. Of course, outdoors is the best place to do this. If the ear has so much debris that repeated rinses don’t quickly clean it up, you have a problem that will need veterinary attention.

If the ear is red, swollen, or painful, do not attempt to clean it yourself. Your dog may have a serious problem and may need to be sedated for cleaning. Cleaning solutions will flush out debris, but will not kill mites or cure infections. Do not stick cotton swabs down the ear canal, as they can irritate the skin and pack debris into the canal. Also do not use powders, which can cake in the ear, or hydrogen peroxide, which can leave the ear moist.



Eye care should never be approached with a wait-and-see attitude. Take note of squinting, redness, itching, tearing, dullness, mucus discharge, or any change in pupil size or reactivity. If you notice any of these symptoms, have your dog seen by a veterinarian immediately. These conditions could indicate a serious eye or neurological problem.

Squinting or tearing can be due to an irritated cornea or a foreign body in the eye. Look under the lids and flood the eye with saline solution. A watery discharge without squinting can be a symptom of allergies or a tear drainage problem. A clogged tear drainage duct can cause the tears to drain onto the face rather than the normal drainage through the nose. Your veterinarian can diagnose a drainage problem with a simple test.

A thick mucus discharge usually indicates a more serious problem, including conjunctivitis, lid irritation, or “dry eye.”



Between four and seven months of age, Golden Retriever pups will begin to lose their baby teeth and get their permanent ones. Many times, baby teeth are not lost, and the permanent teeth grow in next to the baby ones. If this condition persists after the permanent teeth are completely in, consult your vet. Retained baby teeth can cause misalignment of adult teeth. Correct alignment is important for good dental health.

Tooth plaque and tartar are not only unsightly, but contribute to bad breath and a multitude of health problems. If not removed, plaque will attract bacteria and minerals, which will harden into tartar. Plaque can cause infections to form along the gum line, then spread rootward causing irreversible periodontal disease with tissue, bone, and tooth loss. Sometimes, the bacteria may also enter the bloodstream and cause infection in the kidneys and heart valves.

Dry food and hard dog biscuits, carrots, rawhide, and dental chewies are only minimally helpful in removing plaque. Prescription dog food is available that will decrease tartar accumulation, but brushing your Golden’s teeth daily with a dog toothpaste (NOT human!) and brush is the best defense for removing plaque. If you do not brush them, your dog’s teeth may have to be cleaned under anesthesia at least once  a year.



Skin problems make up most of the “non-well” cases a veterinarian sees every day. Problems can result from parasites, allergies, bacteria, fungus, endocrine disorders, and a long list of other possible causes.


In recent years, there have been major advancements in the quality of flea treatment products. Even though many of the flea products are more expensive, they are highly effective. It is far better to put an expensive product on your dog once every three months than to reapply a cheap one every day.

Always read the ingredients of flea products. You may think you’re getting a deal with a less expensive product that is applied the same and boasts of the same results as one of the more expensive products, but you’re not getting a deal if it doesn’t contain the right ingredients.


Some of the major ingredients in the newer products are:

– Imidacloprid (for example, Advantage)- This liquid is applied once a month on the animal’s back. It gradually distributes itself over the entire skin surface, kills at least 98 percent of the fleas on the animal within 24 hours, and will continue to kill fleas for a month. It can withstand water, but not repeated swimming or bathing.

-Fipronil (for example, Frontline)- This comes either as a spray that you must apply all over the dog’s body, or as a self-distributing liquid applied to the dog’s back. Once applied, fipronil collects in the hair follicles and then spreads out over time. It is resistant to being washed off and can kill fleas for up to three months on dogs. It is also effective on ticks for a short period of time.

-Lufenuron (for example, Program) – This is given as a pill once a month. Fleas that bite the dog and ingest the lufenuron in the dog’s system are made sterile. All animals in the environment must be treated in order for this regimen to be effective.

– Traditional flea-control products are either less effective or less safe than these newer products. Ultrasonic flea-repelling collars have been shown to be both ineffective on fleas and irritating to the dogs, and contrary to some old wive’s tales, feeding dogs brewer’s yeast or garlic will not get rid of fleas. 



Tapeworms look like moving white flat worms when fresh, or like rice grains, usually around the dog’s anus, when dried out. Although they are one of the least debilitating of all the worms, they can produce anal itching. Because tapeworms are in the cestode family, they are not affected by the same kinds of dewormers and preventives as the other worms, which are in the nematode family. The only preventive is to diligently rid your Golden of fleas, because fleas transmit the most common tapeworm to dogs.


Ticks and Ehrlichiosis

Ehrlichiosis is an under-diagnosed yet potentially fatal disease spread by ticks that parasitizes white blood cells and cripples the immune system. Symptoms may include lack of energy, a dull coat, occasional vomiting, occasional loss of appetite, coughing, arthritis, muscle wasting, seizures, spontaneous bleeding, or anemia. Aside from a fever in the initial phases of the disease, dogs may not show any definite signs of illness; they may just not seem “quite right.” A definitive diagnosis is made by getting a blood titer and testing for all strains of ehrlichia. It can be treated effectively if caught early.

Ticks can be found anywhere on the dog, but they most often burrow around the ears, neck, chest, and between the toes.

To remove a tick, use a tissue or tweezers, since some diseases such as Lyme disease, can be transmitted to humans. Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible, and pull slowly and steadily, trying not to leave the head in the dog. Don’t squeeze the tick, as this can inject its contents into the dog. Clean the site with alcohol. Often, a bump will remain after the tick is removed even if you got the head, but it will go away with time.



Mites are tiny organisms that are related to the tick and spider family. Chemicals that are effective on fleas have no effect on mites. Of the several types of mites, only a few cause serious problems in dogs. Repeated shampoos or dips of not only the affected dog, but other household pets that are in contact with the infected dog. It is highly contagious, even to humans, and spread by direct contact. The presence of just one mite gives a definite diagnosis, but the absence of mites doesn’t mean they aren’t there.



Sarcopti and Demodectic mange is contagious and causes intense itching, often characterized by scaling of the ear tips, and small bumps and crusts of other affected areas. Most of the lesions are found on the ear tips, abdomen, elbows, and hocks. Treatment requires is not contagious and is not usually itchy.

Most cases of demodectic mange appear in puppies, and most consist of only a few patches that often go away by themselves. This localized variety is not considered hereditary. In some cases, it begins around the lips and eyes or on the front legs, or the dog has many localized spots. These cases tend to get worse until the dog has generalized demodectic mange. Demodectic mange affecting the feet is also common, and can be extremely resistant to treatment. are contagious and cause mild itchiness. They look like small white specks in the dog’s hair near the skin. Many flea insecticides also kill these mites, but they are better treated by using special shampoos or dips.


Inhaled allergens

Skin Allergies FAD or flea allergy dermatitis is the most common of all skin problems. When even one flea bites a susceptible dog, the flea’s saliva causes an allergic reaction that results in intense itching, not only in the area of the flea bite, but often all over the dog and especially on its rump, legs, and paws. The dog chews these areas and causes irritation leading to crusted bumps. can cause dogs to have allergic reactions to pollens or other inhaled allergens. Whereas human inhalant allergies usually result in respiratory symptoms, canine inhalant allergies usually result in itchy skin. The condition typically first appears in young dogs and gets progressively worse. The main sites of itching seem to be the face, ears, feet, forelegs, armpits, and abdomen. The dog rubs and chews these areas, traumatizing the skin and leading to secondary bacterial infections. Because the feet are also often affected, many people automatically assume the dog is allergic to grass or dew. Although such contact allergies do exist, they are far less common than flan, inhalant, or food allergies. are reddened, moist, itchy spots that suddenly appear. Hot spots typically stem from an itch-scratch-chew cycle commonly brought on by fleas or allergies. If your dog is affected with this condition, wash the area with an oatmeal-based shampoo, blow it dry, and prevent the dog from further chewing. If possible, shave the area first.

Many allergies can make your dog uncomfortable with persistent itching. Finding the source of the problem can be difficult, but some allergies are more common than others.


Hot spots

Several home remedies have been suggested, including the application of Listerine or Gold Bond powder, but these do not always work and severe cases should receive veterinary care. Your vet can prescribe anti-inflammatory medication, and if needed, antibiotics. As a temporary measure, you can give an allergy pill (ask your vet about dosage), which alleviates some itching and causes drowsiness, both of which should decrease chewing.

Please note: This article is part of a collection of dog-related content that we purchased the rights to. Opinions expressed may or may not agree with those espoused by Master Dog Trainer Adam G. Katz. When in doubt, please refer to the advice given in Adam’s dog training bookThis article is provided for your enjoyment, only. It’s relevance to real world working dog training may be limited.

Chow Chow Myths


There’s a beautiful and ancient fairy-tale that says that while God painted the sky blue, he was followed by a determined Chow Chow who licked up the drops that fell with his tongue.

As you know, each fairytale comes with some truth, but this tale has two truths: one, that this breed does have a blue tongue and second that it’s origins began with God’s Creation!

This is just one of many myths surrounding this breed. Another fascinating myth is the one that tells of the Chow Chow being a descendent of bears rather than wolves. Unbelievable, but could Nature have twisted this breed’s evolution just a little?

Whatever the truth may be, you’re bound to find that your Chow Chow is a breed apart –hat he’s not like any other dog breed. Doesn’t his independent nature bother you? Or his blue tongue? Or the way he moves? And what about his reserve? Oh, the Chow Chow is certainly different from every other dog breed.

Since ages, the mystery behind this fascinating breed continues. There are those who believe that he is a dog but that he doesn’t really behave like any other dog. After all, he goes hunting, but not like proper hunting dogs. He’s said to be a guardian but he’s not your typical watchdog. He is a companion dog but not like any other we know. He eats what every other dog eats but with so much caution.

The sad fact of the matter is that when the Chow Chow enters a dog show, he is judged just like any other breed, by following certain norms to the exclusion of others. This is reason for the decline of the breed. Instead, this breed should be judged on the basis of his behavior, responses and majesty, among others.

History bears testimony that this aristocratic breed was first wowed in England and then everywhere else. In the beginning of the XIX century, this dog was first gifted to the London Zoo as a “half-savage” dog. But in 1880 he entered a dog show for the first time and a decade later the Kennel Club recognized this breed. In 1895, when the first English Chow-Chow Club was founded, it also helped lay the foundations of the breed standard.

Much water has flowed under the bridges since then and Chow-Chow first began appearing on cigarette packs—something that continues to this day. His endearing face can also be seen on tea packets, playing cards, postcards, envelopes and stamps. This is the worldwide popularity of this breed that’s loved wherever it goes, despite it’s unpopular traits. 

Please note: This article is part of a collection of dog-related content that we purchased the rights to. Opinions expressed may or may not agree with those espoused by Master Dog Trainer Adam G. Katz. When in doubt, please refer to the advice given in Adam’s dog training book.  This article is provided for your enjoyment, only. It’s relevance to real world working dog training may be limited.

The Origins Of The Chow Chow


Over 2000 or 3,000 years ago, the Chow Chow dog breed first came into existence. It is recognized as the most ancient breed in the world, dating farther back than the 11th century in China. In fact, historians believe that this breed originated in China, and a special reference is always made of the Chow Chow escorting the Tartars when they attacked China.

Then, there are those historians who speculate that this breed originated in the Arctic Circle and then migrated to Mongolia, Siberia and China. Of course, today we know that this breed is a native of Mongolia and Tibet.

In China, however, he was the watchdog of the entire household, and a prized possession to such an extent that Chinese emperors kept 200 Chow Chows for use while hunting. In fact, Chinese authors point out that the Pekingese, Shih Tzus and Lhasas were considered the “Royal Dogs of China,” while the humble and hardy Chow Chow was used solely for hunting.

But in the days before the Chinese took to firearms for hunting, they used Chow Chows as retrievers, pointers and sled dogs. This breed can also be seen sculpted on ancient Chinese pottery and sculptures belonging to the Hun dynasty (206 B.C. until 22 A.D.).

All said and done, the real and true origin of the breed remains unknown. While there are those who believe its earliest ancestor is the ancient Mastiff-type dog that was crossed with Spitz types, still others believe that the Chow Chow is but the ancestor of the modern Spitz, Akita and Shar-Pei.

No matter what its history really is, this thickly coated dog was first bred to be a working dog, capable of surviving the severe Arctic cold. At first, fierce Mongolian tribes kept this breed as hunting and guard dogs, while also using it for its meat and fur. The Chow Chow says that the name Chow Chow means “edible dog of China.”

Would you believe that there are actually two different theories relating to the origin of this breed’s name? First, Chow Chow or ‘chou’ is Chinese slang for edible. This connects well with the fact that the Mongolians and Chinese ate this dog’s meat.

Historians assert that the Chinese and Koreans specially bred these dogs as an epicurean delight, a delicacy to be enjoyed, particularly the smooth-coated dog variety. In 1878, a British historian, whose specialization was Chinese history, claimed to have found 25 restaurants in Canton serving Chow Chow meat on the menu.

Though the Chow Chow originated in northern China, most of this breed was found in Canton, south China, where the local people called him the ‘black mouthed dog’ since he really did have a very dark blue-black tongue. Despite this, the Chow Chow was a very popular and well-loved breed and history tells us that Genghis Khan had a kennel of 5000 Chow Chows which he took into battle around 700 B. C.

In earlier times, Chow Chows were used as guard dogs in monasteries, besides also being herding and sled dogs. Their meat was also eaten in China until in 1915, the Chinese government enacted a law banning the purchase and sale of Chow Chow meat.

The breed was saved from extinction when, after the cultural revolution in China, they were smuggled out of the country by sailors since the revolution had declared them so useless that they ought to be destroyed.

This apart, in the 13th century, Marco Polo had described the Chow Chow, pointing to the fact that they were common in those days too.

In time, this name slipped into easy everyday parlance to mean food in English. It also referred to the cargoes of spices and mixed pickles from China and it was also taken for a spicy pickle relish.

The second theory, though not logical, is still plausible. Chow Chow in the early 1800s, referred to clipper ships that sailed from China to England and brought back an assortment of cargo.

When they reached a particular port, they had to describe the contents of their cargo. Since they carried an assortment of goods, the term Chow Chow was coined, meaning knick-knacks or bric-a-brac. When the dogs became part of the ship’s cargo, the name extended to them too.

But returning to the dog breed, the first of the breed made its appearance in England in the late 19th century and grew popular when Queen Elizabeth took a shine to it. In fact, it was given this name because it had been housed in the ship’s chow chow hold all along the long voyage. After finally arriving in the United States in early 1900, the Chow Chow was quickly accepted into the American Kennel Club in 1903 as a member of the non-sporting group.

However, the breed with a regal air that we know it as today is really the result of how it was treated in England and the United States— far cry from being a hardy working dog in China and Mongolia. Over the years, the Chow Chow has evolved to be a medium sized dog and is now seen as a popular American dog. 

Please note: This article is part of a collection of dog-related content that we purchased the rights to. Opinions expressed may or may not agree with those espoused by Master Dog Trainer Adam G. Katz. When in doubt, please refer to the advice given in Adam’s dog training book.  This article is provided for your enjoyment, only. It’s relevance to real world working dog training may be limited. 

The Quintessential Chow Chow

The Chow Chow is a stockily built, muscular and medium-haired dog that belongs to the Non-Sporting group. You can recognize it by its large head that’s complemented by a broad flat skull, short muzzle and wrinkles on his face. Often, these wrinkles end up forming a deep scowl.


His ears are erect, rounded and small. His tail curls and high above his lower back and he carries it with pride over his back. However, his hallmark is his blue-black tongue, a rarity among all dogs. In fact, this is one of the two breeds of dogs in the world to have a blue-black tongue, the other breed being the Shar Pei, yet another Chinese breed.

Breed standards: The general characteristics of this breed comprise its north Chinese origins, where it was specifically bred as a hunting, pulling and herding dog that also doubled up as a watchdog.

Today, it is a companion dog, but it is essential to remember his roots while evaluating his breed type.

Appearance: Your regular Chow Chow is no parlor dog. On the contrary, he’s powerful and sturdy, with a stocky build to match. This erect Arctic dog is medium-sized and has a strong muscular body that’s complemented by a heavy bone structure. One more interesting feature of the Chow Chow that rates him as distinctive is his erect hind legs.

His body: He has a compact body, short coupled, broad and deep and is supported by straight, strong legs. If you look at him from one side, his hind legs, you’ll find, are very slightly angulated while the hock joint and metatarsals lie directly beneath the hip joint. This structure gives him his trademark short and stilted gait that sets him off as unique.

His head: The Chow Chow carries his skull and stop proudly and erectly. Though they are both large in comparison to the size of his body, it’s not disproportionate to make him seem either top heavy or a dog with a low carriage. His top skull remains broad and flat from one side to another and from front to back.

He has perfect bone structure, something that does not detract from his coarse coat and loose skin. If you see his profile, you’ll find that the top lines of his muzzle and skull are almost parallel, and are joined by a moderate stop. His stop is made to appear steeper than it really is due to his padded brows.

His muzzle, though short when compared with the length of the top skull, is hardly ever lesser than one-third of the length of his head. His broad muzzle is distinctive in its own way, being well shaped just below his eyes. The depth and width of his muzzle are equal and ideally should seem to be equal from its base to its tip.

His head, as you will see, is large with a short, deep and broad muzzle that’s set off by a ruff. He’s a fantastic combination of grace and substance that produce an active and agile pet. He may either have a rough double coat or a smooth one, but no matter which he has, he is a unique mix of dignity and sophistication, with his characteristic blue-black tongue, scowl on his face and a stilted walk. If he looks square, this is achieved by a perfect bone structure, complemented by padding of the muzzle and equally expanded lips.

His upper lips cover the lower lips completely when he closes his mouth, and never hangs loose. Have you taken a look at his nose? It is large, broad and black with wide nostrils.

However, the fault in his nose is that it is spotted or another color but black. Only blue Chow Chows have a deep blue or slate nose.

His mouth and tongue: Ideally, to conform to the breed standards, he must have a solid black mouth. You will generally find that the mouths of Chow Chows have lips whose edges are black, and the tissues of their mouth are almost always black, while the gums too are generally black.

This breed’s hallmark is its blue-black tongue, and that includes the top surface and its edges—n fact, to be ideal, the darker the tongue the better. The disqualifier is a tongue tinged with red or pink on the top surface and sides or one that has one or more spots of red or pink.

His teeth: His teeth are strong with a sharp bite.

His eyes: Dark brown and deep set, your Chow Chow’s wide set and obliquely shaped eyes are of medium size. In fact, they are almond-shaped. If he conforms to the standard, your pet could well have an Oriental appearance with a mysterious, quiet and thoughtful expression.

The black rims of his eyes with lids don’t turn in. But equally, they don’t droop either and the pupils of his eyes are clearly visible. What would be seen as a serious fault in him is his susceptibility to suffering from Entropion or Ectropion, or if his pupils are wholly or partly hidden by loose ears.

His ears: You could very easily fall in love with this breed just for his small and triangular shaped ears. Just a little thick, they taper slightly at the tips, but remain stiff and erect with just a hint of a forward tilt.

Set wide apart with its inner corner upon the skull, there’s one fault in his ears—hey flop as he walks. His are termed as drop ears—ne that breaks at any point beginning from the base of the ears and going up to the tips. Alternatively, his ears could also lie parallel to the highest point of the skull.

His scowl: This is one of his hallmarks and is often misunderstood as a sign of meanness. But no, it would be doing him a grave injustice if you based his personality on his scowl. But really, though he scowls, he is actually a very dignified, regal, discerning, sedate and snobbish dog, always showing his independent nature in all that he does.

Let’s examine the source of the scowl. Have you noticed that your Chow Chow has a marked brow with an inch of padded skin just above the inner and upper parts of his eyes? His skin is so loose that it’s really not at all difficult to fold the skin into brows that form frowns, or even a distinct furrow between his eyes that you can first spot at the base of his muzzle and trace all the way up to his forehead. The fault in his scowl is his excessively loose skin, which is considered undesirable.

His neck and body: He has a strong, muscular neck, well arched and long enough to bear his proud head above the top line when standing at attention. His short but compact and sinewy body, beginning from the chest, is broad and deep down in the flank. In fact, you will never find his chest narrow or slab-sided. His top line is straight, strong and level right from the withers to the root of his tail. His ribs are situated close to each other and are well arched. Though the spring of his front ribs remain narrow at the bottom ends, yet it gives the shoulder and upper arm a smooth fit against the wall of his chest. However, the base of his chest is broad and deep and goes all the way down to the tips of his elbows. One serious fault in his chest is that he may suffer from difficult breathing if he has a narrow or slabsided chest.

He has muscular loins, though short, broad and deep. The croup is short and broad with a strong rump and developed thigh muscles. To be ideal and in conformity with the standard, check to see if his body, back, coupling and croup are short since together they give this animal his square build. Lastly, his tail, set high and carried close to the back follows the trail of the spine.

His forequarters: Your Chow Chow has strong shoulders that start to show muscular development right from the tips of his shoulder blades. The spine of his shoulder forms an angle of about 55º with the horizontal and forms an angle with the upper arm of about 110º, leading to limited reach of his forelegs.

The length of his upper arm is never shorter than that of his shoulder blade. His elbow joints are set well back along his chest wall with the elbows neither turning in nor out. His forelegs are erect beginning from the elbow to the foot and are supported by heavy bone structure that remains proportionate with the rest of his body. If you view his legs from the front, you will find his forelegs parallel and widely spaced and evenly balanced with his broad chest.

His pasterns, though short, are upright. His wrists too, do not knuckle over and his feet are round, compact and feline and stand with good support from thick toe pads. His dewclaws can be easily removed.

His hindquarters: The Chow Chow has a broad and strong rear body with good muscular structure in his hips and thighs. He may be bone-heavy but the weight of his rear and front bones are almost equal. If you see it from the rear, you will find his legs to be straight, parallel and widely spaced, equal to his broad pelvis. His stifle joints have the bare minimum angulations and are well-knit, stable and pointing forward. His joint bones should be clean and sharp and his hock joint is well let down and seems almost straight.

He is strong at the hocks, being well knit and firm, never bowed or breaking forward or slanted to one side. The hock joint and metatarsals are in a straight line below the hip joint, short and perpendicular to the ground. A serious fault would be an unsound stifle or hock joints.

His coat: A Chow Chow could either have a rough coat or a smooth one. However, both are double-coated. Let’s consider the rough coat first. The rough coat is rough from the outside, abundant and dense and could either be straight and off standing but coarse-textured with a soft, thick and woolly undercoat.

His coat on the neck, shoulders and nape forms a mane, giving him a very leonine look. In fact, the rough Chow Chow’s long hair and soft woolly undercoat serves as insulation against heat and cold while his coarse outer coat adds to his beauty. Puppies have soft, thick and woolly coats with the coat forming a thick ruff around the head and neck, as if framing and protecting the head.

This coat and ruff are generally found to remain longer with dogs than with their female counterparts. The smooth coated Chow Chow is judged on the same lines as his rough counterpart except when it comes to the rough Chow Chow’s quantity and distribution of the outer coat. On the other hand, the smooth Chow Chow has a hard, dense and smooth outer coat with a definite undercoat. In addition, the standard dictates that there should be no ruff or feathering on the leg or tail.

Coat length: Though the coat length may vary from Chow Chow to Chow Chow, a greater emphasis should be given to its thickness, texture and condition rather than length. Even if it is long, you needn’t trim or shape it though you might consider trimming his whiskers, feet and metatarsals.

Though the smooth coated Chow is judged by the parameters as his rough coated counterpart, yet they differ in the amount and distribution of the outer coat. These parameters are not applicable to the smooth coated Chow since he has a hard, dense and smooth outer coat with a definite undercoat. To be the ideal Chow Chow, he should neither have ruff nor any feathering on the legs or tail.

Coat color: The color of his coat may vary from being clear colored, solid or solid with light shades in the ruff, tail and featherings. Usually, you can spot a typical Chow Chow in five colors—red ranging from light golden to deep mahogany, black, blue, cinnamon ranging from light fawn to deep cinnamon and cream.

However, there aren’t any white Chows, but light cream is usually passed off as white. The blue Chow Chow is really a watered down version of black, and perhaps the least beautiful of them all.

Gait: To conform to the standard, your Chow Chow needs to have a good gait. His gait must be sound and straight, he should move with agility and quick and brief steps. His rear gait should be short and stilted because of the erectness of his rear legs. Viewed from his rear, you can see just the effect of his stilted action on his gait.

While his rear leg moves both upward and forward from the hip in a straight and stilted fashion with a slight bounce to it in the rump area, his legs neither extend far, forward nor backward. His hind foot thrusts forward with great impact—n action that transfers power to the body in a straight line due to the minimal action of the rear leg angulations.

In order to send on this power to front part of its body to the best of its ability, the Chow Chow’s coupling must be short, and it must not have a roll through the midsection. When seen from the rear, the line of bone from hip joint to pad stays straight even as he walks.

As his speed increases, the hind legs incline forward, though just a little. If his stifle joints do not point in the line of his travel, he will have bowlegs. When you view him from the front, you will find that his line of bone from his shoulder joint to his pad is a straight line as he walks, but as his speed increases, his forelegs no longer move in parallel lines but tilt forward slightly.

To conform to the breed standard, his front legs should not swing out or in arcs but his front and rear parts should be equal and in synergy. Though this breed is known to be somewhat slower in speed, yet the Chow Chow shows remarkable endurance all due to his sound and straight rear leg that gives him direct and usable energy.

Body size and proportions: The average height these dogs go up to is about 17-20 inches at the withers. The highest point of his withers is calculated as the distance from his fore chest to the point of his buttocks. But a serious fault in him is his overall appearance if it is anything other than square.

Do you find the base of his chest in line with the tips of his elbows? When you examine the width from the front and rear, his chest is equal in width, besides also being broad. If he conforms to these proportions, he is the quintessential Chow Chow. When you judge a Chow Chow pup, don’t give them any leeway if he doesn’t conform to these proportions. For instance, the ideal height of the Chow Chow must be between 46-56 cm.; he must weigh 20-32 kg and must stand ranging between 9 kg and 22 kg.

While females of the species are only slightly smaller than the males and weigh proportionately lesser too, an average adult weighs about 20 kg-25 kg.

Temperament: Don’t underestimate your Chow Chow’s aloofness for his snobbery. You wouldn’t believe it but under that thick mane, you’ve got a super intelligent pet with an independent spirit and a regal air. His inherent nature causes him to be just a little reserved and cautious with strangers. He does not like any show of aggression or timidity from fellow dogs.

In addition, his deep-set eyes give him just a little peripheral vision. Your dog is the kind of neighbor everyone wishes for but few people ever get: he minds his own business just like a true blue aristocrat. He does not go out searching for trouble, but if provoked, will fight for justice and protect his master. If, however, you do come across a bad-tempered Chow Chow, bear in mind that he is not representative of the breed. A puppy mill perhaps bred him for a quick buck. So, don’t judge his breed by his aggressive streak. 

Please note: This article is part of a collection of dog-related content that we purchased the rights to. Opinions expressed may or may not agree with those espoused by Master Dog Trainer Adam G. Katz. When in doubt, please refer to the advice given in Adam’s dog training book.  This article is provided for your enjoyment, only. It’s relevance to real world working dog training may be limited. 

Can You Get Along With A Chow Chow?


The Chow Chow stands apart from other breeds in many different ways, something you will soon find out.

Sometimes feline in their attitudes—they’re aloof, sparing with affection, independent, regal and stubborn—hey don’t always like to be hugged and fussed over by kids and strangers for their soft and abundant fur.

If you have a family comprising small kids, you should not choose this dog, as it does not particularly care for kids and their antics. Beware, he might turn aggressive in the company of your kids and may even bite them.

Here are his most distinctive traits:

Me first: But the Chow Chow is an extremely intelligent dog, and again like a cat, doesn’t care too much to please his master, as other dogs will want to. He believes in pleasing himself first—is master can wait.

Being hunting dogs, unsocialized Chow Chows don’t get along with cats or small dogs. Not being pack dogs, they don’t gel with large dogs of the same sex.

Positive reinforcement: And if you think that you can break his spirit by hitting or spanking him in order to obey you, think again because this is one breed that doesn’t tolerate physical punishment. If you hit him, he may turn vicious but he certainly won’t learn the lesson you’re out to teach him.

Your dignified Chow Chow expects to be treated with majesty and respect and you are obliged to give him that. In return, he will respect you and be loyal to you if he thinks you deserve it. This is why you need to use positive reinforcement to teach him all that he needs to know rather than beat him into shape.

Protective, territorial and loyal: Often, ignorant people who don’t understand the uniqueness of this breed’s nature misunderstand it. Inherently suspicious of strangers, the Chow Chow takes family life and his responsibility towards his master very seriously. He will protect the master’s family with his life and is perhaps undisputedly the best among dog breeds in this matter.

He is territorial too, and will fiercely protect his master’s estate as if his own, while the latter is away. Don’t imagine you can bypass him and enter your friend’s home if his pet, the Chow Chow doesn’t permit it. You may be used to getting warm welcomes from other breeds, but this breed is different.

The Chow Chow is well mannered, but can also be stubborn and protective. He is often a one-person dog, loyal to the end. His reserve, turned on its head, can end up in aggression, so one must handle him with kid gloves. Being such a powerful personality, he needs a calm owner who can be both fair and firm with him. If you have such an attitude, you would be the right master for the Chow Chow.

If you don’t want to be over-protective towards your Chow Chow, socialized him right from puppy hood with a firm hand. If he has a tough exterior, it is largely due to his origins of being hardy draw-and-pull dogs. Added to this is the fact that they never had a single master as domestic pets do, since they were bred as hunting dogs—omething that has cast a shadow on their personalities.

No wonder it is now an introvert and indifferent, and a little detached too. Realizing this, breeders have been trying to breed the Chow Chow to be a family dog, and have achieved some small measure of success.

In successive generations of Chow Chows, you could well forget the scowl on his face and love the Chow Chow for his amiable nature and loyalty.

Do what you may, but don’t expect obedience from him. If he must obey you, he must first be able to reason out your command and only then carry it out. Therefore, the onus is on you to be consistent always.

Smile at his scowl: He may startle you with his gravity, but really you will have to stand in line for his affection till he understands that you are indeed his master’s friend. Still, the Chow Chow’s behavior won’t be radically different towards you—e will be reserved in his attitude towards you, not making friends too soon.

In fact, his appearance gives rise to all kinds of myths about his temperament. People see the scowl on his face; his deep-set eyes and his huge mane are intimidating to the unwary stranger, and lead one to believe he’s aggressive and angry. But those who think this way mistake his natural reserve and regal air for his indifference to people, particularly those strangers who think all dogs must be friendly and loving. He is selective about granting his affection to those he considers special and therefore does not curry favor with anyone for attention.

He has a “don’t care” attitude and doesn’t mind what opinion you might hold of him. So, don’t be misled by his scowl: in fact, the next time you encounter a Chow Chow scowling at you, just smile back at him.

Active, agile and learns quickly: Some people believe that a shorthaired Chow is more active, can perform tricks and is quicker on the uptake than his longhaired counterpart. They claim that he can dance on his hind legs, roll over, jump on his hind legs and can differentiate between “shake hands” and “shake” –he latter being a command to dry off her mane after a bath. They are said to learn from wanting to please their masters and are people-centric.

Though people consider the Chow Chow a difficult breed, few people know that they can also be polite and patient. They don’t give in easily to wearing leashes and collars, but will grudgingly allow you to put it round them.

Believes in personal cleanliness: You will also find that he is an extremely clean dog, who can easily be housebroken before he is eight weeks old. In fact, if you take in a Chow Chow, you will never see it have the odd accident—hey take so easily to instruction and follow it to the letter!

His attitude to cleanliness can also be seen in his odor-free body and coat that is usually free of vermin, including ticks, making him a very likeable member of anyone’s family.

An introvert: He may learn to be by himself for most of the time while you are out at work, but whenever you are at home, he would rather be with you than be kept in a kennel outside your house. He can’t bear to be tied up and far away from the people he loves, and if you do make this mistake, be prepared to pay for the consequences: he will become hostile and anti-social.

Adjustable nature: The Chow Chow can live equally happily in a house, an apartment or condo. All he needs is ample exercise, though the best environment for him would be a house with a yard where he can play as long and as often as he likes. You will also need to keep your pet fit so he doesn’t become lazy. He won’t be comfortable in warm climates as his thick coat and sensitivity to the heat will make him very uncomfortable. 

Please note: This article is part of a collection of dog-related content that we purchased the rights to. Opinions expressed may or may not agree with those espoused by Master Dog Trainer Adam G. Katz. When in doubt, please refer to the advice given in Adam’s dog training book.  This article is provided for your enjoyment, only. It’s relevance to real world working dog training may be limited.

Caring For Your Chow Chow

All breeds of dogs are prone to an array of health problems, and so too with Chow Chows.

Of them, hip dysplasia, luxating patella and entropion are the commonest. But the chances of your pup not being dysplastic or having a mild problem with it are minimized if you buy him from a registered breeder who X-rays the hips of animals and examines them for dysplasia before they can be bred. But on the whole, we now know that about 50 percent of all Chows suffer from hip dysplasia.

1. Hip dysplasia: This is caused due to a malformed hip joint that results in the head of the femur bone not fitting perfectly into the hip socket in which the femoral head lies. Often, it leads to pain, lameness and arthritis. However, the good news is that this condition, though congenital, can be treated by surgery.

Again being congenital, a dysplastic dog will often and invariably produce dysplastic puppies. Therefore, to ensure you’re taking home a healthy pup, it is imperative you ask to see the sire and the dam, and inquire if they are diagnosed with this condition. If not, ask to see a certificate granted by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or by Penn HIP, stating this.

Do not believe what you hear, but wait to see the certificate proving they are healthy and clear of this condition. Ask for a copy of the same so you can show it to your vet. Also, ask him if he will guarantee a puppy against hip dysplasia for at least two years.

2. Entropion: Another medical condition they suffer from is entropion. Check if your Chow Chow has runny eyes. If he does, he may well suffer from entropion, a condition caused by eyelid abnormality in which the dog’s eyelids are turned inwards rather than outwards. This irritates the eye and, if you as an owner turn a blind eye to this, it can lead to your pet turning blind. If detected in time, it can be corrected with surgery.

Usually congenital, entropion can also be acquired in later life due to an eye injury or infection. However, since this isn’t always apparent in pups, you should take care to check this out when selecting your pup. Look out for clear, dry and sparkling eyes of the parents of your prospective pup. But if you see inflamed or runny eyes or crusty eyelids, you must know immediately that your pup is suffering from an eye infection and should be treated by a vet without delay.

3. Luxating patella: If the small, flat and mobile bone in the front of your Chow Chow’s knee is dislocated, don’t panic, as this is a knee problem that is yet again a hereditary one, often due to overweight. But this too can be corrected surgically.

4. Intolerance to anesthesia: Chow owners are often worried about their pets being intolerant to anesthesia, resulting in complications from surgery and death during surgery. This happens because this breed is said to have small hearts, in comparison with their body weight, and since anesthesia is given according to body weight, often they have been given a much larger dose than their bodies can take, causing their hearts to stop functioning.

5. Ruptured or torn ligaments: Your Chow Chow has such straight rear legs that the angulation isn’t enough, resulting in torn cruciate ligaments. He may rupture his ligaments when exercising strenuously. Or he may chase a ball, stop and start abruptly and cry in pain and turn lame. When he stays lame for some time, you realize that he needs immediate medical attention.

6. Diabetes: One of the commonest hormonal disorders in dogs, diabetes is a problem of the pancreas. It is caused due to the body producing insufficient amounts of insulin, thereby affecting the endocrine system.

The highest occurrences of diabetes are found in dogs aged five to seven years, of which female dogs are more prone to it. If your dog is obese, he stands a greater chance of being affected by it. It is the most common hormonal disorder in dogs.

If your Chow Chow suffers with diabetes, you’ll notice that he drinks more water than usual, urinates more frequently and may even do so within the house, and will lose a lot of weight.

In order to prevent diabetes, have your dog examined by the vet every year, with urine and blood examinations as part of the routine checkup. The earlier you detect diabetes, the higher the chances of treating it in time. While there is no cure for diabetes, it can certainly be controlled.

Treatment: Treatment usually consists of daily injections of insulin. Learn from your vet how best to administer these shots and adopt a time schedule. Monitor your dog’s response to the insulin shots and their dosage. Testing his urine with test strips that you can get from a nearby drug store or pet shop does this. This strip will denote the level of sugar in his system-if it is too much, you reduce the insulin level and if it is low, you scale up the insulin dosage.

If you maintain a record of the results of these test strips, the dosage of insulin given and your dog’s eating patterns and attitude, it will help you in understanding his condition, besides also helping your vet predict any future problems.

Feeding your diabetic dog: Give your dog a fiber and protein-rich diet with restricted fats and carbohydrates. Be sure to feed him at the same time every day, besides also giving him the same food, as this will have an effect on his sugar levels.

Take care to see that you feed him a third of his total daily amount of food about ½ hour before you give him his insulin shot. The remaining two-thirds can be given about eight to 10 hours later. But if he likes a snack before bed, give it out of his two-thirds amount of food.

Put him on an exercise regimen and see that he sticks to it. If you decide to walk your dog, or play with him for about 20 minutes a day. Exercise will help keep his sugar levels constant. If he is obese, you will have to put him on a diet to lose weight. If you have a female dog, have her spayed as this has an effect on the female hormones and will stabilize her insulin levels. And don’t forget to give her all your love and understanding, since she sure doesn’t understand her condition.

7. Glaucoma: Diagnosed as a painful and serious optic condition, here as pressure within the eye increases, it leads to blindness, if undetected or if not checked in time. In dogs, this is a leading cause of blindness and is caused due to increased fluid pressure within the eye.

If the pressure is not reduced, permanent damage to the retina and optic nerve end in permanent blindness. Blindness can set in within 24 hours if the fluid pressure is very high or slowly over weeks and months if mild, but in all cases, it is extremely painful.

Glaucoma may either be primary or inherited or secondary due to a variety of eye disorders such as luxation of the lens, tumors of the eye, and uveitis or an inflammation of the eye.

You may detect your dog rubbing away at his red eyes or the eyes may look cloudy due to a swollen cornea and he may prove to be sensitive to light. It may seem larger or bulge outwards and your dog may consequently lose his appetite and be depressed.

An emergency called Glaucoma: In such a situation, the vet must begin treatment immediately to save the dog’s vision or it may result in irreversible damage to the retina and optic nerve within just a few hours of the fluid pressure being significantly increased.

Treating glaucoma: In order to save his sight, immediate surgery is necessary. Initially, your vet may render emergency medical therapy but then refer him to a large and more specialized veterinary center.

8. Skin, hormonal problems and allergies: Your Chow Chow can also suffer from skin and hormonal problems. Often congenital, these problems are hardly ever obvious to the naked eye in pups. Once again, therefore, you will have to ask the breeder about the parents of the pup and if you don’t find that he is healthy or has an issue with his appearance or temperament, refrain from buying him. Skin and hormone problems include hot-spots and allergies. If your pet scratches himself a bit too much or has irritated skin that looks red and infected, show him to the vet immediately.

9. Heat prostration: If you leave your pet in a hot area with no ventilation, or out in the sun, he will be very uncomfortable and suffer from heat prostration. He reacts to extremely high humidity, particularly if the temperature rises above 80º To avoid such a situation, keep him cool in a shady area or room, with provision for rest and peace. If he is still uncomfortable, call in your vet, but meanwhile wet him with cold water or towels soaked with cold water.

10. Bloat: If he eats too much, he is bound to suffer from bloat or gastric torsion— life-threatening and sudden illness caused due to the stomach filling with air and twisting. 

Please note: This article is part of a collection of dog-related content that we purchased the rights to. Opinions expressed may or may not agree with those espoused by Master Dog Trainer Adam G. Katz. When in doubt, please refer to the advice given in Adam’s dog training book.  This article is provided for your enjoyment, only. It’s relevance to real world working dog training may be limited. 

How The Rottweiler Got Replaced By The Donkey and the Train

Driving cattle was the Rottweiler’s main historic function.. But Rottweilers had another historic job besides driving cattle to the butcher, and it is the same job that the Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs and Bernese Mountain Dogs (also in the Working group) are best known for. You see, like their Swiss cousins, Rottweilers are drovers that were also used as draft dogs for centuries.

While the main job of the breed was herding large livestock, they were also often used to pull small carts, carrying such things as milk to market.  So, why were dogs, such as Rotties, commonly used as draft animals instead of a horse, which could certainly handle a greater burden? 

There are several reasons. And most of those reasons lead straight back to the fact that a dog was the more economical choice under the circumstances. For the most part, draft dogs were employed by small farmers. Perhaps it was a family with a handful of dairy cattle or a few chicken houses. Or perhaps they were subsistence farmers, who used most of their crops for themselves and could only spare a small amount to sell. Either way, in most cases, these were not big landowners. They did not have a huge amount of product to take to market and they did not have a lot of money to invest in a beast of burden. No matter what point in history we are talking about, it has always cost less to purchase a good dog than a good horse.

Let’s look at the plight of a small dairy farmer. A horse would be using the same pasture as his cows, eating the same grass and grain. His choice might come down to the question of does he want a horse, or does he want to add another cow to his herd and increase the amount of milk his farm produces.

A dog, on the other hand, is not going to consume anywhere near the amount of food that a horse would. Also, the dog wouldn’t be intruding on the cattle’s food supply. While they are usually considered carnivores, dogs actually have some omnivore tendencies. The farmer could simply give them a serving of whatever his family was eating that evening. Plus, a dog could supplement its meals by hunting vermin or pests.

Also, in the case of Rottweilers, the dog could serve multiple purposes. He could be used to herd cattle from the pasture to the barn, in addition to pulling the milk to market. His protective nature made him an excellent farm guardian, as well.

In addition to those reasons of why to use a dog, there were also health issues. As anyone who knows much about horses can tell you, the term “healthy as a horse” is a bit deceptive. Horses are actually very sensitive animals. Too much green grass in the spring and they can founder and go lame. A sudden change in the type or amount of grain and they can get colic, and possibly die. On the other hand, a farm dog would be much hardier (the term “sick as a dog” is also deceptive). And let’s not forget the fact that you don’t normally have to shoe a dog.

In the late 19th century, railroads nearly put the nail in the coffin of the drover dogs of southern Germany. It became illegal to drive cattle for long distances along roadways. However, Rottweilers still had their secondary occupation of draft dog available to them for several years afterward. Unfortunately, though, they also soon lost that job as well. Donkeys became much more commonly used than dogs as beasts of burden. While a donkey eats the same food a horse would, because if its size, it doesn’t need near as much. In addition, they are much hardier than horses.

When compared to dogs, a donkey could pull more weight. It could also be
ridden, something that even the biggest Rottie is not capable of. Like llamas, donkeys can make good livestock guardians, too, mercilessly chasing away anything that looks like a predator.

As with herding, the modern Rottweiler can still be used for carting. Only now, instead of an occupation, carting is now considered a fun hobby for both dog and owner.

Please note: This article is part of a collection of dog-related content that we purchased the rights to. Opinions expressed may or may not agree with those espoused by Master Dog Trainer Adam G. Katz. When in doubt, please refer to the advice given in Adam’s dog training book.  This article is provided for your enjoyment, only. It’s relevance to real world working dog training may be limited.

Sites We Like

Of course, our site is a mega dog training compedium of some of my life’s work including texts on dog training, audio lectures and video explaining how to deal with the most common dog behavior problems.

If you’re in the Las Vegas or the Henderson, Nevada area and you’re looking for dog training in Las Vegas now you can train with Adam in person.  Check out his Las Vegas dog training web site: is a collection of resources for the professional dog training business owner, that I’ve put together over the years.  It started out as a depository for all of the marketing and business material and strategies I used with my own dog training business, but eventually grew to include tips and ideas from other dog training business owners.

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If you have a Puppy Biting Problem visit for some great content related to puppy biting behavior.

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If you’re thinking of adopting a rottweiler then, our newest site, is what you’ll want to look at.

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