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.