The Chow Chow is an imposing character thanks to his bellowing bark and scowling expression. They originated in China and were used to hunt everything from pheasant to wolves, were commissioned to guard boats and pull carts of cargo. Today the Chow still makes an excellent guard dog, and when treated with love and respect, is himself a loving and respectful companion who tends to attach deeply to one or two members of his family. Chows are an aggressive breed, fiercely protective of their people and property and should only be adopted by experienced dog owners who have the time and energy to devote to proper training and socialization.
Chows are large, but only need moderate exercise to maintain health. They are most active in the winter months, and their thick coats can make them irritable in the summer. Several walks a day with an occasional run in the yard or park will meet their daily activity requirement. They can be equally happy in the suburbs or the city, and also thrive on farms where they have herds or flocks to watch over and protect. Chows should never be left off-leash or in an unfenced yard, as they can be aggressive toward strangers and other animals.
Training a Chow takes an experienced leader and is not for the first-time dog owner. Chows are dominant dogs, and will require a trainer prove their leadership before taking direction. They do not like to be told what to do, and forcing a Chow with a strong hand can lead to avoidance behaviors or even retaliation by the dog. Positive reinforcement, lots of dog treats and 100% consistency are the keys to training this breed. If they see an opportunity to manipulate a situation, Chows will take it and run with it.
Despite obedience training challenges, Chows are exceptionally easy to house train, and many Chow owners report that even as puppies, their dogs have never had an accident in the home.
Aggression is the biggest issue with Chows, though it is a problem that can be avoided. Chows are naturally aggressive toward dogs of the same sex, and their hunting instincts can take over if presented with a small dog or a cat. Chows should be kept in a single-dog family, or raised alongside a second dog of the opposite sex and similar size.
Chows should not be raised around small children and older children should be taught proper manners when living with a Chow. They are impatient dogs, and don't like to be teased or treated harshly, as they will retaliate. When treated with love and respect, however, a Chow will be equally loving and respectful in return.
Chow Chows need to be socialized very early and very often to allow guests into the home. They are naturally protective, and if that instinct is left unchecked can lead to aggressive behavior in adulthood.
Homeowners should check their insurance policies before adopting a Chow Chow, as the breed is often not covered.