FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The following information is primarily applicable in Australia for those who are interested in learning about Chows. However, much of of the information can be exptrapolated to other locales.
WHAT IS THE CHOW CHOW CLUB OF VICTORIA?
The Chow Chow Club of Victoria (CCCV)was founded in 1974.
The CCCV promotes health and welfare of the breed first and foremost. A voluntary organisation affiliated with Dogs Victoria, it tries to offer a range of services, advice and support on health, breed direction, rescue, buying a puppy and breed care.
The CCCV holds two breed conformation specialty shows a year. The club offers exhibitors the opportunity of showing their dogs under some of the leading international breed judges in the world.
The Chow Chow Club of Victoria is proud that it remains proactive in the development of educationsal workshops for breeders, exhibitors and pet ownders. It has also developed the Breeding Guidelines for Chow breeders which has been accepted by the ANKC, Dogs Victoria and the Victorian Department of Primary Industries.
WHO OR WHAT ARE DOGS VICTORIA AND THE ANKC?
Dogs Victoria holds the Victorian breed registries, controls registrations and pedigrees and maintains a code of ethics, binding on all members. They promote health and welfare, shows, training, judges training, trials and other dog related activities as well as advice about pedigree dogs. The Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC) is the overriding body nationally.
WHAT IS A CODE OF ETHICS?
A code of ethics (COE) is an agreed upon set of standards which include the breeding, owning and correct husbandry of pedigree dogs which always surrounds the health and welfare of each breed. Every registered breeder who holds an ANKC breeder prefix signs the COE and agrees to the content of the COE, agreeing to uphold it at all times. This includes abiding by and breeding to the breed standard of any given breed. Breaches can result in suspension or expulsion.
WHAT IS A REGISTERED PEDIGREE BREED?
In Australia, a registered breed is a recognised breed that adheres to an accepted standard, usually from the country of origin. Registered breeds are recognised by canine controlling bodies around the world such as Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC), The Kennel Club (UK), The American Kennel Club, Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) and others.
WHAT IS A REPUTABLE BREEDER?
- A reputable breeder is one who stands by the dogs they breed.
- Ideally a reputable breeder is a member of a breed club.
- A reputable registered breeder is someone who has passed an education course, has signed and acknowledged the national and local Codes of Ethics (COE) for breeding, upholds the COE and follows all health and other recommended breeding practices.
- A reputable breeder strives to improve the quality and health of the breed and is not someone solely breeding for profit or to meet market demand.
Take a look at the following linked PDF"s from the ANKC regarding finding who is a reputable breeder:|
SOURCING A RESPONSIBLE BREEDER
HOW DO I FIND A CHOW CHOW PUPPY?
Contact your state breed club for advice and a list of its breeder members. Read and inform yourself about all aspects of the breed, ask lots of questions and do your due diligence.
Check the following linked PDF from Dogs Victoria: CHOOSING A BREEDER
Buyer Beware Social media pages, general sales websites and websites of kennels and breeders who engage in mass producing and even auctioning puppies to the highest bidder should be considered not only unethical, but in complete breach of not only the governing state registries [Dogs NSW, Dogs QLD, Dogs VIC etc] but also the national registry [ANKC] Code of Ethics. Remember, registered breeders agree to uphold and promote the Codes of Ethics. If a breeder is breaching that code, what other recommended breed practices are they breaching? Many online classified websites should also be met with caution. Please, contact your state breed Club for advice on contacting breeders.
WHAT QUESTIONS SHOULD I ASK OF THE BREEDER?
- Experience with the breed – how long involved?
- Club membership and breed involvement – how long have they been involved in the CCCV, do they show, do they engage in obedience, etc?
- Health testing of their breeding stock – do they do it and what tests do they do?
- Health screening of puppies – do they do it? (See under Vet Checks on page 3.)
- Kennel visit – can we see the environment where our puppy has been raised?
- Kennel visit – can we meet the parents of the puppies? The sire may not be available if an outside stud was used, but you should at least be able to meet the mother, see her interact with her puppies and have info about the father.
- Will the breeder be available and willing to help and advise you after purchase of a puppy?
- Copies of the official Health Certificates for Sire and Dam
- Copy pedigrees of Sire and Dam
- Vaccination and microchip paperwork for puppies & vet health screen reports.
- Pedigree and registration papers for puppies – these should be available at the time of purchase
- Diet Sheet
- Sales agreement
WHAT DOCUMENTATION SHOULD I ASK FOR?
- Copies of the official Health Test Assessments / Certificates for Sire and Dam
- Copy of the pedigrees of Sire and Dam
- Copies of the health assessments of Sire and Dam
- Vaccination and microchip paperwork for puppies
- Pedigree and registration papers for puppies – these should be available at the time of purchase – and vet check report.
- Microchip registration transfer paperwork
- Diet Sheet
- Sales agreement
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MAIN REGISTRATION AND LIMITED REGISTRATION?
Dogs sold with main registration papers (Victoria -blue forms) are eligible for competition in dog shows. If bred, their offspring can be registered. All dogs on the main register must conform to the accepted colours for their particular breed.
Dogs sold with limited registration papers (Victoria - orange forms) are eligible for competition in obedience, trials, and other canine disciplines. Dogs on the limited register cannot be shown and if bred, their offspring cannot be registered. Breeders usually register the puppies which are being sold as pets and companion animals on the limited register. All dogs which do not conform to the accepted colours for their particular breed must be registered on the limited register.
WHAT IS HEALTH TESTING AND IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN VET CHECKED AND HEALTH TESTED?
Vet Checked simply means, checked by a vet. This usually happens at the time of microchipping and vaccination of puppies. Preferably, the vet will check the puppies’ eyes, nose and mouth, listen to their hearts and lungs, and check their overall physical soundness and check the overall wellbeing of each puppy. Your breeder’s vet may also provide a written report of their findings for each pup.
Health Tested means the dogs to be potentially used in a breeding program have undergone a series of agreed upon tests to help identify their suitability for breeding. This is with the aim of promoting and producing healthier puppies.
What are the Health Tests recommended by the CCCV?
- Hip and elbow x-rays for adults prior to breeding as per the breeding guidelines of the CCCV.
- Australian Canine Eye Scheme (ACES) exam to clear the dogs of known eye diseases.
- Heart assessment clearing the dogs of know heart issues.
*****IMPORTANT NOTE: The x-ray screening of adults can only be certified by a qualified radiographer. A general practitioner vet is not qualified to read or score the xrays. Only adults over twelve months of age can be scored, NOT puppies.
Why are these Health Tests important?
The CCCV recommends and promote these health tests to help to produce healthier puppies that will lead healthy lives with a minimum number of health issues.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE HEALTH ISSUES CHOW CHOWS CAN HAVE?
Primarily, there are three issues that are the most common in the Chow breed: hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia and entropion. As with all living beings, Chows can be affected by other conditions.
Hip & Elbow Dysplasia
In the early 1980s awareness by Chow breeders of recorded incidents of hip and elbow dysplasia in the breed saw breeders around the world and Australia began x-raying and having their Chows assessed for each condition. This was in line with what other breeds were doing to address the health of their breeding. Breeders and the Club worked hard to ensure the importance of scoring was understood and more breeders joined in having their dogs. In the time since breeders began hip and elbow scoring, the breed average score has successfully been brought down from an average hip score of 21 to below 7. This is a positive impact on the overall reduction in the incidence of hip dysplasia and a similar reduction in elbow dysplasia.
Since hip and elbow dysplasia are both the result of the inheritance of polygenetic (multiple gene involvement) recessive genes, there is no DNA tests yet available for either condition. This is why it is important for breeders to continue to x-ray and have independent assessment scores for any dogs to ensure they are using dogs with excellent scores (as close to zero as is practicable) in their breeding programs.
CCCV member breeders are now being encourage to have their dogs tested under the Australian Canine Eye Scheme (ACES), which is a national assessment system for registered dog breeds. ACES offers a reliable screening service for a range of congenital and inherited eye conditions. Eye assessments are carried out by registered veterinary eye specialists.
There has long been a breed predisposition to entropion (in-turning eyelids>. The CCCV recognises that this will take time, effort and resources and more research on the part of veterinary researchers. In the meantime, the CCCV has been working to find ways of improving this situation and action has included:
- Raising awareness and educating breeders in what to look for and have puppies checked early (4 weeks onward) hand have their eyelids tacked temporarily allowing the head to grow and the eyelid muscle to stretch.
- Selecting clear eyed breeding stock where possible.
- -Encouraging regular eye checks and ACES assessments for puppies and adults alike.
While ACES testing is not yet wide spread, breeders are working to reduce the number of Chow affected. Due to its polygenic nature, it is espected that it will be sometime before we can claim to have the breed completely clear.
Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) is a combination of long soft palate, stenotic nares (pinched nostrils). While there is a debate about whether or not Chows are actually brachycephalic, they do have a slightly shorter muzzle (no less than 1/3 the overall length of the head from occiput to tip of nose), occasionally some Chow have presented with cases of BOAS. IF a dog has a significant BOAS issue, the affected may require corrective surgery. It is for this reason that CCCV seeks to raise the awareness of breeder to avoid using such dogs in breeding programs.
Heart conditions can also affect the Chow – heart murmurs are one of the heart conditions we occasionally see. Dogs with any heart condition should NEVER be bred from.
RESPONSIBLE ANKC BREEDER MEMBERS
Breeder members of the CCCV strive to better the breed through vigorous health testing and strict selection of breeding stock. Members agree to uphold the Codes of Ethics of the ANKC, their state canine council and the CCCV in accordance with health and welfare. By selecting healthy, fully tested specimens of the breed that exhibit both phenotypical (what we see) and genotypical (genetic makeup) healthy traits to go on and breed with, this hopefully ensures that the offspring will inherit those desirable healthy traits. These traits include a healthy skeletal structure and all that that incorporates.
WHAT IS A BREED STANDARD?
Each breed has a written standard specifically drawn up to set out guidelines covering the desired externally observable qualities for that particular breed – its physical conformation, character and temperament.
WHY IS THE STANDARD IMPORTANT?
The breed standard provides a working outline of the desirable traits and hallmarks of the breed, pushing healthy sound dogs. Movement, temperament and soundness, including breathing are highlighted in the standard. The standard is the blueprint which defines each breed individually. When judging, the judge selects the best representatives of the breed; that is, it is the best example/s of the breed as a representative of the standard. In spite of tales to the contrary, dog shows are not beauty contests.
WHAT ARE THE CORRECT COLOURS FOR THE CHOW CHOW?
The Chow Chow has five accepted colours:
Black – this is a dominant colour.
Red – this is a dominant colour and is the most common of colours.
Cream – this is a recessive colour of red.
Blue – this is a dilute colour. It is a recessive dilute of black.
Fawn – this is a diluted colour. It is a recessive dilute of red.
The latter three colours do appear less often than the reds and blacks, but they are not considered rare. In fact, there is NO SUCH THING as a rare colour.
WHAT IS A FAD COLOUR?
To repeat, there is NO SUCH THING as a rare colour, but there are unacceptable and highly undesirable colours. These are colours that are not recognised in the Chow Chow standards anywhere in the world; nevertheless irresponsible breeders are engaging in unacceptable colour breeding without considering the health issues that come with them.
Colours such as chocolate, lilac, Isabella, sable and merle (pied) DO NOT appear in any of the Chow Chow breed standards around the world. If such a colour appears, they would be listed as non-standard colours and only eligible for limited registration (non-breeding) assuming the breeder is a registered breeder.
Not only are such colours HIGHLY undesirable, there are likely to be additional genetic health issues as these colours are the result of dilute/recessive coloured parents being indiscriminantly mated together and resulting in these non-standard colours. These may include chocolate, sable, Isabella, “lilac”, and the list could go on.
Regardless of the information that is cropping up out there, there is no official Chow Chow standard anywhere that accepts these colours as desirable or acceptable
SO, PLEASE READ THE BREED STANDARD
Please don’t be fooled by unethical breeders into thinking that dilute/recessive colours or non-standard colours are “rare” or special in any way or that they should be more expensive than the more dominant standard colours.
A new and alarming colour trend that has hit the Chow breed is the Merle – other than on or two odd occurrences in past history, the colour or pattern Merle has never existed in the Chow breed and DOES NOT occur naturally. Merle Chows come from some sort of cross-breed – that is, another breed has been introduced somewhere along the line to bring in the Merle gene.
There are health issues involved. Dogs that are homozygous (carrying two copies) for the M gene are at risk of suffering from catastrophic health issues. Eye defects such as Micropthalmia – small and deformed eye or eyes; Anopthalmia – missing eyes or eye, Starburst Pupil (Coloboma); Eccentric Pupil (Wandering Eye); and sadly, deafness are all linked with the doubling of the M gene. Therefore, any Chow with a double merle gene is highly likely to have defective irises and vision issues, which means damaged eyes and degrees of blindness.
2013 Press Release from the UK Kennel Club
“Merle patterning – patches of lighter colouring appearing in the coat – is the result of the M gene in the dog. There are two alleles of this gene: M (Merle) and m (non merle), with the merle (M) being dominant to non merle (m). In some breeds, the effect of the M gene is termed dapple. Unfortunately, the effects of the merle allele (M) are not confined to coat pattering and it is known that there can be an increased risk of impaired hearing and sight associated with it, particularly in dogs that are homozygous for M (dogs that carry two copies of the M allele).”
ARE THE FAD COLOURS UNHEALTHY?
Apart from Merles, the colour of a dog doesn’t necessarily mean better or worse health. It’s the breeding practices that have occurred in order to get a litter. Only fully health tested, healthy specimens should only be bred. When colour is the main and at times only reason for reproducing a litter, health can and is at times compromised.
Dilute coloured dogs have also been linked to a particular skin condition – Dilute Alopecia as the condition is known, causing severe and permanent hair loss to parts or all of the body.
WHAT IS LINE BREEDING AND IS IT BAD?
This is unfortunately an issue that has recently become the subject of a number of untruths and misinformation. Sadly, this misinformation has led many people searching for a puppy to become quite confused and conflicted with regard to pedigree dogs. This has led to claims by inexperienced, misinformed individuals that ALL SHOW DOGS are line bred, that all pedigree dog breeders line breed, and that line bred dogs are automatically in-bred and thus unhealthy. These claims are simply NOT TRUE.
Some breeders line breed, some breeders don’t. Some breeders line breed when they want to set a trait strongly in their lines, other choose to outcross for the desired trait. Either way, when done correctly by experienced and knowledgeable breeders, using genetically superior stock, line breeding sets type and health, which is the purpose of preservation breeding – that is, breeding to preserve the on-going healthy existence of each distinct breed.
So, what exactly is Line Breeding???
Line breeding is the doubling up of any ancestor within a pedigree. This is fairly common in most breeds to a limited extent. Line breeding is still common among many species in the wild. Natural selection allows individuals with traits desirable for survival to multiply, and quite often, individuals with similar traits are related. Due to the genetic strength of the said desirable trait, paired individuals pass on those valuable traits to their offspring, with the doubling up of those genes (known as homozygosis) - thus creating another healthy generation of the species to go on and multiply. Now, in the domestic dog world, natural selection doesn’t play a role. It’s left up to the breeder to decide which animal should be paired with which. An experienced and knowledgeable breeder will want to use animals that are pre-potent in health, type and temperament. The key is using excellent specimens, pre-potent, healthy and of superior genetics, whether they have common ancestry or not.
1st degree inbreeding is banned in all breeds within the ANKC, Australia wide. It just doesn’t happen and those who say it does are not being truthful. While line breeding does occur, it is predominantly done with 3rd and 4th generation “relatives”. After the 5th generation it is considered negligible. When done correctly by experienced and knowledgeable breeders using healthy, tested dogs of correct type and temperament, the aim is to double up on desirable traits both phenotypically (traits we can see) and genotypically (genetic makeup). There is a higher chance of doubling up on good healthy traits, of course, only if genetically healthy specimens are used. When done erroneously, by inexperienced breeders using genetically unhealthy, untypical specimens – naturally, this may result in the doubling up of undesirable traits therefor, producing undesirable, unhealthy specimens.
In summary, linebreeding is the doubling up of a common ancestor and should only occur when using strong, pre-potent and healthy individuals that have superior genetics for improvement of the breed.
****There are claims out there by groups who like to suggest that matings are done between Brother & Sister, Father and Daughter, Mother and Son, this is simply NOT TRUE. The fact of the matter is, most Chows in Australia will have some common ancestry in the pedigree.
WHAT IS THE AVERAGE PRICE I SHOULD EXPECT TO PAY FOR A CHOW CHOW PUPPY?
The current average price range in 2020 for a puppy from fully health tested parents is $4,000 - $6000.
Any puppies being sold for significantly less or significantly more should raise alarm bells.
DO BREEDERS USUALLY PASS ON THEIR COSTS TO THE PUPPY BUYERS, EG: IMPORTED STUD DOG OR SEMEN RESULTS IN HIGHER COSTS OF PUPPIES?
Importing dogs and semen is expensive. Breeding dogs is expensive. At best, breeders hope to cover their costs when breeding a litter. More often than not, with small litters, the costs substantially outweigh the monies recouped in puppy sales. Nevertheless, if you are looking to buy a puppy as a companion animal, you should find that the price will fall somewhere along the lines of the average price range.
Anyone asking significantly less or significantly more should be avoided as should anyone asking more for any particular colour over another.
DOES A HIGHER PRICE MEAN A BETTER QUALITY PUPPY?
NO The price is not indicative of quality. As noted above, breeding is expensive. The average price range is a guideline.
In general, Chows have an average litter size of 3 or 4 puppies. There are occasionally litters of 5 or 6 or maybe more and just as often litters of 1 or 2. Also depending on where a breeder is located may dictate higher veterinary costs. And as is mentioned above, the majority of breeders seek simply to cover their costs to breed their dogs, get a healthy litter born and reared until some are available to pet homes.
Quality to a prospective owner should relate to how well one can talk to and relate to the breeder, both before and after purchasing the puppy. Trust and reliability in the documentation of the puppy, its health testing and that of its parents should form a solid basis for quality.
Quality relates to the health and soundness of the puppy you are purchasing, whether for a pet or a show dog.
The price a breeder sets is based on their expenses and resources invested and thus represents the value they have considered is reasonable their puppies. The breeder’s price is not for negotiation and potential puppy buyers are not encouraged to try to engage in such a practice. Further, the potential puppy buyer is encouraged to do their due diligence and ensure they are comfortable doing business with any particular breeder as well as being comfortable in paying the price the breeder has set.
If you, as a member of the public, wish to spend an exorbitant amount of money for a so-called ‘rare’ colour, that is your prerogative. However, please ensure all the correct (and complete) health testing has been carried out on the parents of the puppy prior to purchase, this includes certified assessed radiographs of the elbows and hips. Be sure to request copies of and sight ALL documentation.
NEED FURTHER INFORMATION OR ADVICE?
Please contact the CCCV, your state canine council or the ANKC. They should be happy to provide you with answers you seek and point you in the right direction.