THE CHOW CHOW
Information from articles by Steven Miller, Vicky DeGruy and Diana Phillips
Definitely one of the most impressive of all breeds, the Chow Chow is an awesome creature with his lion-like appearance and regal manner. Looking a little like a cross between a lion and a bear, the true origin of the Chow is unknown and lost deep within Chinese antiquity. The Chow as it is known today is easily recognisable in pottery and sculptures of the Chinese Han Dynasty (206 BC to 22 AD); other artefacts indicate that he was even a much older breed and may have come originally from the Arctic Circle, migrating to Mongolia, Siberia and China.
The Chow Chow's disposition is quite different from other breeds. They are catlike in their attitudes: aloof, reserved with affection, independent, dignified and stubborn. Although their soft fur is ripe for hugging, they don not always enjoy being fussed over by children or strangers. The Chow is very intelligent but like a cat, not as highly motivated to please their masters as most other breeds. They seem to please themselves first. They do not tolerate physical punishment. Hitting or beating a Chow may result in viciousness or a broken spirit. The Chow expects to be treated with dignity and respect. He will return that respect with undying loyalty if he believes you are worthy of it.
The Chow Chow's temperament is often misunderstood by people who do not understand the breed's unique nature. Naturally suspicious of strangers and territorial, they take their homes and families very seriously as well their responsibility to protect what they love. On his own property and without his owner present, the Chow may appear to be quite fierce. He will seldom let a stranger pass unchallenged. People used to the warm welcomes of other breeds may be startled by the seriousness of the Chow. Once greeted by the owner and accepted into the home, the Chow should accept the stranger but may be reserved in his desire to make friends.
The Chow Chow's appearance also contributes to myths about his temperament. The scowling face, small deep-set eyes and lion-like ruff are intimidating. The Chow's natural aloofness, dignity and indifference to people outside his family is often misinterpreted by people who expect all dogs to be outwardly friendly and affectionate. The Chow saves his affections for those he loves most dearly and finds little reason to seek attention from anyone else. He minds his own business and simply does not care what strangers think of him.
The strong willed, stubborn Chow needs an equally strong willed, stubborn owner! This breed has a mind of its own and may easily become your master if you let it. Chow puppies are naturally well behaved, seldom destructive or disobedient. Because of their good behaviour, some owners feel that training is not necessary. When an untrained Chow reaches adolescence, though, he may refuse to accept authority. We have found that most people who experience behaviour problems with their Chows failed to train and socialise them properly.
Training should continue at home and obedience commands should be incorporated into your Chow's daily life. A well-trained Chow is a joy to live with! He is a happier dog because he knows what is expected of him and how to please you. He can go more places and do more things with you because he knows how to behave properly.
The Chow needs to be brushed at least twice weekly or more if possible. Grooming is essential to keep the long, thick coat in peak, clean condition. Chows have a dense undercoat that supports the coarser outer coat and gives it its fluffy appearance. Many adult Chows have a ruff almost like that of a lion that must be handled with care because it can be stripped away by too much grooming. The puppy undercoat, however should be brushed out when it starts to loosen so that the adult coat may come in properly.
Chows should be kept in a fenced-in area or inside the house in a room where they have a good deal of freedom. Chows should not be put on a chain for they resent the feeling of being trapped. Let your Chow have as much freedom as you have to offer within the limits of his safety and welfare.