The Chow Chow temperament makes him a handful, to say the least. He can be very aggressive and stubborn. But if he picks you as his “person,” then you will have a friend for life.
The increasing popularity of this breed in the 1980s led to people believing they could make a few quick dollars by producing and selling Chow Chow puppies.
This had a devastating effect on the dog's temperament.
Responsible breeders would never use aggressive animals in their breeding program. But these new breeders were less concerned with this, and the Chow Chow became known for his antisocial disposition.
Good and Bad Aspects of the Chow Chow Temperament
The Chow Chow temperament is one of the most difficult to manage.
This breed originated in China and was used to hunt and to guard boats.
Their nature is such that they are really only suitable for experienced and competent dog owners who can manage their aggressive and stubborn personality.
In the simplest terms, don’t be fooled by his fluffy goofball appearance. The Chow can be one mean son-of-a-gun when he wants to be.
However, and this is a big “however”: if you train him from an early age to respect people, you can show him who’s boss and tame him.
Here are four additional traits of the Chow Chow temperament that can ultimately help you decide whether you want to tame this otherwise serious dog.
A Chow Chow forges a close bond with his owner, but everyone else can take a hike, as far as he’s concerned.
If you’re a cat owner, then you know what it’s like to own a Chow. He’s reserved, dignified, and doesn’t need to take any guff from you if he doesn’t feel like it.
The Chow doesn’t need your help, thank you very much. He’s a good guard dog and watch dog who can make his own decisions about what to do and when.
However, he is rather easy to housetrain. So, for all of his faults, at least this is a silver lining to an otherwise rough cloud.
The best way to get a Chow to listen is to show him that while you respect his independence, there are still rules he needs to follow. He needs to learn that respect goes both ways.
Some dogs are loyal to their entire family, but not the Chow. He picks his person, and that’s it.
It’s ironic to think that a dog that is so independent and stubborn could be loyal to anyone but himself. Yet the Chow does have the potential to be loyal – only, to one human and one human alone.
Along with the quiet comes the calm. You don’t have to worry about the Chow being destructive because he possesses a calm and quiet disposition.
He also won’t typically release his aggression unless provoked. So if it’s just you and him, you’re less likely to have an issue.
Chow Chow Aggression and How to Prevent It
This is the most dangerous of all dog temperaments, and it is extremely common in the Chow Chow.
This dog is protective over his territory and his family, and won't willingly allow people into his home and yard.
He will growl and even bite an unwelcome visitor.
What about children?
Small children are at risk of getting bitten by a Chow Chow, because they often poke and prod at dogs without being aware of the consequences.
Older children can live with this breed, providing they are taught how to behave around him.
No dog likes to be tormented, and the Chow Chow is no exception. However, this breed is very likely to bite to make an annoying child go away. Click here to learn tips on how to stop dog biting.
Other Dogs and Animals
The Chow Chow is aggressive towards other dogs of the same gender.
He will live harmoniously with a dog of a similar size, but of the opposite sex.
He is definitely not suitable for homes with cats or other small animals as his strong instinct to hunt will take over. For this reason, he should never be let off leash because he will attack any other animals in his immediate vicinity.
Preventing Aggressive Chow Chow Behavior
You can prevent, or reduce, an aggressive dog temperament in your adult Chow Chow with a lot of hard work while he is young.
It will be time-consuming, and it may be expensive, but it is absolutely essential.
He must start obedience training at puppy school, and be given the opportunity to mix with other puppies in a controlled environment.
From there, regular dog training will remind him that you are in charge, and allow him to get used to other dogs of all shapes, sizes, and genders.
How Trainable is the Chow Chow Temperament?
In a nutshell, not at all. This dog is extremely dominant and doesn't like anyone telling him what he can and can't do.
He doesn't appear to be particularly concerned about pleasing his owner either, so you need to find another motivator for him.
Otherwise, he'll just do what he wants to, with no regard for what you are trying to teach him.
Fortunately, the Chow Chow responds reasonably well to clicker training and food rewards.
One interesting feature of this particular breed's temperament is that he is naturally quite well mannered when he is young.
This can lure his owner into a false sense of security and by the time he becomes a teenager, you have a problem on your hands. He will resist your authority and have no respect for you at all.
Don't fall into this trap, and make sure you train and socialize your Chow Chow puppy, even if it appears that he doesn't need it.
For help with training, you Chow Chow take a look at The Online Dog Trainer by Doggy Dan. Doggy Dan is an expert Dog Trainer based in New Zealand. His online resource contains Hundreds of Excellent Dog Training Videos that will take you step-by-step through the process of developing a healthy, happy well-behaved dog.
Never be tempted to use physical punishment to train your Chow Chow. It doesn't work and given his aggressive tendencies and dominant nature, he may retaliate and bite you.
Firm but fair leadership with positive training methods are the best way to teach your Chow Chow how to behave.
Remain persistent and consistent, and don’t let him walk all over you. With patience and positive reinforcement, Chow Chow training is possible – tough, but possible.
This is definitely not a breed I'd recommend for just anyone. He is aggressive, suspicious and protective of his loved ones.
He is not very cuddly, so if you're looking for a companion to snuggle up to on the couch, this is not the dog for you.
However, if you are an experienced dog owner and are attracted to dogs that are aloof and independent, then the Chow Chow temperament might just fit the bill.
Whether you opt for a rough or smooth-coated Chow, you can tell by looking at him that you have your grooming work cut out for you.
Brush him twice a week and give him a bath once a month to keep him looking clean and neat.
The coat of a Chow Chow puppy can become badly matted if you do not groom him regularly. The same goes for the fur around his head.
Be sure to brush all the way through to the undercoat when grooming him. You should also use a blow dryer on the “cool” setting to properly dry his coat after a bath.
The Chow is moderately active and so requires a daily walk and a fair amount of play with his toys each day.
He does not do well in the heat, so avoid exercising him vigorously when the temperatures climb.
You should also avoid high-impact exercise with this breed. If you enjoy walking a dog but not much else, your Chow will be perfectly fine with that.
This is because his gait and bulkier build make it impossible for him to keep up with you while you’re jogging or biking.
Chow Chow owners will tell you that smooth-coated Chows tend to be more active than rough-coated Chows.
It’s probably not crazy to think that it’s because all that hair weighs the rough-coated Chow down. You’d feel a lot freer too if a giant fur coat wasn’t hanging off your limbs all day.
Plus, walking a dog strengthens the bond you have with him. And this is definitely the kind of dog you need to bond with if you have even the slightest desire to keep him as a pet.
The Chow Chow Dog Breed: Staying Healthy
Chows are relatively healthy dogs, but there are some health problems you need to be aware of and watch out for. Specifically, these concerns include:
- Hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia
- Patellar luxation
- Eye problems, like cataracts, distichiasis , nd glaucoma
- Autoimmune thyroiditis
- Stomach cancer
- Gastric torsion, or bloat
On average, a healthy Chow Chow can live between 9 and 15 years.
Healthy males are typically between 55 and 71 lbs., while females are between 44 and 60 lbs.
Males are between 19 and 22 inches tall, while females measure in at between 18 and 20 inches tall.
Note: Don't let the many issues above scare you. The best way to approach health problems is to prevent them in the first place. The Ultimate Guide to Dog Health is a great place to start. Get a copy to keep at home. It will help you prevent the painful health issues that can plague your Chow Chow from expressing his personality and maximizing his life expectancy.
Finding the Perfect Chow Chow
So, you’ve decided to take on the challenge of buying a Chow Chow and taking him home? I wish you the best of luck!
While you are more likely to find a Chow Chow dog for sale from a breeder than at a rescue shelter, but you might get lucky.
Chow Chow Puppies for Sale
The average Chow Chow dog price is between $900 and $1,200.
The price all depends on the breeder, including where the breeder lives, as well as the “purity” of the lineage of the dog.
If you can find a Chow Chow at the shelter, you will pay less to adopt him than if you purchased him from a breeder.
Chow Chow Rescue and Adoption
If you are looking to save a few dollars, or if you are interested in a Chow Chow mix, then the local shelter may be your best bet.
Because of their aggressive disposition, the shelter should take measures to warn you about the potential dangers in seeking a Chow Chow adoption.
However, if they don’t, it may be because they don’t even know.
Often, shelters will have Chow Chow puppies for adoption, and they don’t know a thing about the dogs’ history.
The dog might have been dropped off on their doorstep or spotted on the side of the road, so they can’t tell you what they don’t know.
This is especially true if you are trying to adopt an adult Chow Chow.
By that point, he may already be set in his ways, and unless he loves you, at first sight, it just won’t work.
Chow Chow Breeders
If you want to go the breeder route, you can always join the club – the Chow Chow Club, that is.
The site works to bring breeders and prospective Chow owners together.
The site is home to the contact information for several breeders who specialize in the Chow breed.
For this breed, you’re definitely going to want to have a lengthy discussion with the breeder before agreeing to bring home a dog.
Questions to ask include:
- What’s his overall disposition?
- How is he around other dogs?
- Has the breeder trained him to be more social?
Perhaps most importantly: are you allowed a trial run wherein you can bring the dog back if it doesn’t look like he’ll be a good fit?
No one wants to have to give up a pet after they were supposed to become a member of the family.
But it is much better for everyone if you do not share your home with an animal that is overly aggressive.
Other Non-Sporting Dogs
The Chow Chow belongs to the Non-Sporting Group. The breeds in this group are all over the spectrum when it comes to appearance, and their temperaments are equally diverse.
Take a look at the following temperaments of other members of this group to get a feel for their personalities.
- French Bulldog temperament
- Lhasa Apso temperament
- Boston Terrier temperament
- Bichon frise temperament
- Dalmatian temperament
- Bulldog temperament
Conclusion: Why the Chow Chow?
The Chow Chow temperament is, in a word, a challenge.
He is a stubborn, independent dog who can easily become overly aggressive to anyone who invades his personal space.
However, if he does take to you, then he will be a loyal friend for life. This is very much a one-person-dog.
He has a list of health concerns that he is vulnerable to, which makes his average lifespan a rather wide window.
He is also impossible to train if you don’t know what you’re doing.
You must socialize him early and often, and you must remain consistent and vigilant.
You can show this dog who’s the real boss around here, but it might take a while to sink in.
Kailyn has worked as a professional freelance writer since 2012, and during that time she has written about nearly every dog breed imaginable. Her mother loved Collies, and so Kailyn grew up with three of them throughout her childhood – including a blonde one who was half-blind! Now her home belongs to her first official dog, Macho, a Dogo Argentino rescue.