The following is general information on Chows. We can't put everything we know about Chows here as time is limited.
Chow Chows are an ancient breed which originated in China. There are statues of Chows which are over 2000 years old, but Chows were not just a subject for artwork. They were used for guarding, hunting, pulling sleds and fur coats and food, unfortunately.
Breeders have come a long way in the past years to "build" a Chow with a stable temperament and massive yet compact structure required by the "Breed Standard", blueprint for the perfect Chow. Chows in the early part of this century were much lighter in bone, had longer legs and a narrower muzzle. These characteristics are carried forward in the "pet type" Chow of today as the definitive, unusual traits which make a Chow "a Chow" are easily lost if not actively preserved and promoted.
Why Are You Writing This?
Besides the obvious promotional value of having literature available to prospective puppy purchasers, we have, in our years of breeding and exhibiting Chow Chows, recognized the need for some simple answers to frequently asked questions about our breed.
The Chow Chow is not a breed for everyone. We have always tried to be honest with people who wish to purchase their first Chow, in describing our breed's requirements for socialization, discipline, grooming and attention. To us, it is more important to dissuade the uncommitted and /or unsuitable owner from purchasing a Chow Chow than it is to "make a sale".
Many people need information to make intelligent decisions when it comes to buying a dog, yet they don't know what questions to ask.
It is our intention to educate the purchasers by making them aware of certain problems with the breed, and letting them know which questions they should ask in order to weigh the suitability and quality of the dog they are offered, as well as the reputation of those making the offer.
What Is The Temperament of a Chow Chow?
If we have learned anything in living with our Chow Chows as house pets (family members, actually), it is that, just like people, each and every one has a very distinct and unique personality. They all share a fierce devotion to those they love and trust and a strong will that must be adjusted, but never broken, to accept their master's authority.
They can tend to be a bit suspicious of strangers, and can easily become protective to an excessive degree if not socialized from an early age, or if aggressive behavior is actively encouraged or tolerated. Discipline is best expressed by the master's show of vocal disapproval. Physical punishment will not achieve the desired result, but will create, instead, a hand-shy unreliable Chow.
Most pups will adapt nicely to a multi-animal household. A number of our pups are living in harmony with other dogs, cats, even birds. Chow Chows can be trusted around children, assuming that the parents supervise play activities. No large dog should be trusted with a child alone, until it is a certainty that the child will not abuse the dog and that the dog will not play too roughly and injure the child.
A new baby in the house calls for even more vigilance on the part of the Chow owner. All pets can become jealous if they perceive that their master's attention is focused entirely elsewhere. Introduce the Chow to the baby gradually and continue to show your pet the affection he has grown to expect from you. He will learn that the baby is his to love and protect, too. It takes time and effort, but it will be worth it.
In the past, we have heard stories of "the vicious Chow that lived down the block, who bit everyone in sight, etc." As breeders, we are happy to say that this is past history. The elimination of the former unpleasant temperament caused by indiscriminate breeding for profit has been a major priority of reputable Chow breeders for the past twenty years, and our work has been successful.
We suggest that you evaluate for yourself the temperament of any pup offered to you for sale. Be wary of any breeder who tells you that a pup that growls or runs away, terrified, has a typical Chow temperament. That pup has the temperament that we have been striving to eliminate from our breed for many years.
Expect, instead, a general friendliness, with a certain amount of reserve and dignity, even in a youngster. You are, of course, a stranger to the pup at that moment. Love and devotion will be yours, but only after you have become the pup's master.
We can safely say that once a person owns and loves a Chow, no other breed of dog will provide the same satisfaction. The combination of selective devotion and thoughtful obedience won by working with this intelligent, willful breed is habit-forming.
What Special Care Does a Chow Require?
Every dog, whether pure-bred or random-bred, needs love, attention, socialization, grooming and training. Given the size and the tendency toward protectiveness of the Chow Chow, the need for socialization and basic obedience training cannot be too strongly emphasized.
Socialization is actively making your dog a part of your family's social life, introducing him to friends and to strangers in order to encourage him to trust people. This will not make him any less of a watchdog or protector of home and family. On the other hand, encouragement of aggression and tolerance of any antisocial behavior will quickly lead to an unpleasant animal that will not be courteous to your guests or trustworthy with your family.
It is not too difficult to continue the socialization process that every caring breeder begins.
We take the pups out to meet guests & neighbors, take them for rides in the car, and try to expose them to as much pleasant human contact as possible. Continue to do the same. The reward will be a stable, well-adjusted pet.
Obedience training is a must for any dog. Your Chow should walk quietly at your side, sit and stay on command, and come when called. This is the minimum a dog owner should expect. We recommend group obedience classes rather than a private trainer, as these classes train you to train your dog, reinforcing his loyalty to you, and assist in socialization with people and other dogs as well. These classes are offered by Obedience dog clubs, local Adult Education departments and animal shelters.
Your pup's breeder should be able to direct you to a local class. We have found that a dog that has been taught something is happier than one that has not. Your Chow, despite his reserved character, does want to obey and please you. Give him a chance.
Frequent (once a week or more) grooming is very necessary in a long-coated breed such as a Chow Chow. Most owners elect to do their own bathing and grooming. Basic equipment required for Chow grooming is:
Ask the breeder of your pup for a brief grooming demonstration at the time of purchase. There is an excellent section on grooming in The Book of the Chow Chow, by Draper/Brearley, TFH Publications.
Most importantly, start grooming and bathing procedures as soon as you acquire your pup. He will soon grow to enjoy the attention and the time spent together, making future grooming easier for both of you.
Should I Spay or Alter My New Puppy?
We are in favor of spaying or altering any pup that is not to be used for breeding, either due to the owner's desire not to breed or the pup's unsuitability as a breeding animal, based on the breeder's evaluation.
We suggest consulting with your veterinarian as to the optimum age for the spaying/altering procedure - generally after the attainment of sexual maturity.
There are many reasons why spaying/altering is desirable - accidental pregnancy in an unspayed female may lead to unwanted mixed breed pups and the endangering of the mother's health; the prevention of such female diseases as pyometra ( abscess of the uterus and breast cancer; and the improvement in manageability of unruly males who do not respond to training.
Most people do not realize the work and commitment that go into rearing a litter of quality puppies. "Having a litter for the kids" is too casual a reason to justify the potential danger to the mother, the work of raising a litter and the responsibility to properly socialize the pups to become well-adjusted family members, and the responsibility of placing these precious lives in good homes.
The world does not need more poor quality Chow Chows. Breeding should be left to those with the knowledge to improve the breed by selectively planing a breeding, having the courage to weed out the unfit, and having the desire to dedicate their time and effort to the goal of improving the breed.
Where Should I Buy My Chow Chow?
There are three major available sources of purebred pups; the pet shop, the casual (or backyard) breeder, and the hobby breeder/enthusiast.
By far, the worst choice is to purchase a pet shop puppy. Bred unselectively, sometimes sold in wholesale lots to pet shops, caged alone until sold, unsocialized and unloved, these unfortunate creatures often make unsuitable pets for both health and temperament reasons. Ask any Chow breeder who is active in trying to rescue the end-products of this commercial breeding process from the dog-pounds of this country. A pup that starts off poorly has a much lesser chance of developing into a healthy, well-adjusted pet than does a home-raised, well-loved pup. Don't feel sorry and purchase that sad little pup in the cage; greedy people will soon breed two more to replace him.
The backyard breeder typically purchases a female from a pet shop, with the proprietor's assurance that, in a year, he can breed her, sell the puppies, and "make back" his purchase price. This female is promptly bred to the male down the street, whose owner is looking to "make back" his purchase price, too, and gives birth to a litter of pups which, although AKC registrable, are of quality no greater than the parents. No time was taken to study the physical and genetic makeup of the mother and father; no special care is given the mother and her pups; no special attention is given to socialization, training or conditioning. The pups are weaned early, depriving them of necessary maternal socialization and instruction, and are sold as soon as possible.
Buy your pup from an involved, serious breeder/exhibitor. They put in long hours of obsessive study regarding pedigrees and lineage, evaluate and observe their dogs for faults and virtues, and give them the love, attention and care they deserve. Those of us who exhibit at dog shows proudly show the world the fruits of those efforts. Ask a breeder about the vet bills, the hours spent tending newborn pups, the time spent with those who have purchased one of their pups, the grooming, the training, and the socialization that go into producing quality dogs that they can be proud of. We breeders work very hard to produce the best pup that can be produced. Quality is no accident; it takes effort and dedication.
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