Unlike "spaniels, who live to please you or hounds that will sell their souls for a chunk of cheese, ... chow chows have dignity, philosophies and brains."
If you want a dog that is eternally active or extremely obedient - please look at another breed! However, if you are seeking to share your space with a life-long companion, are willing to assert yourself as a capable leader, in the correct firm but dignified manner and have a good sense of humour - you will have an utterly loyal companion in the Chow Chow, the likes of whom you will never forget!
Almost feline in it's ways & outlook, arrogant, proud, choosing to live life on it's own terms, the Chow Chow has fascinated man for years! It is well known for accepting everyone in it's family (pack), but reserving it's undying loyalty for one member (of it's own choice) only! Equally well adapted to city or country living, it can make the perfect 'couch potato' or it can be tireless in patrolling a large property.
The Chow is a highly intelligent but very stubborn breed, quick to learn but choosing when to obey! Many an owner can testify to how quick the Chow knows what you are trying to teach it or get it to do, and at the same time, to how long it can take for the Chow to choose to comply! Obedience comes only if it sees reason to - be it a favorite toy, a tasty bit or excessive praise. This makes it necessary to be firm from the first day that the Chow joins your household. Be firm but don't 'bark' at your Chow! "Never forget your training kit: Patience, a Good Sense of Humour, a very Strong Will of your own, Positive Thinking, Consistency and most important - Praise - Praise - Praise!"
As the Emperor of dog breeds, the Chow has regal dignity which makes it incapable of tolerating being struck in anger - this devastates it, and the Chow that is subjected to this handling, becomes neurotic and unpredictable. It definitely understands the difference between being corrected and being abused."
For better or worse, the Chow is a single-minded dog, that, having once made up its mind about a matter - it takes only extreme patience and tremendous effort to change its mind!
For instance - a typical 'blanket judgement' made by Chows could be: its first experience with the little child next door was positive and wonderful. The Chow will now like all little children! Or conversely: its first experience with a uniformed or bearded person is a negative one. The Chow will now dislike all uniformed or bearded people! Armed with this knowledge - please try to ensure that the encounters your Chow has with everyone and everything possible, are perceived by it as positive! It has an excellent memory by association!
Chow socialisation should begin as soon as it is born and continue well into adulthood! A well-bred & socialised Chow (a 'good' Chow temperament) will tolerate people if you as the owner do, albeit with great aloofness at times - most likely turning its back to the stranger or leaving their presence! This is a true characteristic of the breed - they are, and should be, instinctively very wary of strangers! True Chow temperament is neither aggressive nor highly strung (very nervous). If it wants to be left alone, it will growl to give enough warning to back off! If this warning is ignored, it may snap at the offender.
A breed of limited peripheral vision, it must always be approached form the front, perferably on the dogs' level with your hand touching it under the chin first. Never approach it from the side, behind or above!
The Chow is a 'dominant' breed. In a pack of dogs, most likely the Chow will be the leader, in its own quiet, firm and dignified manner. In a situation with strange dogs off its own property, the Chow will not pick a fight. However, if the other dog does start a fight, the Chow will fight to the finish, often doing great damage with it's exceptionally strong jaws. Perhaps a good point to note here is that the Chow's particular odour (almost 'sweet') seems to disturb some dogs.
Unique in its cleanliness, the Chow will not do its toilette on cement or tiles, and due allowance should be made for this need. Although its love for water is generally known, it has a particular dislike of dew-wet grass!!
The Chow must never be trained as an attack dog!! Instinctively a guard dog, the Chow can patrol its home territory tirelessly. A quiet breed, it will bark only when there is something in 'its territory' - or something happening out of the ordinary. Intruders, though, are confronted quietly and once the Chow has bitten, it is not apt to let go in a hurry!
Its hunting instincts have remained intact for milleniums, so be aware that only the creatures that grow up in its territory are acceptable to it. The rest will be 'hunted' off the property - with a lot of yelping, barking and enthusiasm!