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Chow Chow Aggression

We adopted a 2 year old female Chow 4 months ago and we have learned how to make her calm, come (very food oriented) no chewing and combing, which she is still uncomfortable just seeing the brush. What we can’t seem to help her with is when our grown son visits once or twice a month, she hides under the wood stove and growls. We usually tell her no, squirt with water, or ignore. Her first visit with him the first week was great. Her second visit she was laying near him, belly exposed as he was petting her, he put his face near her to give her a nuzzle and she bit him on the cheek. Of course we yelled at her, put her in her crate. So maybe she associates him with that time. He so sad he can’t connect with her. She has not done this with anyone else who visits.

Carol (Vermont)

Hi Carol,

I’m can’t be sure what’s going on here but I can say when Chow’s were at the height of their popularity years ago this was pretty common. Veterinarian friends of mine were always worried when they came into the clinics for exams as they would lash out without warning and do some pretty serious biting rather then inhibited warning type bites.

Are you confident that she truly is only this way with your son or have you been taking precautions around others since the incident? If it’s the former there may be something in her history that she connects with some aspect of him that is triggering a fear. If he were to be around more there are things you can do that would likely override the fear but it’s a lot harder when it’s periodic visiting.

If she’s as food motivated as you say try leaving a leash on her all the time your son is around so she can’t run away (don’t force a meeting – just interrupt the fleeing) and test to see how far away he must be when he tosses a treat before she’ll eat it. Work on reducing that distance very gradually. (very gradually)

For what it’s worth putting your face near a dog you don’t know really, really well, particularly a rescue, and certainly a chow is pretty risky.


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4 thoughts on “Chow Chow Aggression”

  1. Mariaan

    Hallo.. We have two Chows. The male is 2 years old and the female 1 and half years..
    They are very gentle and loveable. We have the male since 9 weeks and the female since she was 4 months old.. Our neighbors Yorkshire terrier cane through the fence and our female bit her.. Since then she became aggressive towards our male.. He will mind his own business then she wil come and look for trouble. They never fought before. Just suddenly they go at each other. The only way to get them to stop is to spray them with water..

    And to add she went on heat in February. Our male did succeeded to get on her but she didn’t get pregnant. Then on april 5th we realized that she went on heat again but don’t know if our male got the job done..

    Please advise me on what can be wrong. We have separated the two dogs for now..

    1. It could be a few things, but one is the female is now moving into adulthood and may be trying to assert herself as such. Usually works out but it can get ugly in some cases when the male doesn’t figure out that a happy wife is a happy life. The heat cycles can impact her mood as well. Things that ‘trigger’ conflict are influenced as well by how both dogs perceive your role in the household. Most dogs think their owners are roommates and they can find more resources to fight over as a result.

      FWIW, allowing dogs not yet proven to be stable physically and mentally and stellar representatives of their breed’s genetics to produce progeny is not a responsible approach to breeding. It makes breeding what is now become; more just a means to generate an income stream, something that responsible breeding when one considers the time and expenses required to do it responsibly one could never say as breeding good dogs is not currently going to be profitable. It makes qualifying to be a dog breeder nothing more than the ability to recognize the difference between and male and a female.


      John ‘Ask The Dog Guy’ Wade
      Embracing Science and Common Sense

      1. Ok, I confiscated a year-old male chow. I’m literally a freaking pushover! My 4-year-old female pit fell in love with him. He courted her and everything, and they had pups. He is two and a half, and I ended up keeping 3 of the pups because of people not being responsible. Yes, I have everyone fixed now. I tried to prevent the pregnancy, but things happen.

        So now the pups are just over one year old, and my one pup is having occasional what I call pissing contests like teenage boys. No one has been actually hurt. But I’m getting tired of getting them separated. Yes, I know it is best to leave them sort it out and not risk getting hurt. But once I separate them and throw all of them outside in the fenced-in yard, they are playing like nothing happened. I thought it might be due to food or water access. I can put out different dishes. It doesn’t matter. I am experienced with pit bulls, but this was my first chow. And now my first mixes.

        Because I have five dogs I break them up because they are a pack. I don’t want them to start ganging up on radiotherapy. They play and rough house like normal outside. The weather current isn’t warm enough for them to stay outside. Well, the Chow, maybe, but they are used to sleeping in my room. So tonight, after the incident, I threw them outside and set up a little getaway spot in the laundry room right next to my room with blankets, food, water, and a pig’s ear to help him pass the time if he gets bored before he falls asleep.

        Do you think this is the right approach? Any recommendations?

        ***The pup has bonded with me because I gave him his first breath.


        1. Hi Robin,

          Living with one dog and not having them eventually perceive their owner as a roommate, as opposed to a loving authority figure, is hard enough. I suspect that the conflict between your dogs, while at its root is not necessarily abnormal, will be exacerbated because there’s not enough of you left over at the end of the day for you to influence the various aspects of interaction that help them understand who the teacher is and who the student is. As a result, they’ll spend the next year sorting that out, and it won’t be fun for anyone.

          They’ll still love you, which is always great, but what you need, in addition to love, is their respect. Respect in many senses, but that also includes the sense that the things they are fighting over aren’t theirs to fight over, as they’re YOUR things. They just, upon occasion, get to use them/eat them, etc.

          Right now, you’re putting out fires. What you need to do is work with them so they understand you’re a loving authority figure, which will prevent most of those fires from catching in the first place.

          It’s hard to say where you should start, as I think there are far too many dogs in the equation for any one person to realistically and significantly influence. Maybe pick the worst two of the bunch and really concentrate on sending them various ‘Day To Day – Here And There – I Am The Teacher – You Are The Student – Touch Stone’ exercises throughout the day. You want to accomplish this without “redirecting their attention” with treats, etc., or resorting to ‘Might Is Right.’

          – John “Ask The Dog Guy” Wade – Embracing Science and Common Sense

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