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Hello. I'm looking for advice. Sorry this will be so long... My boyfriend and I are wanting to get a puppy, it won't be for a while maybe even 8 months to 1 yr but I want to do my research. The reason we want a puppy and not an adult dog is because we have 2 cats. So we want them to be raised with cats. Our male cat is 10 or so years old and is very friendly and lazy guy. Our female is 2-3 and is very shy but very sweet. She can be skittish though. (Yes they are spayed and neutered, no kittens for us) they have been around small dogs before and been fine but we are looking for a large dog.

This is our lifestyle: it's just me, my BF and his kid who is almost 18, and our cats. Our house is very quiet, we have small backyard, we rarely have people over, we both work 8-5 jobs, always home nights and weekends, we like hiking and camping but we're not extremely active, for the most part we just chill out at home. I'm looking for a pup that needs only a daily walk or 2 but will like hiking and adventures on weekends. I think I will also hire someone to check and let out the dog and walk once per day while we're @ work.

Now here's the kicker. My BF is OBSESSED with chow chows. I don't think it's the best breed for us but that's the only breed he suggests. My fear is that it will attack everyone it doesn't know or snap on me if I try to pet it lol. Also we live in Arizona so it's flippin hot. The only things I like about the breed are the looks, and the fact that they're very loyal and supposedly quiet. Sooo any expierence with chow chows and cats? My sister and mom come to visit too a couple times a year and I don't want it to snap on them. We never have children over though only adults. I'm also nervous since they have a high prey drive they'll attack the skittish cat because I know she'll run if she gets scared.


Soo anyways sorry this is turning into a rambling... But are there any other dog breeds that look like chow chows that aren't known for being as difficult ? I'm having trouble finding any. Or any other general suggestions for breeds for our family and our lifestyle? Really, I just want a rescue mutt pup but since it's not just me I have to take others feelings into consideration (darn!)

Thanks for any advice and taking the time to read this!!!
 

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What is it that your boyfriend likes about Chows? They have a lot of qualities that the average dog owner would tend to find undesirable. For one, they are wildly independent and that makes training difficult. They don't care what you want, and if they don't want to do something you're going to be hard pressed to get them to do it. They may work well for food/other rewards, but fading reward tends to be the difficult part. They're a very "what's in it for me" kind of dog. Additionally, as you said, they are prone to human aggression- part of this is that they usually have a dislike of strangers (as opposed to just not loving them), and I have heard of a lot of issues with resource guarding. They also seem to be prone to dog aggression, or at least selectivity- they are not a breed I'd suggest if you want to be able to take the dog anywhere you go without worrying about it. Even the not dog aggressive ones I've met haven't liked stranger dogs getting in their space. Intensive, responsible, good socialization is important and can cut off or at least cut down on issues with aggression, but it is not a sure thing.

They do tend to be prone to overheating, because of their thick coat and shorter muzzle. Not really a dog I'd want in Arizona.

Finally, they are prone to quite a number of health issues, and the state of the breed is such that it is more of a "when" than an "if". To my knowledge, hip and elbow dysplasia and luxating patellas are widespread issues, and the straight hind legs are prone to ligament tears (which is an expensive fix and long recovery). Their eyes are prone to all sorts of problems, and they are very prone to breathing problems, which will make them further heat intolerant. Also, their breathing issues make it hard to anesthetize them, I believe.

Owning a Chow is totally do-able, but it is going to require 1) you find a good, responsible breeder that is health testing dogs (since Chows are prone to a number of health issues) and breeding with an eye to temperament, and 2) that you build up a base of dog training knowledge so you have some tools ready for training a difficult dog and that you involve a trainer right from the beginning.

I'm not sure what their prey drive is usually like, but I do recall having read they don't usually mix well with cats or small dogs, and can have general animal aggressive (ie, not just directed at other dogs).

All I can think that looks similar to Chows is Shar Peis, which are also prone to aggression issues and a number of health problems, including a whole range of skin issues.

In terms of general suggestions- if your only criteria is that they be good with cats and not too difficult to train and live with, I'd just suggest staying away from the hunting breeds. Definitely avoid the hound group, as prey drive tends to be high. I'd probably be weary of most Bully Breeds/their mixes, since they also tend to have strong prey drive. Honestly, a shelter mutt would be a good choice, IMO, since you're not looking for much specific. See how the pup interacts with cats (especially those that run from it) before you bring it home, and look into good cat-dog introductions and how to train a dog to ignore cats. At a certain point, being good with cats is something that is trained and not always born. As long as a dog doesn't have over the top prey drive or animal aggression, you're off to a good start. Being biddable (caring what you want, and wanting to please) is always a plus in training any dog, but not 100% necessary.

If your boyfriend is set on a purebred, I would suggest making more of a list of what you're looking for- things like energy level, ease of training, size, coat type/maintenance, what kind of activities are you wanting to do with the dog, and finally, looks. Looks should always be at the bottom of any list when deciding on a breed, but it would be stupid to pretend they aren't a factor when someone is thinking about a dog.
 

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It's great you're starting your research early! Getting a dog is definitely a big commitment and it's ALWAYS worth arming yourself with knowledge as much as possible to maximize the possibility of the new arrival integrating smoothly into your daily life.

The best step at this point is probably to reach out to nearby Chow breeders. Check out breed associations and try to find some reputable ones. Ask if you can come by, meet the dogs, talk about what owning a Chow really entails -- there is no obligation or commitment to buy, good breeders want to make sure that owners are a good match for their dogs so they'll be happy to meet and talk! Definitely make sure to bring your BF. While Chows are adorable huge fluffballs, maybe hearing about how much work they really are will help him to decide if a Chow is really what he wants.

In terms of other similar looking dogs, the closest you'll get would be Spitz breeds (e.g. Samoyed) but honestly bringing one of these dogs into Arizona heat would just be cruel. Spitz breeds are all bred for cold weather and are not equipped to handle heat. Plus most SPitz breeds have prey drive and that could be problematic with cats.

That's true for other large shaggy breeds (Great Pyrenees, St. Bernard, Bernese Mountain Dog).

I agree with your thought that a rescue dog is probably the best way forward. Especially getting one from a foster-based rescue organization, they'll be able to match you with a dog that is OK with cats and has a suitable personality/energy level to match what you're looking for in a doggy companion.
 

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I know four Chow Chows (3 males, 1 female) through the training center/daycare and every single one of them DESPISES the on-site cat. I don't mean wants to chase/investigate like some of the dogs, I mean an intense dislike. They are also the ones most often involved in the scuffles.
They are very difficult to train. They have this general attitude of "Meh, not really feeling it". As Moonstream said, they have a TON of potential health issues. They require a lot of grooming, and shed every where. Also, Arizona is not an ideal place for Chows. Not only is it hot, but their coat is SO thick and their muzzles are short.
What does he like about them, has he met many? My husband was obsessed with Huskies...until I introduced him to some. ;)
 

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If you are a homeowner as opposed to being a renter, be aware that some insurance companies have lists of dog breeds they do not permit if you have their insurance, and chows are on some of those lists.
It is tempting for some to simply ignore the insurance issue rather than researching it. That is a mistake because your insurance may be cancelled, and/or after an incident involving the dog (average cost of bite incidents $32,000) the insurance company will decline your claim. When Dogs Bite, Home Insurers Pay Average $32,000
 

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Cold weather dogs in hot weather climates is a bad bad combination. Period end of story. If you move somewhere hot from a more temperate climate, of course bring your dog with you but I think its really irresponsible to buy a dog that will suffer in normal weather.
 
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