The German Chow Shepherd Mix (Challenging and Cuddly)
The German Chow Shepherd Mix, or Chow Shepherd, is one of the most striking “designer dogs” out there. Equipped with a fluffy coat and boundless energy, this hybrid can make big dog aficionados instantly smitten. However, there are a few things you should know before you give your heart away.
An Overview of the Chow Shepherd
Like most designer dogs, the Chow Shepherd’s origins are unknown. However, one may speculate as to why this hybrid was created by looking at one. This is a dog that, from a physical standpoint, is about as “fluffy” as hybrids get.
Your typical Chow Shepherd will have a long narrow muzzle that's consistent with a German Shepherd. They'll also contain a GSD's black facial accents. This somewhat skinny face and color scheme tend to emphasize the mane-like fur that surrounds the head, which is very much like a Chow.
The result of these physical facial features creates a pooch that almost looks like a different animal when staring at them face to face, like a lion or a bear. However, the rest of the Chow Shepherd’s physical features assures you that this is one pooch that is undoubtedly canine.
The Chow’s DNA tends to dominate the Chow Shepherd’s body. Its downy, bushy hair makes the hybrid look like an explosion of fur, and its curved, somewhat wild tail is also similar to how a Chow dresses its hindquarters. The GSD genes do tend to claim ownership on the ears, which are typically pointy with a slight flop on its apex.
Obviously, the Chow Shepherd is a big dog. You can expect the pooch to stand anywhere between 18 and 26 inches tall, and they usually weigh between 40 to 95 pounds. The hybrid comes in a wide range of colors, such as red, brown, white, black, blue, black and brown, dark brown, and chocolate.
What’s the Personality of a Chow Shepherd?
From a parental breed standpoint, the Chow Shepherd has one of the most impressive pedigrees of any designer dog. The Chow Chow was bred for hunting and is considered one of the oldest breeds that are still roaming the earth. The German Shepherd, on the other hand, is a working dog that’s consistently used as military, police, and service dogs.
Needless to say, the genetics from either parent make the Chow Shepherd a highly intelligent, high-energy breed. But what makes the hybrid truly interesting is how the combination of these genetics tempers some of the iffier traits found in the parental breeds.
For instance, Chow Chows are somewhat notorious for being independent and aloof, almost to the point of being cat-like. However, the Chow Shepherd tends to have a strong desire for human attention and interaction. What’s more, the hybrid won’t have any problem letting you know that their attention is not being met.
This thirst for human companionship means that they’ll constantly want to play, to the point where they may become a little exhausting. The hybrid also tends to get bored easily, and may revert to naughty behavior if their play needs aren’t met. As a result, these aren’t great dogs if you’re at the point in life where you’d prefer to take it easy.
These also aren’t the best dogs to have if you plan on being gone for extended periods of time. Much like a German Shepherd, these pooches are notorious for suffering from separation anxiety, and they well inform you of what they perceive to be as neglect by engaging in destructive behavior.
While the Chow Shepherd thrives on attention and love from their owner, they do tend to revert to their classic Chow Chow roots when around strangers. They tend to oscillate between being aloof and protective, although they aren’t necessarily a barky breed. Besides, their size may enough to keep potential intruders at bay.
The Chow Shepherd in Action
This video does a great job of encapsulating why the Chow Shepherd can be so appealing. Indeed, when these hybrids get going, it can be a lot of fun watching their fur “fly” as their playtime gets indulged. Seeing the dog’s joy certainly makes it easy to get them out of the house and active.
The Exercise Needs and Temperament of a Chow Shepherd
The Chow Shepherd craves exercise and activity – a lot of exercise and activity. A couple of long walks will not suffice - in order to be happy, the dog needs running in addition to walking. The hybrid also requires playtime that is physically and mentally stimulating.
The latter bit of stimulation makes engaging in activity with the dog a bit of a challenge. Because the Chow Shepherd is so bright, they may figure out activities very quickly, and may grow to find them boring. Because of this, it’s important that you keep introducing new and exciting ways to stimulate the pooch’s noggin.
Because the Chow Shepherd boasts a desire to run and a seemingly infinite love for playtime, it’s vital that you have access to open space so the dog can sufficiently romp. A large backyard is a must for this dog – don’t even think about owning one if you live in an apartment. It’s also nice to bring the hybrid to a dog park.
The dog’s strong loyalty streak means that they’ll happily join you to participate in your own outdoor activities like jogging, hiking, or running. The downside here is you shouldn’t expect the dog to be by your side off-leash during these situations. The dog is prone to chase all kinds of items, so don't let them off-leash in an unsecured space.
Are Chow Shepherds Easy to Train?
If you’re an experienced dog owner, you’ll find Chow Shepherds pretty easy to train. After all, they’re smart dogs that can pick up on things pretty swiftly. However, these smarts can make training them a bit rough on novice owners.
The training process is arguably the one place where the hybrid’s Chow Chow instincts manifest the most. This dog has a stubborn streak and will grow aloof or indifferent if you don’t show a firm yet positive approach to the training.
Socialization is a huge deal when it comes to the Chow Shepherd because it can make or break what kind of family environment they feel comfortable in. If you socialize the breed with young children, they will become an exceptional family dog. If you don't, they may grow intolerant to the point of snapping at your wee ones.
With that being said, a Chow Shepherd that’s properly trained and socialized can be an ideal fit for the family that prides themselves on being active. This is a dog that will have no problem keeping up with your need for the outdoors. The thing you have to ask yourself, of course, is if you can keep up with the dog.
What are the Grooming Needs of a Chow Shepherd?
The Chow Shepherd is a massive shedder that will drop hair around your house constantly, particularly if the dog tends to take after the German Shepherd’s genetic code. Things can get especially hairy during shedding season. Expect to break out the vacuum frequently, and you should have something to tend to your clothes, too.
You can mitigate some of this shedding by brushing their coat once per day, or every other day at the very least. You’ll also need to wipe down their ears once a week and brush their teeth at least three times per week.
You should also keep an eye on the dog’s nails. Because Chow Shepherds are so active, their nails may wear down naturally and stay at a nice uniform length on their own. However, don’t take this for granted – double check to see if they’re too long, and trim them gently if they are.
What are the Health Issues Behind a Chow Shepherd?
Because the Chow Shepherd is relatively new, there hasn’t been any specific health issues pinpointed to them, thus giving them the reputation of being a healthy breed. However, you may see the dog develop some of the issues that tend to show up in either parental breed.
Some of the conditions culled from either the Chow Chow or the GSD include joint dysplasia, bloat, eye problems, and allergies. On the whole, though, you should expect your Chow Shepherd puppy to be part of your life for 10 to 12 years.
How Much Does a Chow Shepherd Cost?
The hybrid’s initial cost ranges from $250 to $750. One of the reasons they’re as cost effective as they are out of the gate is that it’s not as trendy as some of their designer dog contemporaries. As with any dog, you should also bear in mind the cost of total dog ownership, from vet visits and vaccinations to food and bedding.
A Tough Dog That’s Easy to Love
To say that the Chow Shepherd isn’t a dog for everyone is an understatement. This hybrid’s ideal owner is an experienced owner that likes to be active, won’t be gone for long periods of time, has ample space for play, and has lots of love to give. If this describes you rather well, then this fluffy pooch may be relevant to your interests.
My first chow shepherd lived to be 16 and 1/2. His main problem was kidney failure. But 16 1/2 is really old. On to my second chow shepherd now. They are truely wonderful dogs.