In 1998, a woman wrote to Ann Landers in response to a reader’s letter about a 3-year-old who was attacked by his grandmother’s Chow Chow. The boy needed 60 stitches and was almost rendered blind. The woman said that her parents had a Chow when she was little as well but got rid of it shortly thereafter upon seeing how quickly it turned on her and her young siblings. The woman wrote, “That grandmother is no loving grandma if her potential killer is more important than the safety of her grandchildren.”
People who have spent time around Chow Chows and heard stories like these will most likely give you a resounding “Yes” to the question of whether Chow Chows are dangerous or not.
While Rottweilers, Dobermans, and Pitbulls have a more athletic, aggressive look, Chow Chows are soft and cuddly with wrinkled faces. Some even consider Chows to be elegant, attractive, and dignified. However, to look at a Chow’s posture, you will observe a confident, strong-minded, powerful breed, regardless of how “cute and fluffy” they may appear.
Chows are known for being loyal as well, which, on the surface, seems like a positive characteristic; however, in the discussion of aggressive behavior, a loyal dog is one that may be more apt to defend its owner by attacking. Nevertheless, loyalty is a trait Chows have been well-known for generation after generation. Likewise, Chows are considered an intelligent breed. But this is another quality that can have a dark side. Smart dogs are more likely to escape enclosures, which, when combined with strong-mindedness, can mean disaster for neighborhood children.
The Chow dates back to 206 BC and originates in China. During the Tang Dynasty, one of the emperors supposedly owned 5,000 Chows. Over the course of history, Chow Chows have worked hunting, hauling, and guarding. It is not a sporting breed but nevertheless does have a natural sense for tracking animals and predatory hunting. The Chow genetics, not surprisingly, are quite similar to a wolf. Again, don’t let their giant furry sweaters fool you.
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In addition to being intelligent, loyal, and strong-willed, Chow Chows are also known for being clean and odor-free. As a somewhat meticulous dog, it may seem like they are a good fit for being housebroken. Unfortunately, they are extremely stand-offish, particularly with strangers. Yes, Chows can be caring and show affection to their caretakers, but children who live with Chows face increased risks. Although Chow Chows do not bite or attack nearly as many people as Pitbulls, they are still considered dangerous. These are the Chow Chow traits that have earned them a risky reputation:
Usually, the more primitive types of dog breeds, like Chows, are ill-tempered. Male and female Chows do, however, display different temperaments. The male tends to be more aggressive and defiant due to their increased testosterone. They will try to assume dominance, which can often motivate aggressive behavior. Chows are typically aggressive with other Chows of the same sex, so when two male Chows encounter one another, a vicious fight is not unlikely. Even two female Chows can attack and fight. Never get between two Chows of the same sex at the dog park.
Female Chows are smaller, typically one inch shorter, and 5-10 pounds lighter. Females tend to stay focused, while males are known for being easily distracted. The females are definitely more affectionate towards their caretakers and easier to train. After giving birth or while in heat, of course, female Chows may display more aggressive behavior.
What is the root cause of aggression in Chow Chows? Is it their breeding? Their temperaments? It boils down to three main reasons outlined below:
Many people don’t realize that dogs are nomadic and are used to jogging as far as 100 miles in one day to scrounge around for food. Dogs roam – this is just a universal truth. Therefore, one of the largest underlying causes of dog attacks is not receiving the proper amount of exercise and stimulation. Chow owners may find it challenging to walk their dogs because Chows can display aggression toward other dogs passing by and often overpower the owner if they so choose.
Unfortunately, it’s dogs like these that require exercise and stimulation the most. Just like people, Chows need exercise to improve their moods. Chow Chows should be in harnesses, not neck collars, on walks, and a muzzle is recommended if the owner lives in an urban area and needs to walk their Chow in close proximity to other people on narrow sidewalks.
Because Chow Chows are not jumpy, hyperactive dogs, many owners underestimate their need for exercise. However, Chow Chows should be exercised for one whole hour every single day. And letting your dog meander around the block is not sufficient—they require strenuous exercise like running or hiking up a steep incline with challenging terrain.
Chow Chows are not built for running, unfortunately (sheering may help), nor do they generally enjoy swimming. So you can see another thing contributing to these dogs attacking and showing aggression is the fact that exercising them properly is very tricky. Most dogs (somewhere around half) already don’t get sufficient exercise; when you combine that with a Chow Chow’s temperament and need for domination, it can be deadly.
Another key factor in the question of whether Chow Chows are dangerous or not is based on their living environment. A dog’s atmosphere significantly impacts whether or not their behavior is going to result in a vicious attack. A Chow Chow that does not get the proper amount of activity or has enough space is more likely to lash out. It’s unlikely that a Chow is going to jump out of a well-fenced yard, but they are known for being escape artists who can learn to open gates and have the motivation to dig under a fence. A Chow not receiving enough stimulation and just left to his or her own devices in the backyard will cause trouble.
The insurance industry has definitely answered the question as to whether Chows are dangerous with a “Yes.” According to the Insurance Information Institute, insurers paid over one billion dollars to dog bite victims in 2021. Dog bites are a prevailing concern for public health and for homeowners insurance policies. In that respect, the 12 most lethal breeds of dogs are blacklisted from coverage under homeowner’s policies:
How does a dog get banned from insurance coverage by homeowners? It’s pretty straightforward: bite frequency. Bite rates are determined based on crime reports and insurance claims.
Imagine that during your sister’s break-up from her live-in boyfriend, she finds she’ll no longer be able to live in a place where she can keep her Chow Chow, Teddy. Out of the kindness of your heart, you decide, despite being pregnant, to take the dog in. Months pass, and the dog adjusts pleasantly to your home and gets along well with your children.
The time comes for you to bring your new baby home from the hospital, so, in your diligence, you keep the Chow in his kennel outside during that transition period. Just 12 days after your new bundle of joy arrives, you step away to use the bathroom for just a minute. In that time, the Chow jumps out of his kennel, runs into the house, and violently attacks the newborn, who is in a carrier on the ground. Neither your husband nor your son, who were sitting right there as the incident played out, could stop the Chow or prevent the tragic death. On top of that, both you and your husband get arrested for manslaughter.
Sadly, this very real nightmare did happen to 27-year-old Abigail Ellis in 2020 in England. Children are most likely to be killed by Chows—the younger the child, the more at risk they are. Furthermore, more than 50% of Chow attacks involve the caretaker’s family. Despite baby Elon being surrounded by family, 67% of children bitten by Chows were not with their parents during the attack. The bottom line is that it is crucial as a parent to safeguard your children as much as possible from unpredictable Chow Chows. Was Abigail Ellis responsible for her baby’s death simply by allowing a dangerous breed of dog into her home months before having a baby, despite the fact that she had the dog locked outside the house?
As discussed above, a Chow’s bite can be devastatingly destructive and even deadly. If a Chow has decided to establish dominance over you, and they are extra antsy from being under-stimulated and under-exercised, that is not going to be a pretty situation. If you are ever bit or chased down by a Chow, try to remember the following crucial tips:
It is imperative to seek immediate medical care if bitten by a Chow. For less severe bites requiring fewer than five stitches, it’s recommended to visit urgent care. For bites that may require more than five stitches, head to the emergency room. Dog bites pose a risk of infection, and it’s essential to report them to the proper authorities for public safety. If you find yourself in a civil or criminal case against the dog’s owner, you’ll need comprehensive medical records as evidence.
In addition to seeking medical attention, report the bite to the police promptly. Dogs that have bitten someone typically undergo a mandatory quarantine period. This quarantine helps authorities determine if the dog was carrying any diseases and aims to prevent future attacks. Provide both the police and medical staff with as many details as possible about the incident. Even the smallest detail could expedite locating the dog and potentially prevent another attack.
Statistics show that Chow Chow bite cases typically settle for about $50,000. Not all cases are typical, but clearly, this shows that these are not “nuisance” cases frivolously clogging up the court system. Dog bites cause extremely serious injuries that often leave jagged, permanent scars on visible parts of the body like the face and arms and require numerous reconstructive surgeries.
For example, Filipino-American actress Antoinette Taus, who was violently attacked by a Chow Chow in 2019, said that the dog tore up her arm so badly that she could see her tendon and a big chunk of bloody tissue was just hanging out. So before you dismiss the bite as nothing and decide it’s uncouth or petty to pursue a dog bite lawsuit, just remember that your lawsuit could help prevent a newborn’s death or end an actress’ career.
Lawsuits play a key role in policing society for breaches and negligence that can be just as lethal as felonies. We urge you to take your case seriously since you don’t know if you might still be in pain or require medical treatment a year from now (or longer). To best document your Chow Chow bite:
David J. Cowhey stands as a leading dog bite liability attorney in New Jersey, representing the New Jersey Dog Bite Lawyer firm. He is deeply dedicated to ensuring the most favorable outcome for your claim, striving for compensation that addresses all your losses and promotes optimal recovery. We stand by you, ready to assist. Don’t hesitate to contact us or call us at (866) 259-4377 for further details today.