The Chow Shepherd is a mixed breed dog–a cross between the Chow Chow and German Shepherd dog breeds. Medium to large in size, protective, and playful, these pups inherited some of the best traits from both of their parents.
The Chow Shepherd is also called a Sheprachow. Despite their unfortunate status as a designer breed, you can find these pups in shelters and breed specific rescues, so remember to adopt! Don’t shop!
Chow Shepherds are not a great choice for novice pet owners, but if you’re an experienced dog parent looking for a watchdog and all around family companion, this pup may be for you. Big homes with yards are ideal but not required, as long as they get plenty of exercise. While Chow Shepherds are not excessively barky, they will alert when strangers approach.
These dogs are protective of their loved ones and, with early socialization, will be friendly with people, children, and other dogs. Don’t leave them alone for long periods, though, or else they may become bored and destructive.
Contrary to popular belief, small size doesn’t necessarily an apartment dog make. Plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise. Being quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents are all good qualities in an apartment dog.
Some dogs are simply easier than others; they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They’re also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies.
Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time dog parent to manage. You’ll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.
If you’re new to dog parenting, take a look at 101 Dog Tricks and read up on how to train your dog!
Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called “easygoing,” “tolerant,” “resilient,” and even “thick-skinned,” can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.
Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive–barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.
Breeds with very short coats and little or no undercoat or body fat, such as Greyhounds, are vulnerable to the cold. Dogs with a low cold tolerance need to live inside in cool climates and should have a jacket or sweater for chilly walks.
Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can’t pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, your dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you’ll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.
All Around Friendliness
Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they’ve been raised by the same person since puppyhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn’t the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.
See Dogs Less Affectionate with Family
Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who’s on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (which are considered Pit Bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren’t always so family-friendly.
**All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they’re not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.
Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs, even if they’re love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn’t the only factor. Dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least six to eight weeks of age and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.
Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with wagging tails and nuzzles; others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was socialized and exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult. Remember that even friendly dogs should stay on a good, strong leash like this one in public!
Health And Grooming Needs
If you’re going to share your home with a dog, you’ll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds. Some dogs shed year-round, some “blow” seasonally, some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you’re a neatnik, you’ll need to either pick a low-shedding breed or relax your standards. To help keep your home a little cleaner, you can find a great de-shedding tool
Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you’ve got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you’re a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog who rates low in the drool department.
Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog who needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.
Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn’t mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they’re at an increased risk.
If you’re adopting a puppy, it’s a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you’re interested in. You may also want to ask if your shelter or rescue has information about the physical health of your potential pup’s parents and other relatives.
Some breeds have hearty appetites and tend to put on weight easily. As in humans, being overweight can cause health problems in dogs. If you pick a breed that’s prone to packing on pounds, you’ll need to limit treats, make sure they get enough exercise, and measure out their daily food servings into regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.
Ask your vet about your dog’s diet and what they recommend for feeding your pooch to keep them at a healthy weight. Weight gain can lead to other health issues or worsen problems like arthritis.
Dogs come in all sizes, from the world’s smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if they’re compatible with you and your living space. Large dog breeds might seem overpowering and intimidating, but some of them are incredibly sweet! Take a look and find the right sized dog for you!
Easy-to-train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word “sit”), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training.
Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a “What’s in it for me?” attitude, in which case you’ll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.
Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don’t get the mental stimulation they need, they’ll make their own work–usually with projects you won’t like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.
Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in Retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn’t puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or “herd” their human family members, and they need training to learn that it’s fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a toy that’s been stuffed with kibble and treats.
Dogs who were bred to hunt, such as Terriers, have an inborn desire to chase–and sometimes kill–other animals. Anything whizzing by, such as cats, squirrels, and perhaps even cars, can trigger that instinct. Dogs who like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you’ll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren’t a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won’t chase, but you’ll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.
Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how often the dog vocalizes with barks or howls. If you’re considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you’re considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious “strangers” put your pup on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby? Then you may wish to choose a quieter dog.
Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they’ll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses–or that bunny that just ran across the path–even if it means leaving you behind.
High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they’re more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells.
Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you’ll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.
A vigorous dog may or may not have high energy, but everything they do, they do with vigor: they strain on the leash (until you train them not to), try to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who’s elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.
Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise, especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, like herding or hunting.
Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don’t like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.
Some dogs are perpetual puppies — always begging for a game — while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.
Dog Breed Group:Mixed Breed DogsHeight:22 to 26 inchesWeight:45 to 90 pounds Life Span:12 to 15 years
More About This Breed
- Chow Shepherds are mixed breed dogs. They are not purebreds like their Chow Chow or German Shepherd Dog parents.
- The main colors of Chow Shepherds are fawn, cream, gray, red, brown, and black. They generally have a beautiful blend of two or more colors.
- Chow Shepherds will most likely have long, dense coats and are not a good choice for allergy sufferers. Regular daily brushing and extra brushing during shedding season with a de-shedding brush may be needed.
- Chow Shepherds have high energy levels. One hour daily of rigorous exercise is a good starting point. Hiking and other adventurous activities are strongly recommended.
- The Chow Shepherd makes a great addition to a big family with older kids who know how to play nicely with dogs. This pup will not tolerate rough play from small kids.
- If a Chow Shepherd has had plenty of exposure to other dogs, cats, and small animals and has been trained how to interact with them, they’ll be friendly with other pets, too.
- Chow Shepherds are highly trainable and thrive on positive reinforcement. Do not leave them alone for long periods, as they can get separation anxiety easily
The Chow Shepherd mixed breed may have existed naturally over the years, however breeders wanted to mix the two parent breeds to minimize health problems that affect many purebreds as well as create an ultimate herding and companion dog. They continued to create Chow Shepherds as demand for the mixed breed pups climbed.
To better understand the Chow Shepherd, you may wish to learn about the history of their parents: the Chow Chow and the German Shepherd Dog.
Chow Chows are one of the oldest breeds, believed to have originated in Mongolia China. One Emperor was said to have kept 2,500 pairs of Chow Chows for hunting expeditions. If you would like to learn more about this fascinating breed you can read more about Chow Chows.
German Shepherds are a herding dog from Germany. One military captain, Max Von Stephanitz had a favorite pastime, which was breeding and developing the ultimate German herding dog. After retiring from the military, he did just that, and the German Shepherd Dog we see today is the result. They’re now one of the most popular breeds. Learn all about German Shepherd Dogs.
Even though Chow Shepherds got their start as a designer breed, some have ended up in shelters or in the care of rescue groups. Consider adoption if you decide this is the dog for you.
Check your local shelters, look up Chow Shepherd rescues, or check with breed specific German Shepherd and Chow Chow rescues, as they sometimes help to re-home mixed breeds.
The Chow Shepherd is recognized by:
- DRA = Dog Registry of America, Inc.
- IDCR = International Designer Canine Registry®
As the Chow Shepherd is a relatively new mixed breed, there are few standards when it comes to size. That said, as a mix between German Shepherd Dog and Chow Chow parents, you can expect the Chow Shepherd to be in the medium to large category.
Most weigh in at 45 to 90 pounds and range in height from 22 to 26 inches at the shoulder. With them being so new, many can be smaller or larger than average.
Chow Shepherds make excellent family companions and watchdogs. They’re extremely loyal and protective and will alert when strangers approach. They may be aloof with people they aren’t familiar with.
These pups hail from a line of two working parents. Their German Shepherd parents regularly work as military, police, and guard dogs, while their Chow Chow parents have jobs as guard dogs. Chow Shepherds like to be active and get lots of attention and praise from their human.
They are highly trainable and thrive on positive reinforcement. Do not leave them alone for long periods, as they can get separation anxiety easily, which can lead to depression and frustration. This can result in unwanted behaviors, such as chewing and destruction around the home.
The Chow Shepherd mixed breed is predisposed to some of the same conditions that the German Shepherd Dog and Chow Chow also face. While most are generally healthy, some may be prone to a few health issues, which is why it’s important to maintain good care and regular veterinary checkups.
Some of the more common health problems Chow Shepherds suffer from include:
- Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD) is a heritable condition in which the thighbone doesn’t fit snugly into the hip joint. Some dogs show pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, but you may not notice any signs of discomfort in a dog with hip dysplasia. As the dog ages, arthritis can develop. Hip dysplasia is hereditary, but it can be worsened by environmental factors, such as rapid growth from a high-calorie diet or injuries incurred from jumping or falling on slick floors.
- Entropion causes the eyelid to roll inward, irritating or injuring the eyeball. One or both eyes can be affected. If your Chow Chow has entropion, you may notice them rubbing at their eyes. The condition can be corrected surgically.
- Elbow Dysplasia: This is a heritable condition common to large-breed dogs. It’s thought to be caused by different growth rates of the three bones that make up the dog’s elbow, causing joint laxity. This can lead to painful lameness. Your vet may recommend surgery to correct the problem or medication to control the pain.
- Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus: Commonly called bloat, this is a life-threatening condition that affects large, deep-chested dogs like Golden Retrievers, especially if they are fed one large meal a day, eat rapidly, drink large volumes of water after eating, and exercise vigorously after eating. Bloat occurs when the stomach is distended with gas or air and then twists. The dog is unable to belch or vomit to get rid the excess air in their stomach, and the normal return of blood to the heart is impeded. Blood pressure drops and the dog goes into shock. Without immediate medical attention, the dog can die. Suspect bloat if your dog has a distended abdomen, is salivating excessively and retching without throwing up. They also may be restless, depressed, lethargic, and weak with a rapid heart rate. It’s important to get your dog to the vet as soon as possible.
As with all dogs, you should keep up with your Chow Shepherd’s regular veterinary checkups to detect any health concerns early. Your vet can help you develop a care routine that will keep your dog healthy.
Chow Shepherds have high energy levels. One hour daily of rigorous exercise is a good starting point. Hiking and other adventurous activities are strongly recommended.
Check their ears for debris and pests daily and clean them as recommended by your vet. Trimming their nails twice a month is strongly recommended. These pups have thick strong nails that can get out of control very easily if neglected.
One major concern when it comes to your Chow Shepherd care will be maintaining their oral health. Brushing their teeth three times a week should help prevent any major problems. Your veterinarian can instruct you on how to brush your dog’s teeth properly.
You’ll need to take special care if you’re raising a Chow Shepherd puppy. Don’t let your puppy run and play on very hard surfaces such as pavement until they’re at least two years old and their joints are fully formed. Normal play on grass is fine, as is puppy agility with its one-inch jumps.
An ideal Chow Shepherd diet should be formulated for a medium to large sized breed with high energy. You should stick to a regular feeding schedule and not leave food out during the day. Limit their amount of treats, as well. One single feeding per day may be recommended, though it will really depend on your dog.
As with all dogs, the Chow Shepherd dietary needs will change from puppyhood to adulthood and will continue to change into their senior years. You should ask your veterinarian for recommendations about your Chow Shepherd diet, as there is far too much variation among individual dogs–including weight, energy, and health–to make a specific recommendation.
Coat Color And Grooming
Chow Shepherd coats are often a mix of their German Shepherd and Chow Chow parents’ coats and colors. The main colors of Chow Shepherds are fawn, cream, gray, red, brown, and black. They generally have a beautiful blend of two or more colors.
Chow Shepherds will most likely have a long, dense coat and are not a good choice for allergy sufferers. Chow Sheps descend from two heavy shedding parents. Their coats will require much care. Regular daily brushing and extra brushing during shedding season with a de-shedding brush may be needed. Baths are required only as needed.
With these heavy shedding pups, extra vacuuming is recommended. You may benefit from a robovac for day-to-day cleanup.
Chow Shepherds have double coats that give them an edge when it comes to extreme weather. Many of these dogs absolutely love to run and play in the snow. This dog would have been a great training partner for Rocky in Rocky IV when he went to train in Siberia!
Chow Shepherds’ double coats also help to keep them cool during hot summer months. Keep in mind they are indoor dogs and need to live indoors with their families.
Children And Other Pets
The Chow Shepherd makes a great addition to a big family with older kids who know how to play nicely with dogs. As with every breed, you should always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children. This pup will not tolerate rough play from small kids.
Teach your child never to approach any dog while they’re eating or sleeping or to try to take the dog’s food away. No dog, no matter how friendly, should ever be left unsupervised with a child.
If a Chow Shepherd has had plenty of exposure to other dogs, cats, and small animals and has been trained how to interact with them, they’ll be friendly with other pets, too.
It may be hard to find a breed specific rescue for Chow Shepherds because they are a mixed breed. However, you may want to try Chow Chow or German Shepherd Dog breed specific rescues, as they often care for mixes, as well. Here are some rescues you can try:
- Chow Chow Rescue of Central New York, Inc.
- German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County