Stray Chow…What Now?

QWe are the somewhat reluctant recipients of a male chow. This animal “appeared” in a friend’s back yard a few weeks ago. An old German Sheppard also occupies the yard. The two dogs got along fine but the Sheppard tired of the chow’s antics and started to ignore him. Our friends already had the Sheppard, a Datsun and assorted cats and could not take on another dog. We volunteered to keep the dog until the owners were found. Well, it’s been another week and no sign of any owners. The dog has no collar, identifications or unusual markings. He is a beautiful light red almost blond color with a completely black mouth. I cannot imagine someone giving up on such a fine dog but no one has come to claim him even though we have registered him with every agency that handles lost pets.

The question our family has is “What now?”. He is very standoffish and will not come close to any member of the family voluntarily. It has been unusually cold here and it is a struggle to get him inside. We have to chase him into a corner of the fence and pick him to carry him inside (while being carried he pees profusely). I have read a great deal this evening over the ‘net about “socialization” of a chow. How do we begin with a chow that is of an undetermined age (maybe a year, but not more) and whose social skills a so skittish. We need to get him to the vet for the usual check up, shots and a good grooming but I am concerned of the trauma he will go through. He already has been abandoned in a strange yard, then forcibly removed to another yard, then for the past few nights forcibly moved to a wash room to spend the night (which he did not soil at all, that’s amazing to me). Any advice that you or your organization could give would be greatly appreciated.

AHello Louis, it would appear that the young dog has had very little contact with people or it was abused wherever it came from. Your on the right track to socialize him, take a look at our socialize your Chow article for additional info.

QThanks for your response. We are torn about keeping him at the moment. I have two younger children (7 & 10) who would really like a more loving and playful pet. From what I have read a chow may not ever be that way. However, my kids have become somewhat attached to him so I think I would like to give him a chance. What do you think? I am really at a loss here. In the mean time we will try to socialize him as much as possible.

AHello, I just wanted to drop a note to see how things are going with your new Chow? I hope that things are going well.

QHi, Thanks for you note. Things are looking up! He (we call him Max) is getting more interactive with the family. Max may not romp around with the kids but they have grown attached to him (Max adores my wife, follows her around everywhere outside). He’s becoming a part of the family. If you just play in the yard he will eventually come up to you to smell and lick your hand or for a head rub (which he loves). However, if you approach him before he is ready he will run to one of the corners of the fence and wait for you to trap him there. He doesn’t run around forever now.

We had a cold spell recently so we brought him in, gave him a bath (everyone got wet) and let him have the run of the house for a couple of days. He did real well. He must of been trained originally as a house dog for he did not soil the house. He would cry or whimper we he needed to go so we let him out. The only thing he would not come in voluntarily, but once inside he just curled up against the wall and watched us.

We are taking him to the vet soon to have him checked over and groomed. I’m concerned the extreme skittishness will start over after that. Any suggestions on what we should tell or ask the vet?

Thanks for your concern and help. The suggestions you gave have really panned out for the good.

ABefore you go to see the veterinarian, call them and ask to speak with the doctor that will be handling Max. Give them some history and let them know about your concerns. Hopefully your local veterinarian will have history in working with Chow Chows and will understand the sensitivity of your situation. You might need reach out and contact some other local veterinarians to find one that is comfortable working with Chow Chows. Good luck.

For more information and help be sure to check the Training Discussion forums where you can seek input from the community.


Was this Q&A helpful for you and your Chow Chow? If you have additional information or advice on stray Chow Chows, please feel free to share them in the comment below.


  1. Bridget on August 8, 2019 at 4:05 pm

    I wanted to mention that I have adopted a stray chow chow, about 3 years old, and regarding the waterfall of pee you mentioned when you picked him up, I noticed my boy Mango, will NOT poop anywhere even remotely close to our yard. I have to walk him at LEAST 10-20 minutes away before he will poop. I didn’t realize this at first and was walking him around in our gated community (too close) and he held his poop until he lost control of his bladder (about two days worth of poop or so). The pee just “fell” out of him like an open faucet. It was super weird. Our vet told us their colon wraps around their prostate or something like that. So this just reminded me of this possibility. Your stray might not be emptying his colon if he he has “shy turds”. Good luck!!!

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