Chow Shepherd

Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
Photo of adult Chow Shepherd
Austin Kirk /

A beautiful dog that resembles a lion, the Chow Shepherd has been created by crossing the German Shepherd with the Chow Chow. Both of these dogs are known for their beautiful coats, and the fur of the Chow Shepherd is usually a stunning golden colour and is as fluffy and as soft as a cloud! Most breed members will retain the longer muzzle and darker facial colouring of the German Shepherd parent, with the strong and sturdy body of the Chow Chow.

Not a choice of pet for the faint-hearted, owners should be prepared for long hours of hard work as they not only train their Chow Shepherd but also provide them with the large amount of exercise they need. With a tendency to want to be in charge and a desire to protect their property, these dogs need early and intensive socialisation if they are to tolerate house guests.

About & History

Have you ever wished that you could create a German Shepherd that was even fluffier and more ‘lion-like’? Well, that was likely the aim of the breeder that created the gorgeous Chow Shepherd – also known as the Sheprachow or the German Chow – a mixture of the loyal Chow Chow and the courageous German Shepherd. As is true of the majority of ‘designer dog’ breeds, we actually know very little about when and where the Chow Shepherd was first developed. A relatively rare cross-breed, it is likely that this new breed was created around ten to twenty years ago.

The German Shepherd

The German Shepherd is an incredibly well-known breed that was established within Germany in the late 1800s. Its ancestors were used as working dogs who would shepherd livestock in fields and protect the farmer’s property. Captain Max von Stephanitz is the man accredited with originally founding the breed. He took a shine to the local shepherd dogs and purchased several to breed together in the aim of creating the ideal German Shepherd.

As many dogs were bred back to their relatives, the breed started off with a narrow genetic pool – probably one of the reasons why the modern-day German Shepherd is known to suffer from a wide range of genetic health issues. Despite this, the German Shepherd was used routinely on farms and also became a popular military dog during the 20th century. Nowadays, the German Shepherd enjoys huge popularity as both a companion dog and a working animal.

The Chow Chow

Chow Chows are known to be truly ancient dogs that have existed for over 2,000 years. While we know that they are an oriental breed, there is some debate over where exactly they originated, with most arguing that they are Chinese but some claiming they may in fact be Mongolian. They are believed to have served many purposes, including acting as guard dogs, hunters and herding dogs. This breed became so accepted within Britain that even Queen Victoria owned one.


The Chow Shepherd tends to look like a good mix of both its parent breeds but it is important to remember that predicting the appearance of any mixed-breed dog is an impossible task as even those from the same litter can vary widely in appearance. As a general rule of thumb, this breed will have the soft, fluffy coat of the Chow Chow and the facial features of the German Shepherd.

The Chow Shepherd has a well-muscled and lean body that is solid and well-proportioned. They have the dark brown eyes of the German Shepherd and ears that are larger than the Chow Chow that may stand erect or hang in a semi-erect fashion. Their muzzle is longer than that of the Chow Chow and ends in a shiny black nose. Their tail varies and may curl onto their back just like that of the Chow Chow or be longer and straighter like that of the German Shepherd.

The coat of the Chow Shepherd is medium in length and is extremely dense and fuzzy. Many will have a thick, visible ‘mane’ around their neck. Several coat colours are possible, though most will be golden-red with a dark black facial mask. Some will have grey or cream coats and solid coat colours with no facial markings are also possible. Fully-grown adults can weigh anything from 20kg to 40kg and will reach heights of 56cm to 66cm.

Character & Temperament

As the Chow Shepherd can be both dominant and territorial by nature, they are not well-suited to homes with small pets or young children, nor are they a good choice for novice owners. They require a lot of work, but in the right hands, will make dedicated and loving pets.

Well-suited to acting as both guard dogs and watch dogs, the Chow Shepherd is always on high alert and their bravery means that they would never allow an intruder to enter their territory without putting up a fight. This hostility can carry over into their everyday life, meaning it is essential to socialise a Chow Shepherd pup thoroughly to ensure they accept visitors into the home.

Typically aloof with those they don’t know, the Chow Shepherd can be affectionate and loving with their owner. They will show a great deal of respect to their master and often crave their companionship and approval.


It is vital that the training regime of the Chow Shepherd begins as early as possible and remains consistent throughout their life as they have the potential to be aggressive with other dogs and people if not taught how to behave in social situations from a young age. They respond best to a firm leader who does not give in to them and rewards desired behaviour.

Some individuals are particularly stubborn and can take some convincing to get on side. Once they do decide to participate in the training sessions, however, their high levels of intelligence and adaptability make them a wonderful training partner.


Both the German Shepherd and the Chow Chow are known to suffer from a plethora of serious health conditions, and their progeny are not exempt from this, even though they have been out-crossed.

Hip Dysplasia

Hips that do not form correctly may be attributed to genetics, diet and/or improper exercise in early life. Affected animals may initially be reluctant to exercise and walk with a funny gait, while those in the end stages of the disease will struggle to stand and walk and will have severe muscle wastage. Screening X-rays can check for this debilitating orthopaedic condition, and those animals who do not receive good ‘hip scores’ should never be bred from.


A devastating condition that comes on suddenly, animals suffering with bloat will be distressed and will often pace around and retch unproductively. For reasons not fully understood, their stomach will have rotated on its axis and filled up with air and fluid causing a painful and life-threatening ‘bloat’. Immediate surgery to put the stomach back in the correct position offers the best chance of survival.

Degenerative Myelopathy

A progressive and incurable degeneration of the spinal cord, affected dogs will become increasingly lame on their back legs until they are completely paralysed. While there is no treatment for this condition, veterinarians aim to control the symptoms and support the dog through the use of slings, hydrotherapy and physiotherapy.

Atopic Skin Disease

Many animals will suffer from atopic skin disease, though it is true that certain breeds are over-represented. This is a chronic condition which causes itchy skin and may be a reaction to a number of different allergens, including to pollen, food and dust mites.

While this irritating skin condition cannot be cured, it can be well-managed with anti-itch medication, shampoos and antibiotics to treat any secondary infections. For some, allergen avoidance is possible, while for others, immunotherapy may be of benefit.


An underactive thyroid results in a low level of circulating thyroid hormone (T4). As signs are subtle and insidious, owners can mistake this disease for natural aging. Affected dogs may struggle to lose weight, lose interest in their surroundings and develop dry skin or fur loss.

Blood tests can assist in the diagnosis of this condition and medication can be given to replace the missing thyroid hormone. Thankfully, the prognosis is excellent and while dogs will require life-long monitoring and blood tests, most go on to do very well.

Exercise and Activity Levels

A powerful dog that has a very high requirement for exercise, the Chow Shepherd needs a dedicated owner who has lots of time available. A long hike or walk is not enough for this intelligent breed, as they also need to be kept mentally stimulated. They can excel in a wide range of canine sports, such as agility and flyball, so should be given the opportunity to participate when possible.

As well as two long walks a day and plenty of fun and games, the Chow Shepherd would benefit from having a large, enclosed outdoor area in which to run and burn off some of their energy. A big garden is also a super spot in which to play ‘hide and seek’, scenting games and fetch.


The luxurious coat of the Chow Shepherd may be a wonder to look at but certainly requires a lot of upkeep. As this breed can be both strong and dominant, owners should ensure to put any grooming regimes in place as soon as they bring the puppy home to avoid any hostile behaviour when grooming.

Most dogs will need daily brushing sessions, which can be carried out in the back yard to reduce the amount of fur shed in the house. Ears must be checked every few days and will benefit from cleaning every one or two weeks.

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