In my early years starting out as a Chow Chow breeder, many of the so-called "best" Chow Chows were very large headed, very big boned dogs, and the longer the hair, the more it was liked. My mentors at the start, were people who told me that we, as breeders, are to improve the breed. They would point to "bigger is better" as improvement of the Chow Chow.
Some health conditions were considered to be inevitable (by breeders, pet owners and even judges alike), often a consequence of "improvement". Chow Chows were to be large cumbersome dogs, slow movers, lazy and dogs of often ill temper - to be handled with utmost caution. In fact, over the years, dogshow judges (local as well as international) told me that Chows are considered in general to be a problem breed, both in health and temperament. What a massive blow to this dignified breed!
Preservation: Never stray so far from the original, that something new (with a few similar features) is created.
As my first litters were growing up, I realized that this modern picture was very wrong. Chow Chows lived with, and worked alongside, man for milleniums. For the breed to survive milleniums it had to be heatlhier and more stable in temperament. So it was back to the books and a search for new mentors. Many modern Chow Chows are beautiful dogs, but not true to their heritage. In fact they can truly be classified as a different breed. This is fine, this is how different breeds come to exist - modifications to fit in with the humans whom they accompany through life. However, for a dog to be truly classified as a Chow Chow, it would have to be closer to the original Chow Chows which accompanied humans for milleniums past.
In comes the preservation breeder. Preserving one of the most ancient breeds known to man. Nothing to improve in the breed, so very much to preserve. This means I must choose wisely for breeding purposes. Those correctly typed, healthy, stable individuals which can live up to the ancient requirements of hunters and protectors, yet stable enough to lie under the table with guests present at a banquet. A stable temperament can be wary of strangers without being unstable and unpredictable. A healthy body can and wants to go on walks for a couple of kilometres (hunts would be for a couple of hours perhaps - not just running but traversing tricky ground) without being severely compromised in health. A bright mind would be keen to work with their humans yet would be intelligent enough to work on their own. They would be very independent, yet astoundingly loyal to their own, for this is a trait well integrated in the ancient breeds