Unlike most Warner Bros.-series cartoons featuring cats as the antagonists of their targets (such as birds) and dogs serving to discourage their behavior, Chow Hound uses a different formula, wherein a large bulldog is the merciless bully, and the cat (along with a mouse) are his hapless victims.
A large bulldog bullies two unwilling parties — a frightened red cat and a tough-talking brown mouse (resembling Chuck Jones' creation Hubie and Bertie) — into various scams to obtain dinner from various residences. The scheme involves the dog, who forever complains that he is "starving," using the cat to pose as the pet for three residents and a municipal zoo. The cat poses as (in order of appearance):
"Butch," a turtleneck-wearing feline. The cat timidly walks to the waiting bulldog to hand him his steak, only to get slapped for forgetting the gravy.
A bow-tied "Harold," who is scolded by his female "mistress" as he comes home. "Harold" tries to eat a leg of chicken when the mistress leaves the room, but is quickly grabbed by the bulldog, who again reprimands him for forgetting the gravy.
"Timothy," the alley cat who serves as the mouse catcher for an older gentleman living in a brownstone apartment building. The mouse finds the whole ordeal undignifying. The cat swallows the mouse whole, earning more physical punishment; the mouse tries unsuccessfully to get away after he is spit out. After earning another steak from the owner, the cat is again slapped by the bulldog for forgetting the gravy again. The mouse tries to get tough, but is simply hit on the head.
As a "saber-tooth alley catus," complete with fake fangs. The zookeeper shrugs his shoulders at the apparently new, unannounced "exhibit." It is at this point where the cat tries to one-up his captor by wrapping a TNT stick inside the steak. The result is only a small blast in the dog's stomach, which the embarrassed dog apparently misinterprets as gas and excuses himself. He smacks the cat (off-screen) for forgetting the gravy yet again. He looks through his little black book, then starts to complain that "week in, week out, it's the same thing; it's too slow!" He then sees a sign advertising a reward for lost animals and gets a sinister idea: Holding the cat hostage for weeks, the dog accurately anticipates that the cat's "owners" will post rewards in the newspaper. "I've got plans for you!" the dog snarls.
The bulldog reads the missing animals article in the newspaper for the addresses and reward amounts from the owners and prepares to execute his big scam (telling his cat comrade "C'mon stupid; this is the payoff.") The bulldog returns the cat to each of his masters, collects the reward and then reclaims his cat by means of a trick-bed, the largest of the rewards coming from the zoo. The dog, gloating that he is now "set for life" and will "never be hungry again," uses his ill-gotten gains to purchase a butcher shop, where "acres and acres" of meat hang from the ceiling.
The final scene takes place at a "dog and cat hospital". The bulldog's gluttony has gotten the better of him, as his overindulgence on meat has rendered him grossly obese and unable to move a muscle. After two doctors diagnose "a distinct case of overeating" and depart from the operating room, two visitors march in: the cat and the mouse. The cat says, "This time, we didn't forget the gravy." The mouse jams a large funnel into the dog's mouth and smiles as the cat begins force-feeding the dog from an institutional-sized canister of gravy. The nervously-perspiring dog mutters "no" several times but is helpless to stop them as the picture irises out over the sound of the dog gurgling.
Almost every television airing of this cartoon in the United States (particularly the airings on the Fox version of The Merrie Melodies Show, the former WB! network, Nickelodeon and post-2001 Cartoon Network) cuts the part where the dog (dressed as a game hunter) returns the cat (dressed as a sabre-toothed tiger) to the zoo because the mouse is depicted as an African savage (making it appear as though the rewards from the "owners" was enough to buy the deli).
In addition to the above cut, on Fox, the end of the cartoon is cut before the cat and mouse can exact revenge on the dog ("This time, we didn't forget the gravy!") by dumping gravy into the dog due to the violent nature of the ending (fading out after the doctors leave the hospital room).