If you are seeking an apartment-dwelling, portable, and intelligent companion “with the courage of a lion,” the Chihuahua might be the dog for you. Officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1904, this dog breed ranks 30th in popularity.
Characteristics of the Chihuahua
According to the AKC, “Inside each little Chihuahua is a miniature king or queen ready to rule their realms, so they need to be taught what is acceptable in human kingdoms.” As a pet parent, be prepared to work with this independent, intelligent dog to let him know the rules of the household. DogTime describes Chihuahuas as high sensitivity dogs. So, compared to other dogs who will accept a reprimand or a stern look, a Chihuahua will be highly sensitive to your emotional nuances.
Some additional breed features and characteristics:
1. Chihuahuas range in weight from three to six pounds and are typically no taller than nine inches.
2. You can find Chihuahuas with either long coats or short, smooth coats, and they can come in a variety of colors (fawn, black and tan, blue and tan, etc.).
3. Your Chihuahua can live up to twenty years. Keep this in mind for long-term pet planning and determining temporary/permanent guardianship.
4. Chihuahuas are highly portable because of their size.
5. Though they do not have any major breed-specific health issues, small breed dogs commonly suffer from patellar luxation and hypoglycemia, and congenital conditions such as pulmonic stenosis may be present.
6. The Chihuahua may not play well with others and should be supervised when around other dogs.
7. If your Chihuahua has grown up with toddlers in the household, they may be close companions. However, if you’re bringing an older Chihuahua into the family, he may get along better with older children.
8. Chihuahuas are not recommended for households with youngsters because they are a fragile, tiny dog and can be easily injured by a rambunctious toddler.
9. Chihuahuas are seasonal shedders, so there are certain times of the year when you will be busier running the vacuum cleaner to eliminate hair from your clothes, furniture and carpets.
10. They are ideal for apartment dwellers due to their size and their tendency to only bark when necessary.
Life with a Chihuahua
If you love seeing a dog in a sweater, then this fashionista breed is going to be ideal! Chihuahuas are prone to shivering and that could be because of a chill in the air, from nervous energy or from stress. Living in colder climates means you will have to embrace dressing your Chihuahua in a sweater to keep her warm and comfortable. These dogs don’t love cold, wet, snowy weather and that means that housebreaking your Chihuahua in the winter months could be a long process. Your Chihuahua will want to burrow under blankets and snuggle up next to you for your warmth.
It may seem counterintuitive with a dog of this size, but a Chihuahua can be an ideal watchdog. He may not chase down an intruder, but he will certainly raise a ruckus if he senses danger. His larger-than-life personality makes him ideally suited for alerting his humans to a potential threat.
Just because your Chihuahua is small, doesn’t mean he won’t benefit from a rousing game of fetch or simply a short run with his pet parent. You can easily tire your Chihuahua out, and help keep her healthy, with indoor games and this is important during the winter months. A bored puppy can be a destructive puppy and the same holds true for a Chihuahua as it does for a Chow Chow. Sure, your Chihuahua may not cause as much destruction with is little teeth as a Chow Chow, but it can happen.
These small but mighty dogs are active, but can happily thrive on mostly indoor activity. If you’re looking for a dog to accompany you on a long run, you may need to rethink the breed or you will want to invest in a dog carrier to bring your Chihuahua along with you.
Crate training your Chihuahua may be something you want to consider because being in a crate while you’re away will help keep her safe from harm. You don’t want her jumping off a couch and getting injured while you’re out running errands. Her crate should be her safe place and one in which she enjoys spending time; this is the case if you begin crate training when she is young.
Is the Chihuahua the Right Dog for your Family?
This breed thrives in a household that has a structured routine. Your Chihuahua will do best when surrounded by family members, as she is highly devoted to family. If you’re prone to throwing dinner parties or having a household full of friends and family, your Chihuahua may exhibit stress behaviors. Remember, too that this is a breed who doesn’t like to be left home alone and if left for too many hours, could develop stress barking or other problematic separation anxiety behaviors.
Socialization with humans and dogs is important for Chihuahua owners. These dogs will be wary of humans they don’t know and may be aggressive toward unknown dogs. Your Chihuahua will not back down from a fight no matter how large the other dog.
A Chihuahua, because of his size, tends to be overindulged by his dog parents. That may lead to him becoming overly demanding of his parents’ time and attention. This breed tends to be “mouthy” and wary of strangers, but because she has such a big personality is a breed that is admired by men and women alike. Shelters and rescue organizations report that many Chihuahuas are surrendered by their owners simply due to personality issues—those issues can be avoided if you understand the breed and your own personality.
Interview with a Chihuahua Parent
Amanda Yantos, blogger at Dog Mom Days, has a Chihuahua named Wynston who is a model for PetSmart. She also travels with Wynston regularly. When asked whether the Chihuahua is the right dog for everyone, she said, “A Chi is a breed that grows into its distinct personality depending on the nature of his upbringing, but because this breed differs so much in demeanor, they aren’t the ideal dog for everyone.” She agreed that they love snuggling under blankets and added, “A Chihuahua can be known for being a ‘land shark’ or an ‘ankle biter’ but most are wonderful pets who have happy, friendly personalities.”
Bonus: Chihuahua Mixes
If you're hoping to find your newest companion at a shelter and help quell the homeless dog population, you may find many Chihuahua mixes available for adoption. Our friends at Your Dog Advisor have compiled a list of the 15 most popular ones - take a look!
Robbi Hess, award-winning author, is multi-petual: She shares her home with two Devon Rex kittens, three adult rescue cats, a mini poodle, a Goldendoodle, three lizards and two ferrets. When not caring for her pets, she is an editor, speaker, time management and productivity guru, content creator, social media manager and blogger. She writes at All Words Matter, My Divas Dish, and is the story editor and chief cat herder at Positively Woof.
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