Chihuahuas and children

When it comes to picking a family dog, if you have children, a chihuahua may not be an ideal fit. They have a reputation for being snappy and slightly neurotic and are not always a fan of children themselves.

Another consideration is that chihuahua’s are fragile, especially the very small ones, and they could easily end up with a broken leg if dropped, get sat on or if they have burrowed down under something to keep warm.

Chihuahuas can be feisty and ready with a snap if they feel threatened or stressed and many chihuahuas do not like the frenetic running about that comes with children and toddlers.

Our chihuahua, Mika, has been known to nip the backs of the grandchildren’s legs if he feels they need to be brought back into line, if any of the children get too close (for Mika this could be a toddler crawling towards him) he will display the ‘chihuahua curled lip of doom’ and would need to be removed from the situation to prevent a snap.

Chihuahuas and children can work

But, there are plenty of instances of chihuahuas and children coexisting just fine. Minnie is the opposite of Mika and loves a rough and tumble with the kids. Being a larger chi, she is in less danger of getting hurt. She loves a game and can be relied on not to be aggressive.

I don’t think there is one definite answer to the question of chihuahuas and children. One of the main considerations is the chihuahua and his temperament. Temperament can be down to the experiences the chihuahua has had as a puppy. If you take on a snappy chi as a rescue it is unlikely that he is ever going to be toddler friendly.

Training the Kids

If you get a puppy then it is going to be down to training, and not just the chihuahua. He may be small, but children need to understand that he is not a toy.

Children need to be taught how to handle and approach a dog, when to leave him alone and when it is not appropriate to pick him up. Some good guidelines would be:

Not be over excited and squealing: High pitched voices will excite your dog
Handel the dog gently and under supervision

Never feed him unless supervised: They may feed him something he can’t eat
Never discipline him: It is your job to train him and he will get confused
Don’t disturbed him while he is sleeping: It is never acceptable to wake a dog with a start
Don’t invade his personal space: Your chi needs somewhere to feel safe and be quiet 

How biting happens

Children are less likely to be able to read a chihuahuas body language that is indicating they are finding the situation stressful. Before a bite happens your chihuahua is likely to have given plenty of warning. But when it does, the parents of the child might take legal recourse (head to this page to know more) if they feel that the dog is very aggressive. However, you can look at signs which can prevent such an occurrence from happening :

Ears back
Tail down
Whale eye

If these signs are ignored the further up the ladder of aggression your chihuahua will go! 

Once a bite happens it is because your chihuahua feels he has no option but to snap to defend himself. A large proportion of dog bites can be avoided if people understand how a situation is affecting your dog and learn to read the signs that he is stressed and feels threatened. Read ‘signs your chihuahua is stressed’

If your chihuahua snaps or bites it is unlikely to cause a major wound, it’s often more the shock then the bite itself. But that said, you are responsible for your dog and if he bites a person visiting your house then you and your chihuahua could get into trouble.

Take Control

If your children have friends over then it would be a good idea to keep any interaction with your chi supervised. Never leave him alone with the kids as all parties can get over excited which leads to bad decisions and accidents.

Chihuahuas and children can get along, but the situation needs sensible handling from the beginning to make sure your chihuahua gets off to a good start.

You may want to consider a crate, for the dog not the children! I am not a fan of them myself but in a situation like this it could work well. Read: ‘The Crate Debate