So, you want to own a chihuahua? 

There are lots of good reasons to want to own a chihuahua, they are super cute, compact, don’t need huge amounts of exercise and appear to fit into modern life well. If you are thinking about buying a chihuahua read this first.

But how much do you really know or understand about this plucky breed of dog, why is it that chihuahuas are one of the most surrendered dogs in the UK and USA? 

To help the first time owner, we bust seven myths and take a look at chihuahua characteristics.

You think. You live in a flat and they don’t need a lot of room

Reality. This is true, they are small and from a size point of view your chihuahua is an ideal dog if you live in a flat. However, it is wrong to assume that they don’t need exercise. Chihuahuas are normal dogs (just pocket size) and need about 30 minutes of exercise per day in the fresh air with other dogs. They also like a bark and may not be suitable for a flat where this might be a problem.

You think. You don’t have a garden and they can use a litter tray

Reality. Again, it is true that chihuahuas are suitable for flat and apartment dwellers because they can be litter trained. But chihuahuas can be notoriously difficult to potty train either indoors or out.

They have a streak of stubbornness and very small bladders so getting your chihuahua not to pee in the house can be a challenge that must not be underestimated.

You think. They are small and easy to transport

Reality. A whole fashion industry has grown-up around carrying your chihuahua around in a bag. But the truth is it is not normal dog behaviour and it is not good for them long term.

It causes them stress and makes them unhappy, leading to loss of fur and other stress related problems and could make them unsociable and snappy. Bags and strollers are short term only.

Bags and strollers should be short term only.

You think. They are cute & adorable so they must behave like a teddy bear

Reality. Yes, they are both cute and adorable. Chihuahua dogs have one of the largest ranges of colour combinations and come in long and short coat. With their chocolate button eyes and cheeky grins there is no reason not to fall in love.

However, there are aspects of their personality that can make them not so adorable. They can be aggressive with strangers and other dogs. They are also very territorial (making them excellent watch dogs) and don’t suffer strangers with enthusiasm.

You think. They sleep a lot so they can be left all day

Reality. Chihuahuas do like a snooze, they love to be warm and to burrow. But this does not mean they can be left all day. No dog should be left longer than 4 hours in a stretch, but chihuahuas are especially unsuitable to be left alone. They love to be around people and will struggle if left for hours. They tend to pick a favourite member of the household and will want to be with them all the time. Leaving them causes anxiety and stress or separation anxiety that can manifest in unwanted behaviours like chewing, barking and self harm.

If you are out then make arrangements for a trusted person to take them for a walk or chi-sit.

You think. They fit in around the children

Reality. The general rule of thumb, there are exceptions as always, is that chihuahuas and young children don’t mix. Chihuahuas are delicate and break easy and are not suitable for rough play. In addition, they tend to dislike the unpredictability of young children and will become fearful of sudden movement or running about. This may lead to fear biting and snapping. 

You think. They are small and don’t need training

Reality. Nothing could be further from the truth. Chihuahuas are intelligent and trainable and will enjoy the challenge of agility and other activities. All dogs need the basic training of recall, sit & stay and down for their own safety and chihuahuas are no exception.

Still think you have what it takes to own a chihuahua, look out for our next article on buying a chihuahua. We love your feedback and welcome your comments.