So, You’re thinking of buying a chihuahua?

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.

Louise Kirby

My name is Louise Kirby and I’m a freelance writer and certified Pro Dog Trainer. I adore and train all breeds but have a special interest in chihuahuas and their rehabilitation. Chihuahuas are awesome little dogs, spunky, full of joy, loyal and tenacious. But some present with behaviours that make them a challenge to manage. I’m on a mission to restore the relationship between owners and their dogs. To help you get back the dog you always dreamed of. That’s why dog training is a happiness project!

5 thoughts on “So, You’re thinking of buying a chihuahua?

  1. Karen J Dimitry Popp Reply

    I love love my 2 Chihuahuas.
    My little guy, Rico can be trying if he doesn’t get his way, or left alone if I leave the room for a long time.
    He screams relentlessly and it’s blood curdling!
    I think we’ve got him trained so now he only does this occasionally.
    But WOW!

  2. Dana Reply

    I have Chihuahuas. In my experience it takes them a couple of years to be potty trained well. It also tskes at least 2 years or longer before they are out of the chewing stage. You think little dogs wouldn’t cause damage but they sure do. I’ve had them chew the skirt off a sofa, chew on wood furniture, chew baseboards, chew sheet rock all the way through, just to name a few. Anything in reach books, dvd’s, nick nacks are going to be destroyed. So please don’t get a chihuahua just because they are so cute. Chihuahuas are one of the top dogs in shelters. People don’t realize how difficult it is to train them.

  3. Kim Reply

    I have 4 Chihuahuas and they all have different personalities they all use pads in the house but if door open will go out side to do there business they all sleep in 1 basket together and love each other to bits the only problem I have is barking if they see people out side go past the window or if they are all on my lap the eldest one will go mad if anyone comes by me but I have had no chewing or any problems x

    • Louise Kirby Post authorReply

      Hi Kim, they are barking to warn you of a possible intruder. It’s what they do. Chihuahuas are very good watch dogs. The problem is they have a very low bar when deciding what is an intruder and what can be ignored. The good news is you can work with them to help teach them what needs barking at and what doesn’t. They will never be silent but you can stop some of it. Here is a link to a pdf training giveaway we did on ‘training your chi not to bark’.

  4. Kimberley Reply

    Where I agree with alot that has been said in this article I’m not totally in agreement with kids I mean yes they must be careful not to be too rough etc as chi’s are so small and delicate when young especially but my baby absolutely loves children and will run round the garden all day with them small kids and bigger kids and totally wiped out at the end of the days so bed early for my baby but she constantly wants to be around them kiss cuddle and play so I guess really it depends if they are brought up together along with the temperament of the pup so caution is needed for sure but it’s not impossible and I think they all shouldn’t be advertised as a dog that definitely shouldn’t be with small kids but should be advertised with caution on bot the chi and children side.

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