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Chihuahua As A Pet

If the Chihuahua Makes a Good Pet


There are many things to consider when you are choosing which type of dog to bring into your family. With over 200+ official breeds recognized by the AKC, many hybrids dogs and of course, mixed dogs, the choice is vast. Here we are going to take an unbiased look at:
  • Elements to consider
  • The pros of having a Chihuahua as a pet
  • Possible reasons why this breed may not be right for you
When you choose a puppy to become part of your household, it is a big decision. We will try to give you a solid understanding for what you can expect.
Tiny Chihuahua in toy car

Things to Consider

There are physical and behavioral traits with this breed that are not necessarily considered 'negatives'; but only serve to give you a good understanding of what to expect.

1) Size

This is the smallest dog purebred dog breed that exists. Some photos of Chihuahuas may be misleading that do not relate the actual size of the dog. 

Additionally, there are some Chi that are larger than the breed standard. However, in general, you can expect to have a very tiny pet. 

Puppies range from mere ounces to 1 to 2 lbs. (.9 kg). Most adults will only be 6 (2.7 kg) to or 7 lbs. (3.17 kg). There are some that grow to be 8 or 9 lbs. (3.62 or 4.08 kg) however this is still small in comparison to many other breeds. There are advantageous and disadvantages to this:

  • You can bring this dog with you to many places - Many owners find that even places that do not necessarily admit dogs will make exceptions for toy breed dogs that are carried in canine slings. Alternatively, placing a Chihuahua in a travel bag is an option that owners of large breed dogs do not have.
  • This breed does not take up a lot of room - With some breeds, it is almost like having another person in the house. When you have a Chihuahua as a pet, he takes up very little room. In small apartments and homes, he will need daily exercise but will not need a huge yard or a large dog bed. Baths can be done in the kitchen sink. Adults can easily sleep in an owner's bed without taking it over.
  • Smaller bodies equal smaller outputs - Quite frankly, with toy dogs, bowel movement and puddle of urine are small in comparison to larger breeds. When you have a Chihuahua as a pet, even if the dog has accidents in the house - no matter his age - clean-up is not often overwhelming. Do keep in mind however, that without proper house training and dealing with any marking issues, this will add up and will create quite a mess.
  • The 2nd leading cause of death for the Chihuahua breed is trauma. This includes: being stepped on, being accidentally dropped and being fatally hit by a car. With larger, sturdier dogs these things happen but it is not so prevalent. Therefore, when you have a Chihuahua -even once that puppy matures into an adult - great care must be taken to keep the dog safe. 
  •  This may not be the best breed for household with young children; as they will need to be watched closely as to not cause unintentional harm to the dog. This is an under-the-foot dog that can scurry under your legs or into your path very quietly.
  • With a tiny skeletal body, comes risk of injury such as collapsed trachea. While genetics can make a dog more prone to this, it is also triggers by injury. It can occur when a leash is connected to a collar, which puts too much pressure and force onto the windpipe. Using a harness when on leash is one method of helping to avoid this condition.You may also be interested in: Best Collars for Chihuahuas
  • Tiny dogs like the Chihuahua cannot be expected keep up with owners in regard to physical activity. If you are looking for a dog to go hiking with you, trot alongside you for your daily runs or ride shotgun with the window down, you'll want to choose a different breed for your pet. The Chihuahua is usually very active - some are downright hyper- and while they need daily exercise it will be at their own pace.
2) This breed needs a present owner.

Some dogs do great by themselves and can be kept outside for long periods or will quietly sit on the front porch, guarding the house while owners busy themselves with other activities. 

The Chihuahua is 100% an indoor dog.

Any time outside should be supervised. Even yards with enclosed fences are risky since he can be clever enough to find weak spots to escape. 

While it may seem like an unlikely event, hawks and owls are known to scoop up toy dogs. Snakes are a danger as well. 
A Chihuahua can become very ill if ingesting even small quantities of toxic outdoor plants.

Lastly, being keep outdoors for even a short period would be risky due to this breed's weakened ability to regulate body temperature. Both hot and cold temperatures are not tolerated well for long periods.

Breeds like the Basset Hound or Pug may more times of lazing around then of being on the go. With a Chihuahua, expect to have a pet that requires his owner to offer attention a good majority of the time. 

This breed is very loyal, soaks up human interaction and can be someone's tiny shadow. You cannot say that all dogs have the same personality; however this breed may be clingy and at times a bit needy. There are some that experience moderate to severe separation anxiety
Puppies and adolescent Chihuahuas usually like to be included in all things, spoken to and played with. He'll be right up on the sofa with you to watch TV.
He'll greet you in the morning with great enthusiasm and then spend the rest of the day hoping to gain your attention. Older adults and certainly seniors will have a calmer demeanor and can be happy sitting in a sun-room or resting in the corner of the living room as the family goes about their business.

If you are looking for a pet that is just 'there', this is not the dog for you. However, if you are seeking an active dog that craves interaction, the Chihuahua is a good choice.

The best owners are those that are tolerant and enjoy spoiling a dog a bit. Many care tasks like dental care, baths and brushings (especially for long coats) require patience and time. 

There are some Chi's that can fall into a behavioral pattern that is often referred to as little dog syndrome

The Pros of Having a Chihuahua as a Pet

Here's a list of the top reasons a Chihuahua makes a great addition to a family:

1) He does well in just about any environment - small or large homes, country or city. Some condominium complexes only allow small dogs and the Chihuahua certainly fits the bill

2) Shedding is minimal - This breed is a light to moderate shedder. Short coats and long haired Chihuahuas actually shed the same amount, however with longcoats the hairs are - you guessed it, longer.
There will be seasonal shedding and for un-spayed females hormonal heat cycle related sheds, however in general you will not have houseful of fur.

3) The Chihuahua can get along well with children - Do be aware that any dog at the teething age may need to be trained not to nip and chew. Additionally, young children need to be taught how to handle a Chihuahua and certainly should not tease the dog, etc. However, in general, this breed does good with kids and enjoys their company.
Sturdy Chihuahua on harness
4) Some do well with cats - While some dogs are notorious for not getting along with felines, there are many examples of Chihuahuas and cats that learn to be best friends. This should be tested beforehand with several introductions before it is decided that the two animals at least tolerate each other before a commitment is made to bring a Chi into the house as a new addition pet.
5) Many get along well with other dogs. Two, three or more Chihuahuas together can keep each other occupied and will generally be best friends. There may be some adjustment difficulties if a young puppy is introduced to an established, older adult. 

However, if owners are present and able to help with the transitional changes, things can go well. While very tiny, this breed can also get along well with much larger dogs.

6) His small size can be a benefit. His small stature makes it easy to bring him with you for running errands and carrying him in a sling or carry-bag.
7) This is a relatively health breed with a long life span. Dogs in general - when you include both purebreds and mixed dogs - live an average of 12.8 years. The Chihuahua has a life span of 14 to 18 years which is lengthy in comparison.

This breed is prone to only a few serious health issues, this includes collapsed trachea (always use that harness and not just a collar!), heart disease, hypoglycemia and dental problems (the Chihuahua is very prone to tooth decay). 

With good care and preventative medicine, you can expect a Chihuahua to live well into his teens, which is a plus when deciding on a pet.

Possible Cons of Having a Chihuahua

1) The breed in general, may bark a lot. This is not a quiet dog and while one can certainly instill some solid training to cut down on barking issues, a Chihuahua may bark when hungry, when wanting to play or even just to say, 'Look at me!'

2) He is fragile. Even those with larger frames are not sturdy dogs that can tolerate heavy exercise, long treks or rough play. Young children will need to be watched when handling the dog so that there is not unintentional injury.

3) Bonding. While very loyal and even sometimes clingy, a Chihuahua may bond with one human in particular as opposed to all people in the family. If the Chi does fall into a pattern of having a preference for one certain person, this may cause issues if others feel left out. 

4)  Stability.This is not the most even-keeled breed. Some are super shy and some are hyper. 
To avoid this, we suggest that all members of the household take turns in care tasks including: feeding, grooming, daily walks, dental care, baths and house training. In this way, the puppy or dog will tend to see all his humans as his leaders instead of singling out just one.

* If you would like to learn much more about this breed, take a look at what The GIANT Book of Chihuahua Care has to offer. 
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