A feisty little guy, full of spunk and affection. Yup, the Chihuahua is certainly an interesting mix of bold character and sweet lap dog, which is why it almost seems shocking that they are placed at 30th out of 194 most popular dog breeds in America. With a loving, loyal demeanour and tiny size, the Chihuahua can make for an excellent family pet, especially for those with limited space. Let’s take a closer look at this breed’s traits and characteristics to see if it might be a good match for you and your family.
Characteristics and Maintenance:
The Chihuahua is the smallest dog in the world, but do not let this fool you; what it lacks in physical size it most certainly makes up for in personality. These little guys can be quite affectionate with their owners, often bonding specifically with one person, which can sometimes lead to their becoming possessive of this person. Chichi’s are quite intelligent and tend to take advantage of the bond they form with their person by getting that person tied around their little paws. This can create a relationship in which Fido is in control and will outsmart and outplay mom or dad.
Unfortunately, most people who find themselves with a Chihuahua will not put the necessary time into training that is required. A common misconception is that these little guys do not quite have the necessary brain power for proper training, however, they are actually very intelligent and are eager to please. Indeed, when this pup is given the chance to shine, he will show amazing results. Be careful not to fall for their beady eyes, however, since they tend to push their boundaries and take advantage of you if you let them. Being firm but forgiving will get you the best results with these stubborn, but sensitive souls.
Although they are tiny, they still need regular exercise. They are not the type of dog that likes to be left alone for long periods of time. All too often people forget that the Chihuahua is still a dog, and therefore should be given the chance to get outdoors for regular walks. Not only will this allow him to do his business, but it will also get him accustomed to strangers, other dogs, and loud noises, all of which are an important integration to proper socialization. Without proper socialization, these little terrors can become aggressive toward other people and animals, especially when they remain in the arms of their one and only.
Being a tiny dog, you can expect issues with their teeth. Since their mouths are so small and they have the same number of teeth as a Great Dane, these little guys are prone to malocclusion, meaning, their teeth overlap one another and sometimes rotate. Daily brushing is important in order to keep periodontal disease at bay for this little breed. Please keep in mind that even with daily brushing, over the years, a certain amount of tartar build-up is most certainly guaranteed. A fund should be placed aside for routine dental cleanings to be performed. Certain pet insurance plans will help cover this costly procedure, and should definitely be considered when opting for this breed.
Is This Dog Right For Me?
These are fun, spunky and loving dogs, but they can be stubborn and manipulative. A strong demeanour is needed when working with these dogs. If you cannot help but fall in love with their big bug eyes and have a hard time with discipline, then this breed is most likely not right for you.They will think they own the show if they are not well socialized or trained, therefore before considering this breed as an addition to your family, you need to remember to always treat them as what they are: a dog.
Although they tend to be relatively healthy dogs, they are known for a few illnesses that can add up quickly in regards to veterinary costs. Not only are they prone to periodontal disease, they can also retain their baby teeth which can lead to complications. Often times, this issue can be fixed during their routine spay/neuter surgery, however if left as is, this will most certainly lead to gum disease later on in life.
Obesity, heart disease and patellar luxation are known in this breed, and therefore a proper diet that is well balanced and tailored to each life stage should be chosen. Measuring proper quantities of food throughout the day will not only help keep Fido looking and feeling his best, but it will also prevent him turning into a picky eater which often becomes an issue for this breed.
Idiopathic epilepsy as well as eye disease have been known to occur in this breed, and therefore pet insurance should strongly be considered when thinking about adding this breed to your family.
The Chihuahua can certainly be a fun dog to have as a family pet. Keep in mind that although they are pocket-sized and seem innocent, they are dogs and need to be treated as such in order to prevent certain behavioural issues.
They are prone to developing certain diseases and therefore a knowledge of veterinary costs are encouraged prior to getting any dog. Pet insurance can help greatly when unforeseen expenses arise. Please speak with your veterinary team to decide whether or not this is the right dog for you and your family.
Chelsey Lough, CAHT