They’re loyal companions, filled with vigor, and quite sassy. You can find them in a purse, on a couch, or barking at another companion twenty times their size. They’re one of those dog breeds you either hate or love.
The Chihuahua is one of the tiniest toy-dogs in existence. Originating a century ago, these dogs are not for the feint hearted, and not for those that can’t handle sass. They come from a town called Chihuahua, in Mexico. Although there are plenty of theories as to their true heritage, no one quite knows exactly what breed(s) paved the way for the little canine.
There’s no obvious ‘hunt’ in their blood as very rarely do they exhibit a strong prey-drive or a keen sensory system, and there’s no real working-class dog dynamic to them either. Instead the Chihuahua seems exactly what they’re supposed to be; a people-pleasing canine that is highly adaptable, often a one-person dog, has dynamite for a temper, and loves their family.
They’re small enough to fit into purses and yet energetic and athletic enough to play around the home. Owners are often awestruck by their expression-filled eyes and hilarious gaits (they have small little legs and are often known to ‘trot-walk’). And while they can be notorious for their aloofness, little-dog-syndrome, and their barking, when raised correctly they should be nothing but kind, guarded, and affectionate with their family.
The Chihuahua is one of the most dignified and fearless dogs of all breeds. However this dignified persona and confidence is often what makes them so hard to train and housebreak, as they can be quite fickle when it comes to obedience. To sum up the personality of a Chihuahua in one word, would be to say they’re bold.
They’re bold in the way they love, the way they encounter the world, and when you’re trying to train them. Despite their size and home-like nature, which are often traits that tack along with less-intelligent breeds, the Chihuahua is quite sharp. They’re quick to learn, process information, and in their youth navigate themselves into trouble. They’re incredibly keen to their surroundings, which make them fantastic watch dogs, but on the downside, they are known to bark a lot which can turn into a negative characteristic. But aside from that, they’re unfalteringly loyal. Once they solidify their place into a homestead, then their people-pleasing personality blossoms rapidly.
At the end of the day, the Chihuahua wants to love and be loved, and they desire this with such ferocity that it becomes a fault. While the Chihuahua is small and adaptable, they’re one of the neediest dog breeds in existence. Jealousy is a big part of the Chihuahua’s personality and something that makes them quite incompatible with children.
These fiery little dogs love to love, but also require the same amount of attention in return. Often—when a newborn enters the household—the Chihuahua will become jealous of the child’s attention, and turn inwards. In the worst cases they’re unkind to the children altogether.
But it’s not just newborns. Even if a Chihuahua was raised alongside children, they’re smart enough to know when they’re not receiving attention, and they’ll become a bit more domineering.
Lastly, know that the personality of a Chihuahua doesn’t naturally mix with other canines. These dogs are dignified and aloof towards strangers, and have a propensity of getting themselves tangled with larger dogs capable of injuring them. Despite how well they were socialized, trained, and raised, it’s in their blood to be territorial, and in their design to overestimate their size.
But when all is said and done, these little dogs are loving, loyal, compassionate, quirky at times, and can be quite playful if given the opportunity. Their exclusive personalities often make them a fantastic choice for the singular dog owner, but they certainly add a new light to any household they make their own, and their loyalty and commitment refuses to diminish.
The Chihuahua temperament—when properly raised and socialized—should be loving, excitable, and sociable towards loved ones. By in large these are happy dogs, which often show their true colors when at home and distanced from the world, but often they have a bad reputation for being ‘poor company.’ One of the most contagious characteristics of a Chihuahua is their enthusiasm for life. They’ll run around the house with glee, but due to their intelligence—and their keen ears—they’re often alert to all that’s around them.
Paired with their naturally high-pitched bark, you have a dog that excites at every turn, meaning they can be a nuisance. That’s why it’s particularly important to train and socialize this breed in their early youth. But aside from their predisposition to bark a lot, that very excitability can also take the form of aggression in the wake of other strangers or canines.
Unbeknownst to most, the aggressive, yappy-nature of Chihuahuas does not stem from a malicious character, but rather it’s a defense mechanism. While these canines are glorified for being larger than life in puny bodies, they’re self-aware of their own fragility. A rambunctious child will often not respect the little dog’s boundaries, and they’ll lash out and bite or nip.
The last bit to be aware of when it comes to their temperament ties into their jealous personality. These are often one-person dogs, and they love so ferociously that without constant attention they will develop serious separation anxiety. Owners mistake their size and adaptability for independence, leave their pup alone for hours at a time, and find themselves perplexed when their Chihuahua has a timid, anxious, and abrasive temperament. However, their contagious enthusiasm, lust to love, and excitability are exactly what make these dogs loved by the owners on team-Chihuahua.
Training & Socialization
First and foremost—especially when your puppy first enters your home—early socialization is key. Introduce your Chihuahua to different environments, strangers, and other dogs. The more you accustom your puppy to foreign environments, people, and dogs, the likelihood of him being more confident and sociable increases immensely.
The problem Chihuahua’s face is that they’re naturally prone to be aloof and excitable, and since they’re often a one-person show, their owner keeps them isolated in the home or apartment. Without the proper exposure to the outside world, it’s likely that your Chihuahua will become introverted and yappy—the very personality and temperament they’re notorious for.
Puppy classes are a must. While these dogs are tiny to the point that their accidents and bad behavior is less impactful as say, a much larger canine, they can still be difficult to train.
Since they’re not overtly docile, and their sassiness can often turn to challenge their owners, puppy classes will enforce obedience. Chihuahuas are smart enough to not only learn quickly, but to bring the lessons with them and apply them at home.
Not only that, but puppy classes will only further your pup’s socialization, as he’ll be introduced to other canines learning the same lessons. It’ll free up time for you as an owner to have a moment away without worrying about separation anxiety, and it’ll help your Chihuahua develop into the good-natured dog he is supposed to be.
Training At Home
Home training is key, too. It’s especially important to motivate your Chihuahua to learn. If he feels that there’s excitement in the lessons given, he’ll jump to the occasion. Since Chihuahuas are a sensitive breed and not a pack dog, you don’t need to play the role of the alpha. Instead, positive reinforcement is the road to a well-trained Chihuahua.
Whenever your pup has acted appropriately or done something right, reward him with praise, extra love, treats, playtime, and even a favorite toy. If you’re too firm with this breed, they can often become aggressive and introverted, as their defense mechanism will throw a red flag up.
Lastly, keep your dog healthy. Every dog needs exercise, despite their size or build. Chihuahuas are no exception.
Just because they’re tiny enough to fit into a purse and live comfortably in a small apartment, doesn’t mean they don’t need to work their bodies. A light stroll for you is often a long workout for your Chihuahua, and a tired dog is a behaved dog.
All things considered—despite their reputation—the Chihuahua is a loving, loyal, committed companion. They have a propensity to demonstrate poor behavior, and certainly shouldn’t be around small children or unsupervised in the company of other canines, but if they’re given a proper upbringing there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be sociable, affable, and kind to others.
They fall into the ‘misunderstood’ category, as so many breeds do. Yet, even with their reputation, these tiny little creatures are still in the top 30 of the AKC’s most popular list, and they’ve earned that spot for a reason.