Acquired: Rescue / shelter organization
Training: Crate, Socializing, Obedience
Gramercy, Louisiana, United States
Posted January 15, 2019
My experience with Chihuahuas, both personally and professionally, has revealed their stereotypes to be both true and easily remedied.
Chihuahuas are a higher energy breed, requiring the same daily activity of some of the larger working dogs. But with Chihuahuas, this can be accomplished in a much smaller space. A small backyard or even a large den area of the home can allow them to race back and forth, playing games of "chase and tag" with their families. This is good news for those who want a playful dog but may not have the room to support a larger high energy breed.
This playful energy shows itself in their tendency to bark as well. This can be good and bad. The good comes from a combination with their warriness of strangers -- they are naturally excellent watchdogs. But if not taught when it is appropriate to bark, they may bark over any situation, which has contributed to the "noisy Chihuahua" stereotype.
The natural nervousness of Chihuahuas that makes them such marvelous watchdogs also has a downside. Small children and toddlers may get little nips of warning from Chihuahuas who become overwhelmed by their intensive play.
Chihuahuas are a combination of hardiness and fragility. They are bold and adventerous dogs that can handle play that other smaller breeds either shy from or do not have the fortitude to withstand, natural obstacle courses through brush and fallen trees come to mind. But care must be taken as their bones are thin, and jumping from higher objects to lower ones may cause fractures in their legs. This does not have to be high up, I have seen patients with fractures from jumping from beds and chairs.
The highest maintenance on typical Chihuahuas rests in dental care. Like some other small dogs, they do not have very strong jaws and are prone to dental problems. Dry dog food with large kibble that promotes chewing is recommended to keep this in check, as well as regular dental cleanings with a veterinarian.
Chihuahuas are a breed that does well in a household that promotes play but understands their skittish and does not increase the anxiety of the pet. Early training for obedience is almost always necessary due to Chihuahuas being both high energy and highly intelligent, but the rewards of working with them are well worth it.
A word of caution to those interested in introducing a Chihuahua into their homes. Beware of "apple headed" Chihuahuas. A Chihuahua with a dome shaped head is normal, those called "apple headed" usually have hydrocephalus, a condition that forms when fluid does not properly drain from around the brain. These dogs are usually less healthy, less intelligent, and prone to neurological, behavioral, and aggressiveness problems. It is best not to promote the intentional breeding of defects into these precious creatures and avoid "apple heads" outright.