Small and mighty is the most accurate way to describe Chihuahuas. These petite pups have larger than life personalities. If you live in an apartment or don’t have a big back yard, you may have considered getting a Chihuahua. For those of us born before 1990, you might remember the Taco Bell commercials starring these adorable pups and asked your parents if you could have one.
4 Pros of owning a Chihuahua
1. Excellent for those who live in an apartment
While these pups are higher energy they top out around 6 pounds making them an ideal pet for those living in an apartment. They don’t need much room to get out all of their zoomies.
2. Very intelligent
Chihuahuas are smart dogs. They can learn not just obedience commands but also may be great trick dogs. They do benefit from early training and socialization. This means exposing your pup to a variety of people, places and things so they can build confidence.
3. Easy to groom and maintain
Both coat styles are fairly easy to maintain but smooth-coated Chihuahuas are even easier than the long hair varieties which may need more frequent trips to the groomer. Either variety still needs regular vet care, routine nail trimming, and an oral care regimen to make sure they do not develop dental issues.
4. Long lifespan
The average life span of a Chihuahua is 10 - 13 years. This is fairly long for a dog. If you’re looking for a pup you’ll have for a long time, this is an ideal breed. Just remember that you’re responsible for taking good care of them for their entire lifespan. If you move a lot, are considering having children or work long hours remember this before you bring home a dog (of any breed).
3 Cons of owning a Chihuahua
1. Need to use caution around small children
Chihuahuas are small and delicate dogs but are also high energy and a little feisty. Both children and pups need to learn to interact with each other safely. If you have young children teach them to be calm and gentle with the pup. Never leave small children alone with dogs, no matter how many times they’ve interacted.
2. Can bark a lot
Chihuahuas are dogs who aren’t afraid to use their voices! To prevent the barking from becoming bothersome, make sure your dog is getting enough attention, as well as mental and physical stimulation. You can also teach your dog the command “quiet”. If you work from home or your dog comes to work with you, think about providing a puzzle toy or chew while you’re on the phone or in meetings to prevent barking. These techniques can also work during family mealtime.
3. Prone to health issues
As with many purebred pups, Chihuahuas are prone to some breed-specific health issues. These can include epilepsy, mitral valve disease, and patella luxation. If you are getting your puppy from a breeder, they should be testing the health of both parents and the puppies as appropriate. The breeder should welcome your questions about the health of their dogs and how to best care for your new puppy!
Types of Chihuahuas
There are two varieties of Chihuahua: the long-haired and the smooth coat. You may have heard of toy or teacup Chihuahuas. We consulted the Chihuahua Club of America (The AKC’s official breed club) to get to the bottom of what this means. Their official statement is here:
“The Official AKC Breed Standard describes the Chihuahua as a small dog that comes in two varieties or coat types. The difference in coat type (the Long Coat and the Smooth Coat) is the only official description used to identify a difference within this breed. Our standard does not categorize the Chihuahua by size.
For the purpose of showing and record-keeping, the American Kennel Club includes the Chihuahua (along with 19 other breeds) in the Toy Group. Therefore, irrespective of their weight or physical stature ALL Chihuahuas registered with the AKC are considered to be a toy breed of dog.
As with all living things, there will be a size variance between individual dogs within this breed. Look within the human family – brothers and sisters will differ in height and in weight, as well as other physical attributes. They are described as humans, male or female, and there is seldom if ever a need to break the description down further. The same holds true in regard to the Chihuahua; they are Chihuahuas – Long Coat / Smooth Coat!
Unfortunately, the additional adjectives used to describe the size differences and physical appearances are many and have been misused for so long they now seem legitimate. Teacup, Pocket Size, Tiny Toy, Miniature or Standard – are just a few of the many tags and labels that have been attached to this breed over the years.
The Chihuahua Club of America is concerned that these terms may be used to entice prospective buyers into thinking that puppies described in this way are of greater monetary value. They are not and the use of these terms is incorrect and misleading.
Occasionally, within a litter, there may be a puppy that is unusually small. That puppy is a small Chihuahua and any other breakdown in description is not correct. To attach any of these additional labels to a particular puppy is to misrepresent that Chihuahua as something that is rare or exceptional and causes a great deal of confusion among those new fanciers who are looking for a Chihuahua.
The Chihuahua Club of America does not endorse nor condone the use of any of these terms and would caution the perspective puppy buyer not to be misled by them.”
Temperament of Chihuahuas
Chihuahuas are extremely high energy pups! Some of them have big voices and can be seen barking at everything from their owners to the mailman or that suspicious package that is sitting on the step.
These pups are loyal and affectionate and love to spend time snoozing in their favorite people’s laps!
They sometimes don’t realize how small they are and can easily become the boss of the house - or just the other pups they live with. Their small size and charming personalities make it tempting to skimp on the training. Without proper training, these pups can learn everything from it’s ok to relieve themselves in the house to its okay to bark until I get what I want. Try to avoid reinforcing these behaviors, even when it is hard!
A Chihuahua may be the ideal pet for a single person or couple living in an apartment or house. They can thrive living with families who have older children as well. They don’t do well in extremely cold temperatures so if winter is particularly brutal where you live, you’ll want to plan to limit their outdoor time and purchase some jackets and sweaters to help keep them warm.
If you decide to get a Chihuahua make sure you are prepared to spend the time training and socializing them so that they do not have behavioral issues and can feel comfortable being out and about with you. You also need to plan for their care: bathing and grooming, vet visits, vaccines and any medications they’ll need. If you think a Chihuahua might be the right dog for you, contact a reputable breeder or rescue to find your perfect pup!
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.