How to Decide if a Chihuahua is Right for You
Chihuahuas are often stereotyped as pesky, annoying dogs that live inside the purses of rich women from Beverly Hills. There is even an unfounded internet rumor that they are a species of rat! In this article, I will describe the pros and cons of owning this sometimes misunderstood breed and hopefully assist prospective dog owners in deciding if this type of dog is right for them.
Chihuahuas are the smallest dog breed. Their tiny size and comically large ears give them a distinctive look and most people recognize them easily. They are ideal for living in small homes, such as apartments. Chihuahuas feel comfortable in spaces that larger dogs would find confining. It’s also easier to keep them in a small crate (when you are driving them somewhere, for example) than it would be for a larger breed.
However, families with small children would be wise to avoid this breed. Chihuahuas can easily be stepped on or mistreated by little kids who aren’t experienced with dogs. Also, some Chihuahuas with aggressive personalities can easily be provoked to attack (although this is true of many breeds). Parents with small children should look elsewhere, perhaps to a Labrador or a Golden Retriever.
Chihuahuas are low maintenance dogs. They usually have a very thin fur coat that rarely requires grooming and they do not shed huge amounts of hair all over the house (although they do shed some). Chihuahuas also need less food than larger dog breeds for obvious reasons. If you are on a budget, this is a good breed for you. It’s also easy to pick them up and carry them, although I don't recommend doing this on a consistent basis. Like any dog, Chihuahuas will want to explore their surroundings on the ground. They need less exercise than most breeds, but should still be walked on a daily basis.
This breed tends to prefer the company of Chihuahuas over other dogs, so families who already own another canine may want to avoid them. That said, unless they are very ill-tempered, a Chihuahua should be able to adjust to another breed’s presence with proper training.
Chihuahuas are very affectionate toward their owners and other people that they know, but are skittish when it comes to strangers. My dog Max often shies away from being petted by people whom he has never seen before. He is not like the Labradors I’ve known who instantly love everybody. However, Chihuahuas do have something in common with labs – they are useless as guard dogs. Although Chihuahuas will aggressively defend their territory against a burglar, their small size will preclude them being particularly effective in this regard (unless the robber is a midget).
Chihuahuas are intelligent and will thrive with the right type of owner and environment. If this breed is a proper fit for your lifestyle, don't hesitate to adopt a chihuahua.
Consider this breed if…
You like having a dog that is small, very cute, intelligent, and affectionate.
You don’t have small children.
You don’t already have another dog (unless it’s a Chihuahua).
You are on a limited budget.
Don’t consider this breed if…
You have little kids.
You want a guard dog.
You want a dog that will require lots of grooming and pampering.
By Nick Anderson
© 2013 Nick R. Anderson