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This Chihuahua Life: The Perks and Pitfalls of Chihuahua Ownership
I never planned to be the owner of a toy dog breed. When I revealed to my boss that my husband and I had adopted a chihuahua, a puzzled frown creased his face. "I can't see you as a small dog person," he confessed. I wholeheartedly agreed. Cody, the first dog I ever adopted on my own, is an eighty pound lab mix. Our other dog, Jackson, is an active Australian shepherd/rottweiler mix. Did we ever expect to add a delicate chihuahua to our little pack? Definitely not. But after falling in love with the puppy who became the third member of our canine clan, Lio, I am a lifelong fan of the breed.
As wonderful as Lio (pronounced "Leo") is, however, chihuahua ownership is not right for every person or family. We walked into this chihuahua life blind and it thankfully worked out. This is not always the case and proper research should be done before taking a chihuahua in. Chihuahuas are amazing pets, but Lio certainly is not an angel all of the time. For me, the perks of life with a chihuahua far outweigh the inherent pitfalls.
Books on Chihuahua Care
The most obvious attractive quality about chihuahuas is that they are cute. That's certainly how Lio won my heart. With his floppy puppy ears (chihuahua ears un-flop with maturity), blue-green eyes, and tiny, tiny body, I could not say no. With chihuahuas' pint-sized adorableness comes fragility, though. Chihuahua puppies are especially fragile as they are born with a soft spot in their skulls which, if damaged, can kill them.
Lio is thankfully fairly sturdy. He embodies the characteristic chihuahua "big dog syndrome," believing that he's much larger than he actually is. Although this quality has the potential to get Lio into some sticky situations, we've been safe (and lucky) so far. Lio is quite the plucky little man, accompanying my husband and I on hikes, braving our Montana snow (a notable feat for the cold-sensitive breed), and tolerating our young niece's attentions without nipping.
One of Lio's favorite activities is rough-housing with our larger dogs, which is hilarious to watch as he acts like quite the savage beast. Jackson, one of our other dogs, enjoys this rough-and-tumble playtime, too. and the two of them never tire of the fun. Jackson does, however, dislike Lio's propensity to bestow enthusiastic ear-cleanings. Cody, our other dog, picks up the slack in this area, allowing Lio to nuzzle his face into an ear and lick away. Lio has also been known to do this to myself and my husband, and it is apparently a common social behavior shared by chihuahuas.
Being small, Lio is easy to manage. It's a simple matter to transport him places, and we can always pick him up as needed. I can also dress him up with relative ease, and only as the weather dictates. To Lio's relief, his wardrobe consists of utilitarian sweaters, not fashionable dress-up items. In addition, Lio's size makes him the ideal cuddler. He loves to curl up on my lap for a snooze, which I of course can't get enough of. Chihuahuas tend to be very loyal creatures, and Lio certainly is. He is more my dog than my husband's, and he is markedly more comfortable with us than with other people, although he has no problems interacting with most strange dogs. I love how much Lio loves me.
When Lio is not being an adorable cuddle-bug, he provides a seemingly endless flow of entertainment for my husband and I. In addition to his amusing displays of neutered testosterone with his cohort Jackson, Lio can be counted on for his antics with his favorite toy, a fleecy ball. Lio also is a master of the art of the chihuahua tongue. His tongue sticks out of his mouth at times, making him look ridiculous. When Lio was a puppy the vet said that this phenomenon would pass as his adult teeth grew large enough to hold the tongue in, but that has not been the case. Especially when Lio is tired, the tongue emerges -- often quite a lot of it, and for long periods of time. My husband and I can't help but giggle every time this happens, and we're so glad Lio didn't outgrow this silly chihuahua quirk.
I love my chihuahua. However, there are few choice behaviors which I could do without. My husband and I share a common complaint of chihuahua owners -- they are extremely difficult to housebreak. Even dedicated training in addition to completing an eight week puppy training class, Lio still urinates and leaves poopy presents in the house. He relieves himself outside, too, even in inclement weather (a most un-chihuahua-like quality), but we cannot seem to teach Lio that the only acceptable bathroom is outdoors. Many chihuahua owners resort to training their dogs to use a littler box, especially during cold and unpleasant weather.
Lio is also a nibbler. Not in the typical ankle-biting way, however, which is another common chihuahua tendency that potential owners should be aware of. No, our Lio just likes eat anything and everything. I have heard that chihuahuas are often fussy eaters, but not Lio. In addition to inhaling his dog food, our little guy has been known to scarf carrots (or any food that I drop while cooking), berries that one of our backyard tree drops, grass, plastic bags, our deck, poop from any source -- you get the idea. Lio is not exactly a discriminatory eater.
However, I think Lio's few faults are worth dealing with for the pleasure of all his wonderful qualities. I feel grateful that Lio does not display some other typical chihuahua issues, such as insecurity with any other humans than its owner or any other dogs than a fellow chihuahua; biting, ankle or otherwise; aggressive barking; or refusal to go outside during less-than-ideal weather. All in all, I love this chihuahua life.
Cold Weather Gear
Chihuahua Resources Online
- Chihuahua Information and Pictures
All about the Chihuahua, info, pictures, breeders, rescues, care, temperament, health, puppies and much more.
- Chihuahua Rescue and Transport, Inc.
Our purpose is to extend public education and awareness regarding abuse and neglect.
- American Kennel Club - Chihuahua
A graceful, alert, swift-moving little dog with saucy expression, compact, and with terrier-like qualities of temperament.
All writing and photography copyright of Beth Morey, 2009-2010. Reproduction/reprinting is prohibited, although linking to this hub as an information source is permitted.