Chihuahuas are an extremely popular small breed, known for being stalwart companions. Among toy breeds, few are as versatile or well-loved as the chihuahua. But will a chihuahua be a good fit for your family?
Because they were bred to be companion pets, chihuahuas can be great family dogs. However, most aren’t great with young children. In households with older children, cats, and other chihuahuas, they thrive. Other dog breeds and extremely young children are a no-go for chihuahuas.
Below, we’ll look at why the chihuahua makes a good family dog, why you should (or shouldn’t) adopt one, and how they do with your other pets and children.
Chihuahuas as Family Dogs
You might be wondering if a chihuahua is a good fit for your family. How will they get along with other pets? How will they tolerate your children?
Before learning anything else about the breed, these are the most important questions to ask. It’s important to know if a chihuahua will work with your family composition before bringing one home.
Are Chihuahuas Kid Friendly?
As always, whether a chihuahua will get along with your kids is heavily dependent on how the dog is raised. A well-socialized chihuahua can be great with your kids.
However, they are notoriously irritable. Some chihuahuas will have difficulty tolerating younger children and may not appreciate potentially rough handling.
Chihuahuas are also in danger from younger children. Due to their small size, chihuahuas are fragile. A toddler throwing a toy or a child tripping and falling on them could be fatal.
For these reasons, some chihuahua rescues recommend not pairing chihuahuas with young children. The right dog will do fine, but there are many ways that the dog and the child can hurt each other.
Do Chihuahuas Get Along with Cats?
On the other hand, chihuahuas get along famously with cats for the most part.
If your cat can put up with the often outgoing and energetic chihuahua, they will get along very well. Some chihuahuas (especially females) can be smaller than cats. As such, they likely won’t try to pick a fight with the cat.
They won’t be a danger to them. Besides, cats generally keep to themselves. If your cat just wants to be left alone, it’s extremely easy to get away from a chihuahua and perch somewhere the dog can’t reach.
Chihuahuas are also known to be companion animals. This may make them an ideal second pet in a house where the cat is already the top dog.
Read Next: 20 Stimulating Jobs For Your Pet Chihuahua
Do Chihuahuas Get Along with Other Dogs?
Chihuahuas can be picky about getting along with other dogs. A well-socialized chihuahua who is brought up around other dogs will do well with dogs of many different breeds.
However, chihuahuas can be stubborn or grumpy with other dogs, especially when they aren’t in the mood to play.
Likewise, some chihuahuas are often extremely energetic and can annoy other dogs. Chihuahuas usually get along well with other chihuahuas, however. Their shared temperaments lead to minimal problems.
If you’re afraid that your dog isn’t going to get along with a chihuahua (or vice versa), considering rescuing a chihuahua from an agency that tests socialization and tolerance.
You can also put your chihuahua through socialization training to help them out.
Are Chihuahuas Good Guard Dogs?
Finally, we come to one of the largest problems that people can have with chihuahuas. They are always extremely alert. This means that they may bark at everything. Every sound and every person walking up to your door may be a trigger for a long, loud barking spell.
Chihuahuas can be trained out of barking with some work, but it takes a lot of positive reinforcement and no small amount of patience.
To this end, chihuahuas can be good guard dogs. However, there are a couple of problems with this. You will know when someone is approaching your house, or when something seems off.
There’s no way to know if this is a threat or something the chihuahua perceives as a threat (which is most things).
Chihuahuas also aren’t particularly threatening.
They can tell you when something’s up, but they can’t offer any protection. If you only want a dog to tell you when something is wrong, the chihuahua is perfect for you.
Chihuahua Breed Characteristics
To tell if a chihuahua is best for your family, you must understand the temperament and other breed characteristics of the chihuahua.
Chihuahuas have diverse personalities, even more so than other dog breeds. The temperament may not be consistent across every dog within the breed, and they are heavily influenced by upbringing and training.
Chihuahuas are known for being energetic and outgoing. They are good with people, as well as cautious and welcoming with strangers.
However, some chihuahuas can be temperamental, grumpy, or snappish when they want to be left alone. They are eager to please and can be attached to your side, but they generally choose one person to become their ‘person’.
Overall, chihuahuas can be laid back and energetic in turns. They often think they are larger than they are, which can lead them into trouble if you don’t watch them carefully.
Chihuahuas are easily one of the hardest breeds to train. They can be difficult, stubborn, and react extremely negatively to punishment.
They are also eager to please, so positive reinforcement is the key. Training a chihuahua takes a lot of patience, a little bit of knowledge about the breed, and a lot of treats.
Many owners simply opt for obedience training. This is a viable method for the chihuahua, as training them yourself can lead to a lot of frustration and backward progress with your dog.
Chihuahua Exercise Requirements
Chihuahuas don’t need much exercise at all. They require at least 30 minutes outside each day, which is mainly in walks on a leash.
Chihuahuas are often victims to birds of prey, so you must be outside with them or walk them on a leash. Leaving them alone outside can be a problem. Still, they don’t require much exercise outside of these walks.
Chihuahuas will play a lot around the house, and this is enough to make up their exercise requirements.
Chihuahua Diet Requirements
Due to their small stature, chihuahuas are prone to obesity and hypoglycemia. It’s not a great idea to leave food out for them all day long, as they can overindulge extremely easily.
Instead, you should keep an eye on their food intake. A fully-grown chihuahua only needs a meal twice a day to stay fit and healthy.
It’s also important to watch their treat intake, as treats can easily tip the scales for them.
Are Chihuahuas High Maintenance?
Chihuahuas are high maintenance dogs, but not in the same way as other high maintenance breeds. Their small size means they are fragile. They can be prey for larger animals, and sometimes just jumping off the couch will have them breaking a leg.
The maintenance required for chihuahuas comes in the form of protecting them – sometimes from themselves. If you are willing to be vigilant about watching them, you’ll be justly rewarded.
Are Chihuahuas Aggressive?
Chihuahuas may growl and fuss when they are annoyed, but they are not predisposed to human aggression. This means that they’re unlikely to be aggressive towards humans overall.
Some dogs may be prone to aggression based on a history of abuse or other misconduct.
Chihuahuas are not overly aggressive, and you shouldn’t worry too much about them being aggressive with your children or family members.
Check out our other related dog articles by clicking here.
Adding a Chihuahua to Your Household
So, should you add a chihuahua to your household? Here are some benefits and drawbacks.
5 Reasons to Get a Chihuahua
They’re adorable! They’ll always look like a puppy because they are so small.
They don’t require much exercise. Though they are a high-maintenance breed, this is only because of how fragile they are.
They stick with you. Chihuahuas are well-known for being velcro dogs, meaning that they will stick to your side and never stray far from it. If you’re looking for a dog who will love them unconditionally, a chihuahua may be the best option for you.
They’re great with cats. If you already have a cat (or two) in your household, your chihuahua will fit in fine. This breed won’t chase or harass your cats.
They’re cuddly. Chihuahuas are affectionate and always want to be on or near you. They’re the perfect cuddling companions and can make your life a little brighter for it.
5 Reasons Not to Get a Chihuahua
They can be stubborn. Training a chihuahua can be difficult, as they are stubborn and self-assured most of the time.
They are high maintenance. You’ll need to watch them constantly to make sure they aren’t going to get hurt, and you can never just let them into the backyard on their own.
They can be loud. Chihuahuas are constantly on alert, which means that they can sometimes be very loud. They are prone to barking at any sound they hear, which can be detrimental to apartment living.
They can be grumpy. Sometimes, chihuahuas won’t tolerate other dogs or children well. They might snap or growl if they want to be left alone.
They can be energetic. If you, your family, or your other pets won’t tolerate their high energy well, a chihuahua might not be the best fit.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Adopting a Chihuahua
Before you look for a chihuahua to adopt, ask yourself the following questions. Give yourself an in-depth examination to determine if you’re ready for a chihuahua, or if chihuahuas are a good fit for your family.
- Do I have time for a chihuahua?
- Am I ready to be vigilant about protecting a fragile chihuahua?
- Are my kids too aggressive to be trusted with a chihuahua?
- Do we have space for another dog?
- Can I take this dog on extra walks?
- Can I financially support another dog?
- Am I prepared for the numerous health issues that can plague chihuahuas?
- Do I have other dogs that might not get along with the chihuahua?
All these questions are important to explore before you commit to another dog, but especially a chihuahua.
Chihuahuas were bred to be companion dogs. They can be great for your family! As with all dog breeds, there are potential issues.
Chihuahuas are good with other chihuahuas, great with cats and other small pets, but not recommended for households with small children. However, a well-socialized and trained chihuahua can overcome these issues and be a great companion pet.
Male vs. Female Chihuahuas – Which One is Right for You?
Male chihuahuas are generally more affectionate, more eager to please, and clingier than their female counterparts. However, which one is ‘better’ depends on what you want in your dog.
Males are also harder to train, but they can be better around guests and kids than female dogs.
Do Chihuahuas Have a Favorite Person?
Chihuahuas do tend to gravitate towards a single owner, usually one who has a similar personality. If your chihuahua is social and energetic, they might latch on to the most energetic member of the family, for instance.
How Often Do Chihuahuas Need Baths?
Chihuahuas need baths a bit more frequently than other breeds. Experts agree that chihuahuas shouldn’t go longer than six (6) weeks without a bath. They will need baths sooner if they are more active, and you can bathe them every week if needed.
Why is my Chihuahua So Clingy?
Chihuahuas were bred for human companionship. Because they’ve never really had a ‘job’, they enjoy being close to their owners and love soaking up affection. Male chihuahuas are especially prone to be ‘velcro dogs’.
“Chihuahua.” American Kennel Club. https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/chihuahua/. Accessed 14 July 2021.
“Chihuahua.” The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, PDSA. https://www.pdsa.org.uk/taking-care-of-your-pet/looking-after-your-pet/puppies-dogs/small-dogs/chihuahua. Accessed 14 July 2021.
“Chihuahua Puppy – General Care.” The Chihuahua Club of America. https://chihuahuaclubofamerica.org/articles/chihuahua-puppy-general-care/ Accessed 14 July 2021.