Chihuahua as a Dog
What makes the world’s smallest dog one of our nation’s most popular pets? The Chihuahua’s perky personality, of course. Yes, this unique breed has more going for it than a serious case of the cutes. Chihuahuas are protective despite their size and react appropriately to their owners’ moods. They love loving, travel well, and adore creature comforts.
On this page, we talk about the traits of a typical Chihuahua Dog — complete with all its characteristics and quirks. We discuss how Chihuahuas usually react to other animals; the personality differences between Chihuahuas with short and long coats; and what must go right so your Chihuahua can mature with the personality traits typical of the breed.
The Chihuahua Dog is Big on Character: The breed standard for the Chihuahua describes its temperament as “terrier-like,” so lets start by talking about typical terrier personality. Most small terriers (think Fox Terriers and Scottish Terriers) originally were bred to go to ground after prey. They helped keep wily foxes out of henhouses and rats from fouling the feed in barns, and they didn’t hesitate to take on badgers, snakes, or anything else that intruded near their people or property. Although few terriers do their traditional work today, most retain their feistiness and are brave to a fault. Terriers are alert to their surroundings, quick to defend home and family, and positive that they’re tougher than the biggest dog on the block, making them alert watchdogs and energetic, playful companions.
- Protectors: Although few Chihuahuas care to go rat hunting, they do have several terrier traits. Bravado is one example. When your Chihuahua trots down the street with you, he appears animated and confident. Most Chihuahuas don’t realize that they’re small. Given the opportunity, they may approach big dogs in play, and occasionally — especially if the large dogs are invading their territory — they may act aggressively. Although a tiny terror, barking and running full force, sends some gigantic dogs packing, this situation isn’t safe. Toy breed owners need to exercise caution around strange dogs, because even the friendliest medium-sized dog can seriously injure a small one during rough play. The Chihuahuas’ bravado makes them good watchdogs. Like terriers, they’re alert and have amazingly keen hearing, and they possess a bark that’s loud and shrill for their size. To top it off, they can tell the difference between a family member’s footsteps or a stranger’s stride nearing the door, and they know when a vehicle other than the family car pulls up to the house. Chihuahuas have an unjust reputation for excessive barking. Most bark an alarm when a stranger approaches, but when properly trained, they won’t be any noisier than most other breeds.
- Close companions: A Chihuahua is an affectionate animal that dogs your footsteps from room to room, because awake or asleep, he wants to be near you. Some breeds always seem in search of mischief, but the typical adult Chihuahua is content with its owner’s company. Indoors, your Chihuahua will play bathing beauty, stretching out on the carpet right where a sunbeam shines through the window. On gray days, he’ll seek out another source of warmth, napping near a heating vent or in his own bed — that is, if your lap isn’t available. You’ll know that your Chihuahua is a little chilly when he curls up into a ball with his nose under one leg. Dogs do that because it allows them to breathe in air that got preheated by the warmth of their bodies. Inhaling the warm air helps keep them cozy. The ultimate house dog If you pick up a leash and say, “Wanna go for a walk?” most breeds beat you to the door while dancing in ecstatic circles. Nevertheless, don’t be surprised if your Chihuahua plants his feet and gives you a long suffering look that translates into, “Do I have to?” Most Chihuahuas (some exceptions live in semitropical climates) prefer their homes to the great outdoors. Lovers of warmth and softness, they consider cold concrete and dewy grass hardships to be endured, not enjoyed. (If your Chihuahua is a smooth coat, he chills easily, sometimes shivering from ear tips to toes.) He also hates rain, and it’s no wonder. Imagine being so low to the ground that every step you take splashes cold water onto your bare belly! Of course, you must take your pet outside no matter what the weather so he can eliminate on schedule. On cold days, it’s amusing to see how fast some Chihuahuas get their business over with so they can rush back to their warm homes.
To speed up the buddy-making process between your friends and your Chihuahua dog, tell your guests to ignore your Chihuahua until he approaches them. Then they can reciprocate by tickling him on the chest or under the chin. These actions are less threatening than reaching over him to pet his head. Chihuahuas don’t like it when strangers swoop down on them from above like hungry hawks. If your friends squat down and let your Chihuahua check them out, they’ll soon become best buddies. A Chihuahua probably will make friends much faster on neutral ground (such as a park) than in his own home, because he doesn’t feel the need to defend neutral territory.
- Spirited, but not hyper: Although they’re playful pets, Chihuahuas aren’t hyper little dogs. In fact, most of them don’t have an especially high activity level. Rather than racing around the living room, your Chihuahua prefers spending part of his day on your lap or burrowed beneath a blanket. His attitude about exercise is easygoing — ready to play when you are but content to relax when you aren’t in an active mood. As Chihuahuas mature, they tend to take on the same activity level as their people. The same dog that acts frisky when he’s around his active family will turn into a contented cuddler when grandma and grandpa dog-sit. Even though Chihuahuas prefer human company, properly trained adult dogs can occupy themselves for hours without looking for trouble or demanding attention.