Are Chihuahuas Aggressive?
Who wouldn’t know a Chihuahua? It is one of the most well-known dogs because of its size.
However, even if it holds the title to being the smallest dog breed around, it is hard to overlook it because of its feistiness and overall humongous personality.
Origin of Chihuahuas
The Chihuahuas we know today have diminutive sizes. But did you know that their known descendants were not at all small dogs?
You will also be surprised to know that the history of the Chihuahua dog breed could be traced from centuries before.
There are many theories on how a Chihuahua dog started. But the most well-known is that they descended from the Techichi dogs from the Toltec civilization.
These dogs look a lot like the Chihuahuas based on their physical features. However, their size is larger than the modern-day Chihuahuas we have now.
It is speculated that the size of the Chihuahuas we have at present could be attributed to the breeding of the Techichis and another smaller dog during the Aztec civilization. Other theories also suggest that they were bred with Chinese Crested dogs sometime during its history to create the Chihuahua small dogs now.
Chihuahuas got their name after being rediscovered in the Mexican state of Chihuahua in Mexico in the 1800s. Thus, their name.
Chihuahuas as Pets
You don’t know what you have been missing if you haven’t seen nor haven’t been around a Chihuahua even once in your life. This is an adorable little pooch that never fails to bring happiness to the life of its owner.
If you own one, you can even probably relate.
A Chihuahua is among the leading choice of companion dogs for pet owners who have limited space. While a home with a backyard is recommended for other larger breeds of dogs, the same space could just mean a liability when you have a Chihuahua.
The size of a Chihuahua means that it could easily be perceived as prey by animals bigger than it is. It could also be easily “dognapped” by any passerby. Moreover, a huge backyard could lead it into a slew of trouble, especially without supervision.
A Chihuahua would happily be an apartment. dweller. Even an average-sized apartment would suffice as long as you have the time to give it its dose of sunshine and some exercise. In fact, it could even perceive said space as a palace with how tiny it is.
Admittedly, a Chihuahua is not for everyone. It may be a great fit if you are a moderately active person, but it would ‘t be the best choice if you are an athlete looking for an equally athletic dog.
It doesn’t matter that a Chihuahua is a spirited dog. Its body isn’t simply made for action-packed adventures. It is even possible that a Chihuahua could just set you back especially during long runs and even short hikes.
It will push to keep up. But with how tiny its steps are, it is unlikely that it can keep up with your much bigger strides for a long period without overexerting itself.
Chihuahua would also not be for a home where it cannot have constant company. It may seem confident all by itself, but a Chihuahua is a companion dog through and through.
It would be happy just to be there for you but it would expect you to do the same. It is not happy being just on its own. It tends to cling which makes it prone to separation anxiety. This is also why it should not be kept out. Even if with only the door separating it from its fur parents, it could still get depressed.
The attachment Chihuahuas develop with their humans also make them indoor dogs. They will not be happy living away from the Chihuahua owners even if it is just a door apart.
Getting a Chihuahua wouldn’t be a problem even if you have kids. But too young kids may not be good as they don’t know yet how to handle this pooch. They may get too hard during playtime which doesn’t bode well for the fragile size of a Chihuahua.
Ideally, kids are recommended to be at least 8-years old, if not older.
If you are a fur parent with some other animals as pets, this wouldn’t be an issue with a Chihuahua as long as they are raised together. If not, then extended socialization is necessary. But even if this has been done, it is still not recommended to leave any pets with it unsupervised especially larger dogs like a Pit Bull.
Natural Temperament of a Chihuahua
Getting to know a Chihuahua would tell you that they have spicy personalities through and through. It is full of sass and feistiness which is just adorable and adds to its charm.
The best thing is that despite its bigger-than-life personality, it does not have naturally aggressive behavior. In fact, it is nothing but a darling with its natural even-tempered that makes it a good companion even if you have kids at home.
A Chihuahua is well-known for its loyalty and devotion to its favorite human. It can be friendly to its family but it tends to drift towards one person it favors the most and shadow it.
It is bold and fearless. Never mind that it is small because it won’t be a pushover. It is not easily intimidated and does not cower even when facing dogs and people way larger than it is.
It is alert and observant. Nothing gets past without it noticing or even investigating it. It also has no qualms in letting you know a perceived danger. It is a good communicator with its high-pitch bark. This characteristic makes it a great watchdog.
Chihuahuas may be confident dogs, but they are very sensitive doggos. They love hard and expect that they will be loved equally, if not more, in return. They are the happiest when they are showered with praises and cuddles by their favorite people.
At first glance, Chihuahuas could give the impression that they are very active dogs. However, they know when to stop and just provide a silent company to their fur parents.
Their love language is touch so don’t be surprised when during a day when you are just tired, you will find your Chihuahua just sitting silently just beside you or curled on your lap.
Overall, Chihuahuas have great temperaments. But fur parents need to maintain this with the appropriate training and guidance to ensure that their good behavior will carry on throughout their lifetime.
Factors Causing A Chihuahua Dog to be Aggressive Like Pit Bulls
It is hard to think that with all the charm and affectionate nature of Chihuahuas, like other dogs, they could also act aggressively towards people and other pets. But they do. This behavior is just often overlooked because many think that the threat is not as severe as when you are raising bigger and much scarier dogs.
While this can be true, the aggression of a Chihuahua still merits attention. No matter how small, there is no underestimating the damage a dog could cause.
But before you get all judgmental about the potential aggressive behavior of a Chihuahua, it pays to check first what could be causing it. Listed below are some of the reasons you can consider.
1. Your Chihuahua is feeling territorial
It may not be too obvious especially if you are a first-time fur parent and you only have one Chihuahua as a pet, but this dog breed is highly protective of its territory. It normally guards closely all the things it deems as its own such as a corner in its fur parent’s home, bed, toys, food, and even its fur parent. Thus, strangers approaching these, more so making contact, would not bode well for this little pooch.
They could cause a Chihuahua to feel the need to defend its property. Know that it would not hesitate to bite if it thinks that you are a threat to what it holds dear.
2. Your Chihuahua is clueless about how to act around strangers and new places
It is crucial for a Chihuahua to get exposed to different places and to be around a variety of people outside its normal family circle starting from puppyhood. If its fur parent will not meet this, then it could be a recipe for a disaster.
It could lead your Chihuahua to get caught off-guard and to be on a defense mode when faced with new surroundings and strangers. It could let you Chihuahua feel scared and act aggressively as a defense mechanism.
Like humans, fear could cause irrationality to Chihuahuas so don’t be surprised if they start snapping and biting during this scenario.
3. Your Chihuahua has a Small Dog Syndrome
One downside of Chihuahuas being small is that like other dogs that are relatively minute in terms of size, Chihuahuas could develop a Small Dog Syndrome. This is when they develop bad behaviors because they think they can charm their way out of them.
Admittedly, it is not uncommon for small dogs to be coddled by their fur parents more than those dogs that are larger. The rationale behind this is that the size of small dogs makes them look fragile and helpless. The end result is that they get almost everything they want with no sweat and they are spoiled rotten. They could also be prone to misbehaviors.
While it can be true that small dogs are normally fragile, this still doesn’t give them entitlement to unlimited Get Out of Jail Free Cards. Instead, they still need to be called out for their misbehaviors to ensure that the same thing will never happen again. Otherwise, they will never learn and you will just enable them to do more damage in the future.
Your Chihuahua has a Small Dog Syndrome if it exhibits below behavioral patterns:
- They ignore your commands
- Bark and whine to get what they desire
- Bully other dogs, large or small
- Aggression towards people and other pets
Needless, to say, Small Dog Syndrome is not innate and could be corrected with the right strategy.
4. Your Chihuahua has a traumatic past
The Chihuahuas’ aggressive behavior could also be largely affected by past trauma. This is mostly for Chihuahuas that you adopted from another owner or the doggy shelter.
You may not notice it but dogs, in general, have good memories. It wouldn’t be unlikely for them to retain in their minds especially those situations that are traumatic and affected them the most.
The triggers could be different across affected dog breeds. But the result could just be the same – snapping and acting vicious at the slightest sound, gesture, or even movement that will make them recall the traumatic memory.
5. Your Chihuahua is detecting danger and wants to protect
Your Chihuahua may be small but it is just as alert as most dog breeds, if not more. In fact, if you are going to pay attention to it, you can easily see that it seems as if it is always observing its surroundings.
When trained for it, your Chihuahua could even detect danger accurately. We don’t know their exact parameters but mostly, potential danger could be detected by dogs.
Chihuahuas are no different. This is a loyal and devoted dog breed that wants nothing more than to keep its fur parents safe. If it thinks that even for a moment, a stranger intends to cause its fur parent harm, it would not think twice to be aggressive and bite.
6. Your Chihuahua is not being treated right
Research shows that a dog’s aggressiveness can be reflective of the environment and the people that played a part in its growing years. This just means that if your Chihuahua lives in an environment where aggression and violence are a norm, then there is a huge likelihood that it would channel the same behavior.
Likewise, the same also holds true in the way you treat your pooch.
It should never be overlooked that a Chihuahua is an extremely sensitive pooch. This means that you should always be mindful in treating it right. Never raise your voice no matter the misbehavior and don’t ever resort to intimidation and violence as punishment.
One way to do it is to speak firmly and clearly. Be patient also in redirecting it to the right path.
7. Your Chihuahua is sick
Chihuahuas are normally great companion dogs. If you have one that is well-behaved but is suddenly exhibiting bad behaviors then you may want to consider that it may be experiencing illness or is suffering from pain. These conditions could largely contribute to the temperament of these dogs.
It is not unlikely that it will act aggressively especially if you accidentally touch the part that hurts. There could also be a lot of growling and teeth-showing involved.
The sad thing is that you can’t easily determine this from the get-go particularly if the symptoms or injuries are not visible. You may need to bring your fur baby first to a veterinarian before you can have an accurate diagnosis.
8. Your Chihuahua inherited its bad temperament from its parent breed
It is a well-known fact that Chihuahuas could be predisposed to hereditary health issues. But did you know that their aggressive behavior could also be due to its genetic?
You’ve read that right. The temperament of the Chihuahua parent dogs could largely affect the temperament of their offspring. So it is likely that your Chihuahua is showing aggression because it is innate in its blood.
Even if this is the case though, this doesn’t make your Chihuahua untrainable. You just need to factor this information into your training so that you could create a more effective training program.
9. Your Chihuahua is in heat
If you don’t know it yet, aggressive behavior among Chihuahuas could also be triggered by their heat. Although this is more pronounced amongst female Chihuahuas in heat, there are also instances when male Chihuahuas manifest the same issue.
Hormones could contribute to a Chihuahuas abrupt change of behavior. This could also lead to them getting restless and aggressive during this time.
The heat of a female Chihuahua could also cause a male Chihuahua to grow wild. This strongly affects the latter and triggers aggressive behavior especially if it is vying for the female Chihuahua’s affection against another male Chihuahua.
If you are not careful in keeping the two male Chihuahuas apart, this could easily turn into an all-out brawl and result in injuries for both parties.
Obviously, a dog behaves aggressively due to various reasons. It is mandatory to take into consideration what factors contribute to its behavior before you could have a chance to successfully address it.
Signs of Aggressiveness on Chihuahua Dogs
Normally, it is not hard to tell that dogs are already being aggressive. However, for a small pooch like a Chihuahua, this is proving to be a challenge. Many often mistake its aggression for playfulness.
But below are the signs that you should be on the lookout for.
You will never miss a growling Chihuahua. It may be on the high-pitch side but that is a signal that you need to start backing off a little if you are in its territory or what you are currently doing is upsetting it.
Have no doubts that it won’t have any qualms in attacking you if you don’t heed its signal. It may sound cute but truly, its goal is to intimidate in the only way it knows how.
Not Wagging Tail
It is common knowledge that a wagging tail of a Chihuahua most of the time means excitement and joy. So if it suddenly stops and focuses all its attention on you, then you should start minding what could be the problem. This is one of the common indicators that a Chihuahua is not happy with you.
When you are faced with a Chihuahua that communicates this signal, better watch what will be your next move. There is no room for mistakes as this dog could attack without questions.
Snarling and Baring Teeth
Of all the signals communicating the aggression of a Chihuahua, this is perhaps the most obvious. Like all other signals, it bares its little teeth in hopes to intimidate. Thus, if you are stepping into its territory or if you think you are standing too close to its food bowls or toys, then might as well step back and create some distance.
If the three above-mentioned have not encouraged you just yet to back off, then the tension-filled stand of a Chihuahua dog when it is aggressive should. This means that it is preparing already to spring unto you without further adieu.
Know that Chihuahua will never consider how big you are when it attacks you. Its sole intent would be to cause damage as much as it can.
If a Chihuahua starts exhibiting the signals mentioned, then trust that it is not playing around when it comes to its aggression towards you. This means that without a doubt, it wouldn’t mind tearing you to pieces if it can. Because of this, it is vital to take precautions and not exacerbate the situation.
Dealing with an Aggressive Chihuahua
Now that you know that a Chihuahua is capable of being aggressive, then you may want to also start thinking about what you do when faced with one.
Of course, the most rational answer is to not antagonize the Chihuahua further. If it is feeling territorial, then it would be in your best interest to start backing off to a safe distance. Do this carefully because sudden movements could startle it into launching at you.
You should also not run away when facing an aggressive Chihuahua. Doing so would just encourage it to come after you.
What you can do is to talk to it instead in a calm manner. Do not shout or express any aggression in return. Do not also look at it directly as this could give the impression that you are challenging it.
It also pays to have a shield just in case a Chihuahua would attack. Use your bag as protection if necessary. Nobody wants to be bitten by any dog especially if it is rabid as this could transfer disease to you.
Vaccinated for rabies or not, when bitten by a Chihuahua, it wouldn’t hurt to see a doctor so that the right treatment that would help prevent further damage could be facilitated.
How Dog Owners Could Prevent the Aggressive Behavior of Chihuahuas
It has been previously discussed that Chihuahuas could be behaving aggressively due to many different factors. While sometimes, this could be inevitable and brought about by their genetic makeup, there are still ways to curb their aggression and transform it into more desirable behavior.
The responsibility of doing this falls entirely on the shoulders of the dog owners or the Chihuahuas fur parents.
If you don’t want an aggressive Chihuahua, it is crucial that you set boundaries early on. Correcting misbehaviors as early as puppyhood could help your pooch distinguish right from wrong.
Chihuahuas are adorable in all senses of the word. One look and it’s hard not to fall in love with them. But you should resist.
Call out wrongdoings whether it is as small as incessant barking or gnawing at the furniture. Do this without raising your voice as this could just cause your fur baby to be anxious and agitated.
You’ll find soon enough that this practice will benefit both you and your pet in the long run.
Like other dogs, learning basic obedience will be helpful in controlling your Chihuahua. You can start introducing your Chihuahua to obedience training when it reaches its 8-weeks mark.
Begin with uncomplicated commands such as sit, stand, stay, and no. Being able to respond to these would help keep your Chihuahua safe especially during dire circumstances.
When you do obedience training to your Chihuahua, it is important that you keep it short. Five to ten minutes per session would be a good range. This would help keep the focus of your fur baby as you work together.
Chihuahuas are not known for their attention span. So letting training sessions go for long hours would not be to your advantage. This could cause them to get bored which doesn’t bode well for the training.
Rewarding Desired Behavior
Chihuahua tends to exhibit good behavior when motivated. Thus, it would be beneficial for you to keep some of its favorite treats handy during training.
Rewards in the form of praises and cuddles would work also. You just need to discern what would work best with your pooch.
Definitely, negative reinforcement wouldn’t work with a Chihuahua. As sensitive as this pooch, resorting to intimidation would likely just break its spirit. This could also break the bond between the two of you and could cause it to be aggressive.
Avoid raising your voice during misbehavior. However, it won’t hurt to speak firmly. At the end of the day, you still need to communicate what it did wrong.
Socialization is an important training also for your Chihuahua. This would make getting along with other people a seamless process for it and will enable your Chihuahua to be a well-rounded dog. Further, this would also help curb your dog’s aggressive manner and would prepare it for different social situations.
A Chihuahua that is well-socialized is less likely to behave aggressively than those Chihuahuas or other breeds of dogs that are not.
Contrary to what many know, introducing your Chihuahua into socialization training is not a hard feat. You just need to provide it exposure as much as possible and guide it as it mingles with other people or even pets.
You don’t really need to go outside your normal routine when you do socialization training. You can do this even by simply just walking your Chihuahua daily.
Take your Chihuahua through different crowded streets. Introduce it to people and animals along the way. Let it mingle at the dog park. Just make sure to facilitate a safe space for your Chihuahua when you do these.
The last thing you’d want is to make your Chihuahua feel uncomfortable and threatened as you do this. Watch for the tell-tale signs that it is starting to behave aggressively and immediately control the situation to prevent it from escalating.
Providing your Chihuahua with enough exercises daily could keep it from developing annoying and destructive dog behavior such as digging and chewing your favorite sneakers. It could also provide your pooch entertainment so it won’t be prone to negative emotions.
Moreover, this would prevent it from looking for an outlet to release its excess energy which sometimes results in aggression.
Chihuahuas are very energetic doggos. But their stature means that they are really the athletic type so would require only a moderate amount of exercise.
About 30 minutes of exercise is enough to make a Chihuahua happy. You can combine walking it around the neighborhood with some indoor playtime.
Know The Triggers
If you have a Chihuahua that is from a doggy shelter or passed on to you by your neighbors, it is important to know first if it has a traumatic past. Ask the history of the pooch and the reason it is up for adoption.
Admittedly, this is often not a piece of information that is readily available. As such, you need to gauge on your own what makes your Chihuahua tick and what could trigger aggressive behavior.
When you already know this, it could be easier to put the necessary controls in place to ensure that you will not cause it to be aggressive and you can maintain its well-mannered disposition.
Regular Visit to the Vet
Regular visits to the veterinarian of a Chihuahua would help keep it in perfect condition all the time. A vet would be the best person to determine if there is something amiss with your Chihuahua. A vet is also the only person that could be trusted to address pressing health concerns immediately so they won’t escalate further and lead to an aggressive dog.
Note that dogs in general don’t often communicate their pain. Instead, they find an outlet for it which sometimes means aggression.
It is up to the dog owners to determine what is wrong with them. If it is health-related, talking to a vet would be to your advantage.
Trusting Only Reputable Breeders
Since its genetic makeup could affect the temperament of a Chihuahua, it just follows that you need to source out a Chihuahua only from licensed and reputable breeders. They have strict controls in place that enable proper vetting for parent dogs that will be crossed so they could only produce a good quality litter.
Their “controls” include not only a series of health checks but temperament checks as well. They are very keen that no bad genes will be transferred to the offspring so they do their job well.
The same thing cannot be said to backyard breeders and puppy mills which are known to breed only for bucks. Yes, they do sell Chihuahuas for a relatively cheaper price but the quality is not guaranteed.
Most of the time, the condition of the puppy they sell is even poor which just results in more expenses for the new Chihuahua owners in the long run. They don’t normally do temperament checks too and their parent breeds are not properly vetted which makes the puppies they sell more susceptible to being aggressive dogs.
Needless to say, there are challenges in having an aggressive Chihuahua. But this doesn’t mean that there is no hope for it. It just means that its fur parents need to work harder on its behavior to achieve the desired result.
Chihuahuas are truly adorable dogs. They could be perfect little dogs but there are also instances when they develop aggressive behavior.
Before you think of addressing this, however, it pays to know first what contributes to it. Knowing the triggers would make your effort to steer your Chihuahua from bad behaviors more successful.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: Are Chihuahuas naturally aggressive?
A: Chihuahuas could be aggressive due to various reasons. But overall, they have a pretty good temper which makes them a good choice for a companion dog.
However, in order for the good temperament of a Chihuahua to last, owners should be mindful in correcting all bad habits. Fur parents should provide them with the right exercise, socialization, and obedience training needed that would help control them and curb possible aggressive tendencies.
Q: Why do Chihuahuas get so aggressive?
A: There are many factors that cause a Chihuahua to get aggressive. Among the most common would be that it is feeling territorial and threatened, it feels the need to protect, it is innate in its genes, and it is sick or injured.
Q: Why do Chihuahuas bite their owners?
A: There are many reasons why Chihuahua could bite their owners. For one, they may be feeling scared or anxious. Another is that they may be feeling playful and the bite is purely accidental. It could also be that the Chihuahua is injured and the owner accidentally touched the injured part.
Nevertheless, when this happens, what needs to be done is to firmly communicate to your Chihuahua that it is bad behavior. Teach it what is right and reward it if the desired result is achieved.
Q: Do Chihuahuas turn on their owners?
A: Chihuahuas are extremely loyal and devoted dogs. They do love their owners dearly and it is rare that you will find them not trailing behind their owners.
However, it is inevitable that there are times when they would turn on their owners. The reason behind this could vary but it could be due to them feeling under the weather during the particular incident, or the owner inadvertently triggered a past traumatic incident for them. This could also be brought about by their anxiety issues that need to be addressed.