In hopes that I can give my readers some insight into dog breeds’ personalities, I am featuring a couple of different breeds each week. I will give a little history about the breed, i.e., what they were bred to do, talk about their personalities, and provide advice on the lifestyle needs of the breed. Remember, as I always say, every dog is an individual. Some dogs will exactly fit the breed characteristics while others may be nothing like it.

I’ve chosen the Chihuahua to profile because, as the other two breeds I previously wrote about, they are also a very misunderstood breed. What you see is a tiny dog, the smallest of all breeds, and it’s easy to assume that they are like toys. People carry them around, place them in purses, and even stroll around with them in baby carriages. Unless you have lived with a Chihuahua, you don’t realize that they can be nothing like a toy – they can be little terrors! Like Pit Bulls and Labs, Chihuahuas often find themselves homeless.

Chihuahuas are thought to have originated in the 9th century Toltec society in Mexico. Possibly a cross between the Techichi and the Chinese Crested, the Chihuahua can factually be traced to the Mexican region of Chihuahua, hence their name. Unlike most other dog breeds who seem to have been bred for a specific purpose, one can only surmise that the Chihuahua was bred just to be a pet. What other purpose could they have other than to amuse people!

Chihuahuas require early training, socialization, and a lifetime of consistent leadership or else they can be quite aggressive. Don’t laugh, yes, a Chihuahua’s bite can hurt! Chihuahuas are smart and bold little dogs. They quickly learn how to manipulate their owners into giving them what they want. Once they know they are in charge, that’s when the aggression starts. Chihuahuas tend to be one-person dogs, especially if the dog has figured out that he is in charge of that person.

So it is imperative that owners of Chihuahuas are the leaders, which means: avoid carrying the dog around (you are his slave if you do this!), ensure that you do not give in to the dog’s manipulations (you need to control all of the resources and give him what he wants when YOU want to), and make the dog work for what he wants by asking the dog to sit for food, stay before going outside, etc.

Chihuahuas and little children are often not a good combination. Chihuahuas can tend to be nervous dogs, possibly due to their size and susceptibility of getting stepped on and generic disposition. Little children can be very energetic which may scare the dog. Children can be rough with dogs as well, and may also like to pick up the dog. None of these actions are appreciated by the dog, and the dog may react by growling or biting. In my years of working in animal shelters, I saw a large number of Chihuahuas surrendered because they were not good with children.

This does not mean that Chihuahuas cannot be trained at an early age to be nice. As I said above, early training and socialization will help a Chihuahua puppy grow up to be comfortable with children. A well-socialized and trained Chihuahua is a happy, affectionate, and loving companion. They love to snuggle on a warm lap and under blankets. A nice Chihuahua is a great pet. It goes without saying the parents need to train the children too! Learning how to treat a dog at an early age is imperative.

If you are considering getting a Chihuahua, keep in mind that they can live to be quite old. I have personally known one Chihuahua that lived to age 21 and another to age 19. That’s a long commitment!