First things first, Chihuahuas have a bad reputation when it comes to ‘The Chihuahua temperament’. Most people generalize the small build of a dog with its temperament – like a jack russel – which is wrong. The dogs temperament often depends on the education of its owner and the genetic temperament of his parents and grandparents. Chihuahuas are small dogs and are quickly provoced.
They are dogs who enjoy their comfort zone and might lash out when this is jeopordized. This is the main reason Chihuahuas (or their Chihuahua temperament) are generally unsuitable for homes with babies or small children. The carefree and overall energy levels of young children does not sit well with chihuahuas. As of the age of 9 and upwards, a chihuahua is perfectly suitable to own.
The Chihuahua dog breed is an extremely loyal dogbreed and will defend its owner at any cost, no matter the size of the attacker. When this behavior is encouraged or when the dog is not properly trained the Chihuahua might become over-protective of a person. Again, everything depends on the education and genetic herritage. Because of their size and the impression of constantly being challenged, the Chihuahua does not always get along with other breads. However, Chihuahuas are considered ‘Clan’ish’ dogbreeds. Meaning that they get along with their own kind better than others. Chihuahuas enjoy the companionship of other Chihuahuas. This is also the reason why the Chihuahua owners form a much stronger community then other dogbreeds.
Chihuahua’s love their home and what they know is theirs. They are very protective of their belongings and will not accept people or other animals taking them. In addition, they love to rest and sleep. It is all part of the chihuahua temperament.
The Chihuahua is a good companion dog. Whilst very loyal, it is also courageous, lively, proud and adventurous. Chihuahuas enjoy sunlight. As a consequence, as with every dog, it is important to take them on walks and trips. The loyal Chihuahua dog breed is a big fan of human affection. With a strong owner the Chihuahua will show pride, bravery and respect.
If trained correctly the Chihuahua can be an extremely smart and courageous dog. The right encouragement is thus very important! Contrairy to some other breeds the Chihuahua can become very attached to their owners. Meaning that they will not leave your side and become protective when surrounded by others. It is very important that the correct feedback is given at the right time to prevent this from escalating.
Because of their chihuahua temperament they are not the easiest dog to train. If you are looking for a dog that will do all types of tricks and help around the house you might be looking for a labrador. The Chihuahua is very affectionate and dependent so it is constantly willing to listen to your requests. Consequently, if you spend enough time in proper training, the Chihuahua will become the perfect companion and see you as its pack leader.
A Chihuahua might seem difficult to housebreak. However, it is important not to let the dog get away with things that are not allowed. Clear rules and mutual respect are of crucial importance throughout the housebreaking process. Owners can sometimes get lost in what is called the ‘Small dog Syndrome’. Small dog syndrome is the name given to behaviour displayed by small dogs, behaviours to overcome any deficits caused by being small in stature. Typical behaviours displayed include: Excitable behaviour. Jumping up on owners, other people or dogs. Growling at people or other dogs…. This should by all means be discouraged! This behavior is not unique to the chihuahua temperament, it is true for all small dogs.
Wiki has a good article on how to spot and discourage SDS: http://www.wikihow.com/Understand-Small-Dog-Syndrome
It might appear cute when a tiny dog puts his paws on your leg, but it is displaying dominant behavior and should be corrected immediately. Chihuahuas often want to be the leader of the household, the dominant figure in the house. This can lead to jealousy, agression and paranoia (not joking). When strangers are present the Chihuahua will stay near its owner at all cost, keeping it as close as possible. Against adults the dog will bark out of fear of losing the battle, against children it might bite. This type of behavior can be avoided by being vigilant and socialising them at a young age. Like every dog, Chihuahuas need to be introduced to other people and other dogs early on. Early socialization, exposure to different people, sounds, adventures, … will allow the dog to experience other environments and as a consequence it will be less likely to become afraid. It is fear which can lead a dog to become defensive.
Note that it is not because it is a small dog that it shouldn’t be treated any different then other dogbreeds. Cuteness is not a factor when it comes to education, a Chihuahua temperament needs training!
No need to state the obvious, but lets do it anyway. Chihuahuas are small dogs. There are many dangers for small dogbreeds that do not exist for larger breeds. Some simple examples are dog toys, stepping on your dog, jumping from heights, …
Many people do not grasp how fragile Chihuahuas really are. Not being careful around the house or having heavy things standing tall can be dangerous for your dog. Chihuahuas tend to get cozy and hide under covers or between pillows increasing the likelihood of your bumping into them unintentionally. Be careful when putting the Chihuahua down!
You should also be careful around other dogs. The Chihuahua is a small dog, but acts like it is the biggest dog on the playground. A larger dog can easily grab a Chihuahua and break its neck with a solid shake. Chihuahuas are considered a toybreed and should be ‘played with’ with care.
Chihuahuas are most likely one of the first dogs to bark. They are very vigilant and protective and are in permanent ‘alarm mode’. Chihuahuas are great guard dogs for a small home without garden and are extremely good at spotting a burglar. They might even be able to scare them! Even though barking is somewhat true to its nature and some people might find it bad trait, a good owner can prevent this by proper training. A chihuahua that respects its owner will not bark if the owner tells him not to do so.
So far our information on the Chihuahua temperament, keep us posted if you have a different opinion or experience!