Discussing dog breeds, dog-adoption, and the human-canine connection.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Chihuahua: Mighty Personality on Petite Legs

Fiona - Save me Rescue, ON

Chi Chi - adopted as a disabled senior

It recently occurred to me (about five minutes ago) that while I've talked about Chihuahuas I haven't done a breed profile focused specifically on them. In honor of our household's Lord and Mayor, that seems like an injustice that must be righted.

{For those not familiar with Chi Chi, I will explain that this is less a real 'injustice' and more along the lines of a potentially perceived injustice. Chi Chi's current belief system includes the idea that he is and ought to be at the center of my universe.}

wiki commons - black and white Chihuahua

In the interests of disclosure, I should also mention that there have been years in my life when I was A Big Dog Person and could not imagine ever living with a Chihuahua. In hindsight this may have been an instinctual insight into my own personality, rather like a person with an addictive personality instinctively knowing they should never start drinking. Not only do I now live with a Chihuahua, I openly admit I would willingly live with more Chihuahuas and even probably more than one at once (although not in my immediate lifetime.)

Those who have happened upon this blog in the past, or who even have been so bold and daring as to follow it, know that my personal life has included some health concerns. (This is also my excuse for being such a gosh darn unreliable blogger these days.)  I now realize that someday I will probably need a service dog.
Jenny the Collie, Chi Chi, and Lil the Labrador

Currently, I get by using a cane and an emotional support dog. And yes, the opinionated little Chi Chi is that support dog. When I must travel, and I am uncomfortable (the two now go together) having the little dog with me provides both physical and emotional comfort. When I had to spend a full week having tests and procedures done at the Mayo Clinic, it was the Chihuahua who waited quietly and patiently for me in the hotel room, and leaned gently against my aching joints when I returned at the end of the day. In fact, it was his outstandingly good behavior on that trip which won him a new and unexpected convert to his ever growing fan base. Not previously an admirer of the breed, my father now says of Chi Chi, "There's just something about him."

But Chi Chi is not an exception to his breed.
Chihuahuas are more than small dogs devoted to their people. When trained and handled like real dogs, capable of learning real things, their true personalities have a chance to shine. I recently saw an online video of a woman who had trained three Chihuahuas to heel, dance, and work with her, all at the same time and all doing exactly what was expected of them. And I just love the pictures from the Calmont Chihuahuas' Website, one showing one of their Chis competing with the big dogs in an obedience event and another of multiple Chis all taking part in a prolonged stay exercise.



Chihuahuas come in both long and short coat varieties, a range of colors, and their size, according to breed standards, is typically between 4 - 6 pounds (1.8 - 2.7 kg). In real life, i.e. outside the show ring, I've seen people advertizing dogs as small as 2 pounds and oversized Chihuahuas with larger frames can be 8 - 10 pound (3.6 - 4.5 kg). Sometimes people assume that a larger Chihuahua is a mix breed but there is actually a 
considerable range of size even among purebred dogs. This is a breed which has been significantly negatively impacted by backyard breeders and puppy mills. If one is interested in the breed but has concerns about the potential temperament of a dog, than I advise working with a rescue which takes time to learn about the individual dogs in their care.


This is also a typically long lived breed, with an average age of 15 years and it isn't uncommon for a Chi to live to be 17 - 20 with good care. They can have dental problems and may need to have teeth removed as they age. They may have weeping eyes, particularly the very 'apple headed' dogs whose eyes bulge.

Big Dog People don't typically think of the Chihuahua's size as an advantage, but when it comes to traveling or living with an emotional support animal, there's something to be said for a dog who can sit in a person's lap, without interfering with the person's ability to breath or move (I'm thinking now of my Labrador who would happily be a lap dog and who "squishes you with love" as my nephew's say.)

There are an unfortunately large number of Chihuahuas in shelters and with rescue groups waiting to find new homes. Many are euthanized each year for lack of homes. In the U.S. the homeless Chihuahuas are second only to pitbulls in shelter numbers. Today I will include pictures and web addresses for a handful of these little giants who happen to be in shelters in the U.S. midwest and Ontario, Canada - believe me, no matter where one lives, there is a Chihuahua out there waiting to be adopted. Full of love, loyalty, and very trainable - if you want a big dog personality in a small package, the Chihuahua is a breed worthy of sharing your home.

Midget - Fox Valley Humane Society, WI

Peanut - Copper Country Humane Society, MI

Lena and Lola - Humane Society of Muskegon County, MI

Ashley - Ruff Start Rescue, MN
Babee Girl - Heartland Animal Shelter, IL
Eugene - ALIVE Rescue, IL
Edgar - Happy Tails Animal Shelter, IL

Bobby and Baby - Lincoln County Humane, ON
Buddy - JR's Pups-N-Stuff, WI
King - Home for Endangered and Lost Pets, IL


  1. Darn it. Just wrote a long comment that disappeared when I hit publish. I'm sure Chi Chi thinks this breed profile is long overdue! lol Had no idea of the size range of this breed. Definitely can see the size being a real boon when traveling!

    1. Not sure if that was the work of computer gremlins, or internet black hole - I know that very annoying result though. Thanks for the persistence and taking time to write again Sue!

  2. My first dog when I was 3 was a Chihuahua and I have had very few years without having one in my life. I get so angry at people who let this wonderful breed turn into ugly little monsters.

    1. Agree, there are some bad representations of the breed out there, but I have met some extremely appealing ones.

    2. Jan - I agree, it is sad when people let their dogs become monsters; this seems to happen more often with smaller dogs than large and that is just laziness on the people's part.

      Delphine, the more Chihuahuas I get to know, the more I like them :-)

  3. Ive always liked chis. Ive owned large and small dogs and Ive always noticed and been annoyed that people are very very prejudiced to small dogs. Perhaps some small dogs are made into "monsters" by their owners but many are just victims of prejudice. A perfect example is if one of my large dogs would bark on a walk no one would comment but Ive had many people say of my small dogs if they bark oh look at those yappy little things. Small dogs think they are so tough etc. Ive also had people actually say why not get a "real dog." What ever that is. I personally hate the term "real dog" a small dog is no less real then a large dog. My ultimate pet peeve is people who are prejudiced against a dog due to the pitch of its bark. Of course non stop barking is very annoying but small dogs have a higher pitched bark and that is NOT a behavior problem. Non stop barking of any size dog is.

    I currently have four small dogs 3 pugs, one toy poodle, and my bulldog who is 60 lbs. I love that I can easily carry the small dogs and take them with me places. I love that they require less space for exercise as we liven the city. I love that they cost less to feed and vet. I love that they have long life spans. The benefits of small dogs are many. I also think there really is something to be said for owning breeds that are primarily meant to be companions as opposed to having specific jobs. My poodle and pugs are companion breeds and need no job other then being my companion as such I feel they are happier in my home then a dog of a breed meant to hunt or heard would be. I love training them in tricks but am glad that they dont require hours of exercise and complicated jobs.

    retro rover

    Ps sorry for the mini rant good post!

    1. LOVED the mini-rant. And I'm sorry - I the past I have used the term 'real dogs'. I have even been known to say, "I have three dogs and a Chihuahua." Not because he isn't real, but because he is more like a very opinionated person who happened to get born into a dog suit.

      I did decide though, that I had to quit using 'real dogs' because I don't want to add to the misconception that the littlest guys shouldn't be treated and trained like dogs. Just because they are often more opinionated than their larger cousins, small dogs are dogs and require the training and socialization that any good dog citizen requires.

      And personally, I think being a full time companion to us silly people qualifies as a full time job :-)

    2. I agree with you! I do train my dogs but I always think a dog needs to be trained to the point the owner is happy and the dog is comfortable. Im not interested in competitive obedience at this point but my dogs must sit, walk, stay, and wait for their food. Most importantly they must stop.

      I admit that for me one benefit of a small dog si you can more easily stop some bad behaviors. for example if Bob the bulldog is outside running the fence with the neighbors schnauzers and doesn't want to come in, which I admit upsettingly happens sometimes, and he won't come even for chicken its harder to get him. Wit the small dogs you can pick them up. I feel guilty to use the pick up cheat on my small dogs but it is a benefit.

      I also agree with the full time companion being a job. I just think pugs and toy poodles are very content to just be companions where as a corgi, a breed I love would need more exercise and mental stimulation

      retro rover

    3. It has been commented more than once that if Chi Chi's personality were in a big dog, he might not be safe to live with; especially when he first joined our home, his tendency to bite first would have been really dangerous in a large dog. And when he really doesn't agree with my judgement about where his body should be located, I will physically move him. Of course, I will also pick up the Bull Terrier when she isn't doing what I want and move her. I'm okay with the physical movement of stubborn dogs.

      My neighbor has a delightful Corgi and while he probably does like a slightly longer walk than a Pug would require, he's still a pretty low maintenance guy. He loves to sit out in the yard and watch the world go by. The shedding on the other hand, is considerably more noticeable. Some breeds were bred to be companions, but as you know, many breeds can excel in the role. As for easygoing personalities though, it's hard to beat the canine family you currently live with :-) In our home, Jenny the Collie is the easiest dog to live with: she gets along with everyone, accepts changes in stride, and can walk or sleep depending on what the people are doing - I'm sure it helps a lot that her most energetic years are behind her. But she's too large to travel easily and actually prefers to stay home, so even with her kind and gentle nature she wasn't meant to be a emotional support dog, a role that the feisty little Chihuahua actually excels in.

  4. I'm sharing the link. I hope some of these little guys get a good home. I've met some really friendly Chis - it's a shame that so many don't get socialised and allowed to be dogs.

  5. Roxy is a Pom/Chi mix and is a large dog in a tiny body. She is personality plus, and I do love the fact that she is so portable. She is 10 now, but still in great health. She is pretty certain that everyone is there just to see her.

    1. I'm pretty sure she's right. She is beyond adorable :-)