Is a Chihuahua right for you?
After featuring alongside many Hollywood celebrities, starring in Taco Bell commercials, and even having their own films made about them (a la Beverly Hills Chihuahua) chihuahuas have become a very popular breed in North America. They are the smallest of the toy breeds, with purebred chihuahuas generally weighing between 3 to 6 pounds. Small enough to be taken on a plane as carry-on luggage, with ears like radar dishes and enormous, endearing eyes, it’s no wonder they’ve charmed their way into the hearts and lives of folks all around the world.
A chihuahua may be right for you, if:
- you are looking for a dog who will bond strongly to you, your best friend forever
- you are retired or work from home and have lots of time to spend with your beloved Chi
- you don’t have any other pets, or if you do they are other small dogs or gentle cats
- you can commit for the life of your Chi, typically 12 – 16 years
- any children in the house are responsible, older teenagers
But before you find the nearest chihuahua breeder and run out to get yourself a new puppy it’s important to understand what a commitment it is to adopt a chihuahua. Despite their minuscule size, these wonderful little creatures are still dogs. They have the same instincts and many of the same needs as their larger brethren, including a need for regular exercise and a clearly defined pack hierarchy.
Chihuahuas are intensely pack oriented animals, with a very strong need to be with their human companions. This breed is the quintessential lapdog. If you are single and work a day job that keeps you out of the house for 8 – 12 hours a day, then a chihuahua probably isn’t the best pet to consider adopting. On the other hand, if you work from home or you are married and have a spouse who stays home most of the time, then a chihuahua might be a good addition to the family. In short, a chihuahua is best suited to a family where a responsible adult (or a mature older teenager) is home the majority (80% or more) of the time.
You should consider another breed, if:
- you are looking for a pet for your child
- you work full-time and the chihuahua would spend most of the day alone
- you have a large family or young children; chihuahuas are small, accidents happen
- you already own one or more large dogs; chihuahuas don’t tend to know their size, and larger dogs can easily hurt them when playing so unless you work from home or there is someone present most of the time to supervise them, consider getting a breed that is medium sized or large to match your existing dogs
- you don’t have time to play with your chihuahua
- you have a very busy work or social life
Chihuahuas are also a high energy dog. They love to run and play with toys, and they are generally very eager to please their human companions. This is perfect if you are willing to put in a little extra effort, as reward-based training works like a charm with these intelligent little dogs. The average chihuahua also enjoys robust good health, especially for a toy breed, and there are very few hereditary issues present in purebred chihuahuas.
With so many wonderful attributes, it’s no surprise that this breed has become immensely popular in the last twenty years. There is a downside to this popularity though, as not everyone who adopts a chihuahua is adequately prepared for their new companion. The sheer number of purebred chihuahuas in shelters, foster homes and on the streets throughout the country are testament to this fact.
It is heartbreaking for the owner, and traumatizing for the dog, when the animal is abandoned, and with shelters so overloaded the fact is that many of these dogs are simply euthanized for want of a home.
A Chi is for Life
They may be called a toy breed, but chihuahuas are certainly not a toy. Adopting a chi should be an adoption for life; you’ll love your chi, and you’re new companion will return your love a hundredfold. So please, for your sake and the dog’s, take your time when you make the decision to adopt a chihuahua. Do your research and be sure to find the right dog for you, so that your adoption will be an adoption for life.
The long-term solution to abandoned and unwanted animals is a simple one: responsible pet ownership. It means that you, as the adult, as the human being, choose to act responsibly and only adopt a dog (whether it’s an adult or a puppy) when you are prepared to commit for the life of the dog. Some chihuahuas have lived into their twenties, but the average life span of a chihuahua is 12 – 16 years. Chihuahuas are wonderful, intelligent and unique companions to have, and they deserve to be with humans who are ready and willing to commit to them for life.
If you can make this commitment, you will be rewarded with an infinitely loving, one-of-a-kind relationship with your beloved chi.