"Are Chihuahuas aggressive?
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"Are Chihuahuas aggressive?

The Chihuahua is the world’s smallest dog breed, and they’re also the second most popular breed overall in the UK, out of a total of 241 different dog breeds and types. The small size of dogs of the breed and their undeniable cute appeal helps to make them so much in demand, as does to some extent the popularity of the breed among celebrities and other people in the media.

However, Chihuahuas are also one of the pedigree dog breeds most likely to be surrendered to rehoming shelters – even when you account for the fact that the breed’s popularity as a whole means that there are simply a lot of dogs of this type around.

Reasons for surrendering a Chihuahua or any other dog can be highly variable of course, including a poorly thought out initial purchase, a lack of research and understanding into the breed, and finding the dog too hard to handle. There is also a fairly widespread perception among many dog owners that Chihuahuas are or can be prone to being aggressive – and this is a common topic that comes up regularly in online Chihuahua chat forums and articles about the breed.

In this article, we will examine the perception that Chihuahuas are or commonly can be aggressive dogs, and look at the truth behind it. Read on to learn more.

Do Chihuahuas have a breed tendency to aggression?

First of all, it is important to remember that every single dog you will ever meet is unique – they each have their own individual personalities and traits that are caused by a combination of nature and nurture. Certain breed standard traits can provide some guidance and insight into the broad norms for the breed – such as loyalty, intelligence, activity levels and guarding tendencies – and aggression is not seen as a desirable or accepted trait in any dog breed.

The Chihuahua breed standard indicates that the desired temperament should be “gay, spirited, and intelligent, neither snappy or withdrawn,” and these latter two negative traits are both things that can be taught or learned by dogs with incorrect training and management – the same as is true for any other dog breed.

Are small dogs more aggressive than large dogs?

Another common perception among dog owners is that small dogs tend to be more aggressive than large dogs in general, but again, this is likely to come down to training and management rather than core temperament traits. When small dogs like the Chihuahua do become aggressive, there is usually a clear pattern of behaviour that has evolved over time to cause this to happen – and we will look at this next.

What factors can cause aggression in the Chihuahua?

Like any dog, it is entirely possible that any individual Chihuahua could be aggressive, and some aggressive dogs simply have poor breeding and a natural tendency to be snappy or poorly mannered. However, aggression is much more likely to result from poor training and management, and owners of very small dogs in particular often create a situation that results in an aggressive small dog without realising how this has occurred.

Here are some of the most common factors that can lead to aggression in the Chihuahua.

  • Chihuahuas are very small, which can make them feel vulnerable or daunted more commonly than most larger dogs. This may in some cases result in defensive aggression, particularly if the dog feels trapped – such as if someone picks them up against their will or looms over them.
  • Some Chihuahua owners don’t set rules and boundaries for their dogs because they are so small – instead letting them do whatever they want, including begging, jumping up, and generally displaying poor manners. This results in the dog feeling as if they are the boss, and taking the alpha role – which can lead to aggression if the dog doesn’t get their own way.
  • Chihuahuas are also picked up and carried more often than most other breeds, which means that the dogs don’t always get used to facing the world on their own level. Picking the dog up to avoid situations and raising the dog a long way off the floor in this way can give the Chihuahua an overly important sense of their own position. It also means that they are often held close to people’s faces, which can make snapping or aggression even more risky.
  • Proper socialisation with other dogs is vital for the Chihuahua, but this must be handled with care to ensure that rough play with larger doges doesn’t result in harm. Some Chihuahuas never really get the chance to socialise properly, so they don’t learn about proper play.
  • Treating the dog as a baby and not a dog will also often result in behavioural problems. If the dog is always the centre of attention, never has to spend time alone and is used to getting their demands met all the time, they will become clingy and even jealous with others, or if they’re not getting as much attention as usual.

Are Chihuahuas aggressive?

Most Chihuahuas are perfectly well behaved little dogs with sunny personalities and good manners – but all of the above factors can and sometimes do lead to aggression, and they are all issues that Chihuahua owners can inadvertently cause or worsen unless they are vigilant.

Learning to identify the signs of a potential problem in the making and ensuring that it does not arise is vital for all dog owners, and small dog owners in particular. Because Chihuahuas are so small, many owners overlook the risks of potential aggression, and so don’t instil firm boundaries for their dogs – resulting in unruly, dominant and potentially aggressive behaviour when the dog doesn’t get their way.

Are Chihuahuas naturally aggressive as a whole? No. But like any dog, they can become aggressive if incorrectly managed.

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