Deciding to get a Chihuahua puppy is incredibly exciting, but it is also a big decision that should not be taken lightly. Before committing to bringing home a Chihuahua puppy, consider these parts of pet parenting a Chihuahua which you may not be ready for or want to commit to for the long life span of the breed, which is often 15+ years.
Size Related Hazards
The tiny size of Chihuahuas poses unique hazards that owners of larger dogs do not have to concern themselves with, such as:
Chihuahuas are stealthy by nature due to their size; they can follow right on the heels of someone without detection if that person is unaware.
For example, a Chi might be following someone and that person might open a door to go outside, shutting it behind them without looking down, and the Chi could be crushed in the door as it closes.
Falling off furniture.
If a Chihuahua falls off a high piece of furniture such as a bed, he or she could severely injure themselves, such as breaking a leg. A veterinary bill for a broken leg can be over $1,000.00, so some Chi parents opt to obtain a pet insurance plan in case of these emergencies.
Being stepped on or sat on.
Since Chihuahuas are so petite, sometimes you cannot hear them moving around like you might hear a larger dog. As such, if someone is carrying something large enough to obstruct their vision of the floor, a Chi could be kicked or stepped on, or have something dropped on them.
Or, perhaps a Chihuahua burrowed under a blanket on the couch and was sleeping silently. They could easily be sat upon if someone did not know to check before sitting or laying down.
When someone is not used to having such a small dog underfoot, the likelihood of an accident occurring increases, making new Chi parents, or guests visiting their home, the most likely candidates to injure a Chi.
Chihuahua puppies can be very wiggly; if carrying a wiggly puppy, it does not take much for your grip to fail and the Chi to slip out of your arms. Falling to the ground from a person’s arms, or from a car, may result in a serious injury due to their small size.
How To Prevent Size-Related Accidents
Although accidents will happen, there are a few ways you can reduce the chances of your Chihuahua being injured:
- Purchase a quick-release cat collar (or ferret collar if your Chi is extra tiny!) with a bell to help alert yourself and others to your Chi’s location. (Dog collars do not have bells).
- Use a playpen or a crate to keep your Chihuahua from being underfoot when moving larger items that may obstruct your vision, or when hosting a large gathering of people who may not be careful of his or her presence.
- Know your Chi’s favorite spots to hang out and form a habit of checking them thoroughly before sitting or laying down.
- Purchase a set of doggy steps to aid your Chi in getting on and off of high pieces of furniture.
If the thought of having to be constantly aware of where your Chihuahua seems overwhelming, or if having cash on hand for expensive unexpected veterinary bills is not doable for you, carefully consider if it is something you are up for handling before bringing home a Chihuahua.
This breed bonds very strongly to their humans; it would break a Chi’s heart to be brought home for a short period of time then returned.
Chihuahuas are not always the easiest dogs to train, so you must be ready to address the unique training issues that come with the breed:
Maintaining healthy boundaries.
Since Chihuahuas are so little and cute, some people have the tendency to take them less seriously, referring to them as “not a real dog”. Although they are petite, they still count as a pooch and still require healthy boundaries to follow.
A Chihuahua must be held to the same standards as a 100-pound dog would; if a giant dog was snapping at you, you wouldn’t tolerate that right? You should not tolerate that from a 5-pound dog either!
If a Chi seems more like a living stuffed animal to you, or you think you might baby him or her, this is not the breed for you, as they will become poorly behaved under those circumstances.
Are you ready to get creative when working on training with your Chihuahua? Working with a dog this size presents unique challenges such as being able to reward quickly, and commanding a presence they will respond to.
Many dog trainers will tell you not to bend to a Chihuahua’s level when issuing a command, as the posture of doing so can hurt your credibility.
You need to reward good behavior promptly, but how will you reach down to your Chi quickly without bending over?
How do you teach a dog who constantly wants to be held to lay down or place?
House training issues.
Are you prepared to work hard on house training, and potentially use potty pads indefinitely? Chihuahuas tend to come with a set of house training issues; some may be hard to house train, while others might prefer potty pads over going outdoors to potty.
Working Through Training Issues With Chihuahuas
Some tips to overcome the training issues that this breed may present are:
- Use a spoon with dog-safe peanut butter to reward your Chi efficiently and without bending over.
- Use a super soft blanket to teach down and place and entice your Chi to lay down where you are commanding rather than want to be held in your arms. Bonus if the blanket smells like you!
- Take a basic obedience class or arrange private lessons to get assistance from a professional trainer.
Every breed of dog is predisposed to unique health issues based on their breeding. Small dogs tend to have dental problems, while large dogs tend to have joint problems, however, Chihuahuas may have both as you will learn below. Are you ready to care for your Chihuahua’s predisposed health issues? Such as:
You must have the self-control to say no when your Chi begs for scraps! Chihuahuas are major foodies and expert beggars, which means if their people do not help them eat healthy portions, they will become furry little blimps which negatively impacts their overall health. Carrying extra pounds over time can cause joint problems, heart problems, and more.
The most common health problem that Chihuahuas experience is dental problems. Left untreated, this causes a poor quality of life, and any present infection can spread to their brain or bloodstream, negatively impacting their heart, which has the potential to be fatal.
Chihuahuas require regular tooth brushing and professional veterinary dental cleanings; if you are not prepared to do both, this may not be the breed for you. However, as all dogs require this care, if this is not something you feel you can manage with any dog, you should consider a different type of pet.
Hypoglycemia or Low Blood Sugar
This is very common in chihuahua puppies and can be life-threatening. It can happen in adult chis too but is more common in puppies.
Some of the signs to look for are extreme tiredness, discolored gums, dilated pupils, seizures, muscle twitching, weird behavior, coma, shaking (although many chis shake without being hypoglycemic).
It’s best to feed young puppies 2 to 3 times a day to keep their blood sugar level, Also keep some Nutri-Cal on hand to put in your pup’s mouth if their blood sugar gets too low or in a pinch use some corn syrup or sugar water.
Poor health from overbreeding.
As one of the more popular breeds of dogs, Chihuahuas have been bred excessively and not always ethically, which means some may not be as healthy as other dogs. Depending upon where your Chi, and his or her parents, came from, your Chihuahua may pay the price of greedy humans; which are significant health problems.
When starting the journey to bringing a Chi home, you must be prepared to carefully do your homework on the breeder you are considering to find a puppy with the best chance of being healthy.
How to combat a Chihuahua’s health issues
Regardless of how carefully a dog was bred, there is always the chance of a health issue being present. That said, with thoughtful care, you can help your Chihuahua be healthier:
- Brush your Chihuahua’s teeth regularly.
- Arrange for regular preventative, and emergency as needed, veterinary care.
- Feed healthy portions of food and treats.
- Provide your Chi with daily exercise.
- Offer bully stick chews to help clean their teeth.
Chihuahuas are very special dogs that make the best companions. However, they are not the right dog for everyone.
If you feel unsure about any of the care unique to the breed that was discussed in this article, try talking to other Chihuahua owners and spending time with Chihuahuas before committing to getting one.
If you are familiar with a Chihuahua but have not lived with one, consider fostering a Chi from a rescue before committing to bringing one home to ensure that the breed is the right fit for your lifestyle.
Some other posts to read:
How to care for your new chihuahua puppy
Your Chihuahua puppy’s first day home
What I wish I had done differently with my chihuahua puppy
I’m an avid dog lover and I’ve had many dogs throughout my life. When I rescued my first Chihuahua, I was hooked on the breed.
I have had dogs all my life and have trained as a dog groomer. I also have been a kennel worker, worked in a pet hotel through PetSmart, and still am a pet sitter.
Read my full bio on my About page
Saturday 1st of April 2023
Thank you so much for this article. I am a Foster Mom and have not failed yet. I have helped quite a few to their furever homes. I never worried about their teeth but I will now. Housebreaking has never been a problem. I treat them as if they are a puppy and by the end of the week, they are trained to go outside. Since we don't get many small dogs in, I am searching online. I hope to find one.
Saturday 1st of April 2023
I think housebreaking is probably the biggest issue with chihuahuas. Bigger dogs seem to catch on much faster.
Stephanie & Nutmeg
Saturday 1st of April 2023
Definitely get a cat collar with bell for your chi. Mine's not a puppy, nor is she tiny at 4.5kg/10lb, but that collar/bell has been a life-saver for Nutmeg. She does tend to follow me round a lot and on carpet I never know when she's behind me. And they are so much cheaper than dog collars too!
Saturday 1st of April 2023
I keep a bell on Bear's collar too though he is no longer a puppy. But mainly because he is all black and when I take the dogs out at night to potty I can't see him but I can hear him.
Rhonda R Relyea
Friday 31st of March 2023
I have heard that they can get low blood sugars easily. I don't know alot about it, but that could be a life saving issue to look in to for new Chi puppy owners or at least talk with their veterinarian.
Friday 31st of March 2023
Good idea Rhonda.