Almost everyone has heard the claim that Chihuahuas are some of the most aggressive dogs—supposedly even more so that Pitt Bulls or German Shepherds. They certainly can be snappy, as these little dogs contain large attitudes. But while a Chihuahua can certainly bite or even attack a human, death by Chihuahua attack is very rare.
The rest of this article will detail why Chihuahuas have a reputation as aggressive dogs, how hard Chihuahuas can really bite, and some statistics as to how often Chihuahuas attack people. It will also detail how you can train your Chihuahua to be less aggressive.
Table of Contents
- Are Chihuahuas aggressive dogs?
- Why can Chihuahuas be aggressive?
- Can Chihuahuas really hurt you?
- How hard can a Chihuahua bite?
- How often do Chihuahuas attack?
- Has a Chihuahua ever killed a human?
- Can I train my Chihuahua to be less aggressive?
- How do I socialize my Chihuahua?
- What if I want my Chihuahua to be a guard dog?
- What if my Chihuahua is still aggressive?
Are Chihuahuas aggressive dogs?
Yes, the Chihuahua is a surprisingly aggressive breed. In a scientific study reported in The Atlantic, Chihuahuas were reported as the most aggressive dogs out of the thirty-five most common breeds.
Chihuahuas showed the most aggression toward strangers and larger dogs they had never seen before. However, even the “most aggressive” out of these thirty-five breeds peaks at only “moderately aggressive.”
Another study by Dognition surveyed 4,000 dog owners and discovered Chihuahuas as the most aggressive breed.
Why can Chihuahuas be aggressive?
There are many reasons why a Chihuahua might show aggression. The most common reason, however, is due to the fact that Chihuahuas are instinctively very protective of their owner and their home.
Despite their small size, Chihuahuas make excellent guard dogs who are not afraid to bark or even bite if they perceive something as being a threat to them or their owner.
Can Chihuahuas really hurt you?
Although Chihuahuas are known for being aggressive, they are still very small dogs. Given the size of their bodies and their mouths, Chihuahuas do not have as strong of a bite force as many large dogs.
While they can certainly cause damage with their bite, serious injury to an adult human is rare. Children, on the other hand, may be more at risk since they are so much smaller.
How hard can a Chihuahua bite?
According to a study by expert Marc Aaron, a Chihuahua’s bite force is estimated at about 100 PSI (pounds of pressure per square inch). In comparison to larger dogs, this is not much at all.
For example, in breeds such as the Cane Corso, their bite force skyrockets up to 700 PSI. Rottweilers have a bite pressure of about 328 PSI, while German Shepherds sit at about 238 PSI.
How often do Chihuahuas attack?
According to a 2009 study by the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association and the Coalition for Living Safely with Dogs, where they surveyed 188 different dog breeds, they determined two things: one, Chihuahuas bite vets more than any other dog breed, and two, Chihuahuas rank fourth in the breeds that have bitten children.
These dogs do seem statistically more likely to bite, which makes sense given how protective they are of themselves and their owners. It is easy to see everything as a threat when you are so tiny!
Has a Chihuahua ever killed a human?
According to DogBites.org, which compiles annual statistics on dog bites and attacks in the United States, there is only one recorded fatality from a Chihuahua attack between 2005 and 2017.
So, while yes, Chihuahuas have killed humans in the past, it is clearly a very rare event. These dogs are so small that they would have to bite in exactly the right place at the right time in order to cause a death.
Can I train my Chihuahua to be less aggressive?
Yes, you can train your Chihuahua to be less aggressive. Although some of their protective tendencies are instinctual, a large part of training your Chihuahua is ensuring that they are well socialized as early as possible, preferably as a puppy.
While it may take a lot of time, effort, and patience, you can also train your Chihuahua to accept new people by introducing him to lots of new and “scary” people and places, rewarding him with plenty of love and treats every time he reacts well.
Socialization is best done when your Chihuahua is a puppy. It involves exposing your puppy to as many new people, places, and things as possible in order to show him that he does not need to be scared of or aggressive toward them.
If you are not able to socialize your Chihuahua as a puppy, or if you adopt an older Chihuahua who is already somewhat aggressive, you may have to try alternative training methods.
What if I want my Chihuahua to be a guard dog?
If you want your Chihuahua to be a guard dog, then you may not want to train out all of his protective instincts! Instead, you should train your dog to back off when you say someone is safe.
This way, your Chihuahua will still be reactive to things such as unwanted strangers in your home, but you can introduce him to new friends without worrying about an attack.
To do this, train your dog commands such as “Leave It” and “Look.” If your dog begins to growl or snap at someone you want them to be friendly toward, command him to look at you and reassure him that they are safe. It may also help to have the new person feed your Chihuahua treats.
What if my Chihuahua is still aggressive?
Dogs are all unique, and in some cases, you may do everything you can to train and socialize your pup only to find that he still has aggressive tendencies. If this is the case, you must be a responsible owner and take measures to ensure that your Chihuahua is not given the opportunity to attack others.
This may include things such as always keeping your Chihuahua on a leash, having your Chihuahua wear a vest to let people know that he is reactive and they should not attempt to pet him, or even muzzle training your Chihuahua. Done correctly, all of these options may be done safely and humanely, and ensure the best quality of life for both you and your dog.