Chihuahua Ownership: What to Know Before Owning a Chihuahua

If you’re considering adding a Chihuahua to your family, there are a few things you should know before committing. These tiny dogs may be cute and lovable, but they come with their own set of unique challenges and requirements. By doing your research and understanding what to expect, you can ensure that you and your new pet have a happy and healthy life together.

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that Chihuahuas are not just accessories or lap dogs. They are living, breathing creatures that require love, attention, and proper care. This means providing them with regular exercise, a healthy diet, and proper medical attention. Additionally, Chihuahuas have their distinct personalities and quirks, so it’s important to be prepared for their individual needs and behaviors.

Before bringing a Chihuahua into your home, it’s important to consider factors such as your living situation, lifestyle, and schedule. Chihuahuas can be prone to separation anxiety and may not do well in households with young children or other pets. By taking the time to assess your situation and needs, you can ensure that you’re making the right choice for both you and your new pet.

Ten Things to Know Before Owning a Chihuahua

  1. They have a long lifespan.
  2. They don’t get along well with little kids.
  3. They shed.
  4. They bark a lot.
  5. They are prone to health problems.
  6. They are possessive and may attack friends and family if not properly trained.
  7. They are hard to house train.
  8. They are not outdoor dogs.
  9. You need to find a reputable breeder.
  10. You have to be ready for the commitment of owning a dog.

Chihuahua next to automatic food feeder dispenser

Chihuahua Characteristics

If you are considering owning a Chihuahua, it’s important to know its characteristics. Here are some things to keep in mind:


Chihuahuas are the smallest dog breed in the world. They typically weigh between 2 and 6 pounds and stand only about 5 inches tall. Their small size makes them great for apartment living or for people who don’t have a lot of space.


Chihuahuas are known for their big personalities. They are affectionate, curious, and brave, but can also be quite needy. They are loyal to their owners and can be protective, which can lead to them being wary of strangers. It’s important to socialize with your Chihuahua from a young age to prevent them from becoming overly aggressive or anxious.

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Activity Level

Despite their small size, Chihuahuas are quite active and require daily exercise. They enjoy short walks, playtime, and interactive toys. However, they can also be content with just lounging around the house with their owners. It’s important to provide them with plenty of mental stimulation to prevent boredom and destructive behavior.

Source: American Kennel Club

Chihuahua and chiweeine in fur haven bed in sun by sliding glass door

Care and Maintenance


Grooming your Chihuahua is important for its overall health and appearance. Their short coats require minimal grooming, but regular brushing will help keep their fur shiny and free of tangles. Use a soft-bristled brush and brush your Chihuahua once a week to remove loose hair and dirt.

Additionally, it is important to regularly clean your Chihuahua’s ears and trim its nails. Overgrown nails can cause discomfort and even lead to health issues. You can trim your Chihuahua’s nails at home or take them to a professional groomer or veterinarian.


Chihuahuas are small dogs, but they still require regular exercise to stay healthy and happy. A daily walk around the block or playtime in the backyard is usually sufficient. Be mindful of your Chihuahua’s physical limitations and avoid overexerting them.

It is also important to provide your Chihuahua with mental stimulation. Puzzle toys and interactive games can help keep your Chihuahua entertained and mentally engaged.


Feeding your Chihuahua a well-balanced diet is crucial for their health. Choose a high-quality dog food that is appropriate for their age, size, and activity level. Overfeeding your Chihuahua can lead to obesity, which can cause health problems.

Additionally, it is important to monitor your Chihuahua’s eating habits and watch for any signs of dietary-related problems. Allow your Chihuahua about 15 to 20 minutes to eat, and keep others away during mealtime — your Chihuahua should not feel like he has to defend his food.

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According to wikiHow, an obvious physical indicator of dietary-related problems is obesity.

Chilly chihuahua mix in blanket in cold basement

Health Concerns

When considering owning a Chihuahua, it’s important to be aware of their common health issues and the medical care they require. Vaccinations are also crucial for maintaining your pet’s health.

Common Health Issues

Chihuahuas are prone to several health issues, including dental disease, hypoglycemia, and patellar luxation. Dental care is essential to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Hypoglycemia is a condition where your dog’s blood sugar drops to dangerous levels, which can be prevented by feeding them small, frequent meals. Patellar luxation is a condition where your dog’s knee joints are loose, which can cause lameness and arthritis.

Medical Care

Regular veterinary check-ups are necessary to ensure your Chihuahua stays healthy. They require annual dental cleanings, and their eyes should be checked for infections and other eye conditions. Grooming is also important, as their long hair can become matted and cause skin irritation. Regular exercise is essential to maintain their weight and overall health.


Chihuahuas require several vaccinations to protect them from diseases like rabies, distemper, and parvovirus. Vaccinations should be given at specific ages, and booster shots are needed to maintain immunity. Discuss a vaccination schedule with your veterinarian to ensure your Chihuahua is protected.


Training and Socialization

Basic Training

Training your Chihuahua is essential to ensure they behave well and follows basic commands. Start with basic obedience training such as sit, stay, and come. Keep training sessions short, positive, and consistent. Use treats and positive reinforcement to encourage good behavior.


Socialization is crucial for Chihuahuas to become well-adjusted and friendly dogs. Introduce your Chihuahua to different people, animals, and environments to prevent fear and aggression. Early socialization is key, so start as soon as possible.

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Behavioral Issues

Chihuahuas can develop behavioral issues such as excessive barking, separation anxiety, and aggression if not properly trained and socialized. Seek professional help if you notice any concerning behaviors. Consistent training and socialization can prevent most behavioral issues.

According to The Happy Puppy Site, Chihuahuas need socialization with dogs of different sizes, breeds, and ages to prevent fear and aggression. They also suggest using positive reinforcement and consistency for training.


Are you looking for a breed that has a long lifespan?

Chihuahuas can live for an average of 15 to 20 years!

This depends on many factors. Some of them are in the owner’s control and some are not. 

If your chihuahua has good genes, goes to the vet regularly, eats the correct diet, and gets enough exercise, he is likely to live for a long time.

Do you have a little kid?

Chihuahuas don’t tend to like small children. 

Kids under the age of six will likely get growled at and bitten. This is because chihuahuas do not like the carefree, high energy of young kids.

Even worse, this is an age at which children likely won’t have the foresight to read a dog’s body language. This can be dangerous if they try to pet or pick up the chihuahua.

Are you okay with having a dog that sheds?

Some dogs shed seasonally, but chihuahuas shed year-round. 

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Because of this, you’ll need to brush your chihuahua often. Depending on how much he sheds, you will have to brush him weekly, a couple of times a week, or even daily.

Since chihuahuas are small, brushing them doesn’t take very long. You can just do it while watching TV at night. 

However, if you have a very busy schedule, are allergic to dogs, or like a completely clean house, shedding is something to consider. 

Are you okay with having a dog that barks a lot?

Chihuahuas bark for many reasons.

One common form of barking is territorial. This is when a person or another dog comes into the area that the chihuahua considers his territory. 

Another reason chihuahuas bark is out of fear. This kind of barking is at any object or noise that scares them. Usually, when this happens the chihuahua will have his tail tucked and his ears back.

Lastly, chihuahuas bark when they want attention, whether it be going outside, getting a treat, or playing.

Are you ready to take care of a dog with health problems?

Chihuahuas are so fragile that even falling off the couch can injure them. This is because they are small and thin, particularly their knees and legs. 

Hypoglycemia is a condition when someone has low blood sugar and is common in small breeds. Symptoms include tremors, shuddering, slow motion, and sluggishness. Serious cases can cause convulsions, comas, and even death.

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Chihuahuas are also vulnerable to allergies, especially in the fall and spring. Your vet may suggest Zyrtec or Benadryl. Don’t give your chihuahua any medication without talking to a professional.

All of this considered, you should probably have some extra money to spare when health problems arise.

Do you have friends and family over often?

According to Pet Helpful, a website with guides to help pet owners, chihuahuas are so possessive that they likely won’t get along with your friends and family.

You have to be willing to put in a lot of training hours to get your chihuahua to be okay with other people. Even after a lot of training, your chihuahua may still be possessive. The goal is to make it so that he is not dangerous or violent toward others.

The same thing happens at dog parks. Chihuahuas don’t want other dogs to come near you and can attack other dogs for coming too close.

Do you have the patience to house-train a chihuahua?

Chihuahuas are very hard to house train. You need to have a lot of patience, time, and understanding to house-train a chihuahua.

However, it is possible. The main thing you need to do is be consistent. You can’t be overly harsh. Your chihuahua needs to understand you and listen.

Chihuahuas want to please and don’t respond well to punishment. Don’t use your play voice, but speak directly and clearly.

Do you want an outdoor dog?

Chihuahuas are indoor dogs and shouldn’t sleep outside. If you want an outdoor dog, chihuahuas aren’t the dogs for you.

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Here are some pros and cons of having an outdoor dog.


  • Living outdoors is enriching for dogs.
  • Dogs get more exercise when they live outside.
  • Outdoor dogs have more freedom.
  • Outdoor dogs tend to be healthier because they get more exercise and fresh air.


  • Outdoor dogs are more exposed to extreme elements.
  • Outdoor dogs risk being lonely.
  • They are at risk of getting hit by a car, lost, or stolen.
  • They can develop bad habits.
  • If there are health problems, it may take longer to notice.

Are you prepared to find a reputable breeder?

If possible, you should rescue a chihuahua instead of buying one. But there aren’t always chihuahuas that need rescuing in your area. In that case, you need to find a reputable breeder.

A reputable breeder breeds dogs ethically. They give their dogs proper nutrition, vet care, and a high quality of life.

Their dogs usually live in their home as part of the family and breed dogs because they have a love for the breed.

Are you ready for the commitment of owning a dog?

A lot comes along with owning a dog. 

You can’t go on vacation without boarding your chihuahua or getting hotel rooms that allow pets. You can’t stay out for too long because you need to let your dog out. You need the budget for food and vet bills.

You also need to be ready to commit 15-20 years of your life to care for a chihuahua. Never get a dog unless you are ready for that big of a commitment.

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All in all, you need to be ready to be a loving chihuahua owner. Start there and everything else will fall into place.