Most people recognize Chihuahuas for their propensity toward barking. They also have a bad reputation for being a mean, nasty little dog that’s too loud. While it’s true they’re prone to bark, there are many other qualities that this adorable toy dog is known for. Particularly, those large, round eyes and teensy size.
However, just like their Pitbull and Rottweiler cousins, they get a bad rap that’s quite unfounded. It’s more based on rumor and lack of understanding about the dog’s genetics than it is with any individual dog. There are some Chihuahuas that are friendly and docile while there are others that don’t like anyone and bite.
Table of Contents
- What Traits Are Chihuahuas Known For?
- Why Do Chihuahuas Have a Bad Reputation?
- What Are the Good Qualities Characteristic of Chihuahuas?
- How Intelligent Are Chihuahuas?
- What Are the Bad Qualities Characteristic of Chihuahuas?
- Why Do Chihuahuas Bark So Much?
- Why Do Chihuahuas Shiver & Shake?
- What Are Some Little Known Facts about Chihuahuas?
- From Where Do Chihuahuas Come?
What Traits Are Chihuahuas Known For?
In general, Chihuahuas are famous for their love of snuggling along with being playful, loyal, affectionate and intelligent. They tend to cling to their owners, are excellent in an apartment setting and prefer their comfy couch over playing outside.
But, they do tend to snap at children and are prone to barking. Many people refer to them as “yappy” dogs and therefore they have a bad reputation. They have a distinct personality some people characterize as sassy and astute.
Why Do Chihuahuas Have a Bad Reputation?
Most of the bad reputation that Chihuahuas have comes from the fact that there is an ill-tempered DNA strain present in the breed. No amount of training will break them of their negative demeanor either. It’s deep within the genetics.
While there are breeders actively working to remove this from the family bloodlines, there’s also the problem of some owners. There are people who get perfectly good Chihuahuas but treat them like toy dolls or a human baby replacement, not an actual dog.
So, the Chihuahua never learns or gets proper training. It doesn’t know how to gauge real threats and will therefore bark, bite and nip. What compounds this is that the owner reacts in ways opposite to the dog’s behavioral and mental health.
What Are the Good Qualities Characteristic of Chihuahuas?
Some of the best things about Chihuahuas are their loyal and protective nature combined with how much they love their human families. They actually make quite an excellent guard dog. Chihuahuas also love sunshine and warmth along with being a comedy skit in and of itself.
Plus, Chihuahuas are easy to take care of, simple to clean up after and they don’t need a lot of exercise. Because of their diminutive stature, they don’t have to eat a lot of food either.
How Intelligent Are Chihuahuas?
While it’s true that Chihuahuas are very smart dogs, they aren’t the smartest breed of the bunch. According to Stanley Cohen, neuropsychologist and psychology professor, Chihuahuas have fair to below average intelligence. Out of 138 breeds, these toy pups came in 125th place.
That said, the same study was able to determine that Chihuahuas were capable of learning new tasks and commands within 40 to 80 consistent repetitions. This is surprising since Chihuahuas have one of the largest brains when considering their body to head ratio.
What Are the Bad Qualities Characteristic of Chihuahuas?
Unfortunately, there are some bad characteristics to Chihuahuas. These not only give credence to their bad reputation but they are also the leading reasons why they are the second most euthanized dog breed.
Chihuahuas are very sensitive, jealous and untrusting dogs. When this goes unchecked, it can make the dog’s temperament become more than less desirable. They will bite, bark incessantly and be fiercely territorial, complete with a penchant for being overprotective.
Another characteristic, while not bad, is disconcerting nonetheless. This is the fact that Chihuahuas tend to shiver and shake. It stems from inherent health issues that can be concerning, especially in the cold winter months.
Why Do Chihuahuas Bark So Much?
Chihuahuas have a propensity for barking. Not only are they a very communicative dog but they are also prone to bouts of separation anxiety and other phobias. They also bark a lot because of their protectiveness and territoriality.
When these qualities are strong in a Chihuahua, they will bark at anything or anyone they perceive as a potential threat. This could be anything like a bird flying past the window to the mailman approaching the door. Some will even bark at falling leaves.
Why Do Chihuahuas Shiver & Shake?
Chihuahuas are notorious for their constant shivering and shaking due to their high metabolisms. It means that they’ll start shaking when they get excited, overzealous, anxious or upset. It’s also this high metabolism that prevents Chihuahuas from being able to regulate their own body heat quickly and efficiently.
What Are Some Little Known Facts about Chihuahuas?
Chihuahuas are a mystifying breed who has many noble and admirable qualities that get lost in the backdrop of their bad reputations. Unlike bigger, beefier dogs, Chihuahuas can live quite a long time. While the average dog lives 10 to 12 years, a Chihuahua can live as long as 15 years.
They come in a range of colors, coat lengths and even have specific terms for the various parts on their fur. For instance, extended hairs on the tips of their ears are “fringe” and the ones on their legs are “furnishings.” The puffy bunch of fur on their tail is the “plume.”
From Where Do Chihuahuas Come?
Chihuahuas come from Chihuahua, Mexico; which is where they get their name. But their parentage is a more difficult to pinpoint. We do know they hail from Techichi, the canine companion of the ancient Toltecs. They bred these dogs for things like religious ceremonies, food and companionship.
But another breed blends in and we don’t know what that is. Some theories speculate they mated with a breed from Asia after the migration through the Alaskan land bridge. What makes this even more confusing is that Chihuahuas can trace their DNA back to gray wolves.
However, evidence suggests that there is some DNA from the Fennec Fox. This is strange because wolves and foxes cannot genetically interbreed.