Genetics, training and environmental factors will play a role in determining the Chihuahua temperament. Those thinking of buying a Chihuahua puppy should thoroughly investigate the breed to determine how they can best shape and develop their teacup Chihuahua’s temperament and more importantly, if the ideal outcome will mesh well with their family.
Chihuahuas are not for everybody, but new owners can avoid a multitude of problems by taking the time to understand the basics.
The Chihuahua Temperament: Male vs. Female
Many people seek out female Chihuahuas thinking they will be easier to handle. However, various breeders and owners claim that males are more affectionate and easygoing. They also tend to retain their puppy-like personalities as they get older. Females on the other hand are generally more dominant and quicker to assume alpha roles.
Chihuahuas are very big dogs in very small bodies. They have energy and personality to spare, and they will make efforts to protect their territory and the humans and pets that make up their pack. They are very alert animals, and they will bark at anything they deem suspicious. They are also creatures of habit, and they resist any sudden changes in routine.
Some behaviors can even be health related. Chihuahuas are susceptible to a variety of illnesses, including hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). If a Chihuahua roller coasters between hyper-excitement to lethargy, it could be a sign of poorly regulated blood sugar. Additionally, if a Chihuahua exhibits finickyness over their food, it could be a sign of a gastrointestinal problem or a painful tooth.
Both males and females are very intelligent and are masters of manipulation. They will work to train their guardian to respond to each whine, bark, and action in the manner they wish. If left unchecked, they can easily take charge and will be slow to relinquish that control.
Head-strong Chihuahuas can be Territorial and Possessive
Chihuahuas have a very strong temperament. They are very clannish and fiercely loyal to only one person, occasionally two. They prefer the company of their own breed to that of other dogs. Both males and females are known to urinate on everything, also known as “marking,” to express their dominance and exhibit their possessiveness. If this is not curtailed right away this can mean ruined carpets, clothes, and furniture.
Chihuahuas do not usually make good ‘family’ dogs, being they become attached to only a select few in normal circumstances. If they are not properly socialized from the start they can become jealous and overprotective against their guardians family members and pets. They can also be suspicious and standoffish or aggressive with company. They may even snap at a child if they deem them a rival for the owner’s affection, or if they are treated too roughly by young and inexperienced hands.
If they are not trained early on, bad habits can sink in quickly and be very hard to fix later.
Chihuahuas are very intelligent, and when they want to learn they will do so quickly and effectively. Rewards and praise will help entice headstrong pups to do what an owner wants them to do and help strengthen the bond between them. Chihuahuas are very perceptive and will pick up on negative emotions. An owner should never train when they are tired or angry, as it will be a distraction and a hindrance.
While it is important not to overwhelm a new pup on their first day, two things that need to begin immediately are potty training and socialization with pets and family to get them used to the household. Chihuahuas are very intelligent and want a power structure. If they do not perceive someone to be alpha, their temperament will cause them to think they are in charge and they will not give up that alpha-ship easily.
Trainers recommend crate training for potty-training pups. Placing them in a crate after they eat or wake up helps them learn the newspapers or potty pad are acceptable places to do their business. If they are allowed to have an ‘accident’, they will keep returning to that spot for weeks or months because of the scent.
It may seem trivial to consider a regular feeding schedule a part of training. However, this teaches puppy who makes the decisions in the household. Also control of space is important. A new owner needs to set restrictions on which furnishings their Chihuahua is allowed on, and the owner should not give into barking or whining. The Chihuahua is trying to train the owner to behave a certain way, just like a trainer! Giving into a behavior once will mean lots more barking, whining, pawing, disobeying rules, etc. in the future in the pets attempt to get its way. The owner needs to be alpha from day one or the dog will think it is in charge and become difficult to train.
Many challenges in taking care of a Chihuahua can be managed with patience and training. Some are even medical in nature. If an owner is perceptive about the Chihuahua temperament they can enjoy a very good relationship with their new Chihuahua.