Chihuahua Temperament: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Chihuahua is probably one of the most misunderstood breeds in existence. Small in physique, but extremely large in personality, they're complicated creatures, and that first impression can thoroughly confuse prospective owners.

Some are handsome and many aren't so pleasant-to-the-eye, but either way, the Chihuahua temperament can bring plenty of laughs.

I have owned Chihuahuas since 2001, and I want to share some things with you: The good, bad, and ugly.

The Good

The main reason for wanting a Chihuahua is its small size. There are several reasons why I love their little statures. Because they can almost fit in your pocket, Chihuahuas are much more totable, economical, and convenient than other breeds. A large bag ofpremium dog foodwill last many months: I never once found myself purchasing dog food more than twice per year.

Facts About the Chihuahua

The Chihuahua's temperament makes them excellent watch dogs, too. They have this uncanny ability to hear strangers and other dogs long before they are even in your vicinity.

I am sure this has a lot to do with their ears, which seem to take up at least 20% of their bodies. You'll really like their health and vitality, too. They rarely have health problems and live an average of 10 years.

The Bad

The flip side to the Chihuahua's small stature is its fragility. They are easily overlooked, so if you're not extra careful, you can easily hurt or step on them. Often when I am in the kitchen, our Chi sits and waits patiently for food to fall. The breed is usually really quick, but not fast enough to dodge shuffling feet. You really have to make the extra effort to be mindful of the Chihuahua's presence. Their bone structure is very delicate.

The Chihuahua has a very sensitive digestive system. It won't take much for your little family member to get sick if not fed a healthy diet. Unlike many other breeds, Chihuahuas just can't eat everything leftover from your table. Oily, spicy, and fatty foods should be kept to a minimum if not avoided. Dog food makers like Royal Canin make breed-specific mixes, so give them a look. And if you feel like spoiling your dog, meats like lamb and fish make good treats.

What are your feelings overall about your dog food choices?

  • I get the premium stuff, top notch!
  • Will get whatever is on sale.
  • My dog eats what I eat.
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The Ugly

The Chihuahua temperament does not mix well with small children. This breed will not tolerate rambunctious and carefree kids. Children younger than the age of six will typically get bitten and growled at. At that stage, they usually want to grab and pick up the little cute dog, unaware of how big its personality is and how fragile its bones. There have been times when I've even seen a Chihuahua get agitated by kids just running around close to it. A sweet breed, but cranky when its comfort zone is jeopardized.

Chihuahuas also probably won't be fond of your friends and family. Don't get me wrong—they will tolerate new faces, but they are "one person" dogs, and will be a little leery of anyone else but you. This could be ugly for those that like to parade around with their dog, particularly at dog parks. This aspect of the Chihuahua temperament will frustrate most: You practically have to be a recluse or a loner. If you don't get out much, your Chihuahua will absolutely love it! And even if you put the time in to socialize them from birth, they still grow up to be dependent upon only you, the owner.

Chihuahuas are far more comfortable with being alone with their owners. A simple warm lap will do.

The Chihuahua breed is by far one one of the best I have ever owned, regardless of the bad stuff. To me, its loyalty and overall loving nature far outweigh its negative traits. You may not be able to take visits to the beach often with your Chihuahua, or even play catch with it, but if you keep your little guy or gal healthy and happy, it's sure to provide you with a long life of quality companionship.

Based on What You Know Do You Like Chihuahuas?

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Comments 54 comments

Eve Foss profile image

Eve Foss 5 years ago from Florida

I appreciate your objectivity! Cute pictures!

KevinTimothy profile image

KevinTimothy 5 years ago from Tampa Bay, FL Author

You're welcome, Eve. I always try to take an unbiased approach when provided information online. I know that personally, I would want the same thing in return so that I'd know what to expect out of something. Take care, Eve!

darthkev1 profile image

darthkev1 5 years ago

Great hub! Cute pictures and very informative article.

KevinTimothy profile image

KevinTimothy 5 years ago from Tampa Bay, FL Author


Thanks for the feedback and kind words!

clintontuck 4 years ago from Australia

Great article thanks for sharing

christinepurr profile image

christinepurr 4 years ago

Informative and very very true. I don't think I've ever seen a chihuahua who liked little kids, lol. Definitely not that kind of dog, although I'm sure there is an exception somewhere.

KevinTimothy profile image

KevinTimothy 4 years ago from Tampa Bay, FL Author

Ours is an exception. She doesn't mind the little ones at all, as long as they know when to give her space.

lilly 4 years ago

dose anyone think chihuahua's are ugly like really because they are very ugly and i have to right a speech about it please help?!

Andre 4 years ago

If your chihuahua is biting anyone you need to socialize it more.....ours is great with all kids because we dont treat it like an accessory but rather as a dog. Spend the time and actually train/love your dog.

Bites kids under 6 = bad irresponsible owner get your head checked.

KevinTimothy profile image

KevinTimothy 4 years ago from Tampa Bay, FL Author


A little extreme to suggest a Chihuahua owner to get their head checked, don't you think?

Kbdare profile image

Kbdare 4 years ago from Western US.

I have a chihuahua and she often becomes quite upset when people she does not know knock on the door. but the great thing about her is she is the best cuddler. However, I do agree with you on the chihuadua being misunderstood. Thanks for sharing!

KevinTimothy profile image

KevinTimothy 4 years ago from Tampa Bay, FL Author


Thank you. Ours loves to cuddle also. She will usually avoid her own fluffy bed just to get in a lap or in another family member's bed. She's a trip!

KevinTimothy profile image

KevinTimothy 4 years ago from Tampa Bay, FL Author

Thanks, Mr. Tuck.

KevinTimothy profile image

KevinTimothy 4 years ago from Tampa Bay, FL Author

Hey, well I really appreciate you stopping by to leave a comment.

Quirinus profile image

Quirinus 4 years ago from Sitting on the Rug

Thanks for the great hub, Kevin. Well written and interesting! Voted up

I almost ended up a longhaired chihuahua owner but when I finally decided to get the pup, who I instantly bonded with, it was already sold.

... All things according to God's will, and the best for everyone =)

KevinTimothy profile image

KevinTimothy 4 years ago from Tampa Bay, FL Author

Years ago a really enjoyed the short hairs but my love affair with the long hair is only about two years old. Our Chiwawa right now is long and the best one I've ever had.

renee21 profile image

renee21 4 years ago

Chihuahuas are cute little dogs. Chihuahuas temperaments differ the same as bigger dogs. I have a 2 year old chihuahua mix that is very good with my little 6 year old brother. The way a chihuahua acts towards other people depends on how it was raised. If your chihuahua bites little kids it's because it hasn't been taught how it's supposed to behave towards children. I suggest you read some of Cesar Millan's books. He's the dog whisperer and he knows how to train your dog not to bite other people.

KevinTimothy profile image

KevinTimothy 4 years ago from Tampa Bay, FL Author

Always have liked his show, I may give his books a look.

Emma 3 years ago

I enjoyed reading this but have to agree with other comments about how chihuahuas aren't necessarily opposed to children, I have 3 and 4 year old nieces and nephews that my chi couldn't be more fond of. In the 2 years I've owned her she hasn't once shown hostility to a single person regardless of age, I've never seen her growl and certainly not bite!!

I suggest you take better care to train your dog, i find it incredibly annoying to see chihuahuas stereotyped for being aggressive as mine couldn't be more friendly!

KevinTimothy profile image

KevinTimothy 3 years ago from Tampa Bay, FL Author

Emma...agreed. Their personalities are extremely varied.

Hannah 3 years ago

I am getting a chihuahua yorkie mix and im going to name her nevaeh.....

KevinTimothy profile image

KevinTimothy 3 years ago from Tampa Bay, FL Author

Wow, that's a feisty combination, Hannah.

mypetfinderph profile image

mypetfinderph 3 years ago from Philippines

Love the way you wrote this article about Chihuahuas! :)

KevinTimothy profile image

KevinTimothy 3 years ago from Tampa Bay, FL Author

Thanks! I appreciate that.

ebony 3 years ago

Are they gd with 2 year olds I I have a little neice and want one but don't want it to be aggressive? ??

Andrew 3 years ago

I find it ironic how an article defending chihuahuas includes two pictures/videos out of five, of them being the horrible little pieces of shit that they really are! Also, they're not cute, they're ugly as sin!

KevinTimothy profile image

KevinTimothy 3 years ago from Tampa Bay, FL Author

Andrew, thank you for adding your value to this article.

KevinTimothy profile image

KevinTimothy 3 years ago from Tampa Bay, FL Author

Ebony - you can try to socialize the Chihuahua as much as you want from early. Just keep in mind that the Chihuahua temperament will not tolerate the smothering children that age love to do with small breeds. Of course, the kid means no harm but the tiny Chihuahua doesn't know that. You have to really supervise the interactivity especially with children that age.

Angel 2 years ago

Ok seriously thinking about getting a long haired female. My children are fourteen and six. I have a lot of family in town that like to visit on a regular basis. Is this not the right kind of puppy for us?

KevinTimothy profile image

KevinTimothy 2 years ago from Tampa Bay, FL Author

It will be a great puppy. The chihuahua will most likely be drawn to your teenager and be weary of your six year old. Socialize the pup EARLY. Expose them to how active and unpredictable younger children can be. However, still monitor the activities between the Chihuahua and the younger child. Get your teen to chip in, too. It can work - especially if the six year isn't smothering the breed.

Amanda 2 years ago

I have a almost 5 month old Chihuahua. (Got her at 6 weeks) She is great with my 19m old and almost 4 year old. She has not even so much as growled at the kids. She will get in the almost 4yr olds lap and take a nap while she is watching cartoons. She loves giving the girls kisses too. I think it is all about teaching your kids the right way to treat a small dog and training your puppy early. I also give our Chihuahua an "escape route" where she can go to get away from the kids if she wants to be left alone. Our only real "problem" with her is outside of our family she is "scared" of new people. In all honesty if I can just get her comfortable with my parents and brothers we will be good. We spend a lot of time on the house boat during the summer with them.

josh 2 years ago

Kevin Timothy very good responses and story

crystal 2 years ago

I have a chi. And it is brintle is that ok I very mean it trys to bite everbody it will attack big dogs help

KevinTimothy profile image

KevinTimothy 2 years ago from Tampa Bay, FL Author

Often times its really easy to over-spoil this breed by giving them too much lap time. The Chihuahua temperament allows them to think that they own you. As a result, other dogs (or people) wouldn't be able to come close to you. Socialize them early on. Even put your matured Chihuahua in socializing positions. If you go to dog parks, mingle with the other dog owners and try not to isolate yourself or your Chi.

joleen 2 years ago

First time dog owner and i chose a chihuahua. Had Pixie for 5 months now. She is so very loyal and i cant imagine being without her. She loves my 6 year old but doesn't always have the patience for my 4 year old. Shes like a mad dog and barks at everything and anyone she sees. My tiny defender :) ♡

Loved your post. Bang on!

KevinTimothy profile image

KevinTimothy 2 years ago from Tampa Bay, FL Author

Try to include her in every social gathering you possibly can. Get her used to commotion and activity.

Penelope's Human 2 years ago

Chi's can tolerate new people easily enough. The key is socialization. If you don't socialize your cute little pup, and they only cling to you, they will behave badly. I got Penelope when she was 8 weeks old. I started right away, took her everywhere with me, handed her over to everyone and anyone who thought she was the most adorable puppy ever (because, of course, she was!) If she got a little snarky, I corrected her. I also have 2 cats and another older, bigger dog. She has grown up playing with her other animal brothers and sisters, along with my nieces. If I can't bring the dogs away with me on overnight trips, they go to get spoiled at Nan and Poppa's house, where she immediately jumps up on Poppa's lap and lavishes him with kisses. I imagine that's because he's the one that doles out the treats ;) My boyfriend, who lived with me when we got her, but now lives away, is still her "other" person. She is equally loyal to the both of us, strange as it may be. He has since got a service dog, a beautiful black lab, and the two of them are soul sisters, they run and jump and start playing together as soon as they see each other, which makes her brother Liam jealous, then all heck breaks loose and there's tails wagging and dogs running and jumping everywhere, while little sassy Penelope has snuck out and perched herself on top of the couch in prime attack position! She's a sly one!

Anyway, all that to say, chihuahuas do not have to be a one person, overprotective, ill-mannered pets. They can be a fun, very entertaining, loving part of the family. You just have to invest the time into them. You invested the money, hopefully the love, why not that little bit of extra time, so your little one does not become one of those that gives ours a bad name? Like the saying goes, it's not the breed...

pooney 2 years ago

My dog is nothing of what is described here. She's great with kids, babies, elderly, special needs people. Never yaps or barks! Will eat anything you give her and be fine with her iron gut. Loves runs and tons of napping. She's extreamly social never aggressive. Doesn't even look at other dogs let alone chase them and start fights. Hmm seems as if I have a gem over here.

Jennifer Green 2 years ago

I've had a long hair Chihuahua for about 4 yrs now I adopted her since she was 3 months. I found that my pup isn't like any other. Not like the article! ! She loves company she dies and will cry if company doesn't pet her. She has never bite my children I have 4 and she stays around them when they are sick. I love that a bag of food last her for such a long time. She's a Diva she likes the little bites nothing bigger then her mouth lol.

I've never had a problem with her. But just like you said every Chihuahua isn't the same.

Lizz 24 months ago

Our chihuahua is the opposite. He LOVES little kids. Way more than adults. They're the only strangers he won't bark at when he first meets them. He definitely seems to perceive less danger from little kids than older people. He can get very aggressive when strangers come to the door because he's super protective, but everybody just laughs when he does because he's so little. But when little kids come to the door he doesn't seem to mind. He's very sweet with them.

beattie 20 months ago

My chihuahua Daisy is 6mths old and just in season , shes been barking constantly for 3 days and its very upsetting ive tried cuddling her and talking softly none of this seems to calm her down ,is it because shes in season , ime so upset about this what can i do to calm her .

Nicole 19 months ago

I agree about them not being a huge fan of kids, although I've noticed that apart from the high energy children have, it also scares my little girl to have a hand come down on her head fast, which kids do often. However, my chis are actually very quiet and friendly. I take them everywhere and they love strangers, as long as they can say hi lol. We are working on the fear of kids though. My boy is ok with kids, but my girl will snip at a kid who puts their hand over her face to pet her. We correct it before it happens now by handing her to the child, and then she's actual very docile and sweet. She becomes submissive to the child and we reward her for that by letting the child give treats to her. Apart from that, my boy doesn't like other high energy dogs running about. He thinks hes the boss. He heards them up and yells at them till they calm down and HE commands the play time lol then he has fun, but only if he is in charge of the running about lol. Check out my lil short vid of some tricks they enjoy doing. i couldn't put all of them in the video, as they know A LOT of cute tricks. Best little dogs ever.

Bella and Bino - Puppy Tricks:

KevinTimothy profile image

KevinTimothy 18 months ago from Tampa Bay, FL Author


Thank you for sharing the video. Best of luck with all your kids.

Dono 14 months ago

I would have to say this has to one of the worst breed of dogs out there. We live next to a home that has two of them. They will bark at anything that moves. No way to enjoy a quiet moment in the back yard without them going off every five minutes. They are a very cute dog, but if you what a quite dog that is not going to bark at there shadow I wouldn't get one

KevinTimothy profile image

KevinTimothy 11 months ago from Tampa Bay, FL Author

You know, they're really not as "barky" as most would like to think. I believe that if you control it while they're pups (let them know early that you won't tolerate the yapping) it would help much.

amanda 6 months ago

My chiuhuaha likes my children I have 4 and is very effectionate with all of them. I have a 2 , 6, 9 and 11 year old and he will gladly sit with all of them. He slightly funny with anyone who comes round but soon as he realises there happy for a cuddle with him he's fine.

Krista 5 months ago

My chihuahua is the best dog. But he's a huge baby and he loves absolutely everyone he is not a one person dog. He adores my 2year old and my 11year old. He is very well tempered. He is always hearing things before I do haha

Sheila Jones 5 months ago

I have a Chihuahua Lasa Apso mix. She was on the streets in California. Second Chance flew her to our area to save her. We took her in within 12 hours of her arrival. She was 1/2 dead. We nursed her back to health. We had DNA completed on her, thus we now know her breed. She is the most loving dog I have ever had. But she hates childern, other dogs on the beach and men. She tolerates women, kind of from afar. She's a picky eater. Bit I have managed over time. She lives in her Thunder Jacket. She gets upset if I leave it off her for more than 1 hour at a time. But she loves our 18 lb cat. She gives him kisses all the time. She has been a real challenge over the last 2 1/2 years. But nevertheless, she is the best pet I have ever had.

Lisa 2 months ago

I have a vizsla at home along with an 11 year old daughter,and 13 year old son. My daughter will be the one who is taking care of the puppy she wants a small,cate dog that she can sleep with, walk with and pick it up and hold it. Is the chihuahua a good dog for her?

Ninja 7 weeks ago

Thanks Kevin, good article considering am in the process of getting a female chihuahua.

Dogmum 4 weeks ago

OMG my adopted rescue chihuahua is Psycho with my Coton de Tulear It's like oil and water, one likes to socialize, the other (you know who) doesn't. I have to find a better mix for my Coton As much as I love the affection of the Chihuahua, the oil/water mix doesn't fit my personality. Its' sad, should have done a lot more research before introducing these two breeds. Be forewarned anyone else - of introductions to other breeds and a Chihuahua, definitely they are a "one" person dog. Intensely loyal and yes it's better to be a loner, which I am not . . . .

Jess 3 weeks ago

My little Chi loves everyone, even small children as long as they aren't too ruff. Cocoa is his name and I believe he's so tolerant because I thought my last Chi wasn't very social and as soon as I got cocoa at 5 weeks I carried him everywhere and he loves camping, swimming with my kids, and even laying on the beach basking in the sun as I fish. I think our pups can be as social as we are. Cocoa also walks well in public on a leash, and doesn't growl or bark unless you have food he wants.

TammyA 2 weeks ago

I put bells on my small chi's so that I am always aware that they are right there. I had a very small senior who passed recently and a new 3 lb senior and without their bell, they probably would get stepped on, which obviously could be life threatening. I also don't allow my dogs the run of the house to avoid potty accidents and they just don't need it. So, when I am in the family room with them I am usually sitting and so are they, in my lap. Never thought I would own a Chi but they are so cute and wonderful.

karen 13 days ago

Thank you for the info. I am looking to adopt a rescue dog and met a great chihuahua today. After reading your article I do not think this is the right breed for me, but I am glad many others found chihuahuas to be good fit with their families.

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