Temperament in Chihuahuas
Chihuahuas are comical, entertaining, and loyal little dogs, absolutely brimming with personality – often a quirky and eccentric personality unmatched by any other breed.
Other than that generalisation, Chihuahuas are extremely variable. You can find individuals who are lively or placid. Bold or timid. Feisty or mellow. Confident or nervous. Stubborn or eager to please.
How a Chihuahua turns out depends mightily on the genetic temperament of his parents and grandparents. In other words, entire lines of Chihuahuas are social or antisocial, and if you bring home an individual who has inherited genes for a bad temperament....well, let's just say it's not a wise thing to do. Socialisation and training often can't overcome bad genes in a Chihuahua.
But socialisation and training are still extremely important! In fact, as long as your Chihuahua has inherited genes for a normal temperament, how you raise him will determine how he turns out.
Chihuahuas do not have a particularly good reputation among the general public. Ask a few people, "Do you think Chihuahuas are nice little dogs?" and see how many of them exclaim, "No! They're nasty little things who bite!"
I have to say that this reputation has some basis in truth. As I explained, Chihuahuas often inherit genes for a bad temperament, because so many people breed Chihuahuas whose temperaments are bad. In addition, many people treat their Chihuahua like a stuffed toy or doll, or as a substitute for a human infant. They tote the Chihuahua everywhere in their arms, don't teach any commands, laugh at signs of aggression, make excuses for bad behaviour, and soothe and coo over the dog constantly.
It's no wonder so many Chihuahuas are neurotic! They're made that way by their owners. All dogs, whatever their size, must be taught how to walk on their own four feet, how to do what they're told, and how to get along peacefully with the world.
Now, "getting along peacefully" doesn't always mean that a Chihuahua likes everyone. On the contrary, many Chihuahuas are naturally suspicious toward strangers. But they can be suspicious without letting everyone within earshot know it, or without progressing to threats. It's up to YOU to draw and enforce the line.
Similarly, while most Chihuahuas get along great with other pets in their own family, they tend to raise a ruckus when they spy a strange dog. Again, YOU have to put a stop to this from day one or it will get out of hand.
Fortunately, there also exist Chihuahuas who are standoffish, but who will eventually approach people in their own good time, especially if the person isn't pushy or insistent. And some Chihuahuas are very friendly right from the get-go and will go to anyone.
Chihuahuas do seem to recognise and prefer their own breed, so it's a great idea to keep two of them. They keep each other company when you're gone, they play together, clean each other's ears and eyes, and keep each other warm by snuggling together.
Chihuahuas adore warmth, oh, yes! They will seek out the tiniest sunspot in which to bask, and they tunnel under blankets and towels. You have to be careful whenever you sit down on your sofa or bed, as there could be a Chihuahua tucked under there.
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