Sunday, August 7, 2016

Chihuahua As A First Dog

Today I was reading an article on a dog-related web site where they asked "Does a Chihuahua make a good first dog?" and I was surprised that most Chihuahua owners answered yes. I guess people who love Chihuahuas really love them. I know many who don't.

It's hard to explain to even a dog owner. Many people only see one side of the coin: an ill-tempered, yappy little dog. But what the owners see is a fiercely-loyal companion: small in stature but huge in spirit, and very protective.

The people who take the time and the patience to get to know a Chihuhua are usually rewarded with an amazing dog. They have more personality than other breeds I've had or known. Not to mention cheap to feed and easy to clean up after.

But getting a Chihuahua as a first dog wasn't something that immediately came to my mind even having seven of them at one point. The more I think about it, though, the more I agree that they can be a great first dog with a few caveats:

Everyone else called him Tank, but for whatever reason, he just seemed like a "Lenny" to me. He loved children.

  • They are higher maintenance than most other breeds and require above average dedication from their humans. Dogs have bonded to humans since the beginning of time, but the Chihuahua has an even closer bond. They are loyal like dogs but cuddly like cats.

  • They are small and fragile. If you trip over your Labrador, it will still be licking your face on the ground even after you land on it. If you trip over a Chihuahua, you could kill it. And if it survives, you'll get the cold shoulder. Zoey has been underfoot her whole five years, and even being super careful, she's probably been punted twice in her life. But there's other dangers, too, just because they are so small. 

  • Children. They can do well around young children, but should never be left alone and unsupervised with no training. People underestimate how smart dogs are, but they also underestimate how smart small children are. I've seen an 18 month old toddler say "nice doggie" to Zoey's papa Lenny and gently give him a treat when he was a puppy. Where Ty's last owner told me he was aggressive to children, and Ty doesn't have a mean bone in his body. He's even more gentle than Lenny was. The difference of course is the supervision and guidance. And of course your Labrador would share the same benefits, but the Labrador is more likely to be able to shrug off an unsupervised encounter with an untrained toddler.

  • Food. Chihuahuas obviously eat less than most other breeds because of their size, but they like food probably the most of all breeds. Even overfeeding them a tiny bit, they get porky and start having knee problems. Underfeed a Chihuahua, and it can go into hypoglycemic shock from low blood sugar. Feed them correctly, and they are tiny, well-oiled machines. It's just that there's a very narrow band that they thrive in.

  • The Chihuahua is my favorite breed of dog. They're as high maintenance as children, but I wouldn't change a thing. It's just that I didn't know what I was getting into when I said "sure, get a couple Chihuahuas!"

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