Did you know that Chihuahuas are the dog breed found most often in shelters, second only to Pit Bulls?
That is according to the ASPCA that listed them as number 2 for 2013 and 2014. Some list them as number three, but they are always found in the top 10.
How can that be? These tiny little dogs aren’t dangerous.
Some Alarming Statistics
Also, according to the ASPCA, 42,685 Chihuahuas were taken in by shelters and 8,731 were euthanized in 2013.
In Los Angeles, only pit bulls outnumber Chihuahuas in the city’s shelters.
At the Peninsula Humane Society in San Mateo, 60% of the dogs awaiting adoption are pure or mixed-breed Chihuahuas.
At the San Francisco Animal Care and Control shelter, Chihuahuas are 30% of the canine population and rising.
At the East Bay SPCA, it’s 50%. Their fate is not much better elsewhere around the country, or around the world.
So, what possible reasons could there be for these alarming statistics?
There are 3 reasons for these sad statistics:
1. Lack of Education
2, Lack of Training and Socialization
3. Television and Movies
Lack Of Breed Education
Not everyone knows how important that it is to do research on the specific breed you are considering before you adopt. Chihuahuas are very protective and loyal. They are generally considered a “one person” dog because most of the time they prefer one member of the family.
These wonderful characteristics can be channeled into not so desirous behaviors if not properly trained and socialized.
Lack Of Training & Socialization
If not trained, they can become aggressively “protective” of their owner, toys, food, treats, even what they perceive as their “spot”. Without being socialized, they can be afraid of new situations, people, other dogs, and sometimes objects.
These two things – training and socialization – are important for any dog breed, but especially so for Chihuahuas. Why?
Chihuahuas Are Fear Aggressive
What does fear aggressive mean? It means that if they are afraid of a person, a situation, or even an object they will snarl, show their teeth, and growl to scare off the perceived threat. If that doesn’t work, they will snap and even bite.
If they are exposed to different situations, people, other dogs, animals, and objects in a supervised environment, they soon learn not to fear them.
Owners Need Training Too
Sometimes it’s the owner or guardian that needs the training. Yes, you read that correctly. Not all people understand that what they perceive as cute, or funny is actually harmful to the dog. It is not their intention to be mean to a dog, but unknowingly, they are. How many YouTube videos have you seen posted “cute” or “funny” of a Chihuahua growling and snarling while the human in the video teases the poor dog unmercifully in some way? Usually, it is by pretending to take away a toy or a treat.
That person has seen no need to train their Chihuahua not to be possessive of their toys or treats because these tiny little dogs are not “scary” as a bigger dog would be, they actually think that it is funny or cute.
But think, what if a child tried to take away the dog’s toy or treat? That child may get bitten and the Chihuahua would be blamed. Even though their bite would not be as harmful as a bigger dog, they can break skin. No child should EVER be bitten by ANY dog.
The dog may not necessarily be afraid of that person, but most likely it has happened many times before and the poor dog is probably very tired of being treated that way. The dog doesn’t perceive it in the same way the person does and does not think that it is funny.
Television & Movies
Raise your hand if you’ve seen “Legally Blonde” or “Beverly Hills Chihuahua”. Chances are you have. How about Paris Hilton’s Chihuahua “Tinkerbell”? Did watching those movies or that television program make you wish you had a Chihuahua? Well, you aren’t the only one.
Many who have watched them decided to adopt a Chihuahua thinking they were going to get a little “Bruiser” or “Chloe” or even a little “Tinkerbell”. They didn’t realize the necessity of doing research, training, or socialization and were very disappointed to discover that theirs is not the “little movie star” they were expecting.
Some people just want a little dog they can carry around as an accessory like Paris Hilton. They forget that the Chihuahua is a dog. Although many of us (myself included) think of our dogs as our babies, they still need to be treated like a dog.
Sadly, that happens all too often and as a result, the poor little pooch ends up in a shelter through no fault of their own.
What You Can Do
Undoubtedly you are as saddened by these facts as I am, so you may be asking, “what can I do”? One thing you can do is help me to educate others. Share this article on social media, with friends and family. The more it is shared, the more people will know and want to help.
If, you are considering adopting a Chihuahua please do your research first and make sure that a Chihuahua will fit into your lifestyle and your family. Then give them the training and socialization that they need. If you don’t know how, there are many videos and articles on the internet to help you.
You can also find training programs in your local area.
If you already have a Chihuahua take the time and the little bit of effort to train and socialize him. It doesn’t have to be a daunting endeavor. It can be fun and a great bonding experience for you and your dog.
If you have a Chihuahua that is exhibiting unwanted behaviors, get help from a professional trainer, don’t just give up in exasperation or frustration and surrender him/her to a shelter or even to someone else. That person will have the same problems that you had and it will only make the dog’s behaviors worse.
Last, but not least, please, please get your little Chihuahua spayed or neutered!
If you take the little bit of time and effort it takes to research the Chihuahua breed before you adopt, and then train, and socialize them the reward will be a lifetime of the best canine companion, best friend, smuggler, and unconditional love you could ever ask for!