The Right Small Dog for Your Apartment: Chihuahuas

Author: Alecia Pirulis

Chihuahua

Chihuahua (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Breed restrictions and weight limits are common in apartment communities that allow pets. You may be dreaming of a St. Bernard or Great Dane, but they are way too weighty. (Sorry.) So, can you find a little dog with a big personality? Absolutely! But different dogs have different needs and temperaments, so make sure you choose a four-legged pal that works for your living situation.

Before choosing any pet, double-check your apartment community’s rules and fees. Also, keep in mind that this is a long-term commitment – especially with smaller dog breeds, which tend to have long lifespans. Also, consider adopting your pet from a shelter or a pet rescue.

The smallest (and some might argue mightiest) dog you may want to consider is the Chihuahua. Averaging roughly five pounds, Chihuahuas pack a ton of personality into a tiny frame. They tend to bond with one person and will be very protective of “their” human. (Well, they try to be, anyway.) They are very loyal and want plenty of affection. If you prefer an independent dog, you may find the Chihuahua a little too clingy or needy. They don’t like being left alone and will prefer your lap to anywhere else.

A Chihuahua is a great choice if you live alone and can overlook his cuteness – because they are so small (with those big, round eyes), Chihuahuas tend to get away with things larger dogs wouldn’t. Instead of correcting “bad” behavior such as barking or jumping on people, many Chihuahua owners will laugh it off or see it as cute. But just as big dogs need your leadership, so does the small-but-mighty Chihuahua – not correcting these behaviors can lead to a yappy, snappish little tyrant.

Chihuahuas are a good choice if you have older children, but they generally don’t do well with young children. Chihuahuas are vulnerable to fractures and other injuries, and even the seemingly innocuous antics of young children can be harmful. They can also lose patience with small children, especially if they begin to feel harassed.

Chihuahuas are often stressed out and neurotic. If a trembling Chihuahua cowering behind the sofa during a thunderstorm or when you run the vacuum cleaner will bother you, a Chihuahua probably isn’t the dog for you. But as they cower from things that can’t hurt them, they are more than willing to take on things that can – keep an eye on your Chihuahua, who will bravely try to take on a dog ten times her size (especially if she thinks you are in danger).

Because of their diminutive stature, Chihuahuas tend to get cold and are often “dressed” in sweaters, especially during colder months. Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t out of some fashion statement but out of necessity. Chihuahuas lose body heat quickly and don’t do well in the cold. (Okay, some of it may be fashion. Those sweaters are cute!) Don’t walk your Chihuahua on very cold days – temperatures under 35 degrees can harm your small pal (even if she is wearing a sweater and boots). Even in your warm apartment, expect your Chihuahua to burrow. They like to curl up under blankets — and they often can do so without being detected, so check before you sit!

If you choose a Chihuahua, don’t carry him around – walk him just as you would that Great Dane. Your dog may be tiny, but she still needs plenty of exercise and the ability to sniff and explore. Chihuahuas are ideal apartment dogs because of their compact size and simple grooming requirements. Brush them daily to keep shedding to a minimum, and keep his ears clean and nails clipped.

Generally healthy, Chihuahuas are sturdy little dogs. Common health concerns include low blood sugar, especially in puppies. Feed them small meals throughout the day to avoid problems. Sometimes, they will have a “soft spot” on the head where the skull never fully developed. They can also have knee problems.

The oldest dog breed on the American continent, the Chihuahua is named for the Mexican state where the breed originated. It is believed the Chihuahua evolved from a wild dog called Techichi. The Chihuahua we know today was discovered in the 1800s, when Mexican merchants began selling the little dogs to tourists. They were registered with the AKC in 1904. Chihuahuas can live up to 20 years. Since they bond so completely and will be entirely dependent on you, be sure you are ready for a long-term commitment before getting a Chihuahua.