Territorial and Aggressive Chihuahuas

an angry chihuahuaIt is said that "The Chihuahua would be a dangerous breed if it were larger." Is there any truth to this? Is the Chihuahua one of the most aggressive dog breeds? The unofficial title of most aggressive dog breed usually goes to the Pit Bull or the Rottweiler, but a study by the journal of Applied Animal Behavior Science cited the Dachshund and the Chihuahua as the two breeds most likely to bite a human. The Chihuahua also ranked high in aggression towards other dogs. Recently, the New York Post reported that out of the 3,609 recorded dog bites in 2010, the Chihuahua ranked 4th in the number of reported dog bites behind the Pit Bull, Rottweiler, and Shih Tzu (the number of actual bites was not reported). This is an amazingly high ranking when you consider how unlikely it is for most people to report a Chihuahua bite (they are usually very minor wounds after all). You can imagine that only a small percentage of Chihuahua bites are actually reported, and the real number of bites is likely much higher. Whereas a Pit Bull bite is likely to cause serious damage and need medical attention, where the bite is almost sure to be reported. 

It is clear that many Chihuahuas exhibit aggressive behavior and are more likely to bite people, but is this aggressiveness inherent in the breed or are there certain external factors at play? Infamous Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan states that aggressiveness is a learned trait and that all dogs are essentially born in a balanced state. He contends that a dog's aggression is caused by uninformed owners unintentionally instigating a dog's aggression while feeding bad behavior. Cesar specializes in Pit Bulls (and has many of them) to illustrate the point that they are not inherently aggressive dogs, but are actually quite docile when treated and trained properly.

Whether genetics causes dog aggression or if it is learned behavior is up for debate, and is probably irrelevant from a practical standpoint. The real question is how to stop aggressive dog behavior. There are many things you can do to assure your Chi is not aggressive. Here are a few tips.

  1. Socialize your Chi well bring them with you every where they are allowed.
  2. Do not physically punish your Chi. Hitting is wrong and it can cause aggressive behavior
  3. Keep them away from getting taunted and harassed by passersby. 

You can not stop people from passing by your fence line. You can claim your fence line (described in teaching your Chihuahua not to bark)). Your dog should see it as your boundary and yours to guard, therefore remaining calm when someone comes near the fence. If no one or another dog, hears your Chihuahua barking, they will less likely to taunt.

Last tip an isolated Chihuahua can become a fearful Chi. Fear can become the basis for aggression. 

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