Last Updated on October 19, 2021
There are pros and cons to almost every dog breed. None of them are perfect, but sometimes it helps to know what issues typically occur in a particular breed. And today it’s Chihuahuas. What problems do Chihuahuas have?
I almost hesitate to write this because I don’t want to scare anyone away from getting a dog.
All dogs have some types of issues but it’s good to be prepared and knowledgeable so you won’t be stunned when your dog comes down with an illness. The more knowledge you have, the more proactive you can be which will benefit you and your beloved pup.
What Problems Do Chihuahuas Have?
Different dog breeds have different potential health and behavior issues. Sometimes they cross between breeds but today we will focus on just Chihuahuas.
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What Health Problems Do Chihuahuas Usually have?
One common problem that Chihuahuas have is broken bones. They are such small dogs and are prone to getting their bones broken. This chance can be increased if you have small children who don’t understand how to handle a small dog.
Or if they jump off higher surfaces than their legs or paws can handle, it can lead to broken bones. Of course, if you suspect a fracture has occurred, always have them examined by your veterinarian.
Chihuahuas are often born with very little enamel on their teeth which can lead to lots of dental problems, especially the older they get.
They are also known for having very bad breath, which can be a sign of dental issues.
There are several things you can do to prevent your dog from having dental issues:
- Regular Dental Cleanings with the Veterinarian
- Give them regular dental chews like these to help fight plaque and tartar
- Brush their teeth – yes, it may be a smidge difficult at first, but your pup will get used to it if you make it a routine.
Hypoglycemia is when your blood sugar level is lower than normal. Chihuahuas have a tendency to suffer from hypoglycemia.
What you can do to balance out your dog’s blood sugar levels is to feed him/her smaller meals, several times a day rather than one or two large meals.
Make sure to check with your veterinarian to see if your dog has hypoglycemia and what the best course of action is to take.
Patellar Luxation is the medical term for the knee cap moving in and out of place. This can not only be very painful but it’s often hard to know when it’s happening since it happens irregularly.
Some signs are irregular gait, lack of mobility, and pain. Check with your vet as treatment can range from physical therapy exercises to surgery.
Hip dysplasia is common in several different dog breeds. Symptoms that something might be wrong are irregular gait, difficulty walking, and obvious pain.
The symptoms are very similar to Patellar Luxation so check with your vet to determine the proper diagnosis and treatment.
Chihuahuas are known to have heart murmurs and most of the time they are nothing to worry about. You just have to adjust the type of exercise your dog gets and diet.
Occasionally your vet might want to double-check just to make sure there is nothing to worry about by doing X-Rays and an EKG. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Pulmonary valve stenosis is a narrowing of the valve located between the lower right heart chamber (right ventricle) and the lung arteries (pulmonary arteries). In a narrowed heart valve, the valve flaps (cusps) may become thick or stiff. This reduces blood flow through the valve.Mayo Clinic
This diagnosis can vary in its severity. Sometimes it can be treated with dietary changes other times it requires surgery. Check with your vet to see what you need to do for your pup.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
This is a disease that can affect the eye. The photoreceptors at the back of the eye start to fail.
The first signs of this disease are night blindness and eventually will affect their daytime vision too.
Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent or cure PRA. The only good thing is an early diagnosis to give the adults and dog time to adjust to progressive blindness.
The trachea carries air from the dog’s nose and mouth to its lungs. If it starts to collapse you might notice a cough in your dog.
In bad cases, you might see your dog’s lips turn blue and have labored breathing, maybe even fainting. Seek medical attention at once with the veterinarian if any of these happen.
The good thing is that this is very treatable when caught early enough through the treatment of steroids and cough suppressants.
Because of their size Chihuahuas have a tendency to gain weight and become obese very easily.
This can be prevented very easily by not giving your Chihuahua people food, reducing the number of treats, and putting your dog on low-calorie food.
Additional exercise is also a great way to keep their weight down.
What Behavior Problems Do Chihuahuas Usually Have?
Chihuahuas tend to get a bad reputation when it comes to behavior issues. Many have had issues with barking and biting, generally aggressive behavior.
Typically this type of behavior can be avoided when the dog has proper training and socialization.
House Training Accidents
Chihuahuas are known as being very clean dogs so this is often not an issue. Proper house training when you get your dog will most likely take care of this issue.
Coprophagy is another issue where the dog eats its own or other dogs’ feces. There are some reasons they do this and it’s best to talk to your veterinarian to see what the best course of action is to take.
- Pancreatic Insufficiency
- Lack of vitamins or mineral
- Presence of Helminths (a parasite)
- Lack of attention from the owner
Chihuahuas often bark because of boredom, stress, or fear.
If your dog has a tendency to bark excessively then take note of what’s happening right before they start barking. They might be afraid of something.
Sometimes it’s to get your attention because they are bored. Spend a few minutes playing with your dog or taking him/her for a walk.
Start a training session with your dog to distract them.
Aggressive Behavior Towards People
Chihuahuas tend to become attached to one owner, making that human “their human”. When they do this they can become aggressive towards other humans that get near “their human”.
It’s best to stop this behavior as soon as it starts. Many times people think that when little dogs act up it’s cute but it can become a problem very quickly.
Chihuahuas can scratch and bite very strongly for their size. They can cause damage to others so make sure you give it the proper training from the start and be consistent with that training it’s whole life.
No matter a dog’s size, biting and aggression are never cute. Again – proper training is the key.
You don’t have to do the crazy expensive options of sending your dog to a two-week camp. But, a good trainer can give you invaluable advice. It’s worth every penny to get the help of a professional.
Aggressive Behavior Towards Other Dogs
This often happens for the same reason as being aggressive towards humans. The most common reason is fear.
Since the Chihuahua is so small most dogs are bigger and can be very scary to a smaller dog. Chihuahuas often act aggressively because of that fear.
Socialization is key to preventing this behavior. Getting your Chihuahua used to dogs of all breeds and sizes is important to keep them from acting aggressively.
But – you don’t want to just take your tiny dog to the dog park and let them run. That’s not a safe option for them. Enlist the help of a trainer if you need to find the right way to socialize with other dogs. It all depends on the dogs.
Begging for Food
Begging for food can become a problem with any dog breed. There are a few things you can do to stop or prevent your dog from becoming a food beggar.
- Feed your dog at the same time every day.
- Feed your dog before you sit down for your meal.
- Only feed your dog from the bowl, never from the floor or your hand.
- Don’t give your dog people food at all.
If your dog does become bad about begging you can always direct him/her away from the table to go lay down in a specific place.
For example, we always told our first dog to go lay on the carpet which was a few feet away from the table which was on the hardwood floors.
You could have a bed or blanket nearby that they can use and be directed to during meal times. It may seem cute to you, but begging dogs are super annoying particularly to guests.
How to Keep Your Chihuahua Healthy
The first thing you can do is take your Chihuahua to your vet regularly for a thorough exam to rule out any potential health problems.
Feed your dog high-quality food to ensure you are providing your dog the right diet to keep them healthy.
Just like in humans, exercise is imperative to keeping your Chihuahua healthy. Because they have a tendency to gain weight easily exercise can keep your Chihuahua at a healthy weight.
Training from the time you get your dog is imperative to keep them from having some of the bad behaviors listed above. In addition to that, being consistent throughout their lives with that training is equally important.
Socialization with other humans, dogs, and different situations can help keep your dog from acting aggressive. Sometimes just taking your dog to a new place can make them afraid which can result in aggression. Proper socialization will keep this from happening.
Summary: What Problems do Chihuahuas have?
So there you have it! After reading this I hope you aren’t turned away from Chihuahuas. Many of the things listed here aren’t isolated to Chihuahuas. They can also be problems with many other dog breeds.
What’s important to keep in mind is with proper medical care, consistent training, and socialization, your Chihuahua will make a wonderful family pet.