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Jenna Stregowski, RVT

The Chihuahua Boom

By December 10, 2009

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chihuahua dog breed

California is overflowing with homeless Chihuahuas. As reported by the LA Times and other sources, shelters in California have more Chihuahuas than they know what to do with. This is not really the case in other parts of the US. In fact, many of these Chihuahuas have been sent of different regions where demand is high and little dogs are few.

What caused the overabundance? It was probably a combination of several things. First of all, Chihuahuas have been among the most popular of all dog breeds for several years. Secondly, certain celebs have made these "purse dogs" look like the hottest thing in fashion. The film Beverly Hills Chihuahua probably didn't help this situation either.

No matter what the reason for the surge in popularity, the reason they are all homeless probably comes down to two things: 1) The economy, and 2) people got in over their heads. Though they are adorable and wonderful dogs, Chihuahuas are not right for everyone. They are tiny and fragile in physique, but tough and stubborn in personality. They do not always play well with others - especially children, and especially without proper training. Yes, Chihuahuas need more than to be carried around in little pink bags. They need training, socialization and everything else all dogs need. Give them these things, and you can end up with quite an amazing dog. Learn all about Chihuahuas and decide if this adorable breed could be right for you. Know all about them? Tell us your Chihuahua stories today!

Photo © Brygida T.


December 10, 2009 at 12:31 am
(1) Nicole says:

I recently adopted my Chihuahua from a Southern CA shelter & he is a great dog!!! He only needed a little bit of training. He was already potty trained & gets along great with my other three dogs!! He definitely won’t be the last Chihuahua I adopt!!!! He’s the best dog I could ask for!!!

December 10, 2009 at 2:36 am
(2) Susan says:

My Chihuahua is the most spoiled dog on the planet I think. My husband and I carry her around about 70 or 80 percent of the time. She is the sweetest little dog you could ask for, except for her older sister Prissy. Her name is P-Nut. Prissy is a Pomeranian but she thinks that she is P-Nut’s Mommie. They lick each others faces and show so much love to each other it is adorable. I don’t plan on having any other dogs though when these are gone, because I am getting rather old and am not sure I would out live another dog. I would worry about haveing to leave one in someone elses care. I don’t think many people would spoil them like I would.

December 10, 2009 at 10:24 am
(3) Tracy Kemmer says:

I would LOVE to adopt one of these sweeties. I live in Michigan and would like to know if any one can help get a female to me? What do I do to give a “forever Home” to a sorry little tyke as this. I will love it for the rest of it’s life. MY Sheltie is very lonely also and loves these little charmers. Email me at trumterd_72@yahoo.com

December 10, 2009 at 8:03 pm
(4) Dorin Ann Finn says:

Being a small time breeder for this lovely breed, it is a disappointment when folks ‘throw away’ this tiny breed. They are low maintenance dogs. They are very affectionate and easy to train. I also would like to know how to adopt some of these from CA. We are a equine shelter as well here in TX for horses/donkeys/mules. We love all animals, great and small~~ unconditionally.

December 11, 2009 at 8:40 am
(5) CM says:

I have a rescue Chihuahua and everything the article says is Spot On. She does get along with my other dog a Min Pin but it does take her time to warm up to other dog. She will show her teeth at them if they do not take it slow and easy with her. She is very stubborn little thing too. We will take her outside to potty. She will walk across the street and then decide not to take another step. Plants her feet (paws) in the ground and refuses to take another step. she is a hoot and we love her to death. We adopted her a year ago. Always full of kisses too!!!!

December 11, 2009 at 5:57 pm
(6) Jacqueline says:

It’s sad that I’m aware of some dog owners irresponsibility by lending their own dogs to breed just for profit. I’m not against breeders, only against the wanna- be breeders and not licensed to do so.

December 12, 2009 at 5:04 pm
(7) Jacque says:

First I heard about California’s surplus chihuahuas was last night on Jimmy Kimmel – they “flew” one to a girl in Chicago (in a skit of course).

Over the past 15 years I have adopted some chihuahua mixes, and more recently taken in 4 chihuahuas (not all at once) from a breeder who “retires” them from breeding and showing. Of course they are neutered / spayed. They have been wonderful little dogs, two are still with me at 14 years old. Getting these dogs as adults 5 or 6 years old has been no problem as far as “bonding” of the dogs with me so I want to encourage people to adopt “older” dogs. I’m also at the point when these dogs pass on I’m not getting more because of my age — just hope I’ll be able to stay in my home long enough (my youngest dog, a “rescued” Chinese Crested is 9 yrs old) to outlive them since the chance of finding an apartment allowing dogs (and cats which I also have) is not good.

Here in Virginia I know there are a lot of people who want to adopt small dogs! What about the people who fly dogs around the country for rescue purposes — they could fit a lot of dogs in one flight to the east! Whenever I’ve rescued a dog who is 20 pounds or less and run an adoption ad I get so many phone calls that I can be really picky about who they go to. Many of those callers would be good homes — they just don’t have hundreds of dollars to pay a breeder or pet store but can handle food and regular vet bills. Hopefully something can be done to move the chihuahuas from California to an area where they can be adopted. (and any other small dogs too)

December 13, 2009 at 12:38 pm
(8) Stacy says:

I live in California and have 2 wonderful little Chihuahua’s both that I have rescued. They are very loving, but do tend to be very protective of their family. My daughter is 13 and does well with them. Like all dogs they need to be trained and socialized. As they are house dogs a lot of people will tend to keep them inside and not socialize them. We have always thrown their sweaters on, and taken them out to meet people. If you have young children it is best to get this breed as a pup, and have your child help with the traning. They have great memories, and if they do not like something, they remember. They are great pets, but not purse dogs like they protray in the movies. If you are not going to take time to train them properly, this may not be the breed for you!! If you are in the need of a great companion, they are wonderful lap dogs :)

December 16, 2009 at 3:30 pm
(9) erika says:

I have two chihuahua’s one we rescued in 2007, and another one we just got from a friend because his dog had puppies and asked if we wanted another one..the one we rescued had become so use to being the only one in our house i was worried but my husband said…it would be good for her and with encouragement from my husband and our daughter…we got Chongo..at 6 weeks old and these two have take to each other like crazy…we have had him 6 months now…and they will fight over toys…and fight each other but it is all in play and it brought out the puppy in Coco are resuce and it is a joy to sit back and just watch these two go at it with the tails wagging….and although coco like chongo….when it is time for bed…she has her spot right next to me…and he needs to get comfortable but not where she is at…she wont snap at him but she shows her teeth to him…and then he curls up by her but not touching her and they are out for the night…they are a joy…and when i saw this report it made me sad and if i had a ranch i would adopt them all…i love my chi’s COCO AND CHONGO

December 19, 2009 at 9:10 pm
(10) Susan in Ohio says:

I only get my dogs from a high kill shelter in the local area. 1st was a 1 yr old Dobie, he had been greatly abused and was the sweetest, most cowardly Dobie anyone had ever seen. He died after we had him for 10 yrs.

Then we got a Manchester terrier. While not a coward, she is cautious and very, very suspicious of strangers when we’re outside. She was 2 when we got her, and my husband died when she was 7, so she was my only company. When she turned 10, I started thinking about how we grieved too much after our Dobie died to get another dog for a year. I decided the way to deal with that was to get another younger dog, so I would have it when she died.

I had always said I would never have a Chi, I had only ever seen ones that shivered and yipped a lot around people. I always thought they were high-strung. I had no idea they were just badly trained, and had “small dog syndrome”…..Then I saw a Chi at the shelter with a sign saying she was extremely timid. When I sat on the floor with her, she climbed up and laid her head on my shoulder, and wouldn’t move.

I was afraid if I got a larger or aggressive dog, my terrier wouldn’t accept it. She was never socialized with other dogs before we got her, and she takes a long time to get used to them. She was used to being the only dog in the home, so I was nervous. So I got the Chi because it was so much smaller than her, and not aggressive, and I felt sorry for her. She spent the first 3 days after I got her laying on my leg against the chair arm. The 4th day, she actually moved down and laid on a pillow at my feet for part of the time. The 5th day he started exploring a bit, but not for long before she came back to me.

I have had her for over a year now, and she still spends 98% of the time within a few feet of me. The Dobie and terrier were never interested in toys, although the Dobie would play tug-of-war with knotted socks. Neither liked to roughhouse much either.

The Chi loves tug-of-war with small rope bones. She loves to roughhouse, I’m very careful with her, though, she looks very delicate. She’s not so careful with me, though. :) She chases small balls and round squeaky toys, and pounces on them and growls and shakes them ferociously, but doesn’t chew them up. I’m working on teaching her to bring them back so I can throw them again. She hides the mini tennis balls somewhere, there are 10 that have disappeared, and 3 normal sized ones have too. We’re down to one mini one, I need to get more soon.

She’s fearless, but cautious around strangers, I think she learned it from my terrier. She barks instead of yipping, and never shivers around strangers. She’s a lot like a tiny terrier. She loves my in-laws, too.

Now my MiL is thinking about getting a Chi to go with her rescued pit bull because she’s getting old and won’t be around much longer. My Chi is behind my terrier in the pecking order, but ahead of the pit bull when I take her to visit my MiL. It’s funny to watch the pit bull waiting for her to go outside or eat first before she will do it herself. If the pit bull tries to push past her, she gets all dominant and growls and snarls and puts the pit bull in her place, it’s hilarious! She never growls or snarls at the terrier, though. The pit bull was nearly starved to death when she was a puppy/young dog. It didn’t break her spirit, but she is the most casual, laid-back pit you can imagine, unless she thinks somebody is threatening my MiL, then she acts like a seriously scary guard dog. I guess Chis are just like any other dog as far as personality goes, it varies with the dog.

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