Why Are There So Many Chihuahuas In Shelters?

Why Are There So Many Chihuahuas In Shelters?

Overwhelmingly, Chihuahuas are the most commonly found dogs in shelters despite their friendly nature. Chihuahuas are also popularly found in many Hollywood movies. So, the question remains, why are there so many Chihuahuas in shelters?

This article will answer just that, giving various reasons. 

Why Are There So Many Chihuahuas In Shelters?

There are so many Chihuahuas in shelters because these dogs are being bred extensively for their small and “purse-dog” characteristics. Sometimes people underestimate their ability to take care of these dogs which lead to them being left behind at shelters.

Top 21 Reasons Why Are There So Many Chihuahuas In Shelters?

1. Lack Of Knowledge About The Breed

Why Are There So Many Chihuahuas In Shelters?

There are a lot of Chihuahuas in shelters because of the keeper’s lack of education regarding the breed. In this case, there’s nothing that the Chihuahua can do because it is the victim. These dogs are just regular pooches who are handled by the wrong people. 

Not everyone is aware of the characteristics of the breed and it is important to research the dog that you are adopting before doing so. 

Chihuahuas, being popular as loyal companion dogs, are one of the most preferred pet dogs for single people. But if people are unaware of their traits, they’ll end up staying at the shelter.

2. Possessive And Introverted

Chihuahuas are possessive little dogs and they are often oriented to a single person even if you have a huge loving family. Without proper training and introduction, chihuahuas may become attached to one member and they won’t pay much heed to other members of the family. This can lead them to be aggressive at times as well if they don’t get proper attention.

This behavior, in particular, can become a bit too much for someone who is not willing to dedicate much of the time to the Chi, and thus leaving the owner with no option but to put the Chi in a shelter.

Apart from this, when Chihuahuas remain in shelters, they shut down feeling abandoned. The feeling of being abandoned makes the dogs lose their spirit and they become sad. For this reason, they stay in an aloof corner in the shelter.

Victoria Schade, CPDT-KA says that loner dogs show selective affection. Since the dog avoids any interaction, many adopters look past them when looking to adopt a dog, and Chihuahuas are left behind at the shelter. 

3. Aggressive When They’re Afraid

Many keepers let go of Chihuahuas after adopting them because of their aggressive behavior. You can never judge when your Chi will come and bite you or your family members. If a chihuahua is not trained or taught how to socialize at a young age, it may resort to biting if it doesn’t like something or if it is afraid of something.

WebMD suggests that the aggressive nature is also a part of the breed traits that have been received from their ancestors. Chihuahuas also carry this nature of being aggressive from their ancestors in the wild. 

It is also noticed that Chihuahuas nip at the toes or the heel of the people who seem to annoy them. If you’re wondering why they act like this, it is probably because they have the “little dog syndrome”.  Such aggressive behavior is not what adopters look for when they want a dog companion, which makes another reason for the increased Chihuahuas in shelters.

Also Read: Why Do Chihuahuas Bite Ankles?! 

4. They’re Obstinate and Territorial

The breed of Chihuahuas is very territorial and they believe in the pecking order. They bully each other in an attempt to portray their dominance over each other. Being territorial beings, they won’t hesitate to attack if someone enters their personal space. Does not sound very friendly; does it? Thankfully, they won’t directly come at you. 

According to PetMD, some of the signs that Chihuahuas portray before attacking include:

  • Growling
  • Snapping
  • Getting their head in the air
  • Giving a frozen stance
  • Tail up

5. Pop-culture Rave; No! They Aren’t Purse Dogs

Why Are There So Many Chihuahuas In Shelters?

Blame Hollywood for portraying Chihuahuas as the little purse dogs that can be taken anywhere and flaunted! But in reality, that’s not the case at all.

Chis being the active breed, you cannot keep them in your purse for long. These little creatures do need their space to run and be active.

So, simply owing to the misconception, many first-time Chihuahua owners consider them as a purse dog, and finally when they are unable to take proper care, end up dropping the chihuahua in a shelter home.

6. Need Immense And Professional Training

Chihuahuas lack exposure to various things because of their poor socialization skills. They need to be trained at a young age so that they can form a learning curve by the time they turn adults. 

Hence, if someone has adopted a Chihuahua without much research, he may find it a tad bit difficult to train the Chihuahua. An untrained Chihuahua can cause its owner trouble. Owing to this, the owner might simply put the Chihuahua in a shelter.

WebMD says that dogs only care about immediate responses. Therefore, the positive reinforcement technique with treats works best for training a Chihuahua. 

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According to AKC, without training, Chihuahuas will dominate you and rule your house like a king. Proper socialization skills and behavioral skills can be taught only by immense training. Adopters tend to go for dogs that are skilled and need little training, which is why Chihuahuas don’t make it to the cut. 

7. Rigorous Breeding By Backyard Breeders

Backyard breeders do not take the time to make appropriate matches and breed the dogs without knowledge or experience. Rigorous breeding leads to unwanted litter and that is what dog owners try to avoid most of the time. 

A backyard breeder is a risky choice for a pet like Chi because if the owner forgets to have it desexed, he/she will be dealing a whole litter of puppies at the doorstep. 

If there is rigorous breeding of the Chihuahuas, the owner might simply send off all the puppies to a shelter.

8. Their High Maintenance Isn’t Affordable

Why Are There So Many Chihuahuas In Shelters?

Another reason for Chihuahuas ending up in shelters is that their high maintenance is not affordable. In simple words, it is hard to take care of Chis because they are prone to develop health issues like hypoglycemia. For that reason, you need to take proper care of these little dogs and make sure that they are being fed on time.

Chihuahuas tend to be cold most of the time and if you are someone who lives in cold climates, getting a Chihuahua does not make sense. They also tend to escape from small holes, so you’ll have to put barriers around your house to prevent that, which is again a lot of work.

9. Too Much Pampering Harms Their Social Skills

It is a known fact that extremes do not lead to positive outcomes and it is true in the case of pampering dogs as well. ScienceDirect suggests that it is important to give love and affection to dogs but over pampering them gives them a superior position at home. This leads to nothing but unwanted aggression from the Chihuahuas all the time.

It might be hard to understand how an act of love can turn your dog to be aggressive, but that is how dogs work in the wild. Chihuahuas are already possessive animals and giving them too much affection is harmful to the owner.  

10. Not Ideal For First-time Dog Owners

Chihuahuas are very active when it comes to playing games or going out for a walk. That is the reason why they are not ideal for first-time dog owners. Despite their small stature, chihuahuas can run really fast, which is not safe inside the house. If you’re not paying attention, you might trip over your running puppy. 

So, if someone has got a Chi as an impulsive decision, without putting much thought into it, it is likely that the owner will send off the Chihuahua to a shelter.

They are not ideal pets for families with kids or old people as well, because of their active nature. In fact, they bond well with kids of more than 10 years of age only because they can match their energy. First-time adopters will avoid Chihuahuas and therefore you’ll find more Chis in shelters.

11. Small Bladders Lead To Difficult Potty Training

Chihuahuas are a toy breed and they tend to have a very small bladder. They can’t hold their pee in for a long time as compared to larger dogs. This makes it difficult to potty train and house train them

If someone is unaware of the time and dedication needed to potty train a Chi, he may simply get fed up with the mess, and ultimately send off the Chihuahua to a shelter home.

Dogs that are difficult to potty train and take longer to be house trained are a lot of work for some people. This is why adopters, who have researched well before getting a dog, will look for low maintenance and highly skilled dogs for their pets and the little Chis are left behind.

Also Read: How to potty train a Chihuahua?

12. Public Misconception: Hatred Meme Culture

Sometimes social media posts convey hatred towards the Chihuahua breed and if not hatred, then they form stereotypical messages. 

There have been posts about the aggressive nature of chihuahuas that have become viral. This causes a public misconception and adopters avoid getting Chihuahuas as their pets. 

Apart from this, peer pressure too can play a massive role in compelling the Chi owners to drop off their pets at the shelter. With all the misconceptions around the Chis, an owner might start having doubts about having Chis as pets.

13. Aggression Towards Other Animals & People

Why Are There So Many Chihuahuas In Shelters?

In spite of the small appearance, chihuahuas tend to be very aggressive and can even bully larger dogs, let alone the smaller ones. They do not gel well with other animals or people for that matter. Their first instinct is to dominate the other animal or person to make the hierarchy clear. 

The aggressive nature of Chi can be a bit too much for few owners to handle, ultimately leaving them off to a shelter home.

Apart from this, for people who have done great research before getting a pet, the aggressive behavior of Chihuahuas makes them a secondary option for adoption because no dog owner wants to deal with this type of behavior. 

14. Bold & Independent; They Find Their Own Ways

Why Are There So Many Chihuahuas In Shelters?

Chihuahuas are independent dogs with a sassy attitude. They have a bold spirit and tend to be feisty. But some people do not admire this quality in pet dogs because they are worried about disobedience; which is why they don’t adopt Chihuahuas as their pets. 

And sometimes, owners who aren’t aware of this side of the Chis cannot handle their attitude after adopting them. This can lead to the owner sending his Chihuahua to a shelter.

15. Shivering Doesn’t Mean They’re Scared

Chihuahuas tremble and shiver a lot and adopters think that a shivering pet is too much to take care of because a shivering dog entails a sick dog. However, it is natural for a Chihuahua to shake and tremble when they are happy, excited, scared, or feeling cold. 

And seldom, a Chi owner too might get concerned about the shivering behavior. He might start having thoughts that he is unable to care properly for the poor Chi, and thus can lead to sending the Chihuahua to a shelter home.

16. Their Feeble Appearance

The physical appearance of Chihuahuas may also be the reason why they are not being adopted from the shelters. They are one of the smallest dog breeds in the world according to PetMD. They don’t actually look like a dog because of their large eyes and ears. 

People choose to adopt dogs that actually look like dogs because… why not! 

17. They Escape Homes Very Often

Chihuahuas are escape artists who like to find their way out of the house. Their small size helps them escape even from the tiniest places in your house. So if your pooch is not chipped, it will go wandering the streets and end up in a shelter. 

18. Loud Barks

Chihuahuas make up for their small size by their loud voices, which is why they end up in shelters after some time. The high-pitched sound of Chihuahuas tends to be annoying for their owners especially when they are on a business call or when the neighbors come down to complain.

The howling and barking of Chihuahuas can be bothersome at times, which is why you will see more of Chis in shelters.  

Also Read: Do Chihuahuas bark a lot?

19. Self-isolation Is Their Coping Mechanism

Chihuahuas are independent dogs and they prefer to self-isolate themselves when they feel low or depressed. Similarly, when in a shelter, they isolate themselves because of loneliness or because of the feeling of abandonment. 

According to Psychology Today, even the most social dogs need their alone time, and Chihuahuas who aren’t social at all, tend to stay by themselves. People want to adopt happy pooches, and lonely-looking Chihuahuas will definitely not be their first priority.

20. They Out-live Their Parents

A chihuahua can live up to 20 years, and sadly, this is one of the reasons why they are left behind in the shelters. They tend to outlive their owners and there is no one to take care of the little pets. Being “one-person” dogs, they won’t even gel well with any other members of the family and the only option left is to put them in a shelter.

Dogs of old age also require a lot of attention like having an orthopedic bed, feeding soft food, etc. If your pooch turns out to live 20 years, you’ll probably not be able to give the proper care and attention to it because of your increased age as well. 

Furhaven Orthopedic Pet Bed for Dogs and Cats - L Chaise Sofa Two-Tone Plush Fur and Suede Couch Dog Bed with Removable Washable Cover, Stone Gray, Jumbo (X-Large)

Also Read: Best dog bed for chihuahua

21. They Aren’t Treated Like Big Dogs

Because of the small stature of Chihuahuas, they are treated like babies and not big dogs. These dogs are often misunderstood as toys that won’t cause any trouble. Many Chihuahua owners make the mistake of not training their chihuahua because they have the misconception that the little dog won’t be any trouble. 

Such misconceptions that Chihuahuas are not troublesome, actually lead to more trouble, and more often than not, inexperienced owners send them off to shelters. There is nothing more annoying than an untrained pooch. However, if trained well, your Chihuahua will be a very loving pet. After all, they also crave love and affection, and a little training will make them perfect pets.


There are several reasons why you find so many Chihuahuas in shelters, but most commonly they end up in shelters because of the misconceptions and misconceptions regarding their breed. If people are well aware of the breed and the ways that they can take care of a Chihuahua, these dogs won’t remain in shelters for long.

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