Why Do Chihuahuas Bite?

why do Chihuahuas bite

Why do Chihuahuas bite?

Most Chihuahuas, like my Bella, are very friendly and sweet – they will never bite anyone, and especially not their dog owner. However, some are known to be aggressive, perennially angry, and especially known for biting, even their owners.

So what causes a sweet and gentle Chihuahua to turn into a biter? Is it some health issue? Is it because it wants to defend itself or is it stressed?

There is no one answer to the question – why do Chihuahuas bite? As there are as many as 13 different factors that can cause your pet to bite and turn aggressive.

Let us dive into a Chihuahua’s psyche and try to answer the question – why do Chihuahuas bite:

Why do Chihuahuas Bite?

why do Chihuahuas bite

Most Chihuahuas bite when they feel threatened. We cannot stop this behavior as it stems from a natural instinct.

However, we can become responsible pet owner and prevent our pet from biting.

Here are common reasons why Chihuahuas might bite:

1. Self defense

Most Chihuahuas will bite to defend something: themselves, their property, or when they feel threatened.

A mother Chi might show maternal aggression and defense when she feels someone is threatening her puppies. She won’t hesitate to bite even its owners.

2. On being provoked

If you or a family member teases your Chihuahua while it is sleeping, pounces on it, or scares it awake, then too it might get startled and instinctively bite.

That is why it is very important to teach kids not to disturb your Chihuahua while it is sleeping. If possible, provide a safe place for your dog – such as a crate or separate room so it can sleep without being disturbed.

3. Territorial defense

Many Chihuahuas bite strangers that enter the property and then try to run away.

In such a case, the biting is motivated by territorial loyalty or the need to protect its loved ones. The ‘running’ away act could trigger herding instinct where the dog views the runner as ‘prey’ getting away.

4. Fear and stress

One of the most common answers to ‘why do Chihuahuas bite’ is because they are fearful or anxious about something.

If you leave your pet home alone for hours, it may already be very anxious and might bite to stop you or show that it is in control.

Similarly, other triggers like loud noises, fireworks, etc. could provoke fear and aggression in your small pet which could manifest in the form of biting.

5. Unmet needs/for attention

A Chihuahua might also resort to biting when it seeks attention and/or when its needs are not met.

A tired, hungry Chihuahua might bite out of desperation to bring your attention to its needs.

6. Teething

A young Chihuahua puppy will invariably bite your fingers and toes when it is teething.

This type of biting usually reduces with age. As a responsible Chihuahua owner, you must teach your young pet bite inhibition (discussed later in this guide). This is essential to curb biting in adulthood.

7. Pain or illness

A normally sweet Chihuahua might turn angry and aggressive and might even resort to biting when it is in pain or has some underlying health issue.

You can prevent this biting with proper medication and treatment.

8. To assert dominance/small dog syndrome

Your Chihuahuas knows that it is a small dog. Resultantly, it suffers from the Small Dog Syndrome and might bare its teeth, snap, start growling, or bite to show aggression and assert its dominance.

9. Genes

Poor breeding can also cause temperament issues in Chihuahuas. Many Chis become aggressive and might bite if the mother and father dogs are biters/aggressive dog by nature.

With proper training and socialization, you can curb this issue. Good breeders also avoid breeding aggressive dogs.

10. Inadequate socialization/inadequate training

An important part of dog ownership is to socialize and train your pet. Once your Chi is desensitized to different dogs, places, and humans, chances are that it will be less aggressive and more open to receiving different stimuli.

Both – socialization and training – can curb biting and aggression in Chihuahuas.

11. Hormones

An unfixed Chihuahua might bite out of sexual aggression or frustration. Many female Chihuahuas bite when they are in heat.

12. Past trauma

Shelter dogs or rescue Chihuahuas are known to exhibit aggression as they have had a traumatic past or have even been abused by kids/adults. This can cause them to bite owing to past conditioning.

Also Read: Are Chihuahuas Good with Cats

Why Do Chihuahua Puppies Bite?

why do Chihuahuas bite

Most Chihuahua puppies bite when they are teething.

Puppy Chihuahua mouthing, nipping, and chewing are normal behaviors that usually continue until your pet is an adult dog.

However, their needle-sharp teeth could hurt and rip through human clothing and skin.

Teething puppies need a chew toy to curb this biting and nipping behavior. You must also spend time training your Chi pup in bite inhibition.

Bite Inhibition Steps – How to Stop Your Chihuahua Puppy from Biting?

why do Chihuahuas bite

Here are the steps to teaching your puppy not to bite:

1. Teach your puppy to be gentle

When puppies grow up with their dam and littermates, they automatically learn bite inhibition. The mother teaches the siblings to bite gently through play biting.

At home, you’d need to take on this responsibility. So every time your puppy bites you, squeal to show it hurts. DO NOT bite back your puppy!

2. Use a command

If your squealing and/or yelping does not show results, say ‘stop it’ ‘too bad’, or some other command in a stern voice.

3. Praise your puppy Chihuahua when it licks you

Your pet should understand what isn’t and is acceptable. So treat your pet the moment it licks you.

4. Ignore the behavior

Time-outs also work in teaching your puppy that biting isn’t acceptable.

When your Chi bites, ignore it for about 30 seconds. Then resume playing. When it bites again, again stop the play and turn your back on your puppy.

This will teach your pet that gentle play will continue but painful play will stop.

5. Provide chew toys or gnaw bones instead

When your puppy bites, you can provide it with a gnaw bone or a chew toy. This will help it understand what is okay to chew upon.

Check out Best dental chews for Chihuahua here.

6. Use taste deterrent sprays

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Bite deterrent or taste deterrent sprays can also prevent your Chihuahua from biting furniture, your clothes, and your fingers.

7. Never use physical punishments

Never slap or hit your puppy for biting. This will only make it more aggressive.

How to Stop an Adult Chihuahua from Biting?

why do Chihuahuas bite

Now that you know why do Chihuahuas bite, you can take the steps to control it.

As pet parents, your main responsibility is to ensure that your Chihuahua is under control at all times. That is why training your dog is the most important thing to do the moment you bring your pet home.

Here are some ways to stop an adult Chihuahua from biting:

1. Basic training

Put your dog through basic training as that will help you and your pet bond together. This includes potty training and teaching it some basic commands.

2. Socialize your pet

Get your Chihuahua to meet different people, dogs, and kids. Take it to the shopping mall, Dog Park, and even to your friends’ homes – great if they have pets too.

Enroll your pet in dog daycare or a pet obedience school where it can meet several dogs.

3. Desensitize it

Expose your Chi to different sights and sounds: loud cars, bikes, sounds of the vacuum cleaner, airplane noise, large machines, blender, etc.

Start this training at a young age and continue this education throughout its life.

4. Know your Chi’s stress triggers

Know what triggers your dog. If you cannot remove the trigger/thing that stresses your Chi, then remove your Chi from that thing/situation.

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Minimize your pet’s stress by providing it a safe place to rest. A crate is ideal as it is covered and enclosed – therefore, you must begin crate training from an early age itself.

5. Give your dog attention when it needs it

Often, biting and aggression stem from lack of attention.

So give your Chihuahua the attention it needs. Play with it, take it out on walks, and show that it is loved! Don’t forget that a good diet and nutrition can also work wonders.

6. Tire your Chihuahua out

Daily exercise is the best way to curb aggression and biting in dogs. Take your Chihuahua out on a walk two or three times a day. They need not be long walks – just 15 minutes per session is adequate for your small dog.

Find out how much exercise does a Chihuahua need.

7. Keep it on leash

Always train your Chihuahua to be on leash and heel when you take it to the Dog Park.

Make sure you teach it the ‘come’ or ‘stay’ commands too – this is very important to prevent your pet from biting other dogs.

Check out best harness for Chihuahua.

8. Warn others

If you aren’t sure how your Chihuahua will behave then please warn the other people from petting or approaching your pet. If needed, use a muzzle on your dog.

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9. Get your pet neutered/spayed

Neutering or spaying your Chihuahua can curb sexual aggression. So get your pet fixed at the right age.

10. Never use punishment to correct your Chi

Always discipline your Chihuahua using positive reinforcement. Never hit, slap, or kick a Chi for biting. These will only make it more aggressive.

11. Keep current with its vaccinations

Avoid rabies and other canine diseases by having your pet vaccinated. Here is the complete Chihuahua puppy vaccination schedule.

12. Seek professional help

If none of the above methods works and your Chihuahua continues biting, then seek the help of a dog trainer or a canine behaviorist.

Also Read: How to Stop Chihuahua from Biting

Can a Dog Be Put Down for Biting?

why do Chihuahuas bite

It is possible that a dog could be put down for biting, however, the decision is always taken in case to case basis.

The circumstances matter too – it is not always that the dog is at fault – the law will take into account whether the victim provoked the biting dog.

Also, the laws regarding canine aggression vary from state to state.

As always, Chihuahua owners can take steps to prevent things coming to the stage where the pet needs to be euthanized for biting.

If you notice signs of aggression in your Chihuahua, please work with a canine behaviorist to prevent things from worsening.

FAQs on Why Do Chihuahuas Bite?

why do Chihuahuas bite

1. Are Chihuahuas known for biting?

Chihuahuas, like all dogs, do bite. However, this dog breed is known for biting more than most dog breeds (including German shepherd and pit bull!). The reason can stem from the ‘small dog syndrome’ – this causes tiny dogs to bite more in order to assert their dominance.

2. Why has my Chihuahua suddenly turned on me?

If your Chi suddenly turns on you or bites you, then it could be because of an underlying health issue, pain, or illness.

It might also have felt threatened or might want to show its dominance.

3. Why does my Chihuahua growl when I pet it?

Some Chihuahuas growl when petted because they do not want you to stop petting or even when they want more attention. Observe its body language: it should be relaxed and not tense.

On the other hand, a Chihuahua might growl when it does not want to be touched. Perhaps it feels threatened for some reason or simply wants to be left alone.


Why do Chihuahuas bite?

There can be numerous reasons behind your Chihuahua’s biting: self-defense, it feels threatened, fear, stress, aggression, illness, unmet needs, hormonal issues, and when it wants to show dominance.

However, you can prevent your Chihuahua’s biting through early training, desensitization, and especially by teaching it bite inhibition in its puppyhood.

We hope the above guide helps you mold your pet into a gentler and calmer dog.

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