A calm chihuahua next to a feisty chihuahua baring its teeth. Chihuahuas have a reputation for being feisty; however, we shouldn’t label all of them as such. Illustration by Alyson Sutherland.

After debunking myths and misconceptions about big dogs, specifically pit bulls last year, I think it’s time to defend the representative of small dogs, Chihuahuas. Despite these small furballs being tiny, they are still feared by many, oftentimes including me. However, we need to consider that dog breeds aren’t monolithic; one dog may be intimidating and vicious but another might be calm and friendly. 

Chihuahuas possess unique characteristics and charms that are easily recognizable. From their big-rounded eyes and pointy ears to their small legs, they have different coat types, colors and markings. According to Britannica, chihuahuas are the “smallest recognized dog breed, named for the Mexican state of Chihuahua, where it was first noted in the mid-19th century.” They are perfect lap dogs for owners who love tons of dog cuddles. Additionally, they are the perfect breed for active owners as they need regular exercise like any other dog. This can be found in the forms of playing indoors or out as well as daily walks. 

With the prevalent use of social media platforms such as Tiktok and Instagram, it’s impossible to resist the urge to get influenced by what we see. The fame of TikTok rose especially during quarantine, bringing in a ton of influencers, not limited to human beings. TikTok user @pudgywoke, a chihuahua, rose to fame because of their iconic “owa owa.” Personally, this started my fear for chihuahuas, with their huge eyes glaring at me as if they were ready to devour my flesh while their bark rang through my ears. However, I am writing this article with an open mind, denoting that my fears for chihuahuas will be set aside and no bias will be involved.

The stigmas surrounding chihuahuas all circle around their “aggressiveness,” with people labeling them as gremlins and little rat dogs, or according to senior Kai Brown, “condensed furballs of rage.” Chihuahuas are usually depicted as yappy and aggressive dogs with temperamental issues, however the blame shouldn’t be entirely placed on them. Just like all dogs, chihuahuas need proper training, which their owners should be on top of. Their aggressive behavior might be caused by them feeling threatened by their surroundings; one scenario in which this could happen is if someone is quickly approaching, making them feel the need to protect themselves and their owner. They might bare their teeth and bark as a coping mechanism for fear. Not all chihuahuas will respond the same to strangers, and their response might worsen or change due to how the stranger responds. 

This is why their owners must socialize them with other dogs and people at an early age. However, if this isn’t possible because the chihuahua is adopted at an older age, proper training with patience will suffice. Puppyintraining.com asserts that “[aggression] is a natural personality trait of chihuahuas, so you will never be able to train it out of them completely, but you can take steps to help limit their potentially aggressive actions.” They also add that it might take a bit more time and hard work for older dogs to be social but it will be worth it in the long run.

Their feisty nature might also be caused by humans pushing their boundaries. Chihuahuas are small in size compared to  humans so they will easily be scared of us and they tend to perceive the world as more threatening than their huge counterparts, thus displaying aggressiveness. Freshman Krystal Le defends chihuahuas by starting off with how sweet they are. “They’re only seen as scary and violent because people push their boundaries and mistreat them,” they state. Sophomore Kainea Tengan further explains that, “people think of them as mean and harsh but I think they just have boundaries.”

In addition, chihuahuas don’t have a good reputation in the public eye when it comes to them being family dogs. A website called The Smart Canine states that chihuahuas are not good with kids; though they may not seriously hurt them, energetic children might hurt the fragile and petite dog. “Chihuahuas don’t respond well to a child’s rough play and may snap back. However, with training on both sides, it’s possible to nurture a loving relationship between dog and child.” Avid chihuahua fan, Rachel Hawes, counters chihuahua hatred by stating, “[I] love them, my first family dog was a chihuahua miniature pinscher-mix and despite popular belief he was quiet and not annoying at all.” Another chihuahua stan, sophomore Sofia Madeline Guardado also adds, “I love chihuahuas! I used to have one and she was so tame—very soft and a good lap dog,” in response to the feisty allegations. 

Franklin High School also has a club that advocates for animal rights; the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) club helps fundraise for animal rights  as well as  volunteering for the Oregon Humane Society among other beneficial activities. Senior Fina Sabatini and president of the ASPCA club declares that chihuahuas and dogs in general deserve to be treated with respect and that they are God’s gift to earth. “I think that all dogs are cute and some are just cuter than others. I personally love big dogs, but that doesn’t mean I’m gonna discriminate against small dogs.” Sabatini further explains that the main reason why people dislike chihuahuas is because they are often perceived as loud and bark a lot, allowing them to have a reputation of being yappy. But this doesn’t apply to all chihuahuas; Sabatini recalls an experience where she was bitten by a chihuahua and another memory of a chihuahua being sweet to her. So to reiterate, not all chihuahuas are the same. Most of the time, they just need understanding owners and an environment that comprises a calm environment where mistreatment doesn’t foster.

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