Are Chihuahuas smart? Your questions answered!

Chihuahuas have become extremely popular as pets over the last few years, but if you are considering bringing one into your life there are a few things you need to know.

They may be teeny tiny, but they have big personalities and may not suit all lifestyles. Before you take on any new pet it is good to do your research and ask lots of questions.

Do Chihuahuas make good pets? Are Chihuahuas smart? What is the size of a Chihuahua brain? We’ve got all the answers to your Chihuahua questions to help you decide if this is the right breed for you!

Table of Contents

1. Are Chihuahuas smart?

So how smart are Chihuahuas? There is much speculation about chihuahua brain size in relation to its body and whether this makes them smarter than other dogs.

We will get to the size of a Chihuahua’s brain in a minute, but first, let’s take a look at just how clever these little guys are.

Anyone who lives with a Chihuahua will tell you that they are smart! Not smart in the same way a border collie is, Chihuahuas are sometimes not the best at responding to commands, but they are fantastic problem solvers.

Chihuahuas think for themselves, which has given them an unfair reputation for being stubborn and strong-willed. They are highly intuitive and adept at reading and responding to human emotions.

Chihuahuas also show ‘adaptive intelligence’- they learn quickly and can adapt to almost any environment.

2. How big is a Chihuahua’s brain?

We know that Chihuahuas are smart in their own way, but does this have anything to do with Chihuahua brain size? Science tells us that it’s not that simple.

Intelligence is determined by a number of factors- including brain structure and complexity, the relative development of different areas of the brain, and the relative brain-to-bodyweight ratio.

Brain size can be a contributing factor to how intelligent an animal is, but it does not determine it.

So how big is a dog’s brain? Here’s the surprising part. All dogs have similar-sized brains, regardless of their body size. The average dog brain weighs 55.10 grams and is about the size of a tangerine.

You may be thinking, even the tiny dogs? How big is a Chihuahua’s brain? Well, it might surprise you to know that even the tiniest dogs have tangerine-sized brains

This means that as the smallest dog breed, the Chihuahua has the largest brain-to-body ratio of any recognized dog breed.

3. Do Chihuahuas make good pets?

Chihuahuas make excellent companions and are adaptable to most lifestyles. Being so tiny, they fit in well with urban living and they can easily be carried on public transport.

Chihuahuas are equally at home living in the countryside and those little legs can travel surprisingly far, so don’t discount them if you are looking for a dog to take on long walks!

Chihuahuas form very strong bonds with their owners and tend to be very attuned to human emotions. They can be quite noisy and are prone to territorial barking, especially if you have a number of them, so that is something to consider if you live in an apartment.

4. Are Chihuahuas good with kids?

Chihuahuas can be good with children if they are raised with them, the children know how to behave around dogs and they are well supervised by adults.

Chihuahuas are very small and may easily become injured if children are too rough with them. They are also sensitive little dogs and it is important that your Chihuahua has somewhere safe to have time out away from the children.

5. How fast can Chihuahuas run?

Chihuahuas can actually run pretty fast! On average, they can reach speeds of 15-20 mph in short bursts. They would be unlikely to keep up with a greyhound but can give other dogs a run for their money in the dog park.

That said, you should exercise caution when letting your Chihuahua run with other dogs. They can be easily injured if a larger dog runs into them by accident, and due to their small size, they can trigger a predatory response in other dogs when they run.

You don’t want your Chihuahua being chased or injured by a larger dog so pick their doggy playmates carefully and ensure they are well-matched.

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6. How much exercise do Chihuahuas need?

Chihuahuas are active dogs and they require a moderate amount of exercise. A minimum of 30 minutes to 1 hour a day would be recommended, depending on the age and health of the dog.

Chihuahua exercise can include on-leash and off-leash walks, playing in the yard, and training exercises such as agility.

7. Can Chihuahuas swim?

Chihuahuas can swim, but they are not the most natural swimmers and need to be well supervised when in water. Some Chihuahuas take to water better than others. 

Always keep a close eye on your chihuahua when they are in the water, their tiny bodies mean they are less likely to be able to swim in strong currents and they may become tired.

how fast can chihuahuas run?
are chihuahuas aggressive?

8. Are Chihuahuas aggressive?

People often ask, why are Chihuahuas so mean? They have certainly earned themselves a bit of a reputation as being snappy and aggressive. However, this behavior does not occur because the dog is mean and very often Chihuahuas are misunderstood

As little dogs, they are often carried by their owners. With their cute faces, people are drawn to them and want to say hello. The Chihuahua may not want to say hello, but can’t move away as he is being held by his owner, so his only option is to use defensive behavior to keep the person away. 

This is also called ‘fight or flight’. Chihuahuas can learn that growling and barking are effective strategies to keep people away, so fall back on that behavior whenever someone approaches. 

Chihuahuas who are given choice and the opportunity to move away are far less likely to show aggression.

Another factor that may affect Chihuahua behavior is how well socialized they were as a puppy. If a puppy is carried everywhere and not allowed to interact with other dogs and people naturally, they are not able to learn effective communication skills. 

A dog who is anxious in social situations is more likely to show aggression. Owners of Chihuahua puppies should ensure they are well socialized, just as they would with a puppy of another breed. 

Due to their small size, Chihuahua socialization should be done carefully to ensure the puppy is not put at risk.

9. What is the life expectancy of a Chihuahua?

Chihuahuas tend to be long-lived dogs, with an average life expectancy of 14-16 years. Some Chihuahuas have lived to the age of 18 years old.

10. Are Chihuahuas healthy dogs?

Yes and no. Some Chihuahuas are incredibly healthy and can live long and happy lives. Unfortunately, others can suffer from health problems relating to the large size of a Chihuahua’s brain relative to their skull. 

The main condition to be aware of is congenital hydrocephalus, a condition that is inherited and is more likely to occur in small dogs. 

Cerebrospinal fluid builds up in the brain and exerts force on the skull and the brain itself. This results in the bones of the skull becoming domed and thinner, with the brain becoming damaged by increased pressure. 

Symptoms of hydrocephalus include blindness, seizures, and abnormal behavior that is indicative of pain. Choosing a good breeder who is aware of potential inherited conditions is very important- Chihuahuas with congenital hydrocephalus should never be bred from.

11. How much do Chihuahuas cost?

The average cost of a Chihuahua is between $1000 and $2500. Some very well-bred Chihuahuas may cost as much as $3500. It is always worth paying a little more for a health-tested puppy from a responsible breeder. 

You may be able to adopt a Chihuahua from a rescue center- adoption fees vary from $50 to $500 and this often includes vaccination, neutering and parasite control.

Suggested reading: How to find a reputable dog breeder

12. What is a Chihuahua?

The Chihuahua is the smallest recognized dog breed. It is usually 5-7 inches tall and weighs around 6 pounds. The Chihuahua is an ancient breed that originated in Mexico and probably dates back to the time of the Aztecs (12th-16th century).

It is thought that Chihuahua-type dogs have had a multitude of purposes over the centuries. Over the centuries they have been bred for food, companionship, pest control, as sacrificial animals, and even to herd livestock!

Nowadays, Chihuahuas are mostly kept as pets and show dogs. They were first recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1908.

Are Chihuahuas smart – final thoughts

Chihuahuas are fabulous little dogs and they can make great pets with owners who understand the challenges that a tiny dog can face. 

They are clever in their own way and often have a close bond with their owner. Contrary to popular belief, the Chihuahua’s brain is the same size as the brain of a much larger dog, it is just that their skull is much smaller.

If you have decided that the Chihuahua is the right dog breed for you, buying your puppy from a responsible breeder is really important to avoid inherited health problems. Also be sure to socialize your puppy carefully to help him feel confident out and about.

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