Chihuahuas have a bad reputation when it comes to being mean. Some even say that Chihuahuas are meaner than Pit Bulls. So what’s the truth? Are Chihuahuas mean?

Are Chihuahuas Mean?

Chihuahuas aren’t mean by nature. Still, Chihuahuas get a bad reputation for being mean. But this does not have to define them. Meanness is usually a result of poor care and unmet needs. That’s why it’s crucial to understand where their meanness comes from.

Five Chihuahua Traits Making them ‘Mean’

1. Loyalty

Loyalty is a highly valued characteristic in dogs. And Chihuahuas are one of the most loyal breeds. But bear in mind that their loyalty is often limited to one person. 

While Chis become very attached to their primary owner, they may not listen to others. Like affection, territorial behavior can come into play.

Here are signs your Chi is territorial of you:

  • They growl or nip at people near you.
  • They constantly sit on you or need to be held.
  • They don’t allow other dogs to approach you.

This can be equated to possessiveness. That is why it’s extremely important to establish boundaries.

This means your Chi needs to know:

  • Not all spaces are for them.
  • Others are allowed near you.
  • They don’t get to be held all the time.

2. Suspicion

Chis are small compared to the world around them. Chihuahuas have an innate suspiciousness. This is most likely a passed-down survival instinct. Which means:

  • They are easily startled.
  • They can be uncertain of new environments.
  • They are unlikely to trust new people quickly.

It is crucial to help manage your Chi’s suspicion. Otherwise, unaddressed suspicion can lead to nipping, barking, and high stress. Unfortunately, the world can be scary for your Chi. Which in turn leads to unwanted behaviors.

Understanding that this behavior comes from fear is important. It shows your Chi needs to feel comfortable in your home. Plus your Chi needs to trust in you as their protector. This will make curbing their suspicion much easier.

Why are Chihuahuas so mean?
Why are Chihuahuas so mean?

3. Moodiness

We all go through mood swings. Even Chihuahuas can experience shifting moods.

study on dogs suggests that your Chi’s mood is very much dependent on their environment. So, environmental changes can greatly affect your Chi’s personality.

Such changes include:

  • Loud noises.
  • Many guests.
  • House parties.
  • New objects or furniture.
  • New pets or visiting pets.

Even simply rearranging your home can throw off your Chi’s groove. So it’s important to learn how to manage this. The best way is to establish a regular routine. That way, your Chi has stability despite any changes that could be taking place.

Plus, creating a routine maintains your Chi’s overall happiness and calmness. Training and exercise should be built into the routine. Moodiness can sometimes result from a lack of exercise.

Note: Include at least 30 minutes of exercise every day.

4. Excitability

Chihuahuas have a lot of energy. This makes your Chi easily excitable. Like all behaviors, excitability needs to be managed. This is because it can be misunderstood as meanness.

Excitability can include chewing, excessive jumping & loud and excessive barking.

When your Chi is in this excited state, it can be highly reactive. As a result, they may react in a mean way if:

  • They become overexerted.
  • Someone sneaks up on them.
  • Their excitement turns to stress.

It is important to identify what your Chi is so excited about. Obedience training helps to manage excitement. You want your Chi to listen to your commands always.

5. Affection

This characteristic may come as a surprise. But, Chihuahuas can actually be quite affectionate.

That’s due to Chihuahuas being companion breeds. Hence, they like affection and attention. This sounds like part of the pros list but it can also have cons. Things can get problematic when other pets or people are involved.

This is because:

  • They may become territorial.
  • Your Chi may have trust issues.
  • They may not want affection from others besides you.

Trust is a huge component of Chihuahua behavior. Chihuahuas just don’t want to be touched by people they don’t trust. And if someone touches them anyway, it can lead to mean behaviors. 

Why are Chihuahuas mean?

Let’s now discuss mean behavior in depth. Mean Chihuahuas are usually mean dogs as a reaction. Put simply: Your Chi does not consciously set out to be evil.

Instead, they are reacting to their surroundings. Mean behavior can indicate something is amiss. 


You now know that your Chi is naturally suspicious. Fear in Chihuahuas can develop from unaddressed suspicion.  This is why it is so crucial to manage your Chi’s suspicion. You must put in the effort to keep your Chi at ease.

If not, your Chihuahua may become highly fearful. This will play into their stress levels as well. When your Chis is presented with too much stress and they’re unable to handle it, they’ll begin to act out. 

This is then interpreted as being mean. Your Chi won’t be mean if their needs are met. Teaching your Chi to be trusting is key.


Think about how you act when you are stressed. Chihuahuas experience stress just like us. Stress can make them highly reactive. And we can misinterpret this behavior as meanness.

In reality, your Chi is expressing discomfort. The sooner you start recognizing when your Chi is stressed, the better you’ll be able to manage the situation.

PetMD says to watch out for these signs of stress:

  • Diarrhea.
  • Isolation.
  • Aggression.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Increased sleeping.

Note: As mentioned previously, changes in the environment can be the biggest source of stress.

Are Chihuahuas mean dogs?
Are Chihuahuas mean dogs?

Lack of training

Chihuahuas have dominant personalities. If you don’t train them properly, this is a likely reason for meanness. Instead of perceiving your Chihuahua as mean, establish some proper boundaries and rules.

Your Chi may feel that they are the boss of the house. This can lead to territorial or ‘mean’ behavior.  On the other side, according to the American Kennel Club:

‘The Chihuahua is a very alert little dog of high intelligence. He is eager to please his humans and responds well to positive training practices.’

That’s right – your Chi wants to please you! This being said, it’s worth investing in training as it can solve many behavioral issues. It can even be helpful to seek out a specialized trainer in your area.


Chihuahuas have lots of energy. So it’s no wonder that sometimes Chihuahuas act out due to boredom. What does this mean for you? Your Chi needs adequate mental stimulation. 

Without it, they may:

  • Become destructive.
  • Express mean behaviors.
  • Be purposefully disobedient.

There are many ways to keep your Chi from boredom. Consider:

  • Even simple walks provide stimulation.
  • Puzzle games are great sources of stimulation.
  • Training routines take mental effort from your Chi.

Boredom may especially occur if your Chi is left inside all day. Even though they are small, Chihuahuas are just like other dogs. They need stimulation and exercise. 

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Small dog syndrome

Small dogs experience the world differently. They develop small dog syndrome as an attempt to overcome their stature. Scientists found out that small dogs are genetically predisposed to be more reactive to their environment than bigger dogs.

Examples of small dog syndrome include:

  • ‘Excitable behavior.
  • Failure to obey commands’.
  • Avoidance or fear of larger dogs.
  • Growling at people or other dogs.
  • Reluctance to move off sofas and beds.
  • Lunging or snapping at perceived threats.
  • Jumping up on owners, other people, or dogs.

What small dog syndrome boils down to is an expression of strength. It may be a survival instinct. Your Chi wants to prove they are just as strong as big dogs.

This behavior can be managed through training. The biggest factor of training is establishing yourself as a leader.

Is there a difference between Chihuahuas?

You may wonder how different types of Chihuahuas behave. Let’s tackle that right now.

Officially, there are only two types of Chihuahuas. These types are long coat and short coat Chihuahuas.

Unofficially, there are several other types. These include:

  • Teacup Chihuahuas.
  • Deer Head Chihuahuas.
  • Apple head Chihuahuas.

While they may not be officially recognized, there are key differences.

Apple head Chihuahuas

The terms Apple and Deer Head refer to Chi’s head shape.

Apple head Chihuahuas are considered breed standard. This is according to the American Kennel Club. Being breed standard means these Chis can compete in dog shows. It also means they are typically more expensive. 

Here are some other characteristics of apple heads:

  • Small jaw.
  • Short nose.
  • Large eyes.
  • 90-degree angle from snout to head.

Apple heads are more prone to physical ailments. This can cause them to be in discomfort more regularly.  And in turn, this discomfort may result in ‘mean’ behaviors. 

To deal with this it is key to have a vet who specializes in small dog care. They may be able to identify health problems more easily.

Note: Meanness is often a tool of communication. It is your job to figure out just what your Chi is communicating.

Deer Head Chihuahuas

Unlike apple heads, Deer Head Chihuahuas are not breed standard. Deer heads are named for their similarity to baby deer head shapes. Since they are not breed standard, they are often cheaper.

Other characteristics include:

  • Smaller eyes.
  • Longer nose and jaw.
  • Larger in weight and height.

Deer heads are regarded as being more easygoing. They are also assumed to be a little tougher. This means they don’t get hurt as easily. But many deer heads end up in animal shelters. This can be for a number of reasons, including:

  • Not being breed standard.
  • Left or abandoned once out of puppyhood.
  • Owners are not equipped for their high energy. 

In some cases, shelters may traumatize Chis. This is because the shelter environment can get very loud and chaotic. This is why it’s very unstable for a Chihuahua. The Chihuahua could develop defensive behavior as a means to cope with stress.

Teacup Chihuahuas

Oh, so small. The term teacup refers to Chihuahuas less than 6 pounds in weight.

Breed standard requires Chis to be 6 pounds or less. Thus, Teacup Chis are most often also apple heads. This is because these are the breed’s standard traits.

Chis are bred to display both of these. Therefore Teacup Chihuahuas share almost all the same traits as apple heads. Because they are so small, they may be more prone to small dog syndrome.

Note: Regardless of the type, all Chis should be trained. Training will only improve your Chi’s life. Whereas no training will often result in bad behaviors and meanness.

Are Chihuahuas meaner than Pit Bulls?

Both Chihuahuas and Pit Bulls are hit with bad reputations. But there is evidence to suggest that Chis are meaner than Pit Bulls. I’ll go more into the research in a moment.

But let’s first address the reputation of both breeds. Both dogs are unfairly accused of being mean and aggressive. But in reality, bad behavior and meanness often stem from the owner. Any dog can be a good dog. This requires routine, training, and patience. So, to write off Chis and Pit Bulls as mean is simply incorrect.

Unfortunately, Pit Bulls get hit with a lot more social punishment. They are listed as a bully breed. They also have many more legal restrictions placed on them.

Are Chihuahuas mean? The scientific approach:

Panter Law reported on research findings about meanness. It has been found that both breeds are only rated as ‘somewhat aggressive.’ This means that the majority of the breed does not behave this way.

Panter Law also notes that ‘American Pit Bull Terriers pass the temperament test 86.8% of the time – only 115 of the 870 dogs that were tested so far failed.’ 

The test is administered by the American Temperament Test Society. Chihuahuas pass the test 69.8% of the time. 

Moreover, The Atlantic reports that ‘in almost every measure, out of the 35 most common breeds, Chihuahuas were the most aggressive, especially toward bigger dogs they have not seen before.’

Mean behavior is almost always a result of neglect from the owner. Having this in mind, these breeds should not be judged based on human failure. 


  • Be sure to train your dog.
  • Socialize your dog frequently.
  • Consult with trainers and vets for best practices.

Five Chihuahua owners share experiences

The internet is full of resources these days. Forums on Chihuahuas help owners to connect and share their experiences.

This inspired me to explore 5 different owner testimonies. These will cover Chihuahua behaviors.  I’ll go through the issues the owner may be facing. Plus, I’ll explain how to deal with the issues.

These owner experiences were found on the following forums:

  • Chihuahua People.
  • Dog Forum.
  • Dog Community.

Owner One – My Chi is the alpha

This owner has a Chihuahua who is 9 months old. The Chihuahua displays dominant “alpha” behaviors.

These behaviors include:

  • Dislike of men.
  • Excessive barking.
  • Dislike of being held.

It sounds like this Chi has confidence issues. This alpha behavior may actually stem from insecurity. Be sure that your Chis always feel comfortable in your home. As I mentioned earlier, establishing a routine will build up trust and comfort.

Last but not least, feel free to revert to obedience training.

Owner Two – My Chi won’t house train

This owner has had their Chi for three years. No matter what they do, the Chi goes potty in the house.

The owner says they:

  • Go on two walks per day.
  • Do not want to have to use a crate.
  • Provide additional backyard playtime.

This may be a lack of boundaries. It sounds like this Chi views indoor spaces as theirs.

In this case, try positive reinforcement when they potty outside. The key will be teaching your Chi that going outside reaps reward!

Watch closely for signs they are about to go potty inside. Try to take them outside before they can.

Owner Three – My Chi is mouthy when he plays

This owner has a 10-week-old Chi puppy. The puppy is relentlessly mouthy when they’re playing. The owner states they know this is normal. However, they believe it to be excessive compared to previous puppies.

The owner says they:

  • Verbally reprimand.
  • Redirect the puppy’s attention to a chew toy.

This is the correct way to handle this! 

Young puppies like this one are going to be mouthy. What this owner needs to do is be patient and maintain consistency. You must be diligent and correct the behavior every time.

Owner Four – It’s the owners who are problematic

This owner doesn’t have a problem with their Chi. Instead, they find themselves frustrated with other owners.

Their frustrations include:

  • Spoiling Chihuahuas.
  • Not training Chihuahuas.
  • Not socializing Chihuahuas.

In fact, this owner is absolutely justified in these frustrations. Chihuahuas are often babied and spoiled. Many owners believe Chihuahuas don’t need much training or socialization. 

This can lead to:

  • Possessiveness.
  • Territorial behavior.
  • Nipping and snapping.

Chihuahuas should be trained just like other dogs. And attention should be used as a reward and not given whenever they demand it.

Owner Five – My Chi needs reprimanding

This owner is considering Chihuahua puppies as a pet. They are concerned about how to properly reprimand. 

In the past, this owner had a Labrador. They would clap or speak loudly when reprimanded. They are afraid Chihuahuas will be too fragile for this.

Look, verbal reprimanding is more about tone than volume. Stick to one consistent correction word, such as ‘no.’ Speak in a low but still clearly audible voice. Correct the behavior.

Then, when the Chi follows correct commands, reward them!

Final Thoughts

In truth, no dog should be given an unfair reputation. Chihuahuas can be loving, affectionate, and sweet. It all comes down to their care.

You, as the owner, are responsible for their well-being. If your Chi is acting out, it may be time to take a look at your own behavior as well.

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