Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pit Bulls and Chihuahuas

There's usually a new dog fad about every decade or so, and it looks like the Chi dogs are in....well, in the shelters for sure.

We've always said that breed is not the issue, and in fact, dogs are not the issue. People are.

It's not always just irresponsibility and a no-care attitude. That is a factor, but we always hammer that one into the ground, right? It's often just an education point. As a dog trainer by trade and a Chi mix owner with a multi-dog Pit Bull home, I see how people can get tripped up, and it's not their fault. Fun and cute movies show movie stars (won't mention names) carrying the cute little chi goobers in their purses wearing the latest Coach doggie T. This can make it hard for some folks to resist going out and getting one of these little characters right away.

In the movies, things always look easy. Dog companionship is rewarding and wonderful, but it is also hard work. Vet visits, providing good food, and daily quality time spent with our loved ones are all essential to a well-balanced dog.

Chi dogs are not accessories. They are beings that feel and need care like any dog. They have their breed traits, but do need to be seen as individual dogs, as does any dog of any breed. We have faced this issue over and over (I'm getting old), with German Shepherds (well, when I was young - there were other "fad" breeds before that), then with Dobermans, which I remember quite well, and the Rotties, then Pit Bulls. Could it now be the Chihuahua's turn?
I'm already seeing the bad reputation that Chis are getting. Again, popular dog, lots of breeding - and often irresponsible breeding at that - and uneducated owners unprepared for what's involved in properly caring for a dog. And there is your recipe for lots of dogs ending up in shelters.

Chihuahuas are great, loving and loyal dogs. I've often made my own jokes about my Chi about how bitchy she is and how scared of her our Pit Bulls used to get. Am I facilitating the bad image that Chis might end up with? I hope not.

As with any dog, Chi dogs need lots of socialization with lots of people early on, lots of dog play and good training. When this happens, things usually turn out great. But when the movies tell us that it's just so easy to get a cute dog, and you don't have to do much and all will be well, owners can be lulled into a false idea that you don't have to do much work at all to care for these dogs. After all, they're really small, right? Then, of course, there are lots of them to choose from, because many breeders will take advantage of the popularity opportunity.

Many dogs can have issues. Chi dogs can sometimes enjoy barking. There are ways to manage and work with this, but Paris Hilton (oops) hasn't sent any instruction on how to do this, so there goes our Chi to the shelter. Then, the dog gets blamed...

Hmmm, where have I heard this story before?

Above is a cute video with a Chi and a Pit Bull playing. This shows how any breed that has been well-socialized with good management and leadership at home, with effective and fun training classes, can set all dogs up for the best chance at success. We do know that genetics play a role, but that's another article.

- Marthina


  1. adorable beyond words! these 2 have awesome play manners and are so respectful of each other. Though I did think at one point the pitbull's bitey face maneuver might swallow the chi's head. ;-)

  2. Very well written! And I am very happy to see both of these dogs playing so nicely and respectfully! Too cute!

  3. Are you my advocate? If not, will you consider becoming? I concur!!! Every word you wrote, I agree with. I actually have my own FB fan page where I often talk about those issues, then some little kids will show up and tell me she's getting a cute Chi for Christmas...then I want to cry! Thank you!

  4. I'm already a fan of your page Twink! Good fb page.

  5. They are definitely a fad dog, but they will never have the bad reputation that Pit Bulls, Rotties, Dobies, and German Shepherds have.

  6. I continue to hope that there is hope for my Bubba, the angry Chi :-)

  7. I cringe everytime I see a new dog movie coming out that features a purebreed dog beacuse I know that a few years later there will be a glut of unwanted dogs of that breed at shelters.

    That video of the PB and Chi playing is absolutely adorable! It gave me my daily smile! You have a great blog and I'll be back for most fab posts!

  8. found your blog from your Facebook page, and this post is not only sweet, but meaningful. My first dog is a Rott/German Shepherd mix, and it's so difficult to hear people associate these dogs as killers. I have a soft spot for pits, and it angers me to see people so anxious for a pet just because a movie star totes one around like it's a handbag.

    And that video is so cute - I especially love when they hear the siren and both stop, mid-play.