Having more than one dog can be a wonderful experience, but it’s not a perfect situation for everyone. Before you add a second (or third or fourth) Chihuahua to your canine pack, make sure you know the pros and cons of living with multiple dogs. What could be more fun than a pack of Chihuahuas? Depending on the dogs and their environment, the answer to this question could be “Nothing! They are a joy each and every day!” or it could be “A migraine headache because at least that eventually goes away.”
Most Chihuahuas love company. In particular, they tend to enjoy living with other Chihuahuas though other sociable breeds and mixes can be tolerated very well. Owning more than one dog can provide additional physical and mental stimulation for your current Chihuahua. Additionally, owning two or more dogs can take a little bit of the pressure off of you for constant attention; Chis can be great companions for each other, not to mention offering a little extra snuggling warmth.
Along with the benefits of owning more than one dog come some challenges. These can include the added costs of added dogs, the situations that two Chis can cause, and working with clashing personalities.
Toy breeds are relatively inexpensive to feed as they simply don’t eat the quantity of food that larger breeds consume. Food expenses, however, may be the only expense that is nominal whether you have one Chihuahua or two—or more. For example, most veterinary charges are based on a per-dog fee scale, not per poundage of dog. It doesn’t matter if your total Chihuahua weight is a mere twelve pounds, if you own three dogs you’ll have to pay for three sets of vaccines, three twelve-month doses of heartworm preventives, and three annual exams.
Other expenses to consider if you want to own more than one dog are the cost of supplies (multiple collars, leashes, crates, beds, coats, and so on), boarding and/or doggie day-care expenses (you might get some break because your dogs are smaller but you’ll still have to pay per dog), and increased pet sitter or dog walker costs (with rates often set according to the number of visits and the number of dogs).
Double or Triple Trouble
Owners often assume that if they own two Chihuahuas that the pair will occupy each other. As the fairy tale goes, two dogs will spend so much time together that they will be less demanding of the owner’s attention, and, therefore, owning more than one dog will reduce the amount of time and energy the owner has to put in with the dogs. It’s a nice dream, isn’t it?
The reality is that yes, the dogs – if they’re compatible – will play with each other and keep each other company. The dogs will not accept this as a substitution for time with you. In fact, often a multiple dog household involves constant trouble as one or the other dog is vying for the owner’s attention.
Just like a child, the Chihuahua figures out that if being quiet and good doesn’t work then maybe doing something bad, such as stealing a sock or tearing up a pillow, will get you to quit petting the other dog and pay some attention to her.
Then there’s the level of mess and destruction two or more dogs can cause as opposed to one. House training just became more complicated (“Who did that?”), and even if you own altered dogs, you may find that a young Chi (or an older one) is suddenly marking his territory in your home.
In short, adding a second dog does not cut down on the time or effort you’ll put into dog ownership. You’ll probably laugh more while you’re taking care of your Chis, but the amount of attention and care you will need to provide these dogs—not to mention the money you’ll spend—increases exponentially.
Who Gets Along Best?
Unless a Chihuahua is dog aggressive, she will usually get along with just about any dog; however, there are some good guidelines to follow that will help ensure a good match. Variables that can affect the success of adding a second or third dog include the breeds of all dogs involved, their ages, and their sexes.
As far as various breeds are concerned, Chihuahuas love Chihuahuas. Even if two Chihuahuas don’t know each other, they will often act as if they are long-lost friends the first time they meet. Chihuahuas not only recognize members of their own breed, but they seem to revel in their company. A Chi-Chi pairing is usually best; however, if you already own a sweet toy breed or toy mix, adding a Chihuahua to your dog family will usually go smoothly. Pairing toy breeds together tends to keep the playing field even among dogs.
If you’re looking for an age of dog that is virtually assured to get along, littermates or puppies of roughly the same age almost always grow up to be best buddies. They are, however, holy terrors for the first year of their lives. If you have a lot of energy, training experience, and patience, you might consider this option. Another age combination that works well is a puppy with a mature dog. In this case, the puppy usually grows up accepting the older dog’s alpha status and does nothing to challenge this situation.
A puppy with a senior Chi is also considered a good combination; studies have shown that the senior dog benefits greatly from the added mental and physical stimulation of a puppy in the house. An adult Chi paired with another adult Chi can work well, too, if you know that the incoming adult Chi likes your present Chihuahua and vice versa.
As for the sex of your second dog, opposites not only attract, but they tend to get along better with fewer squabbles. Neutered males and spayed females of any age can often get along fabulously. Same-sex pairings can end up in serious rows if both dogs want to be alpha, but if the temperaments are good together or one is a pup and the other an older dog, same-sex pairings may work out fine in your home.
Can a Chihuahua get along with a large-breed dog?
If you own a gentle giant that is not rambunctious and is very aware of his body space (knows where he is lying down, what his front and hind ends are doing at the same time) you can have a toy/giant pairing and everyone will get along happily. Basically, the safety of your Chihuahua is the primary issue here.