Perhaps this article should be called "Mentally and Physically Challenged Dogs" as it does apply to all breeds but because we only breed Chihuahuas i will share our experience with our Chihuahua lovers who read through our website.
Whilst some people may have trouble figuring out if the title of this page is a joke those of you that have such a Chihuahua or have thought they have one please do read on as over the years i have come to understand that what most people see as a quirky or different character in their dog could actually be a Physically or Mentally Challenged Chihuahua.
Many animal behaviourists are all too quick to label a dog as having been mistreated when they are presented with someone's beloved Chihuahua that is showing signs of fear, anti-social behaviour, or stubbornness. Whilst mistreatment of our pets does exist it is definitely not a one size fits all when looking for an explanation as to why the dog is acting the way it does. Over the many years we have been breeding here at Chihuahua World i can honestly say that i do own and have owned Chihuahuas that even i can't get to behave like a normal pet that we all like to enjoy. I have one female who i cannot re-home as she displays pure fear when we try to stroke her, she is not aggressive or nasty but instead shows behaviour that you would immediately think she had been beaten all of her life. She was bred by ourselves and have been part of her life since birth, so why is she like this?
The best way to explain this type of behaviour is to compare it up against the Human diagnosis of the various types of Mental Health issues that are present amongst even the brightest of us. The brain is something we are still trying to understand properly so understanding the mental state of our pets is no doubt a subject that will not get much attention by the professionals until the human brain has been fully understood, It is not always a traumatic experience that will trigger an unwelcoming reaction from dogs or even have changed them completely. As individuals we all do things differently as well as for different reasons so having studied all of our dogs over the years that have all been treated the same the first thing we can establish is although they were all brought up the same they all posses an individual character, some more enjoyable than others. So what does this tell us? Quite simply our Chihuahuas are not programmable, no matter how hard we try their outcome is individual.
This leads me to say "we are not always to blame for our pets outcome so don't blame yourself if you have tried."
Sometimes, as with humans, things just aren't quite right mentally so teaching and training will have minimal effect when trying to change the way your Chihuahua behaves, where as If they have suffered a traumatic experience there is a lot better chance this situation can be tackled with time by reassurance and confidence training.
Most of you will understand if your Chihuahua had a bad leg that hinders his normal daily life then one would accept the term "Physically Challenged" but what annoys me is the lack of understanding from people when they see deformities and coordination issues that just put it down to bad breeding. Again as with humans we see Physically Challenged people everyday young and old but you never hear people saying "well that's just bad breeding" so why jump to conclusions with dog breeders. Genetics are complicated and unfortunately there are no magic tests available to create perfect offspring, dogs or humans, so assumptions should never be made without the understanding of the fact that nature can be very cruel sometimes.
Over the years i have seen many deformities in puppies and adults that can just appear later in life or are an immediate result of a troubled birth where oxygen has been starved to the brain thus creating an unfortunate bodily malfunction, after all it is our brains that control all of our thoughts and movements. I have even had umbilical cords that have strangled puppies legs during pregnancy which resulted in only 3 able legs at birth, as you can appreciate these things a breeder has no control over. Coordination issues with things like walking, running, jumping etc as you know rely heavily on balance which inevitably is controlled by the brain so now you may begin to understand how these two issues can be linked.
As we progress in life our scientists are finding and diagnosing more and more illnesses which helps us to understand our own physical and mental states so the same respect should be shown to our little furry friends, don't be troubled if you think your Chihuahua is different as more often than not you will develop a very special bond with them and hopefully look at their problem as "their own little quirky way" but whatever their condition maybe take comfort in knowing you will make their life so much better by showing them the love and attention they deserve.