Chihuahuas are the smallest dog in the world. They are beloved lapdogs to many with strong personalities. While very affectionate and loyal to their owners, Chihuahuas are not friendly to strangers. They can be aggressive when exposed to unfamiliar people and animals. If you know someone who owns a Chihuahua, you’ve likely observed this behavior firsthand when meeting their pet.
Despite their small size, they do not hesitate before biting others. You will probably find misinformation online about how hard they bite. Keep reading to learn about a Chihuahua’s bite force and related statistics.
What Is Bite Force?
Bite force measures how hard various dog breeds bite in Newtons or PSI (Pounds per Square Inch). The measure tells us how much pressure a dog can apply while biting.
It is not rare to stumble across sources that quote misinformation about the bite force of various breeds. You might have heard that Pitbulls have locking jaws and have the strongest bite force. It is important to note that studies on the topic are scarce and unreliable. Measuring a dog’s bite force in the lab cannot accurately predict how hard they actually bite.
Scientists have measured a dog’s bite force in two main ways. They either hide measuring devices in rawhide or electrically stimulate the jaw muscles of anesthetized dogs. While these methods can give us an idea, they are not enough to accurately predict a dog’s bite force. The way a dog bites when angry is probably very different from when he is enjoying a tasty treat. There is no incentive for a dog to bite with full force in both cases.
Many factors influence a dog’s bite force, including the jaw and skull shape. Dogs with a wider head and jaw can bite down harder than a small breed. It also varies by the area of the mouth measured. Dogs can bite harder when using their molars rather than front teeth. We cannot say how hard Chihuahuas bite with certainty from what we currently know.
Chihuahua Bite Force
After looking at multiple sources, we can conclude that a Chihuahua’s bite force is no more than 100 to 180 PSI. You might stumble across sources that quote the Chihuahua’s bite force at 3900 PSI, which, for many reasons, is impossible.
Firstly, the average human’s bite force is 162 Pounds per Square Inch, and the Bengal tiger has a bite force of 1,050 PSI. How can a small dog breed like the Chihuahua have a bite force three times that of a large and powerful tiger?
Many researchers and papers have disputed this number. The most recent is Stanley Coren’s detailed article in Psychology Today that lists multiple studies to refute myths about dog bites. The article clears many misconceptions about the bite force of various dog breeds. The factors that influence dog bites are also discussed here.
We searched for scientific articles about a Chihuahua’s bite force, but there aren’t any studies on the topic. There were no specific articles that measured a Chihuahua’s bite force. With the knowledge we gained through other articles, we can only estimate the Chihuahua’s bite force to be 100 to 180 PSI.
Chihuahua Bite Statistics
After learning about a Chihuahua’s bite force, you probably have other questions in your mind. You should know how often they bite and the factors that trigger biting behavior. A study by the Coalition for Living Safely with Dogs and the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association found that:
Chihuahuas are the most likely to bite during veterinary visits among various dog breeds.
Chihuahuas rank fourth among dog breeds that have bitten children.
Another survey conducted by Dognition company in 2016 also revealed similar results. Four thousand pet parents responded to questions regarding how aggressive their dogs were when exposed to familiar and unfamiliar children, people, and dogs. According to the results, the Chihuahua was the most aggressive towards bigger dogs. Keep in mind that this refers to aggression towards other dogs. The Chihuahua is still moderately aggressive on the whole.
These findings make sense due to the Chihuahua’s temperament. They are instinctively protective of their space and unfriendly towards intruders. When confronted by a bigger dog, a Chihuahua might compensate for its small size by being aggressive as a defense mechanism to cope with fear and anxiety.
You are probably wondering if a Chihuahua bite has ever been fatal. During a thirteen-year period (2005-2017), only one death has been reported from a Chihuahua bite.
Why Do Chihuahuas Bite
While many people believe that Chihuahuas bite due to aggression, this is not always true. Simple things like playing and teething can be behind why a dog bites.
Anyone with a Chihuahua knows they are a ball of energy. They are always wagging their tail, running around, sniffing, and pacing. As puppies, Chihuahuas are even more energetic and may bite/nip to release energy. Your pet needs to get enough exercise to reduce this behavior. While Chihuahuas may seem small and fragile, their needs are similar to any other breed. If your dog doesn’t get enough exercise, it can grow bored and develop destructive habits.
Chihuahuas are watchful, alert, and very protective of their space and owners. Since they are always on the lookout for threats, they can be prone to anxiety. Many dog breeds with a similar nature can also develop anxiety for the same reason. Dogs that suffer from chronic anxiety can have a habit of biting and nipping. They will bite you and chew on objects around the house to relieve stress.
Due to their small size, Chihuahuas can become fearful easily. The breed is scared of many things, including other dogs, loud noises, unfamiliar people, and children. It is best to reduce your pet’s exposure to these factors to prevent stress and anxiety.
The most common reason why puppies start biting is due to teething. When puppies start weaning, their milk teeth fall out, and strong adult teeth grow in their place. During this process, the gums are irritated and cause your puppy to gnaw on everything in sight. In some cases, your Chihuahua might bite you or others around the house. The reason for the bite is to soothe teeth and gums, but it is often mistakenly identified as aggression. Keep your Chihuahua’s age in mind to confirm whether biting is due to aggression or teething. Teething dogs also show other signs, such as excessive drooling, low fever, and swollen gums.
If you’ve ever seen a bunch of puppies playing, nipping/biting is part of the game. Puppies play with their littermates in this way, and it is how they will try to play with you. When your Chihuahua is young, it is common for them to nip on your fingers as a sign of affection. Many pet parents allow this behavior since it is harmless and adorable. As your Chihuahua grows older, the biting behaviors persist after repeatedly being reinforced. At a certain age, the bites can become painful but are difficult to stop, which is why you should discourage this behavior from an early age.
When adopting your Chihuahua from a shelter, inquire about their history. Reliable rescue groups and shelters should have a record of a dog’s bite history and behavior with other animals and humans. This information is very important if you have children at home.
Past neglect or abuse can play a significant role in shaping a dog’s personality. Dogs who have suffered neglect or abuse can become fearful/anxious or aggressive adults. In this case, biting or nipping is usually a defense mechanism. Socialization training is the best way to train a Chihuahua with neglect issues.
If your Chihuahua starts being aggressive suddenly, it could be due to health issues. Pain caused by health issues and neurological conditions can lead to aggressive behaviors, including nipping and biting. Chihuahuas with health problems or those suffering from hypoglycemia, common among toy breeds, can show aggression. Hypothyroidism is another common medical cause of aggression in dogs.
Health issues cause many symptoms, including weakness and lethargy. A Chihuahua that feels weak and vulnerable may lash out at others to avoid feeling so.
How To Stop A Chihuahua From Biting
To stop your Chihuahua from biting, you must first determine the cause of the behavior. Some reasons are mild and might require little intervention, while others need professional help. Determining the cause can help you find the best way to stop your Chihuahua’s biting behavior. Puppies are generally easier to train than adults.
If your Chihuahua bites due to teething or while playing, you can use the redirect method. This method involves redirecting your pet’s attention to toys or objects acceptable for them to bite. Keep your fingers away from your Chihuahua’s mouth and reprimand him if he bites you. A firm, clear “No” is enough to reprimand your dog. Place the toy in front of your dog’s face when he tries to bite you. When your dog bites the toy, reward him with treats.
The redirect method can also work for puppies who bite to release energy. In this case, you will need to redirect their energy to productive activities and exercise.
Dogs are often unaware of their behavioral patterns. It is your responsibility to be mindful of your pet’s behavior. Your Chihuahua will show other signs before she bites. Interrupt playtime immediately if you notice your pet’s rigid posture and baring of teeth. If you do not catch these signs and a bite occurs, a time-out is the best way to prevent this behavior. A time-out should occur every time your Chihuahua bites.
You should never leave your Chihuahua unsupervised around other animals and children. Most Chihuahuas do not bite their owners but other animals, children, and people. Even when trained and socialized from an early age, they can take some time to warm up to new people. You should supervise time with others carefully until your Chihuahua becomes comfortable around them.
Playtime With Siblings
Chihuahua puppies learn to control the force and frequency of their bites through playtime with their siblings. This phenomenon is called bite inhibition. When playing with their littermates, Chihuahuas learn that biting too hard can cause pain and end playtime. Being bitten by one of their littermates also helps them understand that certain bites can be painful. To master bite inhibition, Chihuahuas need time with their siblings. If separated from their littermates before eight weeks, they can have trouble developing this skill.
You can try training your pet the same way using the mimic method. Whenever your Chihuahua bites you, make a yelping sound and stop playtime. Saying ”ouch” works as well. The key is to stop playtime whenever a bite occurs. Your Chihuahua should learn to associate biting with the end of playtime.
What To Do If Your Chihuahua Bites You
Most Chihuahua bites are mild and easily treatable at home. Depending on the severity of the bite, you could need medical care.
The first step is to apply pressure to the wound to stop bleeding. If your Chihuahua bites you in a region rich in blood vessels, the bleeding can be heavy. You will need antiseptic to stop extreme bleeding and clean the wound. Once the bleeding has stopped, clean the wound with soap and water.
You can apply an antibiotic ointment to the wound once it is dry. If it is a surface wound, you won’t need to bandage it. If a bandage is needed, make sure the area is completely dry before bandaging it. You will need to regularly apply antibiotic ointment to the area to prevent bacterial infections.
Most dog bites develop infections after two weeks, so monitor the site carefully. If you notice any redness, swelling, or pus around the wound site, this could indicate an infection. We strongly recommend consulting a doctor if you notice these signs.