Chihuahua Growling and Snapping? Here’s How To Help Your Canine

Last Updated on August 1, 2021 by Marco

Your Chihuahua growling and snapping is a sign of aggression. Read our feature to learn the reasons behind this behavior and how to stop it.

Aggression isn’t something most people equate with Chihuahuas. After all, Chis are small, playful, and adorable – not little balls of anger. The truth, however, is that no matter how cute and cuddly your pet is, it’s still a canine.

And dogs can develop aggressive tendencies for a variety of reasons. For instance, your Chi may act aggressively out of fear, anxiety, or even trying to assert dominance. In such situations, the best course of action is not to take your pet’s behavior lightly and search for the reason behind the change.

If you’re a first-time Chi parent, watching your pet snarl at you can be a little disconcerting. However, that’s what we’re here for. This article is entirely dedicated to understanding Chihuahua aggressive behavior and how you can help your pet get back to normal again.

How To Decode Your Chihuahua’s Growling and Snapping?

Chihuahuas are a fierce canine breed. You may think your huggable furry companion is aware of its size limitations, but that’s not true. Not only do Chis not understand they’re one of the smallest dogs in existence, but they also firmly believe they’re the rulers of all they survey.

Plus, they’re protective, and with that comes being territorial. In short, sometimes, you can provoke your Chihuahua to act out without being aware of it. Other times, aggression in Chis can be a direct result of being apprehensive.

The upshot is you need to unearth the cause of your furbaby’s aggression before you can get it the help it deserves. That’s why this section is going to list out some of the most common reasons behind Chihuahua growling and snapping.

  • Lack Of Socialization and Training

The best time to bring your Chi puppy home is when it’s at eight weeks of age or more. That’s because puppies need the immunity they receive in their mothers’ milk and pick up behavioral cues from their littermates. How? That’s simple. Puppies are renowned for being a lively bunch, but your pup also picks up information like not to bite too hard or be too rough during playtime. Taking a puppy away from its natural family before eight weeks can cause concerns.

Once your Chi pup is home, you’ll have to start working on basic obedience training and early socialization, along with house training. Delays in training and socialization can mean a badly-behaved pet that doesn’t know or understand undesirable behavior. It also means your pet may start thinking of itself as the alpha and completely ignore what you have to say. Such canines aren’t above growling or snapping to get their way.

  • Fear Or Apprehension

Just like humans, canines also experience diverse emotions. Among these feelings are sadness, joy, surprise, etc. Dogs can also experience fear in a big way. Plus, the things that scare you and the stuff that frightens your Chihuahua don’t have to be similar. For instance, Chihuahuas are famously afraid of cars, loud noises, bigger animals, and strangers.

 chihuahua Fear Or Apprehension

Read more about: Why Do Chihuahuas Cry – Ways To Calm Your Chi

What’s more, fear can be a little tricky to gauge because it can develop pretty suddenly. But, no matter the fear or when it develops – canines (including Chihuahuas) can react with aggression when the feeling takes over. In such cases, your Chihuahua doesn’t mean any harm, but it’s almost like your dog’s operating on auto-pilot. Fear aggression is almost a reflex and can only be fixed if you treat the cause of the fear.

  • Anxiety

Believe it or not, but Chihuahua growling and snapping can be caused by anxiety. Chihuahuas form deep bonds with their owners and don’t do too well when they’re left on their own. Chis are pretty susceptible to developing separation anxiety because of this. Nonetheless, sometimes, anxiety can also occur because your pet isn’t feeling well.

Sometimes, acting out and behaving aggressively is your pet’s way of telling you it’s not doing so well. It’s pretty standard for a nervous canine to start barking incessantly when the owners leave. And, a sick Chihuahua may snap at you if you try and touch it where it hurts.

How To Help Your Chi Stop Growling and Snapping

A lot of dog parents opt to train their Chis at home and do just fine. But, sometimes, you need an expert’s input to ensure your Chi is getting the best help it can. If you think you can’t train your aggressive Chihuahua or need some helpful pointers – here are some tips on how to tame your aggressive Chihuahuas the right way.

1. Get In Touch With A Veterinary Behaviorist

If you’ve never heard of the term ‘veterinary behaviorist‘ before – that’s okay. A veterinary behaviorist is a board-certified specialist who works side by side with trainers and pet owners to help manage behavior concerns. Plus, they’re also perfectly equipped to be able to discover the reason behind a canine’s aggression – be it health or otherwise.

Essentially, a veterinary behaviorist can not only help get to the root cause of your Chi’s aggression but can also point you in the right direction for a viable solution. For example, they can diagnose medical conditions and treat them accordingly. Or, if the reason is essentially behavioral, they can help you get in touch with the right canine trainer.

2. Obedience School and Socialization

Suppose you can’t handle your pup’s vivacity on your own and have trouble teaching the little guy or gal who’s boss. In that case, you can rely on the services of a reputable obedience school with qualified trainers who can help you and your pet by breaking down how Chihuahua training works. More than that, most top-notch obedience schools will also offer complete programs where they cover everything from basic command training to socialization. All you have to do is attend classes with your pet, take notes, and repeat the process at home.

3. Eliminate The Source Of Anxiety

At times, eliminating the source of your Chihuahua’s anxiety will help it revert to its well-behaved nature. But, to do this, you first have to discover what your pet is afraid of. For instance, your pet may start acting out when you go outdoors or when there’s a stranger in the house. Chihuahua growling and snapping can also occur due to the presence of another pet in the house. If there’s no practical way to get rid of the source of your pet’s fear – a veterinary behaviorist can help your pet through desensitization and counter-conditioning.


Aggression in any dog breed shouldn’t be taken lightly because it can spiral out of control quite quickly. And, your Chihuahua’s aggressive tendencies aren’t any different. If you notice your Chi is starting to snarl, growl, or snap more often – it’s best to have your pet checked over by the vet. If there aren’t any medical problems, the vet can direct you to a behaviorist who can help your Chi in several ways. These include desensitization techniques, response substitution, etc. Suffice it to say; your Chihuahua will be back to its happy self in no time.

Learn more about: Do Long-Haired Chihuahuas Shed: The Grooming Guide

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