Why Are There So Many Chihuahuas In Shelters?

Last Updated on November 27, 2021 by Marco

Why are there so many Chihuahuas in shelters these days? Has the adorable breed fallen from popularity in the recent past?

Chihuahuas are the world’s smallest dogs, and their popularity exploded in the past decade due to their pop culture status. Despite this seemingly endless love and demand for the breed, their presence in shelters in America has caused significant concern.

What are the reasons for this unfortunate circumstance? Read on to find out more about this strange shelter phenomenon.

Chihuahuas In Shelters

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), around 3.1 million dogs have entered into shelters annually. The most abandoned dog breed is the Pitbull. Chihuahuas are the second. These two breeds’ presence in shelters on year to year basis is significant enough for people to notice. Of the droves of dogs that are introduced to these institutions, why are these two specific breeds so prevalent?

Unfortunately, due to the danger, Pitbulls end up in the shelter quite often. However, Chihuahuas have largely caused no incidents in the world of pet ownership. Notably, this overpopulation is observed in major cities in California. Why is there a staggering number of rescue Chihuahuas annually?

Why Are There So Many Chihuahuas In Shelters?

The number of Chihuahuas found in shelters is truly staggering. You have to wonder the reason behind these disheartening statistics.

Oversupply Of The Breed

According to the American Kennel Club, the Chihuahua ranks 34th in the survey for America’s most popular dog breed. While there are many more popular dogs, this position is a respectable one for any breed.

It makes sense that Chihuahua breeders would cash in on this popular dog breed. Unfortunately, puppy mills and unlicensed breeders without any training also want a slice of the pie, so to speak. This results in the commodification of the dogs – produced and sold as if they were mere toys and not living, breathing beings.

If the Chihuahua or litter of Chihuahuas is not sold fast enough, these cruel breeders would be moved to send them off to a shelter or abandon them. This is a terrible fate for the puppies that did not ask to be born!

Misconceptions About The Breed Due To Pop Culture

The Chihuahua, perhaps due to its small size, is often thought of as a beginner dog or even a toy. It doesn’t help that celebrities like Paris Hilton flaunted her own Chihuahua, Tinkerbell, in the popular media in the 2000s. Hollywood also liked to frame Chihuahuas as a posh and upscale sidekick, as seen in movies like Legally Blonde and Beverly Hills Chihuahua.

In reality, a Chihuahua is like any other pet dog. They do not come out of the box and sit pretty all day long. Dogs require training, attention, and love because they are living beings taken out of their family and into a home. Unfortunately, they are treated like inanimate objects – turned into the shelter when they prove to be too much for the new owner to handle.

Small Dog Syndrome

Chihuahuas have a quirk of being a small dog with a big personality. Many people love it, but there are also owners who are not huge fans of their attitude. They are expected instead to be stuffed toys that can fit inside purses. When they do not fit this expectation, the owners are disappointed and are likely to find a way to take them away from their homes.

Napoleon Complex is another way to put this pattern of behavior in small dogs. While this is not a confirmed scientific study, many people have identified this behavior in their own pets. Many small dog breeds, not just Chihuahuas, develop this attitude.

Loud Barks and Hissy Fits

A Chihuahua is a spunky breed that also has its fits of aggression. The breed’s bark and bite can surprise first-time owners!  It doesn’t help that Chihuahuas are naturally suspicious of strangers.

Loud Barks and Hissy Fits

Learn more about: How To Get Chihuahuas To Stop Barking At People And Other Pets

The breed is actually a very mouthy and vocal breed, and this can turn off many new owners upon their realization of this fact. They require socialization and training. Many people who are not aware of this fact would choose to give up, rather than push through with the training.

Old-Age and Health Issues

Aside from being the world’s smallest dog breed, the Chihuahua also holds another title: it is also the longest living breed. It holds an impressive 16 to 17-year lifespan, impressing many pet owners. However, this long life is not always to the benefit of the dog or its owners.

Unfortunately, old age in dogs comes with expected health issues. Dogs don’t have the same lifespan as humans, and thus some owners have deemed some of their pets too much of a problem to take care of on their own. Due to this, some people do not bother with the expensive and time-consuming health issues.

Is A Chihuahua Good For Beginner Dog Owners?

We see that a lot of the possible reasons Chihuahuas fill the animal shelters is because of the lack of pet owner education. 

Chihuahuas can be excellent first-time dogs. They have a good, manageable size and they don’t grow very big into adulthood. They are protective of their family (once they get used to the members), and they are fiercely loyal to their favorite people. If you stick through with the dog, it is a very fulfilling and loving experience.

Socialization, training, and patience are key for Chihuahua owners. If people are not aware of this responsibility, they are likely to give up on their dog.


The number of Chihuahuas in shelters is an unfortunate result of miseducation and misconception about the breed. There needs to be correct information in real life and online. Championing adoption over breeding new pets should also be on the agenda, to make sure that many Chihuahuas continue to live a dignified existence in life.

Have you adopted a Chihuahua or any other dog breed from the shelter? What are your considerations for adopting? Let us know in the comments below.

Read more about: What Is The Deer Head Chihuahua Price Range?

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