Last week for your reading pleasure, I offered up A Look at the Boxer Lab Mix and A Look at the German Shepherd Lab Mix. I also promised to devote some blog space to smaller crossbreeds, so being a person of my word, this time around we’re going to consider Chihuahua terrier mixes.
There are plenty of them, since there are numerous terrier breeds and all kinds of different varieties of Chihuahua. For this reason, as you can imagine, there is no real standard when it comes to the appearance of a Chihuahua terrier mix. Having spent a lot of time poring over images of Chihuahua terrier mixes, though, I can safely say that they all have one thing in common – they’re beyond cute!
Before we proceed any further in our discussion of Chihuahua terrier mixes, I think it’s important to make one thing very clear. There’s a huge range of sizes when it comes to terrier breeds (you might be surprised, for instance, to know that the Doberman is a type of terrier), so you might not be able to accurately predict how big a Chihuahua terrier mix puppy will be once he reaches maturity.
So what’s the caveat? It’s simply this – it’s the same thing I talked about in Why You Should Walk Away From Teacup Dogs. You should always forego any mix that has been bred for abnormally small size. Sure, these little guys are cute, but more often than not they come with health problems, and some veterinarians will even refuse to perform certain procedures on them. My vet, Steven, is one of the exceptions, in that he will treat any dog, but with teacup varieties he always warns the owner that treating such animals is fraught with danger.
Teacup varieties are, quite simply stated, the result of irresponsible breeding and should be avoided.
Little Dogs With Big Personalities
The Chihuahua is well known to be a breed of dog that can be very strong-willed and tenacious. I’ve heard any number of Chihuahua owners say things like “He thinks he’s a Rottweiler,” and I think that’s generally a good way to sum up the nature of the breed. Much of the time, a Chihuahua simply has no idea how little he is.
Now, when you cross something like a Chihuahua with a terrier breed that has its roots in chasing down vermin (and sometimes even larger game), you can bet that you’re probably going to end up with a pretty tough little dog. Early socialization with this type of dog is vital, and it’s important to keep in mind that a Chihuahua terrier mix may not necessarily make a good family pet in a home with very young children.
Of course much of your dog’s temperament will have to do with the nature of the parents, so for that reason I think it’s important that you be able to view both parents. Much of the time, when it comes to purebred dogs, I suggest that if you can’t see the father, it’s probably not the end of the world. This is because every breed has its own general personality traits, and if the mother is a kind-natured dog, chances are that the puppies will follow suit. When you’re mixing breeds, though, the father’s personality takes on greater importance. So if it’s at all possible for you to see the proud daddy, please do.
Regular readers know that I am basically a dog snob, with a passion for purebreds, and that I make no apologies for that. However, I also realize that it’s not only the “teacup breeders” who cause damage to dogs – some purebreds have also suffered from irresponsible breeding. The English Bulldog is a prime example of this, with its abnormally short snout and head so large that a need for Caesarian section to facilitate birthing has become the norm rather than the exception.
The takeaway here is that when considering a crossbreed of any type, you have to consider any problems in both breeds that could be passed on to the offspring. Chihuahuas and terriers alike can be prone to certain health conditions that need to be taken into account when you’re thinking about adopting a Chihuahua terrier mix. That said, when breeds are crossed, sometimes undesirable characteristics are “bred out,” so there is no guarantee that your Chihuahua terrier mix will ever develop any of the following conditions – they’re just things to keep in mind.
- Luxating Patella – this is a condition in which the thigh bone is improperly formed, leading to the kneecap slipping from its joint. It can lead to arthritis and lameness, and in some cases will require surgery to repair the condition. If you’re considering a Chihuahua terrier mix, you should have the puppy examined by a veterinarian before committing to the purchase, because the condition is common to both breeds.
- Legg Perthes Disease – This is another condition affecting the thigh bone, in which it doesn’t fit properly with the hip joint. It can lead to essentially the same symptoms as luxating patella, but will not usually respond to medication. If your dog has this condition, he will likely need surgery.
- Heart Disease – Chihuahuas are prone to structural heart defects, as are Bull Terriers and Rat Terriers. Accordingly, the risk of heart problems is more common in mixes of these breeds than with other Chihuahua terrier mixes.
- Hydrocephalus – This is a condition that is known to affect Chihuahuas. It is a buildup of the brain’s cerebrospinal fluid, usually easily diagnosed early on. However, sometimes it can take months to become apparent. In some instances, the condition can be treated with medication, but more serious cases may require surgery.
- Atopy – This is a problem with the immune system that can lead to skin conditions, asthma and allergies. It most commonly affects Chihuahuas, Yorkshire Terriers and Fox Terriers, and can be extremely difficult to manage. If you are considering a mix of a Chihuahua and either of these terrier breeds, ask the breeder if any of the puppy’s relatives have developed the condition.
- Lens Luxation – This is a condition in which the lens of the eye detaches. It is common in terriers, and extremely painful. It can only be corrected surgically.
I know that these conditions sound frightening, but don’t let them scare you away from Chihuahua terrier mixes. As I’ve already suggested, there’s no guarantee that your dog will ever suffer from any of them.
As to longevity, most small breeds typically live a long time. It’s not unusual for Chihuahua terrier mixes to live well into their teens.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the most popular Chihuahua Terrier mixes.
Much to Choose From!
Pretty much any terrier can be crossed with a Chihuahua, although I would recommend going small. As I’ve already mentioned, a Doberman is a type of terrier, but even if you could effect a breeding, you’d have no way of ever even estimating the size of what you’d end up with. It should also go without saying, too, that if there is a significant size disparity, the mother should be of the larger breed.
With that out of the way, here are some very appealing Chihuahua terrier mixes.
1. Chihuahua Jack Russell Terrier Mix
You might be surprised to learn that the Jack Russell Terrier isn’t actually a breed, at least not according to the AKC. Instead, it’s considered a “type,” and at least as of time of this writing, the AKC has continued to resist giving this appealing little dog breed status.
Jack Russells have a very strong prey drive and a high energy level, and although very intelligent they can be resistant to training. When you combine this with the Chihuahua’s tendency to be a bit high-strung, you could end up with a dog that is not overly well-suited to the novice owner. If you have a firm but kind hand when it comes to training, though, you could end up with a confident, athletic companion.
A Chihuahua terrier mix of this sort will probably be a little bigger than the typical Chihuahua, and a little smaller than the typical Jack Russell. The coat is likely to be “luck of the draw,” since Chihuahuas can be long-haired or short-haired, and the Jack Russell can have either a smooth, short coat, a “broken” coat (with some short hairs and some long), or a “rough” coat (with more long hairs than short).
2. Chihuahua Rat Terrier Mix
The Rat Terrier is the ultimate dog for hunting vermin – strong-willed and tenacious, the Rat Terrier, once he identifies his prey, will not stop until he has captured and annihilated it. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that this makes for a nasty, snappish little animal though. It’s quite the contrary; Rat Terriers are very friendly and eager to please. For this reason, they’re better suited than some of the other Chihuahua terrier mixes to families with young children.
Usually, a Chihuahua terrier mix of this type will be high-energy, and also need a fair bit of mental stimulation.
As to appearance, you can expect a small dog with huge ears and big, round eyes. The Chihuahua and the Rat Terrier look quite a bit alike, and this type of mix usually resembles a larger Chihuahua. Of course, there’s always a chance that your Chihuahua Rat Terrier mix could tend toward the extremes of either breed.
3. Chihuahua Yorkshire Terrier Mix
Yorkshire Terriers are the beauty queens of the terrier world, with their long, flowing coats, adorably perky ears and sweet faces. Don’t let appearances fool you, though – these are tough little dogs! In fact, the Yorkshire Terrier was once highly prized for its ability to chase down the rats that commonly infested clothing mills.
As to temperament, Yorkshire Terriers are friendly dogs but do not always do well in homes where there are very young children. The Chihuahua is another such breed, so if you are considering a Chihuahua terrier mix of this variety, it would be best to wait, if you have children, until they are older.
A Yorkshire Terrier Chihuahua mix will be a small dog, since neither breed usually weighs much more than 7 pounds. This mix is invariably long-haired, so if you’re averse to regular grooming, you might want to consider another type of Chihuahua terrier mix. Coat color can vary quite a bit, since it could be inherited from either the Chihuahua or the Yorkie. There can also be significant variations within the same litter.
4. Chihuahua Fox Terrier Mix
Fox Terriers are an old breed, one of the first to be recognized by the AKC. The Fox Terrier originated in England, and over the years has been developed to include a toy variety. It’s the Toy Fox Terrier that is usually crossed with the Chihuahua to produce the little dogs that have come to be frequently known by the hilarious name “Taco Terriers.”
Fox Terriers are highly energetic and intelligent, and need a lot of physical and mental exercise. They’re good with kids, though, so a Fox Terrier Chihuahua mix is generally a good family dog, provided that children are old enough to realize that any tiny dog has to be treated gently and respectfully.
Chihuahuas and Toy Fox Terriers weigh about the same, so a mix of the two will be quitecompact and small. The coat will be short, so you should make sure to give your Taco Terrier something warm to wear in the winter months.
5. Chihuahua Bull Terrier Mix
The Bull Terrier has a troublesome past, having been bred in the early 1800s for pit fighting. Today, though, the Bull Terrier is a companion dog, and comes in both standard and miniature varieties. It is the Miniature Bull Terrier that is usually crossed with the Chihuahua.
Bull Terriers can be very stubborn, and hard to train, making a Bull Terrier a generally poor choice for the novice owner. Some Bull Terriers will challenge you every step of the way. Others may simply take the attitude, “I have absolutely no interest in what you are trying to teach me, so please stop trying.” They are also not typically good with children or other animals, and do best in households where they are the sole focus of your attention.
Because of the Bull Terrier personality, I think it’s very important in this one instance to insist on meeting both parents – just the mother isn’t going to cut it here. And if you see anything in either parent that you think you might have trouble living with, look for another litter of Chihuahua Bull Terrier mixes, or consider another cross.
So far, this particular Chihuahua terrier mix has not attained the popularity of some of the other crosses, like the Chihuahua Yorkie mix. This means that it’s even more difficult than it is with some mixes to determine what the puppies are going to look like. The two breeds have practically nothing in common when it comes to their looks, so the results of the breeding could be all over the map in terms of coloring, shape, and size – size especially, since even a monster Chihuahua is going to be about half the size of the tiniest Bull Terrier.
So, there you have them – a representation of what’s available in the way of Chihuahua terrier mixes. Of course this is only the tip of the iceberg, there being so many terrier breeds, so if something else strikes your fancy – maybe a mix of Chihuahua and Scottish Terrier, or Chihuahua and Border Terrier? – just look around; there’s probably somebody out there breeding the cross of your dreams.
Finding a Breeder
Unless you’re a stranger to my blog, you know that I’m constantly railing against bad breeding practices (see 5 Reasons Why Puppy Mills Must Be Stopped), particularly where cross breeding is concerned. Crossbreeds, especially small ones, have become so popular of late that they often command a higher price than purebred dogs, and this has led to some highly undesirable breeding practices, with “puppy ranchers” breeding dogs over and over in order to meet the skyrocketing demand.
Sadly, this means that a good many of the Chihuahua terrier mixes you’ll find advertised for sale come from deplorable conditions. It’s very much “buyer beware,” so if you’re considering a Chihuahua terrier mix, be alert to the following red flags:
1. The breeder won’t let you visit the kennel. You absolutely must visit the breeding facility, and don’t accept any excuses like “We’re renovating,” or “The kids have the flu,” or “The road into my place is too rough and I don’t want you to damage your car.” If the breeder suggests meeting in a parking lot to see your puppy, that’s a bad sign. Even if the breeder offers to bring the mother along, it’s still a red flag – you have no way of knowing that he or she didn’t just “borrow” a healthy dog and leave the actual mother (who may be ill or horribly neglected) at home.
2. You do visit, and the place is overrun with dogs. Okay, many people have more than a few dogs. As long as the dogs are in good health and seem happy and well-adjusted, that’s not a reason to bail. But if they seem to be in substandard condition, and there are many dogs of different breeds, there’s a good chance that you’ve walked into a puppy mill.
3. The breeder wants you to take a puppy that’s too young. No puppy should ever leave its mother before the age of 8 weeks. 10 weeks is preferable, and some small breeds actually do better when kept with the mother for 12 weeks. Don’t buy excuses like “His mother won’t feed him any longer.” If, for any reason, a puppy can’t remain on the teat, the breeder can get a milk replacer and a nursing kit, and still have the puppy stay with the mother and the litter in order to become properly socialized.
I don’t want you to think that I’m suggesting all breeders of Chihuahua terrier mixes, or other small crosses, are bad or trying to scam you, so please don’t let this cause you to become paranoid about where your puppy could be coming from. There are good breeders out there, and I think the best are the ones who don’t make a business out of it. Ideally, you should be looking for someone who tells you something like “I have this adorable little Chihuahua, and the sweetest Yorkie, and I thought they’d make beautiful puppies – come on over and see them, and if I like you and think you’d be good to a dog, we can talk.” Good breeders care about their parent dogs, and about the resulting litters, and always want what’s best for the dogs.
I’m ordinarily a big fan, too, of adopting shelter dogs, but in the case of a small mix, I’d advise going with an adult Chihuahua terrier mix rather than a puppy. You’ll know what you’re getting in terms of size and appearance, and will be able to assess temperament without the need of seeing the parents and littermates.
The Final Word
Chihuahua terrier mixes are becoming incredibly popular and can make delightful pets. However, you need to think about what you’re getting into and whether the mix of your choice will be a good fit for your household. Most of the time, small dogs are best left to adult owners because of their fragility. Temperament also has to be considered – Chihuahuas are not always good with children, and neither are some of the terrier breeds.
If a Chihuahua terrier mix has captured your heart, that’s great! Just be sure that you’re in it for the long term, because these crossbreeds tend to live a long time, and they need a lot of attention in order to be happy, loving pets. Find a good breeder, train using positive reinforcement, and make sure to socialize your little buddy early on.
I wish you many years of happiness with the Chihuahua terrier mix of your choice!