chihuahua vs german shepherd

Does Size Matter? Chihuahuas vs. German Shepherds

For lots of us, dogs are treasured parts of the family; pets, guardians, friends, and close companions.

If you’re thinking about adopting a dog to become part of your family, you may find the variety of breeds available to be a little bit overwhelming! 

Two of the most popular dog breeds seen in pet-friendly locations around the world today are the German Shepherd and the Chihuahua.

Although these two breeds have wildly different origins, histories, and intended places within the family unit, both are widely considered to be friendly, loving animals that can make the perfect addition to your life!

History of the Chihuahua

Named after the Mexican state where they originated, the Chihuahua is the smallest breed of dog in the world. The earliest ancestors of these pocket-sized pups are found in historical records to date back to as early as 300 BC.

They were raised as pets, as living heating pads, and, according to Spanish explorer Hernan Cortes, as an Aztec food source.

Although the dogs we now call Chihuahuas to have their roots in ancient history, they were not recognized by the American Kennel Club until 1904.

The breed quickly gained popularity in the United States and elsewhere throughout the world, as the Chihuahua’s diminutive size and adorable build endeared them to dog lovers around the world.

Today, the Chihuahua is one of the most recognized breeds on the planet, and Chihuahua canine actors have made their mark on film, television, and advertising alike!

From the Taco Bell Chihuahua to Elle Woods’s “Bruiser” in Legally Blonde, Chihuahuas are a universally-beloved breed of dog that is just as comfortable in front of a camera as they are around the home!

History of the German Shepherd

Like the Chihuahua, the German Shepherd is named for its point of origin. Unlike the Chihuahua, however, the German Shepherd was always intended to be a working dog, and it continues to carry out this purpose to this very day!

The first German Shepherds, as the name would imply, were originally bred to guard sheep against natural predators in the late 1800’s.

As the world as a whole transitioned away from an agrarian society towards a more urban society, German Shepherds were still widely recognized for their intelligence, devotion, and ability to work as specialized guard dogs.

Throughout the 20th and 21st century, German Shepherds have become synonymous with police and first responder teams.

Like Chihuahuas, they’ve also maintained a strong presence in film and television, as their high levels of intelligence and willingness to work with humans make them a great choice for many movie sets!

However, due to their hardworking nature and devotion to their handlers, German Shepherds are perhaps most well known for their work as police dogs, search and rescue dogs, and in similar roles.

Chihuahua Temperament

As with most dog breeds, the temperament of the Chihuahua depends heavily on its socialization and exposure to diverse human groups during the dog’s youth.

However, the temperament of nearly every dog is also heavily dependent on the personality of the dog’s parents and grandparents, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Across the board, most Chihuahua dogs are loyal, fiercely protective, and somewhat skittish. Because of their small size, it may be easy to dismiss the threat posed by one of these little dogs.

However, if provoked, a Chihuahua can still become frightened and risk lashing out in self-defense.

Chihuahuas are also very intelligent dogs. If trained properly, they are capable of learning and remembering a wide variety of tricks and commands, and are often used as emotional support animals for this reason!

For the most part, Chihuahuas prefer the company of Chihuahuas or Chihuahua mixes to that of other dogs.

If you have a different breed of dog already in the house, a Chihuahua should acclimate well to their company, but be careful when introducing a new dog into the mix.

German Shepherd Temperament

German Shepherds, on the other hand, are confident, self-assured dogs who are fiercely protective of those that they consider being their family.

According to the Animal Humane Society, If properly socialized, they are especially protective of infants and children, as well as any other family members that they consider to be weaker or in need of protection.

While a well-socialized German Shepherd will be polite towards strangers or new acquaintances, they are not overly friendly and may become overprotective of “their” humans if they perceive a real or imagined threat.

Due to their high levels of intelligence, German Shepherds are easily trained and work well with pet lovers and handlers alike.

They are hardworking, eager to please the humans around them, and usually affectionate towards their family and friends, even if they can be reluctant to extend that affection towards humans that they do not recognize.

Overall, German Shepherds are a clever, loyal breed with strong protective instincts and a willingness to work with their human families to guard sheep or relax at home!

The Perfect Home for a Chihuahua

As mentioned earlier, Chihuahuas can be nervous dogs. Because of their small size, they may seem to be the perfect pet for small children.

However, due to the excitable nature of most small children and the high energy levels that they maintain, this may not be the best solution.

Chihuahuas usually prefer warm climates, and will usually burrow into pillows or climb to the highest spots on the couch to soak up a little bit of extra sun.

They are somewhat prone to shredding if they are not properly stimulated, so the perfect home for a Chihuahua is one that has plenty of time for socializing training, and an extra-healthy dose of playtime!

Chihuahuas can fit into a “pack” of other dogs without any real issues, as long as they have had time to adjust to the group dynamics.

Their size is no indication of their personality, and they are often ready to take on dogs three or four times their size in a play fight or an actual scuffle.

The Perfect Home for a German Shepherd

Like Chihuahuas, German Shepherds need a home where they can get plenty of affection, socialization, and one-on-one time for training and attention.

Due to their history as guard dogs, they are more suited than Chihuahuas to families with small children, as they have retained some of those same instincts to protect and care.

German Shepherds are usually eager to have some sort of purpose. In the professional field, this could mean having a “job” like guarding sheep or tracking down bad guys.

In the domestic sphere, however, this means that German Shepherds are likely to “herd” small children or other animals around the house. They prefer cooler climates, but are still more than happy to bask in the sun with the people they love!

If you’re planning on adding a German Shepherd to your family, make sure you are willing to put in the time and effort it takes to give one of these loyal, protective dogs the love and attention that they need to thrive in your home.

Chihuahua Health Concerns

The biggest health issues with Chihuahua are usually tied to their size. Their small jaw size, in particular, makes dental care a tricky procedure that is still extremely important to maintain the dog’s standard of living.

If the Chihuahua’s teeth are not properly cleaned, they can quickly develop a wide range of dental complications, including rotting teeth more severe periodontal diseases.

Also as a result of their small size, Chihuahuas are prone to hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, according to PetMD

Dogs with low blood sugar will become lethargic and may shiver or whine occasionally. If you notice your dog displaying these symptoms, take them to your local veterinarian right away!b

Finally, like most toy breeds, Chihuahuas are at a greater risk for head and heart complications. Heart murmurs are fairly common among older Chihuahuas, and Chihuahua puppies are often in danger of developing “soft spots” along with their skull, especially in “Apple Head Chihuahuas” (a variety of the breed with a short, rounded muzzle as opposed to the long, pointed head type that is more common.)

German Shepherd Health Concerns

The single greatest threat to a German Shepherd’s health is found in its skeleton. Due to generations of breeding to a standard, rather than breeding for health and intelligence, the German Shepherd is particularly susceptible to two major health concerns: hip dysplasia and degenerative myelopathy.

Hip dysplasia occurs when the ball-and-socket joint in a dog’s hips or elbows essentially becomes “loose”. This puts the dog at greater risk for injury during play, as well as a higher risk of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions later in life.

Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) is a disease that causes the immune system to attack the myelin sheath that surrounds the spinal cord.

Over time, once this sheath has been destroyed, the dog’s nervous system is no longer able to communicate with its limbs, and the dog is paralyzed.

There is no cure for either of these conditions, but regular vet checkups and a balanced, nutrient-rich diet can at least treat some of the symptoms and build up the German Shepherd’s health and reduce their risk of DM development.

Special Considerations for Chihuahuas

If you love the size and fighting spirit of a Chihuahua but are worried about its health risks or some aspect of its personality, some crossbreeds may be a better fit.

One of the most common crossbreeds—a Chihuahua and a Bichon Frise—results in a dog that’s Chihuahua-sized, but with the hypoallergenic coat and slightly sturdier build of a Bichon Frise.

As mentioned earlier, Chihuahuas come in two main varieties—”Apple Head” and “Deer Head”. While Apple Head Chihuahuas have larger eyes and a cute, almost cartoonish profile, they are more at risk for various health conditions.

Deer Head Chihuahuas have a longer muzzle and a more pointed face, which removes some of the risks for breathing conditions and diseases of the nose, throat, and lungs.

Teacup Chihuahuas are an even smaller variety of the breed, and while they may be adorable, they are at extremely high risk for the aforementioned health conditions, as the risk is compounded due to excessive inbreeding and careful genetic manipulation and modification.

Special Considerations German Shepherds

As mentioned above, German Shepherds love to work. The happiest specimens of this breed are the ones who have tasks to complete and something to occupy their attention for the majority of the day. If they are bored, they may become irritable or even aggressive towards their owners or their family.

Because of their work as police and military dogs, it should come as no surprise that German Shepherds have an incredibly powerful bite.

While proper socialization and occupation should greatly reduce the risk of a German Shepherd biting someone that it considers to be its family, the risk is still there and should be taken very seriously.

As with any dog, a young German Shepherd must be exposed to as wide a variety of individuals as possible (age, appearance, ethnicity, career, and health).

However, because of the size and strength of these dogs, proper socialization is even more important with a German Shepherd than it is with, say, a Chihuahua!

German Shepherds and Chihuahuas are some of the most well-known dog breeds on the planet today. Due to their intelligence, loyalty, and protective natures, both breeds are an excellent addition to any family.

However, because of the special characteristics that set each breed apart, a German Shepherd will often thrive in an environment where a Chihuahua might feel nervous or uneasy, and vice versa.

Both dogs are loving, affectionate creatures, and despite the great disparity in their sizes, when it comes to their love for their humans, they are far more alike than anyone would imagine at a first glance!

If you looking for a mix of these breeds you can read more this article What Breed Do We Get from the German Shepherd Chihuahua Mix?

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