A Chihuahua is a small canine. But if you have ever had one, you know they can be aggressive. Sometimes they seem to have more courage than they should for their tiny bodies, and they love to bite things.
When they play with their favorite toy or a bone, they like to dig their teeth in.
You might be curious to know how strong their bite is. Can they back up the fierce barking they put out? Or is their bark bigger than their bite?
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How Strong Is a Chihuahua Bite?
If you conduct an online search, you will find a lot of experts proclaiming that a Chihuahua can bite with a force of 3,900 pounds per square inch (PSI).
But…that number doesn’t make much sense. While it may be interesting and entertaining to think of such a small animal being able to bite even harder than dogs three times its size, many researchers believe those figures are highly flawed.
A lion has a bite force of about 600 PSI. That is hard enough to break bones in its prey as it hunts. To think that a Chihuahua can bite over six times as hard is just ridiculous!
It’s also believed that the head of a Chihuahua is much too small to achieve a bite force this high.
Wrong Kind of Research
When scientists research the bite force of animals, the results are usually recorded in PSI. However, there was a wave of research done several years ago in which the results were recorded in Newtons. Later, articles were written which took the Newtons and reported them as PSI.
Making sense, now?
So, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the stories you have heard over the years of a Chihuahua being able to bite harder than bigger dogs like Rottweilers and Pit Bulls are simply not true.
That may be disappointing to people that enjoy thinking their little dog is a lot tougher than he looks. But for people that want to know the truth behind things, it’s opened up a new set of questions.
How Is Bite Force Measured?
The bite force of an animal is simply measured by having them bite. A device called a bite fork is placed in their mouth and they bite down on it. The bite fork can accurately measure the PSI that is being applied to it.
However, it is complicated to get an accurate reading from a dog. We can measure the bite force of a person by putting the bite fork in their mouth and asking them to bite down as hard as they can. That is not possible with a dog.
So it is hard to ascertain if the dog is biting down as hard as it can.
What Bite Force Have We Measured From a Chihuahua?
Most research on the Chihuahua bite force has resulted in a figure between 100 and 180 PSI. That is a fraction of what many websites have recorded. A Chihuahua will not be able to bite your finger off as the stories go.
But that is not a bite that you should ignore. They can still break the skin and give you an injury that could cause an infection.
Do Chihuahuas Bite a Lot?
As stated before, Chihuahuas can be aggressive animals. They seem to believe they are much bigger and scarier than they are. But it’s more than just a cute quirk about them, because they are known to bite a lot.
A study conducted by Dognition determined the aggressiveness of 35 different breeds of dogs. The breeds were chosen as the most common to be taken in as pets and included Chihuahuas, as well as Collies, Beagles, Bloodhounds, and Pit Bull Terriers.
Many have heard the horror stories of Pitbull Terriers and their aggressiveness and how people have died as a result of being attacked by them. While Pitbull Terriers have a much greater bite force at 330 PSI, they were hardly the most aggressive dog in the study. As a matter of fact, out of the 35 breeds used, the Pitbull Terrier was the least aggressive.
You have probably already guessed which one was the most aggressive. The Chihuahua won that contest!
While they may be small and harmless for the most part, they are fierce when they feel threatened. And they feel threatened quite a bit. It is no surprise that veterinarians report getting bitten by Chihuahuas more than other breeds, and they are at the top of the list when children visit the ER due to a dog bite.
We can’t necessarily blame them, though. When you’re that small, you have to look out for yourself!
What Dog Has the Strongest Bite Force?
The bite force of many breeds of dogs has been recorded. The Kangal Shepherd comes in at the top of the list. They have a bite force of 743 PSI.
As stated before, that is stronger than that of an African Lion. The Kangal Shepherd is used in Turkey to fight off wolves, bears, and other predatory animals.
Other dogs with a strong bite force are:
- Cane Corso – 650 PSI
- Mastiff – 556 PSI
- Rottweiler – 328 PSI
- American Bulldog – 305 PSI
- German Shepherd – 291 PSI
What Dog Has the Weakest Bite Force?
Most lists you come across will have the Chihuahua as having the weakest bite force. It is usually reported as being between 100 and 180 PSI. Some of the other breeds on the list of weakest bites are:
- Malinois Dog – 195 PSI
- Chow Chow – 220 PSI
- Dutch Shepherd – 224 PSI
How To Make a Chihuahua Stop Biting?
Chihuahuas have to bite as a trait passed down from their ancestors. Breaking them of the habit is a difficult task to take on. However, they can be trained not to bite people or other animals or at least make it less likely they will do so.
The first step toward stopping a Chihuahua from biting a person is to not offer your hand as something for them to nip at. Many owners play with their dogs by waving their fingers around and having them bite at them. Keeping your fingers away from their face and not rewarding that behavior is a big step.
Use chew toys or a rope for them to bite at instead. When they play the right way, reward them by giving them a treat from your hand. That can make them start to see your hands as the place their rewards come from.
Also, make sure your Chihuahua gets plenty of exercise. Many dog owners want to keep their Chihuahua as a dog that lays in their lap all day. But Chihuahuas have a lot of energy, so see to it that they get plenty of activity time every day.
If your Chihuahua does bite you, pull your hand away and exclaim in a way that makes them know they hurt you. Then ignore them for several minutes as a way of discouraging that kind of behavior. You have to be consistent with it and reward good behavior just as often.
For years, experts placed the Chihuahua in a category they did not belong to, recording their bite force as 3,900 PSI. They have since realized that the bite force is a fraction of that at 180 PSI at the most.
While that number is much lower, Chihuahuas are fierce and aggressive animals and, like all dog breeds, can be dangerous if not properly trained. As long as you take the time to provide for your Chihuahua’s needs and train it well, you’ll be just fine!
I am broadly interested in how human activities influence the ability of wildlife to persist in the modified environments that we create.
Specifically, my research investigates how the configuration and composition of landscapes influence the movement and population dynamics of forest birds. Both natural and human-derived fragmenting of habitat can influence where birds settle, how they access the resources they need to survive and reproduce, and these factors in turn affect population demographics. Most recently, I have been studying the ability of individuals to move through and utilize forested areas which have been modified through timber harvest as they seek out resources for the breeding and postfledging phases. As well I am working in collaboration with Parks Canada scientists to examine in the influence of high density moose populations on forest bird communities in Gros Morne National Park. Many of my projects are conducted in collaboration or consultation with representatives of industry and government agencies, seeking to improve the management and sustainability of natural resource extraction.