Charming Chihuahua can make poor pet Just for kids


September 10, 1998|By Megan Ptacek | Megan Ptacek,Chicago Tribune

As Dinky the Chihuahua is running to the border for Taco Bell, people are running to breeders and pet stores for a Chihuahua of their own. But Chihuahua lovers worry that these dinky dogs will wind up in shelters.

Remember when "101 Dalmatians" unleashed a dalmatians craze? And months later, one adorable dalmatian after another was spotted at animal shelters? Though darling, dalmatians can be temperamental dogs to own - and their trips to the pound tipped off shelter workers to the possible fate of Chihuahuas.

Dinky's snappy one-liners and humanlike expressions have stolen hearts. But in real life, not all Chihuahuas make good pets. Without good training, they can be hyper and yappy. And, though they're known to be loyal companions, often that applies only to one owner - which doesn't make for the ideal family pet. Worst of all, Chihuahuas who are not raised and trained with kids may end up not liking children!

"We frequently get unwanted Chihuahuas into our shelter from people who have not properly trained these dogs," says Amy Chmura of the Animal Welfare League in Chicago. "It is not as widespread as the dalmatian crisis, but it is still a problem with their recent popularity."

Are the Taco Bell ads truly behind this increase in Chihuahua fame? Consider this: Pet stores and Chihuahua breeders from Florida to Oregon say most recent requests have been for short-haired, Dinky look-alikes. Dee Morrison, a breeder in Oregon, says most requests "are for fawn-colored dogs I just like Dinky."

Dinky and his fellow Chihuahuas belong in our hearts, and maybe in our homes, but certainly not in shelters. So before you make a run for the pet store, be sure to know what you're getting yourself into!

Pub Date: 9/10/98

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