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Rottweilers and Chihuahuas are two of the oldest and most popular dog breeds around today. The vast differences in their size make them great options for anyone looking for a pocket-sized pal or a big, robust buddy, but what if you’re looking for both? Just looking at the two, you may be wondering if it’s a good idea to have a Rottweiler and a Chihuahua.
So do Rottweilers and Chihuahuas get along? Rottweilers and Chihuahuas can get along, but there are important steps to take when you introduce your Rottweiler and Chihuahua and signs to watch for long-term to make sure both dogs have fun, regardless of which end of the size spectrum they’re on.
Two Old Dogs
While it may be easy to assume that Chihuahuas and Rottweilers have nothing in common, they’re both two of the oldest dog breeds still popular today.
Rottweilers originated in ancient Rome, making the breed an impressive 2,000 years old. Their “beefy” physiques made them popular dogs with butchers, assisting with herding and protecting livestock then pulling heavy carts of meat long distances to go to market.
As trains replaced carts and meat became more industrialized, Rottie owners leaned into their skills as guard dogs, becoming popular home protection and police dogs and now, common household pets.
This history working closely alongside humans and other animals makes Rottweilers surprisingly even-tempered and affable, despite what their intimidating appearance may suggest. They’ll closely guard their home and family, and as long as your Chihuahua falls into the category of “family,” you shouldn’t have any issues with your Rottie getting along with your Chihuahua.
Chihuahuas, similarly, are an extremely old dog breed, though they don’t date back to antiquity like Rotties do. Chihuahuas as we know them date back to the mid-1800s, originating from (surprise) Chihuahua, Mexico.
There’s no specific agreed upon “purpose” that the Chihuahua was bred for, but we do know that very early on Chihuahuas were revered in Maya and Toltec cultures, who believed that the little dogs would ferry lost souls to the land of the dead.
Unfortunately, this reverence didn’t always end well for them, but it’s still true that Chihuahuas held a respected and appreciated place in these societies. Even today, it’s probably not a big stretch for you to picture your Chihuahua crowned, adored, and worshipped.
The fact that these two breeds have a long history of peaceful coexistence sets the stage for what could be two great, albeit oddly sized, friends. But simply because they can get along doesn’t mean that they always will, and it’s important to make sure you do your part to get these two off on the right paw.
How to Introduce a Chihuahua and a Rottweiler
There are a hundred and one articles, opinions, and websites listing the many different tactics you can take to introduce your dogs. From meeting them outside for a walk, meeting through a fence, introducing each other’s smells, weeks-long integration processes – the list goes on.
If you want an authoritative source, I highly recommend this book by Dr. Ian Dunbar. With his advice, and from my own experience, the first and best thing you should do when introducing two dogs, especially ones as physically different as a Chihuahua and a Rottweiler, is to make sure you know your dog.
First, just think about your dog. Is he very boisterous or a scaredy-cat? Prone to barking dogs out of the room or is he a socialite? No amount of observation will help with the introduction if you don’t know what your dog’s behavior is like under normal circumstances. So while it may seem helpful or like the safest option to follow an expert’s protocol, you need to couple that with informed observations.
Watch Them Closely
You should be able to read your own dog’s behavior pretty well, so it shouldn’t be too hard for you to determine if something is going wrong on your Rottie and Chihuahua’s first day together.
On the Rottie, you should be on the lookout for their body posture most of all. It’s unlikely that your Rottweiler will immediately see the Chihuahua as a threat like it might if it was meeting a larger dog
Instead, the Rottweiler is likely to experience prey drive, thinking of the little Chihuahua as something to chase and engage with violently. Look at their chest and head, are they straight up? Is the Rottie maintaining a lot of focused attention and won’t avert his eyes from the Chihuahua? Is he walking up on the Chihuahua with his head held high, rather than low for a friendly sniff?
If so, you need to separate the two and try again later, or not at all. It’s not unreasonable for a Rottweiler to weigh a hundred pounds more than the Chihuahua, so there’s not a lot of margin for error when it comes to bites.
Check out this video to get a better understanding of what your dog’s body language is telling you:
The Chihuahua will probably easily make his feelings known right off the bat. He’ll greet the Rottweiler with a friendly nose sniff and some happy prances around from a safe distance, fall into fits of “Get outta here!” barking, high-tail it to the other room, or maybe even just ignore the big stranger completely.
Regardless, there are two very important things to watch for on your Chihuahua:
- If your Chihuahua is scared or stressed, don’t force it to interact with the Rottweiler. Chihuahuas are tiny dogs and they aren’t entirely wrong to be cautious. Be sure to let things play out on their schedules.
- While your Rottweiler may be even-tempered, they are still susceptible to antagonizing. Don’t let your Chihuahua set an aggressive tone that may rouse negative feelings in the Rottweiler
Take It Slow
You may one day get your Rottweiler and your Chihuahua to tug on either end of a rope together, snuggle in the same bed, and romp around the yard smelling flowers, but that’s not likely to happen on day one.
If you don’t have a great first interaction, be sure to give your Rottweiler and Chihuahua time and space to relax. Keep them in other rooms at first so they’re able to reset and walk into the next interaction with lowered stress levels.
Even if it goes well the first time, it may not the second time. Or maybe they just have tepid interactions that aren’t altogether “fun” as much as they are just “there” – that’s OK. All relationships take time and it’s shouldn’t be a surprise that this odd couple needs to work out just how to be around each other, let alone how to play together.
Dogs can be very sensitive to the feelings of those around them. If you’re stressed out and cautiously eye-balling the Rottie, it’s likely that your Chihuahua will pick up on that nervous energy himself. Then your Rottweiler may sense stress and fear in you Chihuahua and change his mood from “yay, a new friend” to “uh oh what’s wrong?”
The point of all of this is to have fun! Keep it light, be in a good mood yourself while you’re making introductions. Invite a friend over to help watch the dogs with you and alleviate some of the tension you may be feeling when introducing a Chihuahua and a Rottweiler.
Give lots of positive reinforcement whenever the dogs have a nice interaction, like a tail-wagging sniff or a playful bound after the other. If one of them isn’t really feeling the mood, engage with the other one with lots of positivity so everyone knows that we’re all having a great time together.
Friends for Life
Under the right circumstances, your Chihuahua and Rottweiler can become great, long-lasting friends. But your work doesn’t end after you’ve made pals of your dogs. As these dogs become more comfortable together and age, new scenarios and situations will pop up that require your intervention.
If you’re bringing a new Rottweiler or a Chihuahua into a home where the other dog is already established, it may take weeks or even months for them both to settle in and adjust to their new roommate.
Once they build up their confidence you should be prepared to see new behaviors that you may have never seen before in your dogs. They may become possessive of their food, toys, beds, or even you, worried that this new dog is infringing on their turf.
If you find this happening, you should first follow the same steps outline above: know your dog, watch them closely, and keep it light. It’s rare that a dog would ever just change their behavior entirely, so you’re likely just dealing with a bout of jealously in a dog that’s lacking confidence in their place in the home.
You should be sure you have adequate resources for both dogs to feel comfortable. Consider buying them separate beds and feeding them in different rooms. Don’t give them opportunities to fight over resources like your lap or the last spot on the couch.
Consider getting a tented bed like this one on Amazon for you Chihuahua so he can rest easy without worrying about the Rottweiler sneaking up on him. Similarly, you should consider getting something for your Rottweiler that only they will enjoy, like this heavy-duty nylon chew toy.
Your responsibilities as a dog owner are compounded in this situation, owner a Rottweiler and a Chihuahua, but if you’re able to find just the right mix of personalities, it’s undeniable that you’ll be a part of the coolest pack on the block for years to come.
The Golden Years
As your dogs age, you’ll need to start paying more attention to how your Rottweiler and your Chihuahua stack up to each other physically.
Chihuahuas live on average about 16 years and don’t often slow down until they’re nearing 10 years old. They’re one of the healthiest and long-lived breeds, so you should expect to keep seeing that spark in your Chihuahua for a long time.
Compare that to the relatively short-lived Rottweiler, who only live to an average age of 8 to 10 years. Couple that with the fact that Rottweilers are prone to health concerns like hip dysplasia later in their life along with the common ailments of older dogs like blindness, deafness, and arthritis means that you’re Rottweiler is likely to slow down much earlier than your Chihuahua.
If your Rottweiler is losing stability later in life it can be a hazard to your small Chihuahua. A completely well-intentioned old Rottweiler could easily hurt its Chihuahua buddy by a single misstep or a fall.
Conversely, your Chihuahua may still be going strong, pestering its big old Rottweiler buddy to keep playing when all he wants to do is take a nap.
You want your dog’s golden years to be peaceful and stress-free, and don’t be surprised if your dogs who used to be inseparable can’t match pace anymore as they get older.
Chihuahuas and Rottweilers can be a great, fun pair of dogs to have in your house, but it’s very important to recognize the physical differences between these dogs and take responsibility to make your home a fun, safe environment for these two different-sized dogs.