German Shepherd and Chihuahua Mix – A Complete Guide (Profile, Appearance, and Care)

A German Shepherd mixed with a Chihuahua — yes, it is possible! A male Chihuahua is mated with a female German Shepherd, or artificial insemination is used. The result is a curious and loyal companion. These dogs are excellent family companions in the proper environment but not for first-time dog owners or homes with small children.

Both breeds have traits that blend well with the other, making them great pets. Let’s discuss each breed individually to find out what makes them so great together.

German shepherd and chihuahua mix

German Shepherd

German shepherd exploring backyard

They are medium to large size working dogs originating in Germany dating back to 1899. The breed was known officially as the Alsatian Wolf Dog in the United Kingdom from the post-World War I era until 1977 when its name was changed back to German Shepherd.

General Appearance

The first impression you get of a German Shepherd is a dog that is agile, strong, muscular, energetic, and alert.

The breed’s standard height at the shoulders or withers is 24 to 26 inches for the male and 22-24 inches for females. The German Shepherd is longer than they are tall. 

The American Kennel Club, official breed standard, sets a specific weight range of 65-90 lbs. for males and 50-70 lbs. for females. They have a square-cut muzzle that is long with strong jaws, a black nose, and a domed forehead. They have brown, medium-sized eyes and ears that are large and stand erect.

Nutrition

Dog food of high quality and is appropriate for the dog’s age will have all the nutrients he needs. As table scraps can cause digestive upset, use them sparingly. Avoid cooked bones and foods with high-fat content. Dog’s kibble or small pieces of biscuit can be used as treats for training. 

If using high-quality food, mineral and vitamin supplements should not be required. You can add small quantities of cooked vegetables, yogurt, or eggs to their food, which can be beneficial—research what human foods are safe for dogs and which ones are not.

Training

Puppy training and early socialization are essential, and continued obedience training will ensure the puppy will grow into a well-mannered and adaptable adult. 

The German Shepherd is a terrific worker and a highly intelligent companion. Positive and consistent reward-based training will produce excellent results. He bonds remarkably to his people, so he is happiest as part of a family, exposed to their activities.

Exercise

German Shepherds are a very athletic and active breed requiring much exercise for their mental and physical well-being. A dog who does not receive enough exercise becomes frustrated and develops undesirable traits. 

As a puppy, start with short daily walks and play sessions in a fenced-in area. While walking, make sure the dog stays on a leash, as even the best-trained dog can become distracted and ignore commands. Canine activities such as herding, tracking, agility, and dock diving provide excellent mental and physical exercise and are fun for both the owner and the dog.

Grooming

German Shepherds have a double coat of medium length consisting of a dense, harsh outer coat with a soft undercoat. This breed is easy to maintain, with brushing required every other day to remove loose hairs. 

They shed more profusely once or twice yearly and require more frequent brushing to control the hair found around the house. German Shepherds need only an occasional bath. Trim the nails monthly if they are not naturally worn down, as overly long nails can cause structural issues and pain.

Health

German Shepherds are basically healthy dogs. A good, responsible breeder will screen for health conditions such as hip and elbow dysplasia and degenerative myelopathy. 

They can experience bloat, which is a sudden and life-threatening swelling of the abdomen. Owners of German Shepherds should become familiar with this condition and the symptoms to learn what needs to be done should it occur.

Chihuahua

Chihuahua basking on sunlight

The Chihuahua may be a tiny dog, but it has a huge personality. The national symbol of Mexico, these amusing and alert “purse dogs” are one of the oldest breeds in the Americas, whose lineage goes back to pre-Columbian times.

General Appearance

This is a well-balanced little dog of only six lbs. with terrier-like qualities of temperament. They are swift-moving, alert, graceful, and compact with an adorable expression. The body is off-square, meaning it is slightly longer when measured from shoulder to buttocks. Shorter bodies are preferred in males.

Nutrition

They should be fed high-quality dog food appropriate for their age to get all the nutrients they need. Because some Chihuahuas are prone to being overweight, watch the dog’s diet, exercise, and weight level. 

Use treats sparingly during training as they can lead to obesity. Table scraps should seldom be given, if at all. Avoid foods with high-fat content and cooked bones. Your vet will tell you which human food is safe for your dog and which food should be avoided.

Training

The Chihuahua is a highly intelligent and alert little dog. He is eager to please his people and responds well to positive training. They seem to know how cute they are and how to get their way. 

Enforce the fact that you are the boss. Do not allow your Chihuahua puppy to do anything you would find unacceptable in an adult dog. They can excel in canine sports and obedience training but have a “terrier” temperament, so a firm but gentle hand is required during training.

Exercise

Even though Chihuahuas love to play and run, they can get enough exercise in a minimal area. Following you around the house is usually enough exercise for this cheerful breed. Walks are fine if short and slow and help keep him in good condition and his weight under control. Do not overexert him. If he is panting and working hard to keep up, it’s time to carry him.

Grooming

Chihuahuas come in two coat varieties that have different grooming needs. The smooth-coat Chihuahua needs only occasional brushing and regular bathing to look great. The longhaired variety needs to have his coat brushed twice a week to avoid mats and tangles. 

Both varieties need to have their nails trimmed regularly and their teeth brushed. Check with your vet to find out the best way to care for his teeth. The Chihuahua’s ears need to be checked regularly for excess wax or debris to avoid infections.

Health

Chihuahuas are healthy little dogs, but some genetic issues can affect them. Make sure you choose your dog from a breeder who does genetic health screenings on their breeding stock to ensure the puppies are genetically sound. Some of these issues are loose kneecaps, heart problems, and idiopathic epilepsy.

Now let’s discuss the attributes of the German Shepherd and Chihuahua mix.

Breed Information

This breed is not suitable for the first-time dog owner. They need a firm, experienced handler, as they can be stubborn and require a lot of training. A trainer with experience can get the best out of this crossbreed. 

They are suspicious of strangers and not appropriate for children. But they are obedient with the proper handler, fiercely loyal, intelligent, and curious. If you live in a smaller space, it would be a great pet for you.

The AKC (American Kennel Club) does not recognize the German Shepherd and Chihuahua mix, which is typical for mixed breeds, especially those of recent origins.

Appearance

It is a gamble to try and figure out what your German Shepherd and Chihuahua mix will look like. But here are a few physical characteristics it may have.

  • Large, straight ears
  • Sturdy body in proportion to its height
  • Apple-shape head, but not too large
  • Small eyes, but apparent and always dark in color
  • Long, strong legs
  • Tail medium-sized, curving upwards at the end
  • Small to medium in size
  • Weight can range from 8-60 pounds
  • Height can range from 7-45 inches at the shoulder
  • Males will be larger than females
  • They make great apartment dogs but need exercise
  • The color and length of the coat will vary depending on its parents

History

The German Shepherd and Chihuahua mix is a new breed, with the timing of its origin unknown.

Temperament

The breed is not suited for families with young children. The parent breeds’ tendency to be protective may cause your dog to be wary of strangers. But with correct socialization, any dog can be a social, friendly pet. Begin socializing your mix at a young age with other dogs, cats, or pets. 

As both parent breeds have a prey instinct, monitor interactions with small animals closely. They are also a stubborn mix while being obedient and intelligent.

Both Chihuahuas and German Shepherds are vocal dogs who will alert you of someone’s presence.

Training

If you have limited time, this mixed breed is not for you as they require consistent and extensive training.

As with other companion dogs, training from an early age is necessary.

 As they are family dogs who like to be with their people, they can suffer from separation anxiety unless you work to combat it. Use a reward as an incentive and be persistent but patient.

Because these dogs have a small stature, they also have tiny bladders and need to go out often. This can present potty training issues. Your pet will not relieve himself inside if you stick to a regular schedule.

Cost

You can rescue your mix or purchase one. But given how new this breed is, it may be challenging to find one. If you choose to purchase, the cost can range from $800 to $3,000, depending on the breeder’s location and reputation.

Don’t ever purchase a dog from a pet store, as they get their animals from puppy mills. They are horrible breeding farms where they keep dogs in cages, have severe behavioral and health issues, and often die prematurely.

The American Kennel Club recognizes both parent breeds, so start with them. Or contact local professionals, breeders, local German Shepherd, or Chihuahua organizations.

Choose a reputable breeder who does health screenings on all parent dogs. They need to provide proof of medical examinations and show you the breeding dogs’ health records. Inspect the facilities for cleanliness, ventilation, and space.

Feeding

Choose treats that are leaner, as Chihuahuas are prone to obesity. Feed this breed high-quality dog food appropriate for their age to ensure they get all the nutrients they need. Check with your pet’s veterinarian to make sure the food you are giving your dog is healthy for him.

Exercise

At least 30 minutes per day of activity is ideal, but they will not complain about more. These dogs enjoy walks, hikes, and playtime with their people. As hip and elbow dysplasia are common health issues, be careful of intense exercise. Save the longer walks until the dog has fully matured, usually after two years of age.

Grooming

These dogs can shed year-round and are not hypoallergenic. Brush your dog at least once weekly. Grooming is easy as their fur tends to be shorter. Bathe the dog whenever he needs it, but not so frequently that it dries out his skin.

Grinding the nails often is essential, as with any dog. Here are some tools you will need for grooming:

  • Deshedding tool
  • Nail grinder
  • Shampoo and conditioner depending on your dog’s coat length
  • Slicker brush

Health Problems

1. Hip dysplasia

  • This is common in German Shepherds, so watch for it in your mixed breed
  • If he is limping or in pain, take him to the vet

2. Elbow dysplasia

  • This happens when the elbow joint does not fit into the socket

3. Patellar luxation

  • Common in Chihuahuas, this occurs when the kneecap becomes dislocated, especially in older, smaller dogs

4. Obesity

  • As Chihuahuas are prone to obesity, it can exacerbate elbow and hip dysplasia
  • Do not overfeed your pet, including treats
  • Limit feeding to twice a day and never free feed
  • Choose healthy, low-fat treats

5. Congenital heart defect

  • A good breeder will screen their parent dogs to breed out conditions such as this

6. Hydrocephalus

  • Prevalent in small breeds, this is a cerebral fluid buildup in the brain
  • It is serious and results in brain damage or death
  • It can be treated if mild

7. Epilepsy

  • A common disorder in dogs, they will start to convulse when seizing

8. Strokes

  • As with humans, it is a clot restricting blood flow to the brain
  • Signs appear suddenly but differ greatly
    • Howling in pain
    • Dragging legs
    • Loss of housebreaking
    • Tilted head

Life Span

The German Shepherd and Chihuahua mix live anywhere from 9 to 20 years. German Shepherds have shorter lifespans, and Chihuahuas are known for their longevity. 

The most common cause of death for a Chihuahua is heart failure and its cancer in German Shepherds. Ensure your pet gets regular checkups to prevent any health issues. Being proactive will prevent disease and give you many years of companionship and fun with your pet.

Next: Saint Bernard German Shepherd Mix (Saint Shepherd) : A Complete Overview