Many dog lovers, even those who prefer large dogs, have heard of the fierce and sometimes aggressive tendency of Chihuahuas to bite.
Studies show that Chihuahuas are more likely than other breeds to bite their veterinarians, and it’s estimated that Chihuahuas are responsible for 16.1% of bites on strangers, and 17.9% of bites on other dogs.
Although many Chihuahuas are mild-mannered and have no interest in biting, the statistics show that it’s important to understand the damage these small dogs are capable of inflicting.
Written by Laryn Carter.
Laryn is a Clemson University alumna, with undergraduate studies focused on Animal and Veterinary Sciences.
As a life long animal lover raised on a family hobby farm, she has special interest in both pets and farm animals.
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How is Bite Force Calculated?
An animal’s bite force can be calculated in a few different methods, which are typically slightly different than the method of calculation for humans.
Determining the bite force in humans is much easier and more accurate than in animals, thanks to our ability to communicate biting down are hard as possible and our tolerance for the testing process.
On the other hand, finding animals who will both allow for measuring devices in and around their mouths and understand to bite down as much as possible for the test is nearly impossible.
This is why the bite force of any animal is almost guaranteed to be an estimation based on mathematical calculations.
The key to a calculation, regardless of the specific method, involves “the interaction of the masticatory muscles, the mandibles and maxillae, the temporomandibular joints (TMJs), and the teeth.”
The reported bite force of other animals:
- Human: 162 PSI
- American Pitbull Terrier: 235 PSI
- Gray Wolf: 400 PSI
- Lion: 600 PSI
- Grizzly Bear: 1,200 PSI
- Mako Shark: 3,000 PSI
- Saltwater Crocodile: 3,700 PSI
Debunking the Unrealistic
A quick google search can lead to a confusing variety of results regarding the estimated bite force of a Chihuahua.
One of the most common claims is that Chihuahuas have a bite force of 3,900 pounds per square inch (psi), but this is simply untrue.
Recent studies and research have found that this number may represent the Newtons in the calculation for bite force.
Additionally, the bite force of the other animals listed above really puts into perspective what a realistic number for Chihuahuas would be.
So what is the true bite force of a chihuahua, you may wonder?
Although it’s impossible to provide an exact value due to the variance in unique factors such as head size, jaw size, and facial muscle development, there is an estimated range for the breed.
The bite force of a Chihuahua can be anywhere between 100 and 180 psi, with 180 psi understood to be the maximum.
What happens if you are bitten by a Chihuahua?
Despite knowing that the true bite force of a Chihuahua is astronomically less than their rumored 3,900 psi, they can still cause some significant damage.
Being quick on their feet and with over 100 pounds of pressure, a bite from a Chihuahua can easily create a wound which requires a stitch or few.
The largest of their sharp teeth are nearly half an inch long!
That doesn’t seem like much until you consider it going into your hand, arm, or face.
If you are bitten, your first concern should be cleaning the wound with either soap and water or an antiseptic wound wash.
If there is some bleeding after the wound is cleaned, you should hold pressure over the injury with a clean cloth to slow or stop the flow.
Then you should apply an antibiotic ointment if you have one, and cover or wrap the bite with sterile bandaging.
Leave the wound wrapped and make an appointment to see a doctor as soon as possible.