We’re all familiar with the reputation that some Chihuahuas have for being a bit snappy. After all, this breed is the star of thousands of Internet memes showing the teeth of a Chihuahua in bite mode… but do they really have hard bites?
I wanted to find out, so today I am presenting to you my detailed research into how strong a Chihuahua bite is – in other words, what is the bite force of a Chihuahua in PSI.
There’s also research lower down the page into whether a Chihuahua has ever killed anyone due to their bite – you might be shocked to see the truth about Chihuahua bite statistics and the annual fatalities I discovered. Scroll towards the bottom to see deaths from Chihuahua bites.
But first, let’s examine the bite force of a chihuahua.
How strong is a Chihuahua bite force?
To find out how strong Chihuahuas can bite, I examined multiple online accounts and previous research. Here’s what I found:
What is the Bite force of a chihuahua? The Chihuahua bite force in pounds is 3,900 (psi) pounds per square inch as reported online. However, according to scientists and researchers, testing how hard Chihuahuas and dogs can bite is notoriously unreliable due to the variables involved.
I am not sure how true this figure is and let me explain why.
Whilst I wasn’t able to physically examine a Chihuahua bite force pressure in the flesh, I did read some interesting accounts.
The most interesting of those was written by Professor Stanley Coren in 2010. He wrote this article on the Psychology Today website where he explained how hard it was to accurately measure dog bite force.
The example Coren gave was that of a lion. Online reports states that lions have a bite force of 600 PSI. Can you honestly then believe that Chihuahua bite force is 3,900 PSI – it makes no sense whatsoever and sounds completely false.
No researcher or scientist has ever tried to measure how strong the bite of a Chihuahua. But if they were to, Coren writes that there is a more accurate way of measuring canine bite force strength, as quoted below.
“The size of the animal and the shape of its jaw predicted bite strength. The larger the dog and the dog’s head, and the wider the jaw, the higher the bite force turned out to be. The dog breed with the largest head and widest mouth is the Mastiff, so it is perhaps not surprising that it has been recently measured as having a bite strength of 552 pounds-just shy of the bite forces that the lion has. This force exceeds that of all breeds measured to date.”
If you now consider how small the head and jaws of a Chihuahua is, there’s no way this breed could bite as strong and as hard as the 3,900 PSI bite force would be. It’s impossible.
I then found further accounts online into the research of bite forces in dogs. This quote below is from the InsideDogsWorld.com website:
“Two types of research have been carried out to measure the bite forces of dogs. The final results of the research were disclosed in Newtons. This actually made the highest numbers come out at 2,000 Newtons. And from there, a majority of the websites collected the number and wrongly interpreted it as the PSI. However, it is actually 450 pounds PSI.”
The bite force of a Chihuahua might not be what is reported
Based on this, I have no doubt now that the bite force of a chihuahua is not 3,900 PSI as reported online on sites such as Reddit. In fact, a Chihuahua is never going to be able to bite that hard and strong.
So, what can we estimate the real Chihuahua bite pressure force to be then?
As I alluded to earlier, it’s very hard to accurately measure the bite force of a dog in PSI. The reason being, you cannot ever guarantee that a dog is biting as hard it can. It’s not like a human where you can ask them to bite as hard as possible.
Dogs won’t do that – so you would never have a reliable Chihuahua bite force pressure number in pounds – no matter how accurately you measure the PSI.
Having said that though, some researchers have tried to measure the bite strength of other dog breeds apart from Chihuahuas. This is interesting as we can look for similar sized breeds and then possibly come up with a decent guess based on real-world data.
The 20 dog breeds with the reported strongest bite forces
- Kangal Dog bite force pressure: 743 PSI
- Bandog Dog bite force pressure: 730 PSI
- Cane Corso bite force pressure: 700 PSI
- Dogue De Bordeaux bite force pressure: 556 PSI
- Tosa Inu bite force pressure: 556 PSI
- English Mastiff bite force pressure: 552 PSI
- Dogo Canario bite force pressure: 540 PSI
- Dogo Argentino bite force pressure: 500 PSI
- Leonberger bite force pressure: 399 PSI
- Rottweiler bite force pressure: 328 PSI
- American Bulldog bite force pressure: 305 PSI
- German Shepherd bite force pressure: 238 PSI
- Pit Bull bite force pressure: 235 PSI
- Boxer bite force pressure: 230 PSI
- Doberman bite force pressure: 229 PSI
- Alono Espanol bite force pressure: 227 PSI
- Dutch Shepherd bite force pressure: 224 PSI
- Chow Chow bite force pressure: 220 PSI
- English Bulldog bite force pressure: 210 PSI
- Malinois bite force pressure: 195 PSI
Looking at some of the beast breeds, you could never seriously expect to believe that a Chihuahua’s bite force would be stronger than any of the ones above – which look a lot more accurate as far as dog’s go.
So, based on what we’re seeing, I estimate that the reality of a bite force for a Chihuahua would be more like 100 PSI at most, and this is based on their size in comparison to the dogs shown here.
Chihuahua bite statistics
Next, I wanted to see what statistics I could find on Chihuahua bites, and then look at whether a Chihuahua has ever killed someone. The first part of my research uncovered a 2009 study by the Coalition for Living Safely with Dogs and the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association.
In their 2009 study, they compared Chihuahua bite statistics against over 180 different dog breeds, and here are two interesting takeaways from the research.
- Chihuahua’s bite vets more than any other dog breed.
- Chihuahua’s rank 4th in the breeds that have bitten children.
I also found more research by Dognition. Their 2016 study said that after questioning 4,000 dog owners, Chihuahuas came out as being the most aggressive breed.
Chihuahua bite fatalities: have they killed anyone?
If you have ever wondered, has a chihuahua ever killed anyone, it would appear that, yes this has happened.
You might think that given their small jaws and what is probably a weak bite force compared to dangerous dog breeds, that a Chihuahua killing someone would not be possible.
How I found out the truth (with some caveats) was searching online for any newspaper accounts of Chihuahua bite fatalities. I wasn’t able to find anything, other than joke articles.
However, I then discovered a website called DogBites.org which records annual statistics on dog bites and attacks in the USA, including fatalities. Here’s data on deaths due to dog bites recorded over a 12 year period (2005 to 2017) – the top breeds leading to a human fatality.
- Pit Bull:6%
- German Shepherd:6%
- Mixed Breed:9%
- American Bulldog:5%
- Mastiff / Bull Mastiff:2%
- Husky: 3%
I then looked deeper into the statistics and found something very surprising. There was a record for a Chihuahua killing someone, with 2 human deaths recorded between 2005 and 2018 in the USA.
But like I said there is a caveat with these reports of Chihuahua’s killing people. The 2018 fatality also says that 2 Pitbulls were involved too. The person killed lived with the 3 dogs, and there’s no proof the Chihuahua was responsible, due to no eyewitness accounts.
So, let’s say we take that one Chihuahua bite death out of the equation, it still leaves one. Which makes me thing how was it possible for a Chihuahua to kill someone?
I believe that if the Chihuahua bite near a main artery and the person was incapacitated already, then it could generate the blood loss enough to kill. It would need to be a very unlucky and strong bite force though as you can imagine.
Has a chihuahua ever killed anyone in the UK?
I then tried to find any accounts of Chihuahua killing someone in the UK. I wasn’t able to find any recorded deaths but did find a report on the Mailonline website, here’s a quote.
“An out-of-control Chihuahua is facing a death sentence after it allegedly savaged a woman during a rampage through her home. The eight-inch-long dog, called Chelsea, is said to have leapt up to bite Andrea McGann in a home in Twickenham, London. Wimbledon Magistrates Court heard Chelsea has been taken into custody and faces a potential destruction order after Fox was charged with being a person in charge of a dog dangerously out of control and causing injury.”
The woman was lucky, as the Chihuahua’s bite force wasn’t hard enough to kill, but it was still strong and scary enough to mean the police had to get involved.
In conclusion, a Chihuahua doesn’t have a strong bite force compared to larger dog breeds. You might get a nasty bite though, and they can draw blood. But, as for a Chihuahua killing someone, it’s going to be a one in a million if not less likely.
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Image in header licensed via Storyblocks.com.