Chihuahua

A Quick Look at the Chihuahua...

Chihuahuas are tiny little dogs that look solid with a big round head that feature huge round dark eyes with a short pointy nose and alert ears. This is the smallest of all the dog breeds and comes in two different coat types.

A Quick Look at the Chihuahua...

Dog Group:
Toy (AKC)
Recognized By:
CKC, FCI, AKC, UKC, ANKC, NKC, NZKC, APRI, ACR
Size:
Small
Weight:
Dogs – 2-6 lbs. (1-2.7 kg)
Bitches – 2-6lbs. (1-2.7 kg)
Height:
Dogs - 6-9 in. (15-23 cm)
Bitches – 6-9 in. (15-23 cm)
Average litter size:
2
Life expectancy:
15 to 20 years (Average of 17 years)
Health problems:
Coat care:
Shedding:
Energy:
Exercise needs:
Trainability:
Suitable for children:
Pet compatibility:
Affection:
Barking frequency:
Aggression:
Watchdog:


Brief History

The Chihuahua finds its origins in Mexico, Central America, and South America. The Aztecs and Toltecs developed the breed for many purposes, including ceremonial sacrifices. The Mexican state of Chihuahua gave its name to the dog breed.

The Chihuahua is, therefore, quite an ancient breed, whose ancestors were likely the Toltec companion dog breed, the Techichi. Today’s breed combined that dog with some breeds of Chinese dog which came over to the Americas with Spanish traders and colonists. The Chihuahua received its first AKC recognition in 1904.

Chihuahua Breed Appearance and Characteristics

General Appearance - the smallest dog breed in the world is contained within the tiny form of the Chihuahua, which has a very small body, a big round head featuring big round eyes, triangular ears, and a pointed muzzle. The eyes can be either luminous or dark ruby colored. It should be noted that while Chihuahuas are puppies, they have a spot on their head between their ears that is soft, but the skull does harden with age. The body is not tall, but it is long, ending in a full-length crescent-shaped tail which can either be held to the side or up and over the back of the dog. There are two different kinds of coat: short haired and long haired. Common colors include chestnut, sand, fawn, silver, and steel blue, though any color, including parti-color or black and tan, is acceptable. The dog should look sturdy, solid, and compact.

Typical Temperament - Chihuahuas are bright and aware dogs that can function as terrific watchdogs. They can live in a family, but prefer a single owner with whom they can form a very special bond. They prefer dogs of their own breed.

Chihuahua Care Requirements

Grooming - As there are two types of coats, there are also two types of grooming requirements. For the short coated variety, a rubber grooming comb or brush should be carefully run over the dog’s smooth coat every few days to keep it clean and distribute natural oils throughout the coat.

On the other hand, the Chihuahua with the long coat requires a brushing or combing every one to two days to keep it clean and free of knots. The ruff of the coat should also receive an occasional washing to remove bits of food and other dirt that can become lodged there.

Exercise - Though the Chihuahua is small and dainty-seeming, the risk of stumbling over and harming this dog is actually quite small. The first reason for this is that the dog is actually much more sturdy than it appears. The second is that it is actually quite agile as well and it will steer out of the way so that it isn’t kicked or crushed.

It is common to see these dogs carried around in arms or fashionable bags, but they actually do very well walking about on a leash even with their tiny little legs. They have enough energy to keep going and should receive a good walk every day. If this dog isn’t exercised enough, the odds of misbehavior increase dramatically.

It is much better for the Chihuahua to wear a harness instead of a collar when being walked on a leash. Though a collar should be worn for identification purposes, the leash should be attached to a harness as this will not put pressure on the delicate windpipe of the dog.

Chihuahuas also like to run off the leash, so a well fenced in yard that doesn’t have any escape holes will provide a great opportunity for this.

Approximate Food Cost - Depending on many factors including the weight, health, and activity level of the dog, a Chihuahua will eat around ½ cup of average dry dog food every day. Monthly, this should cost around $5 per month.

General Health Information

Like almost all smaller dog breeds, limb problems called subluxating patellas are a risk - likely from continually jumping up and down from furniture. The wind pipe (trachea) of the Chihuahua is also very weak and should be protected from damage by using a harness attached to the leash instead of a collar. Chihuahuas also have a predisposition to cleft palate, eye issues, hypoplasia of the dens (an irregular development in the second vertebrae which can lead to instability of the head), and hydrocephalus (too much water on the brain). Chihuahuas males are at risk of hemophilia, where the blood does not clot properly.

Common Illnesses include: heart valve disorder, pulmonic stenosis, hypoglycemia, shoulder luxation, and hypoplasia of dens.

Are You the Right Chihuahua Owner?

Living conditions - Due to the tiny size of the dog and the fact that the Chihuahua wants to be around his or her owner all the time, just about any home is perfect for the dog permitted that he or she gets out for a daily walk.

Training - Though the Chihuahua may be willful, it is also an intelligent breed and, with patience and consistency, training can be very successful. Positive reinforcement, used gently, is the most effective technique to use with this breed. Crate training can help in making housetraining much easier on both the dog and the owner. The Chihuahua does also require a great deal of socialization in order to keep dominance problems under control as well as minimizing suspicion of strangers.

Common Problems - The Chihuahua has a very delicate windpipe and should not have a leash connected to its collar. Though tiny, the dog does require exercise on a daily basis, instead of being carried around everywhere all day long. This likely is not a good dog for children or in families with other dogs cats, or other larger pets as it increases the risk of injury to the dogs.

The bottom line...

Chihuahuas are a breed that love the one-on-one bond that can be established with a human companion. Each Chihuahua as his or her own very unique personality and will make his or her individual characteristics quite clear from early on.

The Chihuahua, though very small, is also very graceful, bubbly, and full of energy. They feel emotions quite strongly and show them very clearly in their human-like facial expressions.

These are not high maintenance dogs, with easy grooming and a very basic amount of daily exercise required. The bath every one to two months is likely the largest regular event in the care of a Chihuahua.

Keep in mind that this is an exceptionally long-lived breed, so if you are getting a Chihuahua, you may have a new family member for up to two decades. This is not a short-term commitment, living longer than most breeds.

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