The Chihuahua is easily one of the most distinguishable and dog breeds. They have one of the most recognizable little yaps and adorable tiny features, making this sassy and popular breed the perfect travel-sized companion. Although many people only associate these dogs with bark and size, there is a lot more to these intelligent little dogs. They make a great addition to a loving family. Read more to see if this companion dog is the right fit for you.
Unsurprisingly, Chihuahuas are classified as a toy dog breed. This dog breed’s small features and large eyes could have you confusing them for a stuffed animal. They have a long body compared to their legs, giving them a unique appearance and a cute little trot of a walk.
Chihuahuas stand on thin, short, and swift-moving legs. They have compact bodies that tend to move in a saucy little prance-like motion. This little dog has large, perky ears that stand erect and are disproportionately bigger than their head. The wide eyes stand apart and are another of these dogs’ most prominent features. Despite their fragile and petite appearance, chihuahuas stand tall with confidence and are quite bold.
We could settle with just saying this is a small-sized dog because this breed will not likely reach the double digits in any dimensions, but there is a lot more than meets the eye to this tiniest of dog breeds.
The average Chihuahua weighs anywhere between three to six pounds and stands at the height of five inches at shoulder length. At their top height, it is possible to find a fifteen inch tall Chihuahua.
A Chihuahua’s size has branded it as a purse dog, lap dog, and just about anywhere else you could carry your little best friend, dog. A sweater may actually be necessary given that these little dogs tend to be frail and get cold quickly.
If you would like to take it just a little bit further in your quest for adopting a tiny dog, you could find a breeder or shelter who has teacup Chihuahuas. These dogs are so small, they have teacup in their name because they can easily fit inside of one. However, a breed this size does come with the downside that a dog so small is a lot more delicate and should be handled with even more care than the average Chihuahua.
There is no doubt that this quirky little breed is a confident, minuscule dog that loves to give and receive attention. Chihuahua’s are incredibly intelligent and have been compared to having the same personality as terriers. When threatened, their bark might actually be on par with their bite. These little dogs aren’t very trusting of strangers and, as such, are always on the alert, making them an ideal alert dog. They are fiercely loyal to their humans and will shower them with endless love and affection.
Because they were bred for warm weather, this breed doesn’t handle the cold well. Chihuahuas will always seek out the warmest spot to hole up in, which means settling down under the blankets and against your armpit.
If not properly socialized, Chihuahuas will only bond with one person. It is still possible to reverse this single bond if given the time and space to slowly integrate more socialization into their lives. Other traits that can occur from improper socialization may include timidness and a constant state of being on edge.
An adequately socialized Chihuahua needs exposure to many people and other animals. This includes all sorts of environments so that your little dog can become accustomed to different sounds and smells. This could mean getting your Chihuahua used to the sound of a car engine starting, the vacuum, or even other barking dogs.
The main takeaway is that Chihuahuas are a loving and incredibly loyal dog breed. They want nothing more than to join you on your daily adventures and stay close by your side. This kind of love and affection comes with the risk of your Chihuahua being suspicious of anyone that isn’t in their immediate family.
If you’re searching for a low maintenance dog in terms of exercise, the Chihuahua may be the perfect dog for you. This isn’t to say that these little breeds don’t have a lot of energy or enjoy going out for a game of fetch. On the contrary, Chihuahua’s become little balls of pent-up energy if not given the proper time and space to release it.
While this breed’s exercise needs may not compare to those of a cattle dog, it is still easy to under or overestimates just how much these little guys can handle. A brisk walk around the block or a quick fetch game in the backyard will tire these small dogs and satisfy their daily needs. Here are a few more simple and fun ideas to get your Chihuahua up and active:
- Walk your dog around the park.
- Teaching them a new trick.
The average estimated time of daily exercise needed for these dogs ranges anywhere from twenty to thirty minutes. They can go for much longer, but it is essential to monitor your Chihuahua or over-heating or exhaust, especially when they are a puppy.
Without proper exercise, Chihuahuas may develop the aforementioned behavioral problems.
Chihuahuas have large personalities and will run yours too if allowed. They can be destructive when bored and may become finicky eaters if their diet is fussed over. When welcoming your new little Chihuahua home, it would be best to establish ground rules. Stick with them or you’ll have to give up your favorite pillow because your dog has decided they like it more.
This personality trait is true of most little dogs. A firm tone and established house rules will go a long way in training.
As mentioned before, Chihuahuas can be unfriendly toward other dogs if they’re not socialized when young. Chihuahuas don’t back down from other dogs. This may cause a problem if they encounter a large, more aggressive dog. For this reason, Chihuahuas need proper and in-depth obedience training.
Training this small breed can be an enjoyable process, although it will require a lot of patience and more time than with other breeds. You may be surprised to hear that they make excellent contenders for obedience and agility events. It definitely wouldn’t hurt to enroll your Chihuahua in some basic puppy obedience classes.
There are many advantages to obedience classes over self-teaching your dog. For example, your puppy will be surrounded by lots of different people and dogs, thereby allowing them to properly socialize at the same time.
On the bright side, Chihuahuas are quite easy to house train. When it comes to potty training, these small dogs need to make frequent visits to the bathroom. The best time to take a Chihuahua puppy to the bathroom is the first thing in the morning and after every meal. A consistent schedule is ideal. Other good times to take them out are after, playtime, naps, and before they go to sleep.
You can use the crate method as well to teach them how to control their bladder, but don’t make them hold it too long. This method involves keeping the dog in the crate for two to four hour periods, except at night. Without the crate, taking them out every two or three hours should do the trick.
Positive reinforcement goes a long way with the Chihuahua dog breed. This method includes positive reactions and prizes, including food rewards, praise, belly rubs, and play. These small dogs learn faster that way rather than using negative reinforcements.
If you’ve ever heard of the state of Chihuahua, it is a Mexican state from which the Chihuahua dog breed is named after. The Techichi, a sacred dog of the ancient Toltecs, is the likely ancestor of this small dog breed. The ancestors of the Chihuahua may have existed before the ninth century. Some believe that the breed’s small size results from crossing the Chihuahua with Chinese crested dogs.
One floating theory around the Chihuahua is about the Toltec civilization. Toltec carvings are dating to the 9th century C.E. that depicts a dog resembling the Chihuahua, down to the large ears and round head. These dogs were called Techichi, and their purpose in the Toltec civilization is unclear.
When the Aztecs conquered the Toltecs, they absorbed the Techichi into their society. The dogs lived in temples and were used in Aztec rituals. The Aztecs believed that Techichi had mystic powers, including the ability to see into the future, heal the sick, and safely guide the dead’s souls to the underworld. It was customary to kill a red Techichi and cremate them with the remains of the deceased. The Aztecs also used the Techichi for food and pelts. When the Spanish conquered the Aztecs in the late 1500s, and the Techichi faded out of history.
However, the history of the Techichi and its ties to the modern Chihuahua is not known for certain. Another theory is that small hairless dogs from China were brought to Mexico by Spanish traders and bred with small native dogs, thus creating a new breed.
Despite both theories above, the modern Chihuahuas were first discovered back in the 1850s in the Mexican State of Chihuahua. When American tourists got a hold of these tiny dogs, they began bringing them back to the United States. It wasn’t until 1909 that a Chihuahua named Midget was the first of his breed registered and recognized by the American Kennel Club.
The origin of this Chihuahua variety is also unclear. It is speculated by experts that this breed came about when other miniatures like Papillons or Pomeranians were crossed.
Rise to Fame
In the 1890s, the Chihuahua had its rise in popularity by becoming a well-known breed in dog competitions. The first signs of fame for this breed started in the 1930s and 40s when Xavier Cugat, a famous Latin musician became associated with the breed.
In the United States, we see the Chihuahuas rise to fame throughout several Hollywood classics, including those where they spend half the movie being pampered and peeking out of someone’s designer purse. Marilyn Monroe had a Chihuahua named Choo-Choo. Many other American celebrities had this cute little dog breed as a part of their iconic look. The height of their fame and popularity skyrocketed in the 2000s and are still a very sought after breed.
The Chihuahua is the most famous of the “purse puppies,” toy breeds toted around in chic, upscale doggie bags by high-profile celebrities and socialites. The most recognizable Chihuahua is Tinker Bell, who spends her days nestled in socialite Paris Hilton’s handbag.
Chihuahua Health Problems
You may have guessed that these little dog breeds come with their own range of health issues. Many Chihuahuas can live a happy fifteen to twenty years with proper care, which is a long life span as far as dogs go. Most of this doggy maintenance can be solved with daily care and yearly visits to the veterinarian to ensure nothing is affecting your Chihuahuas from living a healthy and happy life. Luckily, they tend to be a healthy breed. While not all Chihuahuas will face the following issues, it’s important to keep your best friend healthy.
The following Conditions May Affect Chihuahuas:
Hypoglycemia is also referred to as low blood sugar and is considered a common problem for all toy breeds. Luckily, Hypoglycemia is easily treatable in the early stages. If not treated or detected on time, it can be fatal. This condition can be misdiagnosed as viral hepatitis or encephalitis. Chihuahua puppies will begin showing signs as they slow down and become listless. This is closely followed by trembling or shivering.
If this is ever the case, place some honey under their tongue and immediately take them to the vet. Anytime your toy breed is limping with a grayish-blue blue tongue and gums, is considered an emergency. If this were to be left to continue, your puppy could collapse, go into convulsions, followed by a comma, and die. Hypoglycemia occurs in toy puppies who don’t have the fat reserves to supply adequate glucose when stressed or don’t eat regularly.
This is a common problem found in small dogs and is also known as “slipped stifles.” Patellar luxation happens when the patella, which is made up of three parts, (femur, patella, and tibia), are not correctly lined up. This improper line-up causes lameness in the leg or an abnormal gait. In other words, it is when you see them walk with an irregular skip or hop.
Although this is a condition that occurs at birth, the actual misalignment or luxation does not occur until later in life. The rubbing caused by the slipped stifles may lead to arthritis, which is a degenerative joint disease. There are four ranges or grades of patellar luxation. Grade I is an occasional luxation, causing temporary lameness in the joint. Grade IV is when the tibia turning is so severe the patella cannot be realigned manually. Lastly, Grade IV is when a dog begins to get a bowlegged appearance. These and more severe grades may require surgical repair.
These murmurs are caused when a disturbance appears in the blood flow through the heart’s chambers. Heart Murmurs indicate that there may be a disease or condition of the heart that your veterinarian will need to keep monitored or treated. Murmurs are graded by sound, one being the softest and five being the loudest. If the disease is evident, judging by the x-rays and echocardiograms, there could be a required medication, diet, or exercise reduction for him to start.
Sometimes, the rapid inhalation of air causes the trachea to flatten, making it difficult for air to enter the lungs. It is not entirely understood how this occurs, but the condition appears to be inherited. We know that it occurs in certain breeds, and the dogs who have it will show abnormality in their tracheal rings’ chemical makeup. These rings lose their stiffness and become unable to retain a circular shape.
This is a fluid that accumulates in the brain because of a congenital defect, obstruction, or trauma during birth. It can be noted in puppies with signs of an abnormally large head where fluid has accumulated. There is no cure for Hydrocephalus. Puppies with severe cases usually pass away within a few months of age. For this reason, it is recommended to wait to purchase a Chihuahua until they are about six months old.
The fontanel is a soft spot that Chihuahuas are born with. It is on top of their head, and usually is it will close as they get older, but other times it will not fully close. These dogs have to be treated with extra care because even a mildly severe blow to the head could kill them.
Although shivering is a common occurrence in this breed, the mechanics of why they shiver so much is unclear. It happens when they are cold, stressed, or excited.
How to Care for a Chihuahua
Caring for this high-energy level breed means a lot of care, time, and patience. Grooming will be at the forefront of your priorities as these dogs do shed quite a bit.
Despite their size, these dogs need to be exercised and trained. First-time owners are always surprised by how active this breed is even into adulthood. This dog breed may not know when to stop chasing that squirrel, so check in on them to make sure they’re not over-exceeding themselves, especially when it’s hot out.
Speaking of outdoors, Chihuahuas shouldn’t live outside. This dog can fall victim to larger prey, such as hawks, coyotes, or other larger carnivores because of their small size. They were bred to be companions, therefore belong by your side, wherever that may be.
Nutrition and Feeding for Chihuahuas
Consider your little friend’s small mouth when it comes to feeding them. Their jaw is small, making their teeth even smaller and weaker. You should provide daily dental chews for your dog and feed them a consistent diet that requires chewing. This will naturally help reduce plaque.
A good dog food option for this dog breed consists of large, dry, and thick pieces. They require a balance of healthy fats, proteins, and carbohydrates in the dog food ingredients. Don’t be afraid to experiment with a few brands to figure out what sits right and what they seem to enjoy the most. To maintain their health, only feed them 1/4 to 1/2 cup of dry food per day. You should monitor their weight as obesity could mean a shorter life-span. Consult your veterinarian if you feel your Chihuahua is gaining too much weight.
Coat Color and Grooming
It’s important to know that caring for a Chihuahua’s coat means spending quite a bit of time cleaning up after them because this breed is no stranger to shedding and hair loss. How much fur they shed will depend mostly on whether they have a single or double coat. The double-coat variants will obviously shed much more than the single.
This breed’s coat comes in two different types; smooth or long coat types. The smooth coat is short, close to the skin, and come in single or double coat variants. Double coats are usually fluffier and stick out at the end.
A longhaired Chihuahua can also have a single or double coat. If there is an excess of undercoat, it will puff up and look like a Pomeranian’s fur. Single coats simply fall closely along the body.
Ears & Nails
The Chihuahua’s ears are prone to ear wax build-up and dry skin. Frequent ear cleaning and nail grooming is a good way you pamper your dog while keeping him healthy.
These dogs come in a rainbow of colors. The options are practically unlimited. This breed comes in solid colors, including cream, fawn, red, black, white, gold, brown, silver, and blue.
Marked means a solid-colored coat with a few distinctive markings of different colors ranging from the face to the tail’s tips.
A splashed coat means that there are patches or spots of different colors on an overall white body.
Children And Other Pets
Chihuahuas may not be the best dog breed option to have when there are young children in the house. Chihuahuas are fragile, and a toddler may hurt the dog while playing or further scare the already timid dog. Most breeders won’t sell Chihuahua puppies to homes with children younger than seven years.
On a positive note, Chihuahuas can be highly sociable with other dogs and pets. It’s been shown that Chihuahuas also like to live together. They take care of each other can make for great company when you’re away.
There are many verified Chihuahua rescue groups across the country. Unfortunately, this breed is often purchased without full knowledge of how to handle it. There are plenty of benefits to adopting adult Chihuahuas. They come house trained, have some obedience training, and are already done with the destructive puppy stage. Here are just a few good rescues to check out if you search for a high energy level best friend.
First registered by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1904, the Chihuahua is one of the oldest breeds on the American continent and one of the world’s smallest toy breeds. Here are a few other organizations that work to find the forever home of this dog breed.
More About This Dog Breed
Behind the limelight, these Chihuahuas are just like you and me. They make excellent friends and only ask for some good food and room under the covers in return. Take care of this little breed overheating because they don’t know when to take a break. Learn more about how to care for your Chihuahua here.