There are few dogs out there who more iconic than the Chihuahua. The ultimate purse dog. Pups so small and adorable that many owners sadly treat them more like accessories than pets. You may have recognized this breed from its presence on the big and small screen – Bruiser from the movie “Legally Blonde” and the Taco Bell dog are two of the most famous examples (not to mention Paris Hilton regularly posing with one and claiming it was her pet). Perhaps you fell in love with the breed after watching the movie “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” (it happens, we won’t judge!). No matter how you became a fan of the tiny Chihuahua dog, once you’ve owned one, you’ll be hooked on the breed for life. These little pups are just that lovable.
With their goofy antics, a sparky character, and plenty of attitude, these doggos have a ton of unique traits that make them a great companion. People of all personalities can find something that will attract them to this dog breed. Sporting a large head, expressive eyes and a friendly disposition, the Chihuahua fits into the lifestyle of many types of households. You wouldn’t know to look at it, but the Chihuahua makes an excellent watchdog – of course, you shouldn’t expect it to protect you from any threat (even though many rodents could easily over power this pup). So, is the Chihuahua the right pet to join your family? There’s only one way to find out. Read on to learn more about this fantastic breed. We are about to reveal everything that it is worth knowing about the finest toy dog to ever come out of Mexico.
Sporting a large head, expressive eyes and a friendly disposition, the Chihuahua fits into the lifestyle of many types of households.
Delving into the Chihuahua’s history, historians can make a good guess at how this breed came to be, although as with most dog breed histories, it is hard to verify. What we do know is that the breed is named after a Mexican city and was first seen around the Aztec era. Even though it is named after a particular city, the Chihuahua was likely plentiful all over the country. And you can consider the Chihuahua an ancient breed – it can be dated as far back as 500 A.D. This dog dives deep into the annals of Mexican history. There’s a reason the pup is such a beloved export from that country. In a way, the Chihuahua is part of the foundation of modern Mexico.
The evolution of the Chihuahua can be such an interesting glimpse into the overall development of dog breeds in South America. After ancient peoples colonized this continent far back in history, the primitive dogs that accompanied them were isolated from any outside influence. The interbreeding that occurred over the following millenia led to quite a unique genetic footprint – and that is why Chihuahuas are so unique in looks and character! As such, they share many similarities with the other popular ancient dog breed from Mexico – the Xoloitzcuintli. Together, they held an important place in the culture and society of the ancient inhabitants of Mexico, such as the Aztecs.
Since the background of the Chihuahua is a bit hazy, it’s a bit difficult to pinpoint this breed’s pedigree. What is known is that these small dogs were used for ceremonies and companionship. Some experts think the Chihuahua may have been bred from the Fennec Fox, a small animal with big eyes and ears – quite similar to the features found on the tiny dog. Beyond that, it’s hard to say exactly how the Chihuahua came to be. The history of dog breeds simply isn’t that well documented. But regardless of the origin, there’s no denying that this breed will endure for many generations to come.
The Chihuahua was recognized by the AKC at a fairly late point in time considering the ancient origins of the breed- in 1904. When pedigree and looks are regarded, Chihuahua sports some very distinct features that are unique and characteristic of this breed. They can have a distinct “apple head” form, or a “deer head” form. Moreover, Chihuahuas can have a short, smooth coat, or a long one. When coloration is considered, anything goes! Chihuahuas have many accepted color combinations.
Food / Diet
A good and balanced diet is always a safe bet when it comes to feeding your Chihuahua. This breed does well with a mix of protein, grain, and vegetables. When giving out treats, moderation is essential. Since the Chihuahua is so small, even the tiniest bit of extra weight can make a huge difference in its health. For this reason, the diet of your Chihuahua must be carefully monitored. Before establishing or even making any changes to your dog’s diet, it’s worth consulting with a veterinarian. While dog food manufacturers provide useful feeding guidelines, they are still guidelines and hardly gospel. All dogs are different after all, each with their own specific needs. Only your vet is qualified to determine the specific dietary needs of your personal pup. So always check in with them to ensure that you find the right feeding program for your Chihuahua. Now, considering that these puppers are truly tiny it can be rare for them to develop obesity. However, it is still a possibility, and due to their short legs and stumpy physique, all extra weight can come as a serious challenge and obstacle. Their stumpy legs simply can’t take any extra weight, so always pay attention to that balanced and measured diet.
When it comes to basic tricks, Chihuahuas are easy to train. Since this dog always loves to please its owners, it will willingly sit, shake, and roll over… as long as your Chihuahua is rewarded with a treat, of course. You’ll find that training is one of the best and most fun parts of owning a Chihuahua. That’s not something that can be said about most dogs. So cherish the ease and joy of this process. In general, these doggos are quite inquisitive and smart, and always ready for new experiences. And heck, if there is a treat to be had – tricks and obedience are all in order!
That’s the good news. Here’s the bad news. House training, on the other hand, is not as easy with Chihuahuas. This will take some extra time, as this pup has a tough time learning where to go. Although some people use litter boxes or pee pads, even this can be difficult. In the long run, you should train your Chihuahua to do its business outdoors, if possible. On the other hand, if you begin training at a very early age, you might be more successful here.
Of course, as is common with all super tiny doggos, Chihuahuas too can be quite willful and stubborn – always wanting things to go their own way. This means that it’s wise to start the training process as early as possible to take advantage of your puppy’s early and impressionable years. It’s also vital to focus on positive reinforcement and rewards in your training to ensure the best results. Anything less is closer to abuse that training. This is both cruel to your dog and won’t yield the results that you crave.
Both male and female Chihuahuas can weigh anywhere from six to nine pounds. You’re absolutely right – that’s a super lightweight category. Nevertheless, it is proportional to their size and height – anything above or below this weight might not be so good. Of course, being so light, Chihuahuas can be a bit fragile and require just a tad bit of extra attention so as to not be squished.
Temperament / Behavior
The Chihuahua is devoted to its owners and as such, it needs a lot of attention. From its point of view, it’s only fair. After all, since your dog is devoted to you, you’d better be devoted to it too. So if you can give your dog this much attention, the Chihuahua is for you. To keep your dog happy, it will need to be around you all the time. If it feels slighted, you could be on the receiving end of some bad behavior. This pup will try to teach negligent owners a lesson that they won’t soon forget.
It’s also worth noting that the Chihuahua may not play nice with other dogs, which may pose a problem if you have other animals in the house. If you like to have a house full of pets, try to keep them all Chihuahuas. Otherwise, your little Chihuahua could prove to be a major troublemaker in your household.
Common Health Problems
Like most dog breeds, there are various health problems that are common with Chihuahuas you should be aware of. Some common health problems that Chihuahuas may suffer from include hemophilia, hypoglycemia, epilepsy, jawbone disorders and heart murmurs.
In addition to these problems, Chihuahuas are prone to bladder and kidney stones. You’ll know if your dog as a kidney or bladder stone if your see blood in its urine or if it is only urinating small amounts at a time.
It’s always wise to regularly schedule check ups with your vet (especially as your dog ages into his senior years) to ensure that any potential health issues are identified and treated as early as possible. It is good to know that Chihuahuas with the “apple head” appearance can have certain health problems related to their stubby and deformed snouts. Nasal and jawbone problems might occur.
Chihuahuas have a life expectancy of 14 to 18 years. With proper care, balanced diet, and regular vet visits, they can easily reach the high end of that lifespan. It is a little over the usual doggo lifespan, and that means that these tiny puppers can be your companion for a lot longer than it’s the case with some bigger breeds.
Since they are so small, Chihuahuas need very little exercise. In general, regular play indoors can be more than enough to keep a Chihuahua fit and healthy, but a daily walk certainly won’t do this breed any harm either. If you’ve got a small space, like an apartment, this pooch is the perfect pet for you. The space won’t seem quite so small to this tiny pup.
Even though this is primarily an indoor dog, it’s still a good idea to get outdoors with your pooch. Let them get outside and enjoy the fresh air, and explore the world outside your house. It’s also a great chance for your Chihuahua to socialize with other dogs and people (which is always important to any dog’s wellbeing).
The Chihuahua is devoted to its owners and as such, it needs a lot of attention.
The American Kennel Club says this about the breed: “Graceful, alert and swift-moving with a saucy expression, Chihuahuas are highly intelligent and should not be underestimated even though small in size.”
Chihuahuas come in two different coat lengths: long and short. For both varieties, its fur is glossy and smooth. Short-haired Chihuahuas have a coarser coat of hair, while the longhaired version is much softer. The hair on its body and tail is longer when compared to that found on its head and ears.
With both long and short-haired Chihuahuas, you’ll find quite a bit of shedding and you should brush them on a regular basis. Long-haired Chihuahuas require more brushing, as you’ll want to prevent matting that may occur with the dog’s coat.
Since the Chihuahua breed is so small when fully grown, you can imagine how small it is when it’s a puppy. Be careful with your Chihuahua puppy, especially around children. These puppies are tiny and fragile (in addition to being oh-so cute). Be sure to prepare your children for your Chihuahua’s arrival and teach them to practice extra care around it. It’s all too easy to injure one of these puppies by accident, so everyone in a household with a Chihuahua puppy should treat the animal with an especially gentle touch.
Photo credit: Eric Isselee/Shutterstock
Amy Tokic, Editor of PetGuide.com, is a passionate animal lover and proud pet parent of Oscar, a Shih Tzu/Chihuahua cross, and Zed, a Japanese Chin. Her love of animals began in kindergarten, when she brought her stuffed dog Snoopy into class with her every day. Now, she writes about her adventures in pet ownership and tirelessly researches products, news and health related issues she can share with other animal enthusiasts. In her free time, Amy loves perusing used book and record stores, obsessing over the latest pet products available and chasing squirrels with wild abandon (a habit attributed to spending too much time with her pooches).
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