Chihuahua Breed Guide

Chihuahuas are small dogs with rounded skulls, large ears, and round eyes. Their bodies are stocky and their muzzles are short and slightly pointed. These dogs can be any color, including solid, marked, and splashed, and their coat can be long or short. Chihuahuas measure no more than 5 inches at the shoulder and weigh no more than 6 pounds. With proper care, they can live a very long life of up to 18 years.

These dogs are very sensitive to cold, however, and should be kept indoors when the weather is at all chilly.

Tiny in size but with a large attitude and an excess of confidence, Chihuahuas may need to be removed from conflicts with larger dogs to keep them safe. It is wrong to assume they will know when to back down. With these dogs, it's not an act; they really believe they are the most powerful animals in the universe.

Chihuahuas are the smallest breed of dog. They are known as "purse dogs" because their tiny size allows them to be carried around in bags. They are also very popular little dogs and are frequently seen in movies and on TV.

Chihuahuas are graceful and alert and are known for their sassy personalities. They have many terrier-like qualities and are good companions for families with kids, provided the children are gentle when handling them. They make great city dogs due to their tiny size and minimal need for exercise.

The temperament of these dogs varies, and some Chihuahuas are bold while others are timid. The breed is reserved with strangers, but good with other pets and dogs. Some individual Chihuahuas are high-strung and may nip or snap when they feel threatened or scared. They are very protective of their favorite humans and may follow their family members from room to room, jumping into a lap the moment it becomes available and snuggling on the couch or bed.

Chihuahuas are a lively breed, and while they don't need much exercise, they enjoy exploring outdoors and going for short walks on a leash. These dogs are very sensitive to cold, however, and should be kept indoors when the weather is at all chilly.

Chihuahuas are prone to a number of potentially serious health conditions that require professional veterinary care. The breed is more likely than some other breeds to develop patellar luxation, hypoglycemia, pulmonic stenosis, joint problems, eye infections, bronchitis, breathing difficulties, and congestive heart disease. Additionally, Chihuahuas are prone to developing portosytemic shunt, a condition in which blood is diverted away from the liver. This condition can be fatal without surgical correction.

The breed is also affected by hydrocephalus, neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis, atlantoaxial subluxation, and keratoconjunctivitis sicca, or dry eye. These dogs are also at increased risk for dental problems and are more prone to head injuries due to having a molera, or open fontanelle.

One preventable condition in this breed is obesity. Chihuahuas tend to overeat when allowed, which can lead to a rapid increase in weight. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, and certain cancers in dogs. It's also important to remember that these dogs are sensitive to the sun and to cold temperatures.

With routine veterinary care, standard vaccinations, proper nutrition, and weight management, Chihuahuas can live a long life of 14 to 18 years.

An intelligent breed, Chihuahuas learn easily but have a reputation for being spoiled and difficult to train. This is not true. Most people just don't handle these dogs correctly. Chihuahuas need consistent rules and lots of structure. Training and positive reinforcement can make them suitable for any home situation.

These dogs are definitely prone to some behavioral problems, though. They tend to bark excessively if not taught otherwise, and some may get carried away when approached by unfamiliar people, yapping and nipping and acting generally naughty. Chihuahuas are also a jealous breed and tend to become intolerant of other pets and humans in the house if they feel competition for their favorite human's attention. They will use a variety of tricks and manipulations to get as much attention and affection as possible. Early and consistent training can help minimize these behaviors.

Like other small dogs, Chihuahuas can be difficult to house-train. While the process may take extra time and patience when it comes to these dogs, it will pay off in the end. To speed up house-training, accidents should not be tolerated and their daily schedule should be kept as structured as possible.

Chihuahuas with smooth coats and long coats both require minimal grooming. Dogs with shorter hair need a weekly brushing with a rubber grooming mitt or soft bristle brush. This is generally sufficient to remove dead hair and keep their skin and coat healthy. It should also minimize the amount of shed hairs on furniture and clothing. Longhaired dogs shed seasonally. They should be brushed every couple of days with a soft bristle brush. A stainless steel comb is excellent for removing tangles and mats.

Both varieties will benefit from a bath a couple of times each week if they sleep in their human's bed or spend a lot of time on the furniture. A gentle, pH-balanced dog shampoo will prevent skin irritation and dryness while keeping any doggy odor under control. It's important to dry these dogs thoroughly, as they are prone to chilling. They cannot be allowed to sit around while wet.

The nails should be trimmed every couple of weeks, or as often as needed to prevent clicking on the floor while they walk. The ears should be checked and cleaned weekly, and the teeth need regular brushing to prevent dental disease. Chihuahuas, like other small dogs, are at increased risk for dental problems.

The history of this breed is not fully clear. Some people think Chihuahuas originated in China and were carried to the New World by traders from Spain. Others think these dogs originated in Central and South America. The breed may have originated from the Fennec Fox, a tiny animal with features similar to those seen on Chihuahuas, including large ears and eyes. Or, it's possible that these dogs descended from Techichi, which are small and mute dogs.

Where the breed gets its name is clear, though. These dogs are named after the Mexican State of Chihuahua, which is where the earliest of these dogs was found. Now, Chihuahuas are common all over and are a very popular breed in the United States.

These dogs were historically used in religious ceremonies and were companions to the upper class. In Mexico, many myths surround the Chihuahua breed, and some people believe these dogs to be spirit guides that protect souls as they travel through the underworld.

The American Kennel Club officially recognized the Chihuahua in 1904.