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Breed Series

Chihuahua

chihuahua posing for camera

Introduction

Pronounced chuh-WAH-wah, the chihuahua is the smallest dog breed in the world! This tiny dog is widely considered to be the national symbol of Mexico and is well-known for its confident and alert nature. What sets chihuahuas apart is not just their unique apple head, but also their curious, graceful, friendly, and affectionate characteristics. Despite their toy-size, these dogs are quite bold and make wonderfully loyal companion dogs. The larger-than-life personality of chihuahuas make them the 11th most popular dog breed in North America. 


Chihuahua History

It is widely believed that Chihuahuas are native to Mexico, as they are named after the Mexican state of Chihuahua, where they were first discovered by travelers from the United States in the 1800s. However, the true origin of the breed is unknown. Some people believe that the chihuahuas originated from Egypt, as remains of dogs similar in size and structure, thousands of years old, were found there. Some also believe that the dogs reached Mexico in trading ships from China in the 1700s. Another popular belief is that chihuahuas are native to North America, dating back to the Toltec Civilization, evidenced by Toltec carvings from over 1000 years ago containing the depiction of a dog very similar, named Techichi. Though the dogs in the depiction were larger and heavier than today’s Chi, their color and structure were similar. Regardless, it is evident that the breed’s name originated in Mexican where its earliest specimens were found.


Chihuahua Appearance

Size – Small

Height – 6 to 9 inches (measured from the ground to the top of the shoulders)

Weight – 2 to 10 pounds

Chihuahuas are tiny, swift-moving dogs that can reach anywhere between 6 and 9 inches tall when measured from the ground to the top of their shoulders (withers). They generally weigh between 2 and 6 pounds, though some have been recorded up to 10 pounds, however anything greater than 6 pounds is not recognized by the American Kennel Club.

The head/skull of chihuahuas is what is called “apple dome” shaped, and they have full non-protruding round eyes. Their eyes are usually luminous ruby or luminous dark in color, but you can also expect to see light-colored eyes in white or blond-colored dogs. You can find chihuahuas in a wide range of colors, including fawn, cream, black, black & tan, chocolate, fawn & white, chocolate & tan, and blue & tan, with markings such as black mask, spotted on white, white markings, and more.

Chihuahuas can come with smooth or long coats. With smooth coated variants, the texture of the coat should be short and glossy, with ruff on the neck, and a bit skimpy on the ears and head. In dogs with long coats, the texture is again expected to be soft, but wavy or flat in the finish, with an undercoat.


Chihuahua Personality

For their petite size, chihuahuas are surprisingly bold and confident, yet graceful and balanced. Their demeanor is often expressed to be terrier-like, with a big-dog attitude, extremely alert and suspicious of strangers. These personality traits make Chi’s amazing watchdogs. But beneath this strong and bold nature, chihuahuas have a softer side that enjoys affection and companionship. They easily and quickly bond with one person and tend to be reserved when meeting others. 

If you want your chihuahua to be friendly, social, and close with people you know, it is important that you introduce them to them to as many people as possible, as early as possible. Giving your dog more exposure to new sights and sounds at a young age can greatly help their development. Chihuahuas love to spend quality time with their favorite human, and they are great at putting forward their best efforts to protect that person as well. Like most dogs, these intelligent dogs require proper training and an effective set of rules and structures to follow from a young age.

Chihuahua Exercise Requirements

It is common for people to underestimate the exercise needs of smaller, toy breeds such as the chihuahua. But, just like any other breed, chihuahuas need regular exercise; in fact, Chihuahua’s often surprise their owners with just how much activity they require. But do remember not to overwork your chihuahua, if you notice they become short of breath you can always pick them up and carry them home.  

Chihuahua Training and Care

Chihuahuas have a bold and brazen attitude and therefore require obedience training and early socialization, without it they can easily become agitated and defensive, especially in new or uncertain environments. If untrained, Chihuahuas can even become defensive towards their owner! Chihuahuas are stubborn, but they also intelligent and can easily become great little comrade’s with proper training and attention. 

Chihuahuas can easily become overweight, so don’t cheap out on their food. Luckily, they don’t eat a great deal, so even if you decide to splurge on raw food, it won’t break the bank! Small, low calorie treats should be used during training, but don’t get in the habit of feeding your Chi human food, at just 6 pounds it doesn’t take much for a Chihuahua to consume a surplus of calories.

Chihuahua Health

Fortunately, the Chihuahuas are generally very healthy dogs than can live long lives. The longest ever living Chihuahua was 20 years and 265 days old, but there have been numerous 20-year old Chihuahuas. Some common conditions include eye disorders, breathing difficulties caused by a collapsed windpipe, patellar luxation (loose kneecaps), and heart valve disease. Chihuahuas are also prone to hip necrosis, bladder or kidney stones, neurologic problems, and also dental disease. Choose your chihuahua from a reputable breeder and you should have a happy healthy dog for years to come! 

Suggested Health Tests – Patella Evaluation, Cardiac Exam, Ophthalmologist Evaluation

Average Lifespan – 12 to 20 years

Chihuahua Grooming

Chihuahuas come in two different coats – smooth and long, and the grooming needs for them vary slightly. Thanks to their short hair, smooth-coat chihuahuas need regular baths and occasional brushing, while long-coat chihuahuas need regular brushing to avoid tangles in their long hair. Regular trimming of nails is essential for both varieties, as well as regular removal of ear wax to avoid infections.