Meet the Breed: Ay Chihuahua!

long-haired chihuahuaChihuahuas are very much in vogue with starlets carrying them in purses, with them being featured in movies, and also commercials. They are adorable dogs but can be a handful for their diminutive size. Learn if the chihuahua might be a fit for your home.

Chihuahua puppy

A smooth-coated chihuahua puppy. Photo from Wikipedia.

Overview:

  • Height:  Usually between 6-10″, but can be as much as 12-15″.
  • Weight: 2-6 pounds
  • Historical function: This is an ancient breed that is named for Chihuahua, Mexico. They were used in religious ceremonies, and were companions to the upper class. Some think it is a descendent of the Fennec Fox. 
  • Modern function: Companion
  • AKC Classification: Toy

Physical Characteristics: The chihuahua is the smallest dog breed. They can be the velvety smooth-coated, short-haired variety or long haired. Some chihuahuas have an apple-shaped head, and some have a deer-shaped head with a longer nose and more angular head features. They have large, dark eyes, though some of the lighter-haired varieties may have lighter eyes. They come in a variety of coat colors including white, black, chestnut, fawn, sand, silver, sable, steel blue, black and tan, and multicolored coats, as well as others. 

History of the Breed:The chihuahua is one of the oldest breeds of the Americas. They have been documented in ancient artifacts dating back to 100 A.D. They originate in Mexico. They were recognized by the AKC in 1904 and have been popular ever since.

Temperament: Chihuahuas are faithful and delightful companions that like to be cuddled and prefer to be the middle of their owner’s world. Resist the temptation to baby these dogs. Rather, they should be treated like a bigger dog so they do not suffer from Small Dog Syndrome. Tiny dogs who assume the alpha role in the family are territorial, yappy, and even aggressive. Early and regular training from a calm, confident leader will allow a chihuahua to feel safe and will be well adjusted to life with more of a variety of people and circumstances.

  • Best Suited For: Families with older children. Small children may injure these tiny dogs. Chihuahuas not properly trained and socialized my bite children as well. The chihuahua is great for families with older children, apartment dwellers, movie stars, and retirees.
  • Preferred Living Conditions: Chihuahuas do best in warmer climates. Cooler weather or air conditioning may require dog clothing. They love burrowing in bedding, so a nesting bed and blankets will make them comfortable. Though they like to be carried, they still need exercise in the form of a walk.

Care and Health:

  • Grooming: Chihuahuas don’t shed much, and the long-haired variety do not require trimming and actually shed even less than their short-haired counterparts. Occasional brushing and bathing will keep your pet looking their best. Good oral hygiene is a must as they are prone to gum problems. Regular eye area cleaning may be required to prevent staining.
  • Exercise needs: Chihuahuas are active and prefer a daily walk to keep them fit and well behaved.
  • Life Expectancy: 15 or more years.
  • Health Issues: Because of their protruding eyes, they may be prone to infections, injuries, tearing, and glaucoma. Very small chihuahuas and puppies may develop hypoglycemia so several small, frequent meals may be required. On the other hand, care must be taken not to overfeed them as being overweight can cause diabetes and joint problems. Luxating patellas (shifting knee caps) can also be problematic.

Breed Club Links: The Chihuahua Club of America.

Perfect BaxterBoo Pairings: Hoodies, sweaters, dog carriers, and eye wipes.

Because of the popularity of the chihuahua breed, they have been over bred. Unfortunately, many chihuahua’s end up in shelters. Please consider adopting one from a rescue or shelter! Some of these chihuahuas have been relinquished because they have not been properly trained and exhibit Small Dog Syndrome. Be sure to educate yourself on how to be a good leader to these dogs so they can thrive and be good citizens in their forever home!

Have any stories about chihuahuas? Please Share!

Long-haired adult chihuahua photo by Phoenix Wolf-Ray.

20 thoughts on “Meet the Breed: Ay Chihuahua!

  1. Pingback: Meet the Breed: Ay Chihuahua! | BaxterBoo Blog | Blue Chihuahua Pup

  2. i have 8 chihuahua’s currently…i love my babies. the oldest one 1 bout 14 and youngest is 1 yr old. i have bought 2 of our chi’s from a breeder.

  3. I adopted a chihuahua from a rescue shelter in 1999, and was told she was around 4 to 6 years old. She was the best little girl and she left me this year in July after being alone with my pug puppy. My husband forgot to put her in her room when he left and I believe the puppy was too rough with her. I don’t think I will ever forgive my husband for this. Two years earlier, my other dog, a pug, rammed into her and broke her jaw. The vet told me there wasn’t anything they could do and should consider just putting her to sleep. I refused to do this and instead had them pull her remaining teeth because of infection and try to get her to eat. She did great even though her jaw never completely healed correctly. Just wanted to warn people that these little dogs need to be watched and protected from your other pets because of their size.

  4. I have been a chihuahua owner for over 40 years and have had several great chihuahua’s. They are very loving dogs and are very loyal to many, but especially one person. They are very timid. I just lost my 14 1/2 year old Chihuahua on September 20, 2012 and it has been one of the hardest things for me to deal with. She was a joy and will be missed by us all. She pretty much grew up with my son and was just like my child. She will be missed, but never forgotten.

    • Those of us with dogs understand! Who knew such a small creature could leave such a big hole in our hearts when they leave? I wish you peace and happy memories through the holiday season as you deal with your loss.

  5. Awwwwwwwww chi chis are soooo cute! they are my fav dog and wish i had one (Along with my current bichon frise/poodle dog Cody. Wouldn’t trade a hair on him!)!

  6. Just to be clear about the current chihuahua fad, breeders who use terms like miniature, teacup, tiny toy, or deer headed, to describe their puppies are misleading the public. These terms are not recognized by the breed standards.

    Chihuahuas come in TWO types only…long coat and short coat. Their size for conformation showing is “not more than 6 pounds”… that does not mean chis do not get bigger. In fact, it is more common these days…since good healthcare and nutrition allow puppies to reach their maximum potential (humans are getting taller too).

    Those attempting to breed extremely small chis are doing so at the dogs’ peril. The genetic code for size is a complicated thing. The shelters are full of “backyard bred” chis….many of which were given up for “getting too big”. If you love chis, love them at a healthy size…6 lbs is still a very tiny dog.

    Chi temperament should not by timid or shy. Their standard states “A graceful, alert, swift-moving little dog with saucy expression, compact, and with terrier-like qualities of temperament.” They are a DOG, not a fashion accessory. There is nothing wrong with carrying them in a purse, as long as you give them the chance to be the awesome little guys they are capable of being…socialize, train, and enjoy them in their true nature.

    And yes, my 10 lb, 1/2 chi & 1/2 mini aussie has her own wardrobe closet. She also chases a lure, does tricks, and plays with our other 20 to 55 lbs dogs (supervised of course). Btw, she is also blind and a service dog. http://www.facebook.com/alice.aligator

    • Thank you for your well-informed comments and for sharing your insights with us. Very helpful! I will check out your site. Thanks!

    • Thank you, Mayra. Cloe is not too old to learn new tricks, or new behaviors. There are lots of helpful articles about this topic all over the web to help you both! Good luck! It will be worth it.

  7. My chihuahua, Taffy, is a rescue from “Hearts for Hounds” in California. When I saw her at a Farmer’s Market for the first time, she only weighed 2.6 lbs, with hipbones sticking up so high, I thought she was deformed. I fell in love with her at first sight. However, my husband, who had stayed home in Florida, did not want another dog, so when I called him and asked if i could bring her home, he sputtered and hung up on me. Two seconds later, our daughter’s phone rang … “Your mother wants to bring home a dog …. after 50 years of marriage, am I going to say “No”? Guess who now talks baby talk to her and in general treats her like a precious doll. Her nickname is “Velcro” because she sticks to us.

  8. Shame on you for even mentioning the Chihuahua dog being descendents of the fennec fox.. This perpetuates a theory that’s comepletely baseless outside of mere appearances. The chromosomal differences between the domestic dog and fennec fox are too different.

    • That did seem a bit strange to me as well, as I seem to recall reading somewhere that foxes are more closely related to cats genetically. Don’t quote me on that. But I read the reference to fennec foxes in a few places and thought it was interesting. Hence the claim of “SOME people think they are related.”

  9. My 10 lb long haired Bella is quite the confident sassy pants. These munchkins shake from cold, not fear, so dress them up warmly!! Regular socialization with of dogs helped cure her Small Dog Syndrome. However, every time a Great Dane goes submissive, it just feeds her oversized ego!! Never thought I’d have so much fun with such small dogs. She is the diva, and the hit, of our neighborhood.

    • Those are good suggestions about keeping them warm and socializing them with other dogs. I can just imagine the confrontation with a submissive huge dog! You should get it on video!

  10. Great article! 2 things: my little chi is a whopping :) 11.5 pounds which puts him over your weight range. (He’s a rescue so his parentage is unknown). also, you said they should ‘feel safe’ – mine is afraid of many things even though i have tried to train him since adopting him. Do you have any links to information that could help with chi fears?

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