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