The Chihuahua is a tiny dog with a huge personality. A national symbol of Mexico, these alert and amusing “purse dogs” stand among the oldest breeds of the Americas, with a lineage going back to the ancient kingdoms of pre-Columbian times. Chihuahua-like dogs decorate the artifacts of lost civilizations around the world. Their ancestor is the Techichi, a breed indigenous to Central America. They are named after the Mexican State of Chihuahua, where the earliest specimens of the breeds were found. Chihuahuas come in two coat varieties: smooth coat and long coat. They are clannish preferring canine friends of their same breed.
Chihuahuas are five to eight inches tall and their length is slightly longer. They weigh no more than six pounds. There are two coat varieties of the Chihuahua; each coat type has slightly different grooming needs. The smooth-coat Chihuahua needs only occasional brushing and regular baths to look well-groomed. The longhaired variety should have his coat brushed at least once a week to avoid any tangles and at least monthly baths. Brush out excessive hair on a shedding dog before bathing. Begin bathing at about 10 weeks old so the Chihuahua becomes used to grooming.
They shed their winter coat in the spring and again in the fall to gain a heavier winter coat. The coat is warmer if it is free of mats. Trimming their coat in October prepares the dog for winter coat growth. It is normal for puppies to shed their fuzzy puppy coat as their adult coat begins growing.
Chihuahua life expectancy is 14 to 16 years. They are alert, projecting the ‘terrier-like’ attitudes of self-importance, confidence, and self-reliance. They possess loyalty, charm, and big-dog attitude. Even tiny dogs require training, and without it this clever rascal will rule your household like a little tyrant. They’re incredibly keen to their surroundings, which make them fantastic watch dogs, but on the downside, they are known to bark a lot which can turn into a negative characteristic.
Compact and confident, Chihuahuas are ideal city pets. They are too small for roughhousing with kids, and special care must be taken in cold weather, but Chihuahuas are adaptable as long as they get lots of quality time in their preferred lap.
Chihuahuas are extremely variable; they may be lively or placid, bold or timid, feisty or mellow, confident or nervous, stubborn or eager to please. How a Chihuahua turns out depends very much on the genetic temperament of his parents and grandparents, but socialization and training will have a positive impact to your Chihuahua’s personality and temperament.
At the end of the day, the Chihuahua wants to love and be loved, to a fault. While the Chihuahua is small and adaptable, they’re one of the neediest dog breeds in existence. Jealousy is a big part of the Chihuahua’s personality and something that makes them quite incompatible with children. Most Chihuahuas feel overwhelmed by the loud voices and quick movements that children make, and stress and fearfulness, including defensive biting, may be the result.
Caring for a Chihuahua
Next, we’ll go into how you should care for a Chihuahua
A high-quality dog food appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior) will have all the nutrients the breed needs. Some Chihuahuas are prone to becoming overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Give table scraps sparingly, if at all, especially avoiding cooked bones and foods with high fat content. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Access to fresh water is essential. Of course, a veterinarian is best able to answer questions about diet.
Every dog needs exercise despite their size or build and Chihuahuas are not an exception. They love to run and to play and can usually get enough exercise in a very small space. Simply trotting around following their people is usually enough exercise for this happy breed. Short, slow walks are a long workout for a Chihuahua and will keep the Chi in good weight and condition. Plus, a tired dog is a well-behaved dog. Avoid overexerting the Chihuahua; if he is panting and working hard to keep up, it’s time to pick him up and carry him home.
The Chihuahua is a very alert little dog of high intelligence. He is eager to please his humans and he responds well to positive training practices. Chihuahuas seem well aware of how cute they are and learn how to get their way. From the very beginning you must enforce the fact that you are in charge. Never allow your Chihuahua puppy to do anything that will be unacceptable as an adult. They can have a bit of a “terrier” temperament, so a firm but gentle hand is necessary when training. They can excel in obedience training and other canine sports.
The majority of Chihuahuas are healthy little dogs, but there are some genetic issues that can affect the breed. Some of the issues that can possibly affect the Chihuahua include potential heart problems (patent ductus arteriosus, mitral valve disease – a defect of the mitral valve, located between the left atrium and left ventricle of the heart), eye disease, patellar luxation (when one or both kneecaps are unstable), and hypoglycemia (when blood sugar levels drop dangerously low makes your pup fee uneasy and possibly pass out). Idiopathic epilepsy (all of the muscles of the body move spastically and erratically) is also known to occur in the breed.
Both longhaired and short-haired varieties should have their nails trimmed regularly. Good dental care is necessary and should include brushing the Chi’s teeth, and the vet might also recommend treats designed as part of a tooth-care program. Gum disease can lead to heart, liver, and kidney problems so keeping them in good health is imperative. Check the Chihuahua’s ears regularly, and remove any excess wax or debris to avoid ear infections. Use cotton balls or a soft cloth to clean their ears; never use a cotton swab because it can damage the ear canal.