Temperament: Charming, Elegant, Vivacious
Height at the shoulder: 5 to 8 inches
Weight: 3 – 6 lbs.
Life expectancy: 10-18 years
Breed group: Companion dogs
About the Chihuahua Dog Breed
The Chihuahua may be the smallest dog breed, but it is one of the top 10 recommended watchdogs and has the personality of a large dog. These tiny sized dogs are the national symbol of Mexico and reach a weight of just up to 6 lbs. and a height of up to 8 inches at the shoulder.
They are the most famous purse dogs, often proudly displayed by celebrity owners on various red carpet events. At the same time, these pups are also very alert and are perfectly capable of competing and winning various dog events including agility and obedience.
They come in different coat colors and are actually one of the oldest dog breeds on both American continents. Their ancestors can be traced back to pre-Columbian times.
The Chihuahua loves being with its human parents and is easy to groom and requires little exercise, so it is a perfect apartment and city dog.
The big personality inside that tiny size body makes the Chihuahua a beloved breed by many dog owners – male or female. In fact, this small canine is in 33rd place among all popular dog breeds in the USA.
They love fun and love being close to their owners which is why it is not surprising to see people traveling, shopping and visiting official events with their tiny Chihuahuas in designer bags. They tend to be one person dogs, and often will get particularly attached to a certain member of the household. This poses a threat of these tiny pups becoming a tad too demanding if you spoil them too much.
Otherwise, they are smart dogs which learn fast and can successfully compete in agility and obedience competitions along with the larger dog breeds.
In order to train your Chihuahua and make it participate in such events, always use positive reinforcement with a lot of treats and praises, rather than using punitive or harsh treatment.
The tiny size of these pups is something to be aware of. They can be quite curious and run off if they find a small hole in the fence. Also, they do tend to forget about their small size, which can lead to confrontations and injuries inflicted by larger dogs. It is not recommended for people with very young children to adopt Chihuahuas, because these small sized dogs can easily be injured by accident by toddlers and children under the age of 8 who are not aware of properly handling a dog.
Whatever type of family you live in, it is as important to socialize and train your Chihuahua from an early age as it is any other larger dog.
You should introduce your dog to other people, children and pets, but with a lot of supervision, to allow your pet to start trusting strangers and other dogs.
As mentioned previously, Chihuahuas are considered one of the top 10 best watchdogs, because they are wary of strangers and will alert you if danger is sensed.
Overall, their amazing personalities and their compact size make Chihuahuas preferred pets, and more and more dog parents are choosing to add a small sized dog of this breed to their families.
As most tiny sized dogs, Chihuahuas have a long live expectancy of up to 18 years. You should always check the health clearance of the puppy’s parents and lineage before adopting it, especially for heart and patella conditions.
Due to their small size, they do need to be clothed if you live in a colder climate, so makes sure you provide a tiny wardrobe for your pup to keep it from shivering and catching a cold.
You will also need to inspect your Chihuahua regularly for ear wax buildup and for dry skin problems.
Never leave your tiny Chihuahua unattended in your backyard and always keep an eye for its safety when you are outdoors with it because it is such a small dog that it can easily be attacked by birds of prey, other dogs or coyotes.
Also, do not allow toddlers to handle your pup, because these tiny sized canines are so fragile that they can easily be injured during rough play or improper handling.
As a whole, these dogs are easy to care for and can do well with just about 20-30 minutes of walking or exercising per day. They require little maintenance, but you do need to set some rules from early on in order to prevent them from becoming overly dominant and picky about their food or about other things. In order to avoid your tiny dog turning into a small sized Napoleon, you will need to train it from an early age.
If you can provide them with the care they need and are ready to take them with you just about anywhere you go or provide them with a comfy lap, these small dogs will be loyal and loving companions for years to come.
Chihuahua’s are famous for their big dog personalities. They have been compared to terriers and are exceptional watchdogs due to their natural suspicion of strangers. They can become friendlier with other people and with dogs if they are socialized properly and safely from early puppyhood.
They commonly decide to bond with a single person from the family and will follow them around everywhere. These tiny pups are very sensitive and live to please and be perfect and loyal companion dogs.
As we have warned earlier on, you should definitely establish some ground rules in order for these little Napoleons to start bossing everybody around later on.
With proper training and socializing, these Mexican dogs are very loyal, loving and eager to learn canines, which can become your best companion and friend for life.
These miniature dogs require just about ¼ to ½ a cup of premium quality food per day. The exact portion size depends on the type of food you have chosen, as well as on the age, activity level, health, and metabolism of your dog.
Always choose age appropriate foods for your dog, and make you don’t over-indulge it because Chihuahuas are prone to weight gain and obesity. Even though treats are important for positive reinforcement and training, make sure you are careful about the types and quantities you give this tiny-sized dog in order to avoid it from becoming overweight.
Obesity in dogs can seriously damage their health and wellbeing and can shorten their lives, so make sure you speak to your vet or canine nutritionist if you have concerns about the type and amount of food you are giving to your Chihuahua.
It is best to abstain from feeding your dog with human food scraps, and stick to dog food only. Most high-quality dog foods – dry, wet or raw are well balanced and formulated to suit the size, age and activity level of the dog.
Chihuahuas can have either smooth or long coats. These with smooth coats have shiny coats close to the skin and a bit of a lion-like ruff on the necks. They have furry tails and shorter and thinner hair on the head and ears.
The long-coated dogs from this breed can have either flat or curly coats, with more of a fringe on the ears and fan-like tails. They also have ruffs on the neck and longer hair on the feet. The rear legs also have pant-like longer hairs. Their stomachs also have longer hairs referred to as frills.
The Chihuahuas can differ in color. Some are solid colors such as white, fawn, black, gray, chocolate or silver. Others can be tri-colored, and some have various markings including bridle, merle, spots, and others.
They require minimal grooming and can do perfectly well with brushing once a week. For the short coated dogs it is best to use a brush with short natural bristles or a soft rubber grooming mitt. As for the long-coated pups, you may want to choose a pin brush or a fine-toothed comb.
During the shedding season which usually occurs before the summer and before the winter, you may need to brush the coat of your Chihuahua more often in order to remove the dead hairs and keep them off of your furniture.
If you brush your Chihuahua regularly, you will only need to bathe it once every 2 or more months. Since these small dogs are prone to skin dryness, choose a dog shampoo which is made for dogs with dry skin and coats.
Make sure that you inspect the ears of your Chihuahua at least once a week because they do tend to get wax buildup pretty quickly. Look for wax as well as for redness or a bad smell from the ears. If you notice ear wax, gently clean it with a dog ear cleanser recommended by your vet. Do not stick anything inside the dog’s ear canals though.
In case you notice that the pup’s ears are getting dry towards the edges, you can moisten the skin by rubbing baby or coconut oil gently and sparingly on them.
Many Chihuahuas also get tear stains below their eyes, so you should carefully wipe them to remove the stains with a dedicated product.
You should also teach your Chihuahua to get used to getting its teeth washed at least 2 or 3 times a week. This will prevent the buildup of plaque, tartar, as well as other problems with the teeth, gums, and breath.
At the same time as you are teaching your pup to stay still while washing its teeth, it is a good idea to start introducing it to regular nail trimming as well. If you hear the nails of the dog on the floor, then it is time for trimming. Ask your groomer or vet for advice for the best dog nail trimmer as well as for tips for nail cutting, because if you cut the nails too deeply they can bleed and cause pain for the dog.
While you are grooming your Chihuahua, always thoroughly inspect its body and skin for rashes, sores, infections, redness or other problems. The earlier on you notice any worrying symptoms the easier the recovery will be if you take the necessary precautions in time.
If you train your dog to get used to regular grooming procedures, life will be much easier on you later on while you are performing the grooming or taking your Chihuahua to the groomer or vet.
Despite the fact that Chihuahuas are the smallest of all dog breeds, they still require training and exercise. You will be surprised at how energetic these miniature dogs can be. They will happily chase squirrels and play with you for as long as you like.
You can keep your pup active and entertained by taking it on walks, letting it romp around the properly fenced backyard or play with toys with it. They should always be supervised when outdoors, because due to their small size, Chihuahuas can become easy prey for wild animals, birds, and larger dogs.
Never leave a Chihuahua to live outdoors only, because it is not safe for them to be in too hot or too cold weather, as well as alone with the risk of being attacked by raptors or larger dogs.
These tiny dogs are companion dogs, so their place is right next to you – preferably on your lap.
Otherwise, training Chihuahuas can be a pure pleasure because these small dogs are fast learners and are eager to please. They can be excellent competitors in various dog trials and sports including obedience or agility.
Overall, these miniature pups love playing and running and can get the exercise they need even in the smallest space. They will enjoy nice slow and short walks with you, and you should be wary of tiring your dog out. Watch out for signs such as heavy panting or problems catching up with you. If you notice these, it is probably time to pick your little fur baby up and carry it home to get some well-deserved rest.
Although they will grow up to weigh only up to 6 lbs. Chihuahuas do need to be trained just like all other dogs do. Sending the puppy to puppy kindergarten is a good place to start with the socializing and obedience training.
At home, these dogs are easy to housetrain, as long as you take them out frequently to learn to do their business outdoors. Make sure you stick to a frequent and consistent schedule if you want to teach your puppy to learn to go outdoors strictly.
A rule of the thumb is to take the puppy out in the morning when it wakes up, and after each meal and after a nap. Then take it outside once more before it is time for bed.
You can also use a crate to teach Chihuahua puppies to control their bladders and to prevent accidents inside your home, but never leave them for more than 2-4 hours without taking them out, except at night when you all go to bed.
By crating the Chihuahua puppy you can also help prevent damage which every puppy is prone to do to the furniture or other items in the house. By teaching a dog to be crated from an early age you will make it much easier on the dog later on if it needs to be transported or hospitalized.
But don’t just leave the Chihuahua, or any other dog breed, stuck in a crate all day long! The dog should learn to accept its crate as a safe place to lounge rather than a prison or a form of punishment.
Plus, Chihuahuas are companion dogs and get strongly attached to their people, so they need to spend as much time with their humans as possible, rather than being stuck in a kennel or crate.
The easiest and most efficient way to train the Chihuahua puppy to obey commands and behave itself is via positive reinforcement. Be careful not to overfeed your puppy with too many treats while training it as well. You can do this by using other types of reinforcement such as words of praise and patting or otherwise encouraging positive behavior.
These tiny canines are pretty smart and can learn very quickly if you use the appropriate positive reinforcement techniques and if you are consistent with the training.
Although Chihuahuas can be very fond of the children in the family, it is not a good idea to have a dog of this fragile size and small children under the age of 8 who cannot safely handle or play with the pup. Often breeders will refuse to sell puppies to families with toddlers because of the increased risk of accidents and injuries from improper handling of the small-sized dogs.
You should teach your kids to properly interact with the Chihuahua and to only play with it or handle it when sitting on the floor, in order to avoid injuries to the dog from being dropped or falling from the child’s lap.
Also, teach the children to be gentle with the dog, and avoid any roughhousing. Children should know to never try to take the food while the dog is eating, as well as to not touch it when it is resting or sleeping.
To stay on the safe side, never leave small children and dogs alone unsupervised.
In any case, it is a good idea to socialize your Chihuahua with children and people from an early age so that it can overcome its natural wariness of strangers later on in life.
If introduced to other pets from an early age, the Chihuahua can get along with other dogs and cats easily. But keep in mind that its strong devotion to its humans as well as its Napoleon like personality can lead to jealousy and conflicts between the dogs in the household.
Since the Chihuahua is a naturally smart animal, and it seems to realize just how charming and cute it is, there is a risk of the dog becoming bossy and overly dominant if you do not set up ground rules in time, and establish yourself as an authoritative figure. If you fail to do this, you can end up all being bossed around by this tiny dog for years.
With proper and consistent training your small Chihuahua can become an excellent performer and winner in various canine sports and trials and can become a well-rounded and well-behaved companion dog.
Although Chihuahuas are tiny little dogs, they have a long life expectancy of 16 to 18 years and are generally pretty healthy little dogs. Unfortunately, like all other purebred dogs, they are prone to certain hereditary health problems and conditions which any future owner must be aware of.
To avoid getting a puppy with genetic mutations, always choose a responsible and reputable breeder who can provide you will all of the health clearance documents and proof that the parents and grandparents of the dog have been tested for these inherited health conditions.
Also, your puppy should be vaccinated and dewormed before you go ahead and take it home.
Responsible breeders will only breed mature and healthy dogs which are at least 2 years old and will test them for genetic diseases which are typical of the breed including luxating patellas as well as heart disease.
Here are some of the genetic and other common health problems which affect the Chihuahua:
This condition is also referred to as slipped stifles and usually affects small sized dogs. It is caused by the misalignment of the three bones which make up the leg and can lead to lameness or an abnormal gait similar to a hop or skip. This genetic condition is present at birth but the actual luxation of the femur, patella, and tibia typically occurs a while later. The rubbing due to the misalignment can cause degenerative arthritis. There are four grades of patellar luxation – from grade I to grade IV, which exhibit themselves from lameness to a serious misalignment which cannot be realigned back and leads to the dog having a bowlegged look. The more severe grades of patellar luxation may require surgical intervention.
This condition is caused by low blood sugar levels and is a common occurrence among toy breed puppies. It can easily be treated when diagnosed early but can be fatal if left untreated. It is essential that both the breeders and the dog owners know how to recognize the signs of this condition. Puppies suffering from hypoglycemia will become slower and listless and can start shivering and trembling. If you notice these worrying signs in a puppy Chihuahua place some honey underneath its tongue and take it to the vet immediately. As a whole remember to treat similar conditions as veterinary emergencies, and if you notice that your small dog is limping, or has grey or blue gums and tongue, you should rush over to the vet as soon as possible.
Low blood sugar is common among toy breed puppies due to the fact that they have very few fat reserves and thus do not have adequate supplies of glucose due to not eating regularly or being under stress.
Heart problems and murmurs
These are caused by a problem in the blood flow through the chambers of the heart. The murmurs could be a sign that there is a problem with the heart which needs to be monitored and if necessary to be treated. The murmurs are also graded from I to V and can be soft or get very loud. Heart disease can be diagnosed via an echocardiogram or an x-ray. Treatment can include following a special diet, reduction of the exercise or medication.
This congenital heart disease is caused by the blood not flowing properly through the heart due to a malformation of the pulmonic valve. This causes the heart to work harder and thus become larger. Unfortunately, this can lead to heart failure if left untreated. The treatment for pulmonic stenosis usually is required in the more severe cases and can include surgery to remove the blockage.
This condition is caused by rapid inhalation of air which causes the trachea to flatten and thus block the airway to the lungs. It could be an inherited condition, but it is found in certain dog breeds which have abnormalities in the tracheal rings causing them to flatten.
This serious condition is caused to the accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain which can be caused by a genetic mutation, trauma during birth or another obstruction which causes pressure on the puppy’s brain. Due to the condition, the head becomes enlarged and swollen. In some milder cases, the swelling can be reduced with medications. Also, a shunt can be inserted to remove the fluid from the brain.
Unfortunately, in severe cases of hydrocephalus, the affected puppy will usually die before the age of 4 months. This is why you should opt for adopting a Chihuahua puppy after it has become at least 4 months old.
Like humans, Chihuahuas are born with a soft spot located on the top of the head. While in most cases the fontanel gradually closes up, in some cases it fails to close up completely. This can make the brain vulnerable to serious injury, which is why dogs with this condition should be treated with extreme care.
Trembling and shivering is pretty common in Chihuahuas. This can occur when the dog is cold, as it ages or when it is excited or stressed. Chihuahuas don’t do well in cold weather so you will need to keep it warm and dress it up in the winter.
Overall, these conditions can sound pretty scary, but not every Chihuahua will suffer from any of them throughout its life. You should pick a dog which is genetically healthy if you want to prevent most of these hereditary conditions.
Regular checkups, as well as monitoring of the dog for any worrying signs, can help detect any medical issues early on so that proper precaution can be taken.
The exact origin of the Chihuahua breed is not clear, and there are a couple of theories about how this ancient South American breed originated. One theory is that the Chihuahua is a descendent of the Techichi dog which used to reside in central and South America during the Toltec civilization.
Some carvings found from these ancient times from the 9th century depict dogs which resemble Chihuahuas and also have large heads and ears.
When the Aztecs conquered the Toltecs they are believed to have absorbed the Techichi dog into their society. Many of these ancient dogs took part in ancient Aztec rituals and lived in their temples. According to historical data, the Aztecs believed that these dogs had mystical powers including healing powers, ability to foresee the future, as well as guiding the souls of the dead to the underworld.
Archeological findings show that Techichi dogs were cremated and buried with their owners or with the bodies of the deceased. These ancient dogs were also used by the Aztecs for skin and food. Once the Spanish came and conquered the Aztecs in the 16th century, the Techichi dogs gradually became instinct.
The second theory claims that the small and hairless dogs were brought to Mexico by Spanish traders which then bred with the native dogs to produce the national symbol of Mexico – the Chihuahua. The small dogs brought by the Spanish conquerors were believed to have originated from China.
While there is no evidence that any of these theories is absolutely conclusive, it is a fact that the shorthaired dogs which we recognize as Chihuahuas today were developed in the state of Chihuahua in Mexico in the 1850s.
The American visitors who came to Mexico liked and brought back these tiny dogs with them to North America. In 1890, they began to show, and it was a few years later when the Chihuahua named Midget became the first member of the breed to be registered by the American Kennel Club in 1904.
It is believed that the long-haired Chihuahuas were developed later as a result of crossing Chihuahuas with Pomeranians or Papillons.
Their breed became very popular in the 1930s and 1940s when they became associated with the famous Latin music dance king and bandleader Xavier Cugat. Since the 1960s the Chihuahuas have been among the top popular breeds in the USA.
For years they have been the favorite dog breed of many celebrities, including Paris Hilton, Sharon Osborne, Britney Spears, Demi Moore, Madonna, and many others and have even become stars in movies like Disney’s Beverly Hills Chihuahua, Nickelodeon’s Invader Zim, Disney’s Ren and Stimpy, and have also made a mark in the world of commercials and marketing like Gidget the Taco bell symbol.
It comes to no surprise that they are one of the most sought after companion breeds, because they are tiny sized and can travel everywhere, and they are also very intelligent, loving and fun dogs to have in the family. With their large personalities, their little need for grooming and their longevity, Chihuahuas are one of the best breeds to have if you live in the city or in an apartment.